How Important are Business School Rankings, Really?

by Chrispa Palaiologou, Recruitment Manager, MiF & MBA

It’s a question which has been hotly debated by business schools and candidates for some time, and will likely continue to stimulate discussion long into the future.

I’ll be honest, I am unashamedly pro-rankings. Frankly, I think they are hugely important and I’m happy to defend this perspective. That said, its fair to say that rankings are highly subjective, often focussing on often quite different attributes. However, putting myself in the shoes of someone who is looking at applying for an MBA programme, my first piece of research would probably be examine the major business school rankings. Why?

Firstly, a top MBA programme is a brand for life, if you are making the commitment and financial sacrifice to attend a world class business school you want to open up the Financial Times 20 years in to the future and see your school at the top of the rankings. They are a tangible reflection of your business school’s brand.

Recruiters care about rankings. Our business development team travel to a number of countries in order to encourage companies to sponsor their staff to attend LBS. Usually each firm will have a list of approved schools that fulfil their requirements for sponsorship and recruitment. Guess what the list is usually based on?!

Most candidates I speak to will have a number of general questions about MBA’s and LBS and a few more specific concerns. Rankings are a great way for candidates to quantify and benchmark certain criteria. For example, if return on investment is your single biggest concern, you can find out the comparable average graduate salaries between schools. At LBS we are particularly proud that this year in the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, we ranked in the top 4 for business degrees and our MBA was also ranked the world’s best by Forbes for the 5th year in a row.

But finally and perhaps most importantly, business school candidates, i.e. you, care about them. Perhaps the single most important factor in choosing a business school is the quality of your peers. Stellar MBA candidates appply to top ranked schools and, if you want to study alongside them, so should you.

Now, I would add a caveat that once you get to the point of application,  rankings will not be sufficient information for your more in depth research to discover why a particular school might be the right ‘fit’ for you.  However, in terms of starting your MBA journey, I can’t think of a better first step…

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