Which business school rankings are the most reliable and valid? According to a scholarly article, it's the U.S. News & World Report Best Business Schools rankings, published as part of our Best Graduate Schools rankings.
In the article in the June 20 edition of the Journal of Marketing Education, "A Psychometric Assessment of the Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report and Financial Times Rankings of Business Schools' MBA Programs," Dawn Iacobucci examines the three major full-time MBA rankings.
This peer-reviewed article joins a rapidly expanding body of academic literature that take a scholarly, analytical approach to the study of academic rankings and their impact.
The Vanderbilt University professor favors U.S. News largely because she believes our Best Business Schools rankings have shown greater reliability over the years and have greater validity in terms of objectivity.
In an email, Iacobucci wrote, "I would look at U.S. News as a result of this research partly due to objectivity of the measures and components that go into the ranking. It would also be extremely difficult to game U.S. News. The Financial Times is pitched to favor the more international schools, and the Businessweek student poll has a good deal of variability to it. You don't want to see schools slipping up and down and all over the place. If there is that much variance, what good can there possibly be to the ranking?"
The study measured whether the salaries earned by MBA graduates were influenced by the rankings by looking at the monetary differences students earned by going to higher-ranked schools in the three different rankings.
U.S. News did significantly better on this measure. The analysis found that students who attended business schools that ranked higher in the U.S. News rankings earned larger salaries.
For each higher U.S. News rank, a school's graduates earned $908.03 more in yearly salary, on average, at their first jobs following business school for the most recent year of data.
Every rank improvement for a school in the Financial Times rankings translated to, on average, $377.58 more, and in the Businessweek rankings, $605.27 more.
The paper evaluated the consistency and reliability of the overall rankings by looking at how schools' ranks had changed over time, starting by looking at all the b-school rankings of each publisher from the time each of the three rankings were first published.
The study concluded that "comparing across media, we see that Businessweek varied quite a bit over its first 15 years or so (e.g., the formulae may have been changing, school sampling may have undergone changes, etc.), and it has become stable since approximately 2004. On this criterion, we can laud the U.S. News as yielding the most stable results, year to year, even from its inception. The Financial Times results are stable as well."