The Financial Times published its 2012 ranking of MBA programs over the weekend, with some notable changes in the lineup. For one, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which tied for fourth place with INSEAD last year, came out on top for the first time. Harvard Business School was ranked second, while last year’s joint number one, the Wharton School, came in third. These rankings are based on information gathered through two surveys—one of 2008 MBA graduates and one of 150 participating business schools—that look at salary, diversity of teaching staff, board members and students, international reach and the relative number of articles published by full-time faculty in academic and practitioner journals. A key difference in the Financial Times ranking versus other popular rankings, such as those by U.S. News & World Report or BloombergBusinessweek, is that the FT ranks U.S. and international business schools together, giving a more global perspective.
As we always mention when reporting on MBA rankings, business school applicants should take any ranking system with a grain of salt. Rankings simplify that which cannot be simplified and assign a numeric value to that which cannot be quantified. Rather than focusing on a school’s ranking (or change in ranking from year to year or from publication to publication), you should take time to determine the factors that are most important to you in an MBA program (e.g., pedagogy, academic/professional specializations, location, class size), and then do your research to identify the schools that best meet your needs by fulfilling these factors…not arbitrary ones like rankings.
For more information about how to assess rankings within the context of choosing the right business school for you, download our free Selecting Your Target MBA Program E-Book.