The 2011 lists of the best executive MBA, part-time MBA, and executive education programs in the custom and open enrollment categories featured a few surprises. For starters, after 20 years, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management fell from the top of the executive MBA list, making room for a new No. 1, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. And while the No. 1 part-time MBA programs remained the same in five of the six geographic regions, there was a quite a shake-up among the schools just below the top spot.
During an online chat on Nov. 10, Bloomberg Businessweek editors Louis Lavelle (screen name: LouisBW) and Geoff Gloeckler (screen name: GeoffBW) counted down the top programs and then took questions from the public and Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW) about methodology, individual programs, and those many surprises. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:
ShellieK: I would like to know your methodology for EMBA rankings.
GeoffBW: The EMBA ranking is based on two measures: a survey of graduating students and a poll of EMBA directors. The student survey counts for 65 percent of the final ranking. Of that 65 percent, the current survey (2011) counts for 50 percent of the total. The two previous surveys (2009 and 2007) count for 25 percent each. The director’s poll is worth 35 percent of the total.
jekes: When will the full-time MBA rankings be announced?
GeoffBW: Next year. We do the full-time rankings in even-numbered years.
ShellieK: Can you please explain the methodology for the executive education rankings for both custom and open enrollment programs?
LouisBW: Our executive education ranking is based on a survey of companies that send students to executive education programs. The survey measures their satisfaction with the programs.
texman: What do you think accounts for the high volatility of the part-time rankings?
GeoffBW: There are a few reasons for the great deal of movement in the part-time ranking. First, this is a young ranking; this is only the third time we’ve done it. Because of that, we have had an inordinate number of new schools enter the field of consideration—10 this year. Also, seven more schools ended up “making the cut” to be ranked overall (76 vs. 69 in 2009). Third, and probably most important, we only use one year of data for this ranking. Our other rankings—full-time MBA, executive MBA, and undergraduate business—each use three years of student data. [One year of data] makes it easier for schools to make large jumps, as each survey and data point is worth more.
PBolstetter: Regarding the EMBA ranking, can you give us an idea as to what happened to Notre Dame?
GeoffBW: Notre Dame is ranked just outside the top 25 at 27.
texman: When will executive education ranks below the top 10 be released?
LouisBW: We’ll publish a list of the top 20 in both open and custom categories.
AnnaRz: When will the part-time MBA be announced?
GeoffBW: I can now tell you that North Carolina State is ranked 30th in part-time. Sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier.
asw169: Can you tell me the EMBA ranking for Penn State (Smeal)?
LouisBW: Smeal is in our unranked second tier.
LindseyK: Were there any changes to the part-time MBA methodology this year?
GeoffBW: There were not.
acyates: How do you define “part-time”?
LouisBW: Part-time programs are those that offer classes at night and on weekends and are designed primarily for working professionals.
RyanU: Will you rank EMBA below No. 25?
GeoffBW: Yes. Forty EMBA programs and 76 part-time programs are ranked online.
rkorossy: Can you please tell me the EMBA ranking for Pepperdine?
dubliner: Where can I see the rankings?
LouisBW: You can find them at www.businessweek.com/business-schools.
Katz: Is Pitt (Katz) in the unranked second tier for EMBA? Is it included in the part-time MBA this year?
LouisBW: Yes. It’s in the second tier for EMBA, but it is ranked 64 in the part-time ranking.
bbishop: What is the part-time MBA ranking for Indiana University (Kelley) in Indianapolis?
GeoffBW: Forty-one overall, ninth in the Midwest.
LouieDee: I can’t understand how NYU is not among the top 25 part-time programs. There are tons of top executives who come out of the NYU program. In addition, New York City is the business capital of the world.
LouisBW: That’s a good point. I think one reason may be high expectations. You go to a school like NYU and you may get an excellent experience, but if you go into it thinking you’re going to graduate and become the king of Wall Street, you may come away disappointed.
Merlin: What about Georgtown’s part-time MBA?
