Methodology

The Bloomberg Businessweek Best B-Schools ranking starts with a basic premise: The best judges of MBA programs are graduating students, recent alumni, and companies that recruit MBAs. And we want the best answers. Are schools offering what millennial students need, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic? Are recent graduates able to leverage what they’ve learned and tap into their schools’ networks? What do businesses value most in recruits?

We learned that the major stakeholders—students, alumni, and recruiters—can have differing and overlapping needs and interests. So we rank schools based on four indexes that capture key elements of business school education: Compensation, Learning, Networking, and Entrepreneurship.

For the 2021-22 ranking, we added a fifth index for U.S. schools: Diversity. For the first time, schools are providing data on race, ethnicity, and gender in their classes in a standardized way we can measure. We wanted to add this index several years ago, but schools were reluctant to provide the information, and there wasn’t a standard way to compare it. That changed in the business school community with the historic national reckoning on race in the U.S. that was triggered by the killing of George Floyd. Full details on the Diversity Index follow in the diversity section below.

Our methodology involves two steps. Step 1 generates weightings for each index.

Rather than assign the indexes relative weightings ourselves, as most rankings systems do, we let the stakeholders decide. In our surveys, we ask students, alumni, and recruiters what was most important to them. We provide a dozen options, such as “increase my earnings potential,” “build my professional network,” and “learn how to start or develop a business.” In the U.S. surveys, we also offer diversity options such as “learn in a diverse, equitable and inclusive B-school environment” and “learn how to work successfully in an increasingly diverse workforce.” Survey takers rank the five most important. Their answers determine the weightings of each of our indexes.

Step 2 asks a range of survey questions on the business school experience, each mapped to a specific index. We also collect MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA) employment and compensation data from schools. From U.S. schools, we also collect data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of their class members. From survey scores and the data, we calculate the overall ranking.

Our overarching goal is to present an interactive ranking that helps potential students make one of the most important personal and professional decisions of their lives.

Our design is meant to make customization easy. Prospective students can filter school choices by geography, compare schools by the median salaries earned by graduates, and discover where industries recruit their MBA hires and how much they pay them. Our Diversity Index lets prospective students explore which U.S. schools have the highest percentage of female, Black, Hispanic, Asian American, LGBTQ (and other minority) students.

Every MBA program in our ranking has its own page highlighting the school-specific data we collected, with opportunities to compare with data from other schools. We also provide on-the-ground color for each school from more than 19,000 student and alumni responses, applying an algorithm to deliver the most representative comments in a flavor-filled supplement to the metric-based rankings.

The Diversity Index

Our first-ever Diversity Index rewards schools for recruiting both minority students and women, with additional weight given to underrepresented minorities. Our Diversity Index table shows each school’s ranking and score, as well as percentages of male and female students and breakdowns by race and ethnicity. The table provides easy ways to sort the data. A prospective student can easily find the schools with the highest percentage of Black students, for instance, or women. Individual school pages also provide easy comparisons of gender, race, and ethnicity among schools.

The index is constructed as follows:

Race and Ethnicity (50%)

Total minority population

Schools provided us with percentages of the first-year class of American students for the following groups: White, Black, Asian, American Indian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Multiracial, and Hispanic. These groups are categorized as such by institutes of education when submitting data to the federal government.

Before summing up the minority percentages, adjustments are made to each group according to the “GMAT pipeline.” A multiplier is used to adjust a school’s minority group population based on that group’s presence in the GMAT relative to the U.S. population. By comparing the GMAT makeup and the U.S. population makeup, we are able to identify overrepresented minority groups such as Asian American students (GMAT % > US %), and such underrepresented minority groups as Black and Hispanic students (GMAT % < US %). We then give schools more credit for the underrepresented minority students they recruit, and less credit for the overrepresented minority students they recruit.
That multiplier is then applied to each group’s true percentage. For example, a school with 20% Black students would have an “adjusted Black share” of (20*1.7) = 34%.

Below are the multipliers.

