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Global MBA Rankings Methodology
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QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2018


The Global MBA Rankings 2018 highlight the best MBA programs across the world from the 232 programs (although over 250 programs were analyzed) that we ranked this year. Data was collected in early 2017, using three surveys; the QS Global Employer Survey, the QS Global Academic Survey and a survey completed by the business schools themselves.

The survey completed by schools covered quantitative indicators such as the salary of graduates, class profile etc. For the purpose of the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018, QS did not ask schools to survey their alumni. Instead, schools provided career progression information on their alumni using MBACSEA compliant standards.

A total of 13 criteria form the basis of five key indicators that programs were ranked on:

  1. Employability
  2. Entrepreneurship and Alumni Outcomes
  3. Return on Investment
  4. Thought Leadership
  5. Class & Faculty Diversity

Employability (40%)

The backbone of the rankings is the Global Employer Survey, which asks employers from which schools they prefer to hire. Between 2012 and 2017, we collected 158,000 responses from global employers across all sectors and industries. Participating employers include Facebook, Google, Uber, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. The total score for this indicator also considers the employment rate for students, three months post-graduation, based on MBACSEA standards.

Entrepreneurship and Alumni Outcomes (15%)

The Alumni Outcomes Index looks at the schools associated with 49,000 CEOs, executives and board members at the biggest  companies in the world including Apple, Amazon, UBS, IBM, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, ExxonMobil, AT&T, PepsiCo. etc.

To do this we considered over 150 global and regional lists including the Forbes 2000, the FT Global 500, top social media influencers, and various specialist publications. This is combined with the proportion of students from each program who have gone on to set up their own business.

To reflect a growing trend of students interested in setting up their own companies post-graduation, entrepreneurship accounts for a considerable proportion of the entrepreneurship and alumni outcomes. 

Return on Investment (20%)

We used a number of data points to determine return on investment, as it can often be one of the hardest metrics to accurately predict with many permutations and possibilities. We looked at a 10-year return on investment, mapping average post-MBA salaries against average salaries before enrolment, taking into account forgone salary as well as tuition and cost of living (using Mercer statistics). Salary increases are factored into both pre and post-MBA salary, with the latter increasing at a higher rate, as you would expect. Schools are given a graded bonus for the number of entrepreneurs produced, to account for the slower but potentially much higher return for those starting a business. We also take into account the percentage of graduates accepting employment within three months of finishing their studies.

We feel 10 years gives a more representative and meaningful return on investment compared with some rankings that use a five-year approach. No loans or scholarships were included in this methodology. We recognize no ROI calculation is perfect but believe we have come up with the best approximate ROI calculation with the data available.

Thought Leadership (15%)

This indicator is based on the responses of 172,107 academics from 60 countries around the world, who elect which institutions they believe are the strongest in their subject area. We also include research impact; as per the QS World University Rankings by Subject methodology, we measure citations per paper, rather than citations per faculty member. Another measurement that we take into account here is the percentage of faculty with a doctoral degree.

Class & Faculty Diversity (10%)

To give a clear representation of diversity with a program we looked at the percentage of female students and faculty members (schools with an equal split receiving the highest possible score). We also looked at the percentage of international faculty overall at the business school and the international mix of students on the MBA program.

For more information on this methodology, consult the FAQ on our sister site

QS Staff Writer's profile image
Written by QS Staff Writer

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