US News and World Report issued their 2012 rankings of business schools last week. NC State's Jenkins MBA was tied with William and Mary for 83rd in the full-time rankings and tied with 13 other schools for 59th in the part-time rankings.
Last year, we were 66th in the full-time rankings and we have always been in between 59th and 74th place, so what happened? Forty percent of the rankings are based on two surveys, one of deans and one of recruiters, where they rank 400+ programs on a 1-5 scale. The dean evaluations of NC State's MBA have held steady at 2.7-2.8 for years, but it appears that the recruiter evaluation dropped by about 0.2-0.3 points this time around.
Another 35% of the rankings are based on the employment results for May 2010 graduates. The percentage with jobs at graduation fell from 65 to 44%, which definitely hurt. Starting salaries and the percentage with jobs 90 days after graduation were basically the same as the year before.
The final 25% of the rankings hinge on three numerical indicators of the quality of the students who entered in August 2010: GPA, GMAT and percentage admitted. There was a modest slip in the mean GMAT score from 616 to 603.
One other note: when all of the scores are aggregated together we received an overall score of 35. The distribution of schools by scores is highly bunched in this range of the distribution; schools with a score of 38 were tied for 73rd whereas schools with a score of 41 were tied for 63rd. Small differences in recruiter evaluations, GMAT scores and placement rates yield large changes in the rankings. This is why I have always thought it would be better to categorize schools into five or six groups instead of ranking them. There really is not that much difference between the schools in 60th and 80th places. (On the other hand, Stanford had a score of 100 and Harvard had 98 and I would say they are quite different from schools below the top 10.)
My reaction: I am disappointed in this year's results, but I tend to take the long-run view of things and am confident that the program will do better in the future. All Jenkins MBA stakeholders -- students, alumni, faculty, and staff -- can have a positive impact on future rankings by helping us recruit the best students and prepare them for the challenges they will face upon graduation.
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