Methodology for Fortune’s 2022 Best MBA ranking

BY Meghan MalasOctober 04, 2022, 8:36 PM
Martin Laksman

MBA programs remain one of the most promising ways to earn a high salary and land a job at a top company. More than 90% of corporate recruiters say they expect to hire new MBA graduates in 2022, according to a report by the Graduate Management Admission Council. Additionally, the median salary for MBA grads continues to climb, with half of the business schools participating in Fortune’s Best MBA ranking reporting median salaries of $110,000 or more. 

Whether it be to open doors for job opportunities, increase salary potential, accelerate career path, or gain a valuable network of peers—a large majority of MBA graduates say the time and effort put into their degree is worthwhile. But as the business landscape changes, which schools are the leaders in preparing the next generation of managers? 

To answer this question, for the second year in a row, Fortune is launching its ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the country. In total, we ranked 76 MBA programs. In our methodology, we not only considered data provided by schools via questionnaires and each business school’s brand, but also each school’s role in propelling MBA graduates into the C-suite of top companies. 

Our final ranking is made up of three components: Outcomes Score, Fortune 1000 Score, and Brand Score.

Outcomes Score (65%)

Employers like Deloitte, Amazon, Bain & Co., Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Procter & Gamble battle annually for the best and brightest new MBA grads. They’re willing to pay more for grads of particular programs, while they skip some campuses altogether.

That’s why we made starting salaries such a big component of our ranking. We equally weighted median base salary and mean base salary for each program’s 2021 MBA class. We did not factor in pay like signing bonuses.

Additionally, our Outcomes Score looked at the school’s job placement rate for its 2021 class. This is the percentage of new graduates who accepted a job within three months of graduation.

For earnings and placement questions, schools followed the MBA CSEA Standards for Reporting MBA Employment Statistics.

Brand Score (25%)

Fortune partnered with Ipsos to survey thousands of business professionals and hiring managers to get their thoughts on specific B-schools. This metric looks at business school brands, not just their full-time MBA program.

Ipsos deployed a survey methodology similar to the one it would use if a consumer brands company asked it to evaluate the company’s brand strength. For this research, Ipsos interviewed a total of 2,500 professionals. These professionals work in a corporate role, have attended college and/or an institution of higher education, and know at least two of the schools in our selection.

Ipsos completed the fieldwork between March 16 and March 24, 2021. The total length of each interview was 13 minutes. The results yielded a 95% confidence interval, which gives us a maximum ±1.96% margin of error. This analysis was done on a regional basis. The exception being the nation’s top 20 business schools (according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking), which we also measured on a national basis.

The final score produced is a business school’s Attitudinal Equity (AE) measurement. That tells us, according to Ipsos, “how much a group of people want to recruit from the university. It is the university’s share of mind.” (For more on Attitudinal Equity scores, go here.)

Fortune 1000 Score (10%)

Good business schools help grads get good jobs, while elite programs help develop the future leaders of business. We sought to find schools with a good track record doing the latter. That’s why Fortune looked at the number of each school’s MBA alumni who are executives (C-suite only) at Fortune 1000 companies. This includes everyone from CEOs to CFOs to CIOs. The more Fortune 1000 C-level placement, the higher the school’s Fortune 1000 Score.

A school’s score includes Fortune 1000 C-levels who graduated with an MBA from the school (regardless of the type of MBA program).

(Note: The Fortune 1000 are the 1,000 largest U.S. publicly traded companies ranked by revenues, as compiled by Fortune.)