The methodologies used by Bloomberg Businessweek to rank part-time MBA, executive MBA, and non-degree executive-education programs vary from simple to complex. All three rankings share one thing: a focus on the end-users’ satisfaction, whether they are students who attend the programs or companies that enroll employees.
Our ranking of non-degree executive-education programs is an example of the latter. To compile this ranking, Bloomberg Businessweek first asks the schools being examined to supply a list of client companies. Then, with the help of Cambria Consulting, we ask those companies to complete a survey asking which programs they are familiar with and which programs they consider the best. In both open-enrollment and custom categories, the companies rank their top programs. A No. 1 ranking is worth 10 points, a No. 2 ranking 9 points, and so on.
To calculate the final ranking, we compute each program’s point total, multiply it by the number of companies ranking it, then divide that figure by the number of companies that indicated a familiarity with that program. The goal: to identify the programs that are considered best-in-class by the vast majority of companies that are familiar with them.
For our ranking of executive MBA programs, the procedure is a little different. The EMBA ranking is based on two surveys—one of EMBA graduates and a poll of EMBA directors.
First we survey the graduates. Using e-mail addresses supplied by the programs participating in the ranking, we contact the graduates and ask them to complete a survey on teaching quality, career services, curriculum, and other aspects of their experience. The results of the 2011 survey are then combined with those from two previous surveys (2009 and 2007) for a student survey score that contributes 65 percent of the final ranking.
To complete the ranking, we turn to EMBA program directors. The director of each program participating in the ranking is asked for his or her top 10. We assign 10 points for every No. 1 ranking, 9 points for each No. 2 rating, and so on. The point totals for each program contribute the remaining 35 percent of the final ranking.
Our newest ranking—of part-time MBA programs—is by far the most complex. It’s based on separate measures of student satisfaction, academic quality, and post-graduation outcomes.
For the student-satisfaction measure, we survey part-time MBA students at participating schools—students who have recently graduated or are nearing graduation—about all aspects of their academic experience. To determine which programs are tops in academic quality, we combine six equally weighted measures: average GMAT score, average student work experience, the percentage of teachers who are tenured, average class size in core business classes, the number of business electives available to part-timers, and the percentage of students who ultimately complete the program.
To gauge post-graduation outcomes, we determine the percentage of student survey respondents from each school who say their part-time MBA program was “completely” responsible for their having achieved career goals. These can range from advancing a career with a current employer to finding a new employer or changing careers entirely.
The student survey contributes 40 percent of the final ranking, with academic quality and post-MBA outcomes contributing 30 percent each.