Methodology for Fortune’s executive MBA ranking

BY Lance LambertAugust 31, 2021, 12:05 AM
Martin Laksman

Fortune invited just over 30 schools to participate in our first-ever Best Executive MBA Programs ranking. That information, along with data we collected from companies and executives, was used to build our ranking.

Programs that didn’t complete the questionnaire were still included in the ranking. In order to do so, we collected most of their data by pulling it from their school website.

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

Program Score (60%)

Executive MBA seekers are very different from other MBA students. For starters, they’re further along in their careers. That’s why Fortune included the average years of work experience in the rankings. At the end of the day, the work experience metric had little impact on the final ranking—given that the figure is very similar at most of these schools. However, it’s still a worthwhile metric to include: If a program that isn’t a true EMBA program ever pops up, this metric would weed it out.

Some of the value of an EMBA degree simply comes from networking with and learning from your classmates. After all, many of them already have a decade-plus of business experience and will ultimately end up in the C-suite. Ideally, to measure this we’d use current salary or career-progression data, however, that information isn’t universally collected by schools. Instead, we leaned into selectivity metrics, including the average GMAT score and average GPA of incoming students.

If schools didn’t provide these three metrics, Fortune either pulled the information from their website or used metrics collected by The Economist.

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 EMBA program.

Ipsos deployed a survey methodology similar to what it would use if asked by a consumer brands company to evaluate its 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 (15%)

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.)