Choosing business schools: By ranking
Updated: Feb 17
Admissions staff are trained to identify genuine passion for their school in your application essays and interviews, so choosing the school which best 'fits' your profile increases the chances of a successful application. Consider business school rankings.
Well-known rankings: Many students rely heavily on business school rankings. Some of the well-known ones are:
Poets & Quants (which combines the above)
Caution: A word of caution about such rankings. Each uses different methodologies, most of which can be gamed. Alumni responses are biased, because alumni want to boost the rank of their alma mater. Post-MBA salaries can be influenced by sending more candidates into traditional, well paid roles such as Finance and Consulting. Candidates starting their own companies or changing the world through social impact weigh on their school’s rank.
Be personal: Use the ranking as part of a broader assessment but consider especially about what you want from the program. For example if Entrepreneurship is your goal, research schools’ Entrepreneurship programs rather than relying on a newspaper.
Realistic? Comparing these published rankings as well as published class profiles, candidates should assess whether their target schools are realistic for them. Stories of exceptions are endless but the following offers a rule of thumb:
GMAT: Your score should be within ±40 points of last year's class average. Beneath for your 'reach' schools, above if you hope for a scholarship.
GRE: Your score should be within ±5 points of last year's class average.
Undergraduate GPA: Your grade should be within 0.3 points of last year's class average. Guidelines for international students to convert their grades vary by school but it's certainly helpful to admissions staff when international candidates show their grade on their CV as a percentile of their class (eg. top 20% of class).
Work experience: Most MBA programs look for candidates to have between 1-9 years of work experience. In other words, MBA candidates tend to be aged between 25-31 at time of matriculation. Candidates with more than 9 years work experience should consider other forms of business education, such as an Executive MBA. Candidates with less should consider a Master in Management (MiM). Candidates on the cusp can massage their count by including or excluding internships, for example.
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