Scott Edinburgh
May 5, 2023

A Guide to MBA Rankings


As you develop your school list, you might be wondering how much emphasis you should place on business school rankings. These rankings are often a subject of much debate, especially since there are many and they differ widely. US News and World Reports and Financial Times are just two available. Rankings drive a lot of revenue for publishers because they are such an important tool for business school applicants.

However, please keep in mind they are just one of many tools and not the be all end all! Below is Personal MBA Coach’s view on these MBA rankings: why they matter, how to use them and some important things to keep in mind!

Why MBA Rankings Matter:

By applying to business school, you are making a large investment in your future, with the hopes of improving your job prospects post-MBA. Naturally, many prospective employers and investors will look closely at where you went to school to evaluate your skills and potential. Right or wrong, these rankings can influence a school’s perceived education quality.

How to Use MBA Rankings:

Get the lay of the land: MBA rankings provide a great overview of the business school landscape: what schools exist, where they are located and how they generally stack up against each other.

Gather statistics: Statistics such as average GPA, GMAT, GRE, years of experience, acceptance rate and starting salary provide good benchmarking data. Use the rankings to get a high-level idea of which schools could be potential options for you. However, keep in mind these statistics are averages across all students. Schools will evaluate your entire profile when deciding whether to accept you.

Find out unique areas of expertise: There is more than one “top” school. While you will get a strong general business education from many programs, schools have specific areas of strength. Rankings, particularly specialty rankings, can show you which schools send more students to investment banking or produce successful entrepreneurs, for example.

Keep in Mind:

Average ranking over time is much more important than year to year fluctuation. When you are courting that investor 10 years from now, she will not know what your school was ranked when you applied; pay closer attention to general trends.

While there are some schools that will be at the top of nearly all rankings, every ranking scale will give different results. As with historical data, the general trend is most important.

Rankings are not the only way you should evaluate a school. There are many other factors to consider when selecting your ideal schools including location and which companies recruit on campus. Attending a school near your target firms or one where your dream company recruits on campus could be more important to your career success than the school’s ranking. Watch our quick tips feature on Poets&Quants for more tips on school selection:

Personal MBA Coach is a full-service admissions consulting firm that can help you design your overall strategy. School selection is a crucial part of the process! For help with developing your application strategy, reach out to Personal MBA Coach today.

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