October 24, 2008

Northwestern bests U of C in business school ranking

For the third year in a row, the publication Crain’s Chicago Business passed over the University’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) for the top spot in its annual ranking of the best MBA programs in Chicago, ranking it second to Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

The Crain’s website noted in their ranking of Kellogg that “nearly twice as many alumni and three times as many recruiters ranked the program No. 1 over the University of Chicago’s.”

Kellogg has been ranked first since the Chicago-based business news organization began evaluating the programs three years ago. The Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University ranked third this year.

The rankings are determined by two separate surveys: one for alumni and one for corporate recruiters who hire newly minted MBAs.

According to the Crain’s website, Chicago was ranked second because “alumni viewed the school as strongest in the fundamentals, ranking it first for meat-and-potatoes disciplines like finance, accounting, economics, and qualitative analysis. Recruiters differed on accounting—ranking it third—but considered the GSB top in international business.”

Kellogg also received high praise from alumni. “Alumni ranked it first or second in 9 of 10 academic disciplines, including management and marketing, both of which drew top marks from recruiters,” according to the Crain website.

Tom Snyder, the dean of the Chicago GSB, noted in an e-mail interview that the school has solidified an approach to publications rankings. He noted that Crain’s Chicago Business is not one of the publications that the school tracks. Rather, the GSB focuses on “six major media publications,” including Business Week, the Economist, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Fortune, and U.S. News and World Report.

Snyder added that the GSB “report[s] to our community these rankings but do[es] not comment on them. We recognize the importance of rankings and use them as feedback.”

Nevertheless, Snyder said that the rankings only play a small part in the perception of the GSB by students, faculty, alumni, and those in the business world.

“We don’t...confuse rankings with our identity,” he said.

To survey alumni, an internet-based questionnaire was created by Synovate Inc., a marketing research firm. Synovate contacted alumni of nine MBA programs in the Chicago area. Northwestern University and the University of Chicago chose not to participate in this aspect of the ranking. Instead, according to Crain’s website, “the alumni of the other schools discussed their reputations.”

Both alumni and corporate recruiters were asked to rank the nine programs on several areas of study: finance, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, accounting, quantitative analysis, economics, human resources, international studies, and real estate. Schools were awarded one point for each area of study that received high rankings. In addition, corporate recruiters were asked to rank schools as best, second best, and third best. Schools received points based on the survey results: “three for a best, two for a second-best and one for a third-best response.”