Saturday, March 17, 2018

New Wall Street Journal MBA Ranking Methodology

Times Higher Education (THE) and the WSJ (Journal) have decided to combine their ranking methodologies.  

The methodology will be based on surveys to both alumni and schools, with the possibility that THE and the Journal may survey employers and recruiters at another time. 

In general, the WSJ plans to rank programs under four categories: 
  1. resources (with a weight of 25%), 
  2. engagement (25%), 
  3. outcomes (38%), and 
  4. environment (12%), to measure “the social and human environment the students find themselves in and how well the school will prepare them for a global market.”

The survey includes 21 different metrics:
  • The ranking is heavily dependent on the views of alumni, with 12 of the 21 data points informed by responses from alumni who are both two years and four years out of school.
  • The new ranking will not measure the quality of incoming students in a program, a significant part of the way U.S. News ranks MBA programs by using GMAT and GRE scores, grade-point-averages and acceptance rates.
  • Career outcomes will account for 38% of the total ranking. 
  • The two metrics getting the most weight are the difference between pre-MBA and post-MBA salaries, which will be given a weight of 12%, and faculty-per-student ratios, which will account for 10% of the ranking.

Rankings are becoming more and more disputed. Academics often argue that rankings are misleading and disingenuous. THE is entering the business school market 31 years after Businessweek published its first MBA ranking and 20 years after the debut of the global MBA ranking from The Financial Times. The proliferation of rankings, fueled by consumer interest in them, has largely diminished the influence any one ranking has on the market.

Under resources, meant to measure the resources available to the school to ensure quality teaching and support, there are five measures with four of them taken from the self-reported data by schools and one data point informed by alumni surveys:

Faculty per student (10%)
Publication per faculty (4%)
Faculty with Ph.D./terminal degree (5%)
Career support staff per student (3%)
Career support effectiveness (3%)

Alumni surveys will account for the five metrics THE and WSJ will use to attempt to measure what it calls “the school’s teaching quality and the student’s learning experience:

Recommend (5%)
Collaborate (5%)
Engagement (5%)
Real world (5%)
Research (5%)

This section will include a series of questions on the alumni survey, including “If a friend or a family member were considering going to business school, based on your experience, how likely or unlikely are you to recommend your school to them?”

To get at the degree of collaboration at a school, alumni are being asked, “To what extent did you have the opportunity to interact with the faculty and teachers at your school as part of your learning experience?”

To measure the real world implications of the program, alumni are asked to respond to these questions: 
1. “To what extent did the teaching at your school support applying your learning to the real world?;” 2. “To what extent did your teachers present and discuss recent real-world cases?” 
3. “To what extent did you have opportunities to meet and work with professionals with current real-world knowledge (outside your teachers/lecturers)?”

And when it came to research, alumni are asked the following question: “To what extent did your teachers present and discuss current research?”

The outcome category, meantime, will take into account six separate metrics. Besides differences in pre-and-post salaries, which does not appear to account for sign-on bonuses or other guaranteed compensation, the survey attempts to measure:

Salary difference (12%)
Opportunities (5%)
Worth (5%)
Entrepreneurship (5%)
Social good (5%)
Network (6%)

The ranking will judge opportunities based on alumni responses to what they perceive to be the school’s impact on their careers. It will measure “worth” on alum’s perceived worth of their degree, and it will judge the school’s entrepreneurship efforts on alumni opinion of their school’s teaching skills relevant to starting a business.

One of more intriguing efforts in the ranking concerns its attempt to measure social good. Ultimately, the ranking will do this by asking alumni how many hours of volunteer work they did in the past year. “This measures the degree to which a business school is inculcating the ethos of social good in its graduates,” according to the presentation.

And, finally, to measure the effectiveness of a school’s alumni network, alumni are being asked the following: 
1. “To what extent have you helped other alumni secure paid positions?” 
2. “To what extent have you helped other alumni in matters beyond securing a new position?” 
3. “How useful was your school’s alumni network in helping you secure a position?” 
4. “To what extent, beyond helping to secure a new job, have you used your school’s alumni network since finishing your degree?”

The least weighted section of the ranking will cover a category dubbed “environment,” meant to measure “the social and human environment the students find themselves in and how well the school will prepare them for the global market.” The section will include five different metrics, all provided by the schools, little of which has anything to do with the actual quality of a program.

Economic diversity (2) based on first-generation students
Faculty gender diversity (2%)
Students gender diversity (2%)
International staff (2%)
International students (2%)

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