Methodology 2017

Rankings are little more than an indication of the MBA market at a particular moment. They reflect the prevailing conditions such as salaries, jobs available and the situation at a school at the time the survey was carried out. Results of rankings can be volatile, so they should be treated with caution. The various media rankings of MBA programmes all employ a different methodology. None is definitive, so our advice to prospective students is to understand the ethos behind each one before deciding whether what it is measuring is important for you.

Each year The Economist surveys thousands of MBA students and asks them why they decided to enrol on a full-time MBA programme. The weightings that we use for our ranking (see table below) are based on the importance students themselves place on different criteria.

Data were collected during spring 2017, using two surveys. The first was completed by schools with eligible programmes and covers quantitative matters such as the salary of graduates, the average GMAT scores of students and the number of registered alumni. This accounts for around 80% of the ranking. The remaining 20% comes from a qualitative survey filled out by current MBA students and a school's most recent graduating MBA class. We ask respondents to rate things such as the quality of the faculty, facilities and career services department. We also ask them to give details of their salary, so that we can verify the data provided by the schools. For schools that have not signed up to the “Agreed Upon Procedures” of the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, an industry body that sets standards for reporting salaries, student data are used rather than those supplied by the institution. A minimum response rate—equivalent to 25% of the latest intake or 50 students/alumni (whichever is lower)—is required for schools to be included in the ranking.

All data received from schools were subject to verification checks, including, where possible, comparison with historical data, peer schools and other published sources. Student and graduate questionnaires were audited for multiple or false entries. Memory has been built into the rankings by taking a weighted average of data from 2017 (50%), 2016 (30%) and 2015 (20%) to provide a rounded picture of the school over a period of time.

The table below summarises the measures used to calculate the rankings together with their respective weightings. Salaries were converted at average exchange rates for the 2015/16 academic year (July 1st-June 30th). The statistical methodology adopted for the ranking gives each business school a unique score (known to statisticians as a z-score). Unlike some other rankings, we do not include any “equal” schools (for example, four schools ranked equal sixth followed by one ranked tenth). However, it should be noted that differences between some schools might be slight. For this reason, individual school profiles now include a banding (A-E), so that schools with similar overall scores are grouped together.

This year we phased out the indicator asking for the percentage of students who found jobs directly through their schools' careers services. The weighting for this was redistributed across the other three indicators in the "open new career opportunities" category. One of these, the "diversity of rectruiters" category, now consists of two equally weighted measures: the absolute number of industry sectors into which graduates were recruited; and how evenly the graduates were spread between those sectors (a list of indutries can be found in the footnotes of the table).

The Economist only publishes a list of the top 100 schools. In all, 153 schools were invited to participate. The reasons for the omission of the remaining 53 are listed  below.

Schools omitted from the ranking

Outside the top 100

Indian Institute of Management

University of St. Gallen

University of Arizona

North Carolina State University

EADA Business School Barcelona

Concordia University

Case Western Reserve University

University of California, San Diego

University of South Carolina

Tilburg University

Rutgers Business School

Asian Institute of Management

University of Glasgow

HEC Montréal

Ryerson University

University of Calgary

American University

San Diego State University

Politecnico di Milano School of Management

Universidad Austral

First year of participation, eligible for rankings in 2018

Aston University

City U Hong Kong

ESSEC Business School

Lagos, Pan-Atlantic University

Northeastern University

The Lisbon MBA

Wilfrid Laurier University


Insufficient data

Japan, International University

University of the Witwatersand

Ineligible*/Declined to participate†




Brunel Business School

Cape Town


Chinese University of Hong Kong

EGADE-Tecnologico de Monterrey

Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



McGill University


New York/Baruch

Newcastle University

Portland State

S P Jain

Seoul National University

Texas – Arlington

Toronto University

University of British Columbia

Vlerick Leuven Gent

Western Australia

* For example, not accredited or cohort < 25

†Which MBA? does on occasion rank a school that has declined to participate, using other data sources. This is noted in their ranking.


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