Race/EthnicityU.S. population percentage (Q)GMAT population percentage (P)Multiplier (Q/P)
Black14.058.251.70214
American Indian and Alaska Native1.740.951.82327
Asian American6.5916.020.41156
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander0.430.580.74776
Multiracial3.322.961.12123
Hispanic or Latinx (of any race)18.011.96897

We then sum up all adjusted racial/ethnic shares of all minority groups for each school. This number can exceed 100% because: 1) Students can select more than one race, and 2) The adjusted shares naturally inflate the percentage of certain groups.

We then take the logarithm of each total percentage score to reduce the impact of outliers. The transformed scores are normalized onto a 1-100 scale. Schools that do not provide diversity data receive a zero.

Gender (50%)

Total women + nonbinary population

We caculate the total percentages of women and nonbinary students for each school.

We then take the logarithm of each total percentage score to reduce the impact of outliers. The transformed scores are then normalized onto a 1-100 scale. Schools that do not provide diversity data receive a zero.

Final Scoring

Final Diversity Index Score: The two log-adjusted scores for race/ethnicity and gender are averaged to obtain a fresh total score. These scores are then re-scaled onto a 1-7 scale for a final raw score. This figure is used when applying the Diversity Index’s weighting to a school’s overall score for the entire ranking.

Regional Results

We are displaying regional pages for Europe, Asia, and Canada in addition to one for the U.S. We scored schools in two separate groups, U.S. and non-U.S., on a 0-100 scale.

The Five Indexes and Their Weightings for U.S. Schools

Compensation Index35.7%
Learning Index25.8%
Networking Index17.8%
Entrepreneurship Index12.0%
Diversity Index8.6%

The Four Indexes and Their Weightings for Schools in Europe, Asia, and Canada

Compensation Index36.5%
Learning Index25.3%
Networking Index23.8%
Entrepreneurship Index14.4%

Compensation: Not surprisingly, earnings rank highest. Our index uses these measures: pay right after graduation, what alumni are earning, percentage of students employed three months after graduation, percentage of a class receiving a signing bonus, and size of bonuses.

Learning: For the schools’ core mission, we explore the quality, depth, and range of instruction. We focus on whether the curriculum is applicable to real-world business situations; the degree of emphasis on innovation, problem-solving, and strategic thinking; the level of inspiration and support from instructors; class size; and collaboration.

Networking: This is one of the biggest benefits students expect from attending business school. So we focus on the quality of networks being built by classmates; students’ interactions with alumni; successes of the career-services office; quality and breadth of alumni-to-alumni interactions; and the school’s halo, or brand power, from recruiters’ viewpoints.

Entrepreneurship: Students see entrepreneurship as central to their overall training, whether they want to start their own businesses or work at a big bank. Alumni told us whether their school took entrepreneurship as seriously as other career paths and rated the quality of training they received to start a small business or startup. Recruiters ranked schools according to whether graduates showed exceptional entrepreneurial skills and drive.

Other Features

Ranking Personalization

While the overall ranking is likely to be of keen interest, prospective students want to be able to compare smaller sets of schools. To help readers customize and explore, we created filtering tools to sort schools by a range of GMAT scores and salaries, geographic preferences, and industry choices. We also enable easy comparisons among schools.

Campus Atmosphere

To describe what campus life is like, we focused on the climate for female, LGBTQ, and minority students in their education, social lives, and opportunities. We asked broad questions such as whether “women are given equal opportunity to participate in class discussions and on teams” and whether “minorities are well represented among the faculty and administration.” We also focused on questions more specific to B-schools, such as whether “minority protagonists are well represented in case studies.”

Quotes Highlighting What’s Best About a School

We got answers from 14,536 students and alumni to a basic, open-ended question: "What is the best thing about your MBA program?" We used natural language-processing to identify representative comments from each school based on their common themes and keywords. After eliminating duplicates, we present these comments on each school's page.

Key Numbers

The Universe

Bloomberg ranked 119 business schools around the world. Programs can be located anywhere in the world, but classes must be taught primarily in English.