GeoffBW: Twenty-sixth overall, sixth in the Mid-Atlantic. NYU students are the most vocal about career services expectations. They are very critical.
jchamber: Can you share NYU Stern’s part-time rank?
LouisBW: NYU came in at No. 36.
asw169: How many EMBA programs are ranked in the second tier?
GeoffBW: The second-tier schools are not “ranked.” They are the ones that did not get any director’s points, so they are listed in alphabetical order. There are 26 schools in the second tier.
jeana: Is Kentucky (Gatton) ranked?
GeoffBW: They did not participate in the part-time ranking this year.
bbishop: What is the part-time MBA ranking for Butler?
GeoffBW: Thirty-seventh overall, seventh in the Midwest.
asw169: In the past, you had top-ranked, second tier, and not ranked. Is that still the same?
GeoffBW: Yes, for EMBA. The schools that get an NR did not have a high enough student response rate. There is no second tier in part-time.
LouisBW: Another interesting tidbit, the average salary increase for EMBA grads this year was $40,000. Some schools did even better by their EMBA students. At Chicago, the postgraduation pop was $50,000.
HollyS: Is Kellogg ranked for part-time?
GeoffBW: Kellogg does not participate in the part-time ranking because it’s not able to provide student contact information.
FrancescaBW: Geoff or Louis—Can you tell us about the part-time programs that were No. 1 in each region?
GeoffBW: The No. 1 schools in each region are as follows: Elon in the South, UCLA in the West, Carnegie Mellon in the Mid-Atlantic, Rice in the Southwest, Worcester Polytechnic in the Northeast, and Michigan in the Midwest.
JayWhite: Where did Indiana University Southeast rank for part-time?
GeoffBW: Seventy-third overall.
Wisconsin: How did University of Wisconsin-Madison rank for EMBA?
GeoffBW: Second tier.
pjs404: What were the top five part-time MBA programs in the Northeast?
GeoffBW: 1. Worcester Polytechnic Institute 2. Babson College 3. New York University 4. Boston University 5. Hofstra University.
asw169: What data keeps a second-tier EMBA program from breaking into the top 40?
LouisBW: Poor survey response from EMBA directors. If none of the EMBA directors we surveyed recommends the program, the program ends up in the second tier.
JayWhite: Indiana University Southeast dropped from ninth to 73? That seems like a big move. Are there any plans to address the volatility in the part-time rankings?
GeoffBW: We will be able to use three years of data in 2013 for the first time. That should fix some of it.
Katz: Top five Mid-Atlantic?
GeoffBW: 1. Carnegie Mellon 2. Villanova University 3. Lehigh University 4. University of Richmond 5. University of Delaware.
GrahamJ: What are the reasons behind the success of the Spanish schools—IE, IESE, and ESADE—in the EMBA ranking?
GeoffBW: Very high student satisfaction.
LouieDee: Was the Rutgers EMBA ranked?
LouisBW: Second tier.
Nilesh: Would you also publish the criteria used in coming up with the rankings?
GeoffBW: Yes. All of the methodologies are available in the FAQs on the website.
LindseyK: Why was Bentley not considered for ranking?
LouisBW: They didn’t participate in any of our rankings.
strand: What was the ranking for the Washington University (Olin) part-time program?
keshiam: Why did Kellogg drop from No. 1 [in the EMBA ranking]?
GeoffBW: Kellogg fell this year because of a dip in student satisfaction over the last two ranking cycles. This year, specifically, Kellogg was 17th overall in student satisfaction. It wasn’t as big of a deal in 2009 because even though student satisfaction fell, it still had two very strong student scores [from previous years] thanks to the weighted student score, which uses three years of ranking data. This year it lost the high 2005 score and exchanged it with the lower 2011 score. But third overall is still quite strong, I’d say.
LouisBW: Folks, for all the online content related to the rankings, including a story that will appear in the print magazine, go here: www.businessweek.com/business-schools/special-reports/best-parttime-business-schools-2011.html.
To view the statistical profiles for any of the schools mentioned in this transcript, please visit our Business School Rankings & Profiles page.