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BusinessWeek 2008 Business School Rankings: A Closer Look

Today we’ll take a closer look at how the various top programs fared in BusinessWeek’s most recent business school rankings, released last week.

Chicago Booth held firmly to the number one spot it secured in the 2006 rankings, boasting high scores in both the corporate recruiter and graduate surveys. Harvard Business School (HBS) and Wharton traded places this year, with HBS climbing to number two and Wharton slipping to number four. BW’s Louis Lavelle attributed Wharton’s slide to a poorer showing in the intellectual capital category this year than in 2006. 

Columbia, meanwhile, advanced from the number 10 spot to number seven, but MIT Sloan and Berkeley’s Haas School of Business each slipped slightly. Also noteworthy was the fact that Southern Methodist University (18) and Brigham Young University (22) each cracked the top 25 this year for the first time ever. SMU, for its part, has been among the participating schools for years, but lacked sufficient response rates in the recruiter and student portions of the ranking to secure a top spot before now, according to BW’s Geoff Gloeckler.

There were also two newcomers to the Global MBA rankings, IE Business School (2) and Oxford’s Saïd Business School (10). Like SMU, IE has long been a participant but until this year had insufficient recruiter and student response rates, Gloeckler said.

Yale School of Management, meanwhile, seems to have fallen back slightly. It came in at 24 this year, down from 19 in 2006. Lavelle attributed its fall to low student survey scores.

In an article accompanying the rankings, BW takes a look at the current business school landscape, which it says is marked by surging application rates amid “wretched” recruiting prospects.

As has historically been the case in times of economic downturn, application rates to business schools are rising steadily. According to the BW report, schools are reporting double-digit increases in application volume. Chicago Booth, for example, has seen a 20 percent surge in attendance at information sessions around the globe.

But even as more students clamor to get in, job prospects upon graduation are uncertain, with some schools bracing for the toughest MBA job market since the dotcom bust. “I think next fall is going to be very, very difficult,” George Daly, dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, told BW.

The article went on to cite a survey by umbrella group MBA Career Services Council, in which 70 percent of 77 participating schools reported a downturn in full-time recruiting opportunities in financial services in October.

As a result, some students are shifting their focus from investment banking to consulting and other fields. Attendance at recruiting presentations by consulting firms is standing room only, New York University’s Stern School of Business Dean Gary Fraser told BW.

A shift is also taking place in the classroom, as professors are introducing new case studies and re-writing syllabi as part of an effort to make sense of the financial crisis and market upheaval.

Risk management, meanwhile, is expected to play a much more important role in business school curriculums over the next three to five years, according to the BW report, a trend that Robert Meyer, co-director of Wharton’s Risk Management & Decision Processes Center, calls “potentially transformational.”

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Posted in: MBA News, Rankings News