There's a clear, scientific path to safely reopening schools. The real barrier now is politics. - Business Insider

By now, research clearly supports the idea that schools can safely resume in-person learning in the US. A January study of 11 school districts in North Carolina identified just 32 coronavirus infections in schools over nine weeks. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detected minimal transmission among K-12 schools in Wood County, Wisconsin. In an opinion article last month, CDC researchers called for reopening schools, with a few ground rules: Masks should be worn at all times. Social distancing should be upheld. And indoor sports practices and competitions should be limited. But a few political obstacles stand in the way. For one, many US school districts lack the funding to improve their buildings' ventilation systems, routinely test teachers and staff members, or reduce classroom sizes so students remain 6 feet apart — measures that would make parents and teachers more comfortable with in-person learning. The CDC's threshold for resuming full in

MBAs Rank Schools On The 4 C's: Culture, Careers, Choices, And Curriculum - Poets&Quants

MBAs Rank Schools On The 4 C's: Culture, Careers, Choices, And Curriculum - Poets&Quants

MBAs Rank Schools On The 4 C's: Culture, Careers, Choices, And Curriculum - Poets&Quants

Posted: 21 Dec 2020 03:47 PM PST

You want answers? Then you go to the source. In business schools, that means the students – also known as the consumers and stakeholders. In the end, they're the ones who can tell you if the experience matches the hype.

That's why student opinion matters to applicants. They've lived the experience, the curriculum, and culture – the resources and support too. Sure, you can get that from dialing up alumni. First, it helps to get the bigger picture.


The Economist is famous for conducting an annual student and alumni survey covering everything from career services to faculty quality. Bloomberg Businessweek targets the same pool, focusing on areas like alumni support, innovation, prestige, and entrepreneurship. This month, The Princeton Review released its own MBA rankings based on survey results.

Yes, that Princeton Review – the one with no affiliation to Princeton University. This higher education firm supplies test prep and admissions guides for every conceivable niche. Not surprisingly, they entered the rankings space decades ago. With business schools, they've taken a different tact. Rather than herding schools through another complex and flawed methodology, the Princeton Review simply evaluates schools according to 18 separate measures.

Marriott School of Business Students in the Tanner Building.

These lists include areas that would interest any serious MBA interest: classroom experience, faculty quality, family friendliness, and resources catered to women and minorities. Oh, and the ranking also segments out MBA sentiments on how well their school prepared them for careers in consulting, finance, management, marketing, and other fields.


How did your favorite MBA programs fare in the Princeton Review survey? Certainly, survey respondents favored Stanford GSB. The program produced the highest index scores in 6 of the 18 measures, including Best Career Prospects, Toughest Admissions, and Classroom Experience. Stanford GSB also ranked as the top MBA program in the fields of Marketing, Nonprofits, and Management. Stanford GSB wasn't alone in topping more than one list. Brigham Young's Marriott School also notched the top index scores in two categories: Family-Friendliness and Human Resources.

The remaining measures either reinforce conventional wisdom or offer jaw-dropping surprises. The Best Professors, for example, hail from the University of Virginia's Darden School according to Princeton Review respondents – a sentiment consistently reinforced across various MBA surveys. The Dean's Cup – Best Administered Business School – went to the University of Michigan's Ross School (and, by extension, Dean Scott DeRue). By the same token, Columbia Business School – dubbed a "finance school" par excellence for generations – earned the highest survey marks for Finance. And the same is true for Arizona State's W. P. Carey School in Operations.

Some surprises? Head to Austin, Texas and you'll find the Most Competitive MBA Students. No, these students aren't packed at McCombs' Rowling Hall. Instead, they populate the Acton School of Business, whose tagline is "Expect to earn it." Ironically, the University of Texas' McCombs School fits on the opposite end of the spectrum: Best Campus Environment. For women, the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler School offers the Best Resources – which also reflects case study materials targeting women in business. The Best Resources For Minority Students, according to survey respondents, can be found at Howard University (a ranking that also goes beyond student ratings to include "resources available for minority students, diversity in the student body, and how supportive the campus culture is of minority students.").

New York's Bard College topped the final measure: Best Green MBA. This is defined as "preparing [students] them to address environmental, sustainability, and social responsibility issues in their careers."

Vanderbilt MBA

Vanderbilt Owen MBA Students


There were also several MBA programs that performed well across the board according to survey respondents. That starts with Cornell University's Johnson School, which ranked 2nd in five measures: Career Prospects, Family Friendliness, Campus Environment, Consulting, and Finance (and it finished 3rd for Faculty Quality and 4th for Management). The University of Michigan's Ross School finished among the 10-highest scores in 11 measures, including 2nd for Faculty Quality and 4th for both Resources for Women and Human Resources. Aside from housing the top faculty, Virginia Darden could be found among the top 10 on 10 lists. That includes Classroom Experience (#2), Management (#3), and Campus Environment (#4).