All schools were required to submit employment data for the Class of 2020, following standards set by MBA CSEA, a trade group founded in 1994 to establish and collect consistent, comparable, peer-reviewed data.

Schools were then given surveys to send to three stakeholder groups:

  • Students who graduated from Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021
  • Alumni who graduated from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2015
  • Employers that recruited MBA graduates for full-time positions in 2019 and 2020

With the help of the business schools, we surveyed 6,640  students, 12,462 alumni, and 853 employers.

Schools had to abide by Bloomberg’s strict code of ethics, which is meant to ensure that all survey respondents voluntarily take part in our surveys with no bias or pressure from school officials or their peers.

Minimum thresholds for survey response rates were based on the size of a school’s graduating and alumni classes. Schools that did not meet survey thresholds were eliminated. We qualified several schools at lower participation rates because their results fell within the same margin of error as other schools their size.

Scores

Surveys for all three stakeholder groups included “factor responses” and “agreement questions.”

Factor responses were reasons for attending business school (for students and alumni) or hiring qualities (for employers). Each survey taker was asked to rank up to five factors most important to their school experience. The factors were tied to one of the four indexes. For example, the “quantitative skills” factor from the employer survey was linked to the Learning Index.

Once survey takers selected factors, they were asked how well they agreed or disagreed with a statement associated with that factor. For example, students who stated that they attended business school “to develop my quantitative skills” were then asked how well the school delivered on that particular factor.

Survey takers were also asked to agree or disagree with a series of statements—presented to all respondents, regardless of which unique factors they chose—which, in turn, were tied to a particular index. For example, all students were asked to agree or disagree with the statement “My school’s name and prestige attract recruiters,” which was tied to the Networking Index.

The top-ranked response for each factor was assigned 5 points, with assignments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 point to the respective runners-up. These points were used to weight each index.

Further weighting was applied to reflect that alumni selections are most important (40%), followed by those of employers (35%) and finally, of students (25%). Bloomberg’s reporting shows that alumni, fully immersed in the workforce for several years, have the best vantage point for rating their business schools. (Of the three alumni classes, the most recent accounts for 50% of the score—and the other two classes 25% each—in order to weight more heavily the alumni with the most recent experiences.) Employers know what they’re seeking and are thus given the second-highest weighting. Students, emerging with their first post-MBA jobs, are just beginning to grasp the impact of their experience.

Individual School Scores

Stakeholders’ responses were tallied and averaged. For the Learning, Networking, and Entrepreneurship indexes, the averaged scores were adjusted according to the weighting of the stakeholders, as noted above.

Since employers who evaluated business schools from which they had graduated scored their own schools 9% higher than other schools on average, we made adjustments for this bias, based on the number of alumni recruiters and the degree of bias seen.

The Compensation Index was weighted 75% by employment data provided by schools and alumni and 25% by other survey questions related to compensation. The 75% component consisted of:

Median salary after graduation30%
Median current salary for alumni22.5%
Percentage of students seeking employment who were employed within three months of graduation11.25%
Percentage of students reporting salary information who received a signing bonus5.625%
Median size of signing bonus5.625%


The Compensation, Learning, Networking, and Entrepreneurship indexes were scored on a linear 1-7 scale. Scores were calculated based on survey respondents’ answers to questions with seven choices for rating their experiences associated with each school. For portions of the ranking that involved data on salaries and employment figures, the school with the minimum figure was given a 1 while the school with the maximum figure was given a 7. All other schools were scored proportionally between these two extremes. The Diversity Index was scored using the same method, albeit with a logarithmic 1-7 scale rather than linear to reduce the impact of outliers.

All schools were given a final raw score of 1-7, which was then rescaled to 0-100.

For non-U.S.-based schools, salaries submitted in local currencies were converted to U.S. dollars, using the average exchange rate for the year ending June 30, 2021. Salaries were not adjusted for parity in purchasing power.

After we calculated each school’s index score, a final overall ranking score was calculated by applying the index weightings. These raw scores were then normalized from zero to 100, using all schools globally.

All ranked schools confirmed the accuracy of the data they had submitted to Bloomberg in August and September.