By the same token, Duke Fuqua ranked among the ten-best in seven measures according to survey respondents. NYU Stern and Texas McCombs were equally versatile, with top ten placements in six categories. What was the biggest surprise? That would be Vanderbilt University's Owen School. Slotted 28th in P&Q's 2021 MBA ranking, Owen produced five placements in the Top 10, ranking 2nd for Administration, 3rd for Human Resources, and 4th for both Faculty Quality and Family Friendliness. A few other unexpected results include Texas A&M's Mays School ranking 3rd for Administration, while unheralded University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the College of William & Mary making 2nd and 3rd respectively for Resources for Minorities.

That said, some results call into question the credibility of the ranking. Harvard Business School, for example, could be found among the ten-best in nine lists…but not Faculty Quality or Classroom Experience? Several top academic programs, including Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, and Dartmouth Tuck didn't rank for Faculty Quality. In fact, the University of Chicago's Booth School – P&Q's #2 program for 2021 – only ranked among the ten-best in one category: toughest admissions. The same is true for the Wharton School and MIT's Sloan School, which ranks 3rd and 5th respectively according to P&Q.

Social distancing in the classroom at Northwestern Kellogg. Kellogg photo


Some individual marks look increasingly dubious on further inspection. The Wharton School and Dartmouth Tuck, for example, traditionally yields some of the highest starting pay for new grads. According to respondents to The Princeton Review survey, neither school ranks among the ten-best for Career Prospects. Northwestern University's Kellogg School has been lauded as the top Marketing school in the country according to academics and employers alike for decades. However, on this list, Kellogg finishes 10th. That's still better than how the Yale School of Management fared. Regarded as the MBA program for non-profit education, Yale SOM couldn't even crack the top 10 here.

One culprit is a rather permissive methodology. According to The Princeton Review's methodology, the MBA rankings stem from surveys from 17,800 students from 244 business schools from the 2019-2020, 2018-2019, and 2017-2018 school years. The student survey consists of 90 questions, according to the site, on "their school's academics, student body, and campus life, as well as their career plans." However, the surveys also include survey data from school administrators based on 300 questions.

Here's how that shakes out. In reality, just six categories rely exclusively from student-supplied data: Administration, Campus Environment, Faculty Quality, Student Competitiveness, and Green MBA. Another 11 categories contain a mix of student and administrator responses: Resources for Female and Minority Students, Career Prospects, Classroom Experience, and Best MBA for Consulting, Finance, Marketing, Management, Nonprofits, Operations, and Human Resources. A final tier – Toughest Admissions – is comprised of data furnished exclusively by schools.

Rowling Hall at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business


This matters on innumerable levels. For one, The Princeton Review doesn't share which questions were asked – or how they were phrased – leaving the specifics up to interpretation. The scores are also indexed on a scale from 60-99. However, The Princeton Review only supplies the ranking, not the range. Translation: applicants don't know how far apart schools may be according to the data collected. At the same time, The Princeton Review furnishes just the Top 10 schools in each list, which excludes potential "borderline" schools whose index score could be quite comparable to the MBA programs above it.

On top of that, The Princeton Review doesn't break down the differing weights between students and administrative respondents in the 11 measures where the two are mixed. While the Princeton Review works with schools to procure surveys with on-campus MBA students, it also maintains an online survey where site visitors can include their feedback, making responses potentially less targeted than those conducted by The Economist and Bloomberg Businessweek. In addition, there aren't any specifics on how much weight each of three different years receive in a school ranking (though The Princeton Review notes that each campus has 370 responses minimum). On top of that, just one non-American program – IMD Business School – appears in any of the Top 10 lists

Obviously, The Princeton Review ranking suffers from a lack of transparency. Does that make the information useless? Hardly. Any ranking is a starting point. And, to borrow a famous MBA saying, "feedback is a gift." In this case, the rankings can tip applicants off to programs that excel in a variety of measure (Virginia Darden, Cornell Johnson, Michigan Ross, Texas McCombs) as well as programs outside the Top 20 that punch well above their weight (Vanderbilt Owen, Rice Jones, Brigham Young Marriott). A school's Top 10 ranking in some areas – and exclusions in others – certainly provides prospective applicants with questions to ask alumni and adcoms. Even more, as The Princeton Review notes, the survey responses show candidates how their target schools fare in areas that are important to them, rather than simply slapping a one-size-fits-all rank on each school.

"We strongly recommend these schools for their outstanding MBA programs," notes Rob Franek, The Princeton Review's editor-in-chief, in a statement coinciding with the release of the rankings. "Each school we selected offers stellar academics as well as robust experiential components. We do not tally a hierarchical mega-list of best b-schools overall because our goal, for the 25+ years we've conducted this project, is to help MBA applicants identify the business schools best for them. Our multiple categories of ranking lists are designed to help them do just that."

To see how your target schools rank in five different categories, click on the links below.









Stanford Again Tops P&Q's 2020-2021 Ranking Of The Best MBAs - Poets&Quants

Posted: 07 Dec 2020 12:00 AM PST

In one of the most turbulent years ever, this year's MBA ranking reflects the calm in the middle of the pandemic storm.

For the second consecutive year, Stanford's Graduate School of Business took top honors in Poets&Quants' 2020-2021annual ranking of the best MBA programs in the U.S., and every single Top Ten school from last year made the list this time around.

There were changes in the top tier, but they were largely inconsequential, though Harvard Business School slipped to its lowest rank ever, sliding one spot from last year to land in fourth place behind Stanford, Chicago Booth, and the Wharton School.

Harvard's surprisingly poor showing in the final year of Dean Nitin Nohria's deanship occurred as the school found itself caught up in controversy over its failure to make more progress on racial equity, a circumstance that caused Norhia to publicly apologize to Harvard's community. At the same time, Stanford, the most selective prestige MBA program in the world, helped to lead the conversation on racial equality by becoming the first major business school to publish a diversity and inclusion report that laid bare the GSB's metrics on diversity.


Rounding out the Top Ten are No. 5 Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, MIT's Sloan School of Management, Columbia Business School, UC-Berkeley's Haas School of Business, Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business, and Yale University's School of Management. All of those schools finished with the exact ranking each achieved in the previous year. In fact, among the Top Ten only two schools changed places: Wharton moved up one spot to fourth, passing Harvard which assumed Wharton's year-earlier rank.

Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business just fell out of the Top 25, dropping one spot, having been replaced by Georgia Institute of Technology's Scheller College of Business which improved a place from last year to finish 25th.

Unlike other rankings, the 11th annual Poets&Quants list combines the latest five most influential business school rankings in the world: U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, and The Economist. Instead of merely averaging the five, each ranking is separately weighted to account for our view of their credibility. (U.S. News is given a weight of 35%, Forbes, 25%, while both the Financial Times and Businessweek is given a 15% weight, and The Economist, 10%.


COVID-19 has clearly had an impact on this year's ranking. Bloomberg Businessweek decided not to publish a ranking this year due to the pandemic. As a result, we included Businessweek's year-earlier ranking in our calculations. The Economist, meantime, has delayed its ranking due to delays caused by COVID. But even when The Economist publishes its new list, which could slide into next year, all of the M7 business schools–Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, MIT, Chicago, Kellogg, and Columbia–will be missing in action because they declined to participate in the ranking. As a result, we opted to include the magazine's previous ranking which is more reflective of the overall standing of business schools.

Nonetheless, combining these five major rankings doesn't eliminate the flaws in each system, but it does significantly diminish them. When an anomaly pops on one list due to either faulty survey technique or flawed methodology, bringing all the data together tends to suppress oddball results in a single ranking. So the composite index tones down the noise in each of these five surveys to get more directly at the real signal that is being sent.

The Poets&Quants list, therefore, is more stable–and reliable–than most rankings published elsewhere. Among the top 50 ranked MBA programs, for example, only two experienced double-digit changes in their year-over-year rankings: The University of Georgia's Terry College of Business which rose 10 places to rank 36th this year and Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business which plunged ten spots to rank 44th. Only 11 of the MBA programs on this year's list, in fact, rose or fell by 10 or more places year-over-year.


Georgia Tech's MBA program made its advance on the basis of ranking improvements in both U.S. News & World Report's and the Financial Times' rankings. The school moved up three places on this year's FT list, rising to 28th among U.S. programs from 31st a year earlier, while it gained two places in U.S. News to rank 27th from 29th. Carey's drop, meantime, can be attributed to the loss of its Financial Times ranking (the school's MBA program had ranked 32nd best in the U.S. in 2019), and a two-place decline in U.S. News' ranking to 35th from 33rd.

The overall list takes into account a massive wealth of quantitative and qualitative data captured in these major lists, from surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, deans and faculty publication records to median GPA and GMAT scores of entering students as well as the latest salary and employment statistics of alumni.

What's more, users can see at one glance where their target schools fall across the spectrum of core rankings. And for the fourth year in a row, we're including year-over-year changes in each of the five lists that comprise our overall ranking.  As a result, you can more clearly assess why a school moved up or down on the new 2019-2020 list of U.S. MBA programs. A separate ranking for international MBA programs will be published in the next week.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.


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