Global Business School Rankings: FAQs

We answer some of your questions about the new Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education Global Business School Rankings

July 25, 2017
business, race, business ranking
Source: iStock

Times Higher Education has been consulting with business schools to develop a range of new rankings of MBA, master’s in management and master’s in finance programmes. From our discussions we have collated a series of frequently asked questions that we hope will prove useful in explaining our plans for rankings.

If you have further questions or feedback please contact us at




What is new in your ranking? What will it do that other rankings do not already do?

Overall, our aim is to gather a wide range of measures of teaching quality, and to do so in a fair way to enable us to compare a large pool of global schools.
We will use a balanced scorecard approach that will be similar in outline to our WSJ/THE College Ranking. We want to produce a ranking that is detailed and complete enough to become a globally used benchmark by students and institutions.
No ranking is currently ranking as many schools as we are planning to include, or accounting for as many aspects of quality.

One point that we feel is lacking in current rankings is a good approach to normalising financial data (salaries): we will normalise these data by sector as well as geographically, using detailed student reports of salary before and after the course, to better understand the school’s impact.
Another aspect of a degree’s impact that we want to measure is the actual extent and impact of the alumni network (rather than its ‘potential’).
Our student survey will focus on better understanding the teaching/learning experience rather than placing too much weight on ’satisfaction’.

Who will you be ranking?

The aim is to rank accredited schools globally that offer MBA, master’s in management or master’s in finance programmes

What is the timeframe?

We are currently in the process of collecting data both directly from the universities and through the alumni survey. The deadline for submitting data is 20 April 2018.

How many rankings will you publish?

We will be publishing four rankings: one for one-year MBAs, one for two-year MBAs, one for master’s of finance and one for master’s in management. 

How will your four rankings differ?

Most of our metrics will apply to all four rankings. However, we might
(1) exclude some metrics for the two master’s rankings (eg, salary-related data), and
(2) ask slightly different questions for MBA v master’s alumni.

Do schools have to participate in all four rankings?

No; schools can participate in any of the four rankings.

When will the rankings be published?

We are targeting publication of the rankings late this year.

Will you publish detailed scores as well as the ranks?

Yes; we will publish the ranked schools’ ranks, overall score (enabling you to see more detail of their position) as well as pillar scores.
Metric scores will not be published publicly.

Where and how will the ranking be published?

The rankings will be published online and in print by both THE and WSJ.
In addition to the ranking results, both publications will present a number of analyses of the results from our editorial teams.


Inclusion criteria


What are the inclusion criteria?

Business schools are required to be accredited by AACSB, EFMD or AMBA and offer one of the following programmes: MBA, master’s in finance, master’s in management.

Programmes will have a minimum of 30 students and we require at least 20% and a minimum of 20 valid responses per cohort to our alumni survey.

Programmes will have been offered since 2011 for 1 year programmes and 2010 for 2 year programmes. 

Will you only be considering residential programmes?

For the first year of the rankings full-time only courses will be included. In future years we may look to expand on the range of courses we include.

Will all participating schools be ranked?

Inclusion will depend on the quality of data available – for example, we might exclude schools if we do not receive responses from a sufficient sample of their alumni. We also reserve the right to use editorial judgement in exceptional cases. However, our intention is to provide a ranking of all qualifying institutions.




Will you be using a GMAT measure?

We are not planning to use GMAT as a measure in the ranking as this is not a measure that is used globally. 

Will you be measuring career placement?

No, we will not be using career placement measures, as those show low variance across schools (almost all of them are around the 90 per cent mark) and as such this is not a very meaningful metric.

What weight will you apply to each metric?

We have not yet finalised the methodology. Following consultation with business schools and review of preliminary data, we have been able to refine the metrics (see below for the latest version of metrics and weighting ranges). All metrics are subject to being modified or excluded if we cannot gather data of sufficient scope or quality.

Do you have a detailed description of all the metrics?

We have not yet finalised the methodology - for the moment the metrics list is preliminary (see below for the latest version of metrics and weighting ranges), and all metrics are subject to being modified or excluded if we cannot gather data of sufficient scope or quality. We are currently consulting with business schools on metrics which will also feed into our decision.

Are you considering measuring the impact of schools’ research and teaching on business, organisational and policy practice?

The focus for these rankings will be teaching quality, rather than research excellence, asking alumni specific questions about their learning experience.
We are, however, open to adding external measures of teaching quality if the right data can be gathered: indicators that are universal (ie, comparable across all countries) and likely to be either (1) gathered by all schools or (2) found in reliable public datasets (such as OECD or World Bank indicators) would be good sources.
On the subject of research, measuring a school’s research production is possible, and we do so in one of our metrics; measuring this research’s impact is much more difficult to do, especially across many countries.

How will you compare financial (or financial-related) data across regions? (such as university cost, salary etc)

In our salary gain metric, we will use normalising indicators to account for regional differences, at the country level and when possible a more fine-grained geographical level too (RPP/PPP); we will also take into account the sector or industry.
The purpose behind the salary metric is to consider what in the salary change (which can be negative) is a result of the education the student received at the school rather than other factors (student changed country, changed industry, etc). We will therefore try to normalise for as many factors as possible to make both (1) all students’ salaries and (2) one student’s ‘before’ and ‘after’ salaries comparable.

Draft pillars, metrics and weightings 

Download draft pillars, metrics and weightings


Data collection 

Data collection




What are your data sources?

Data will be sourced from the following:
1. direct submissions from schools through our portal for the majority of our Resources and Environment metrics
2. an alumni survey, asking students for feedback on a variety of Engagement questions
3. feedback from employers (TBD)
4. Elsevier for all bibliometric data
5. public sources (OECD, World Bank...) for reference data such as RPP


How do you validate data submitted by universities?

Data will be cross checked against external sources, at our discretion, and we reserve the right to investigate institutions where we believe inappropriate data collection or submission has taken place.

Alumni survey

Who will the alumni survey target?

We plan to survey two groups of alumni: alumni who graduated recently and have fresh memories of their experience (years ago) and alumni who graduated longer ago and have had time to see the effects of the degree on their life and career (4/5 years ago).

Note that in the first year we will survey three cohorts instead of two to ensure we have a sufficient number of responses to start with; in subsequent years, we would use 2 years’ data to prevent volatility of the survey-based metrics.


Is there a minimum requirement in terms of response rates from alumni in the alumni survey?

The absolute minimum number of responses required is 20% of the total cohort, and for small cohorts 20 responses.


How will the alumni survey be administered?

The survey can be administered in two ways:
(1) Business schools and universities provide THE with alumni email addresses for THE to distribute the survey to;
(2) THE provides business schools and universities with the link to the survey to distribute to their alumni directly. Before being provided with the link to the survey the business school/university will be required to sign a declaration confirming the group they will send the survey to. This will be subject to verification.


What questions will you ask the alumni?

We will ask a core set of questions to find out about students’ learning experience as well as more business-school-specific questions (real-world teaching relevance, impact on employment, use of alumni network, social good...).


Will you share the survey instrument with schools?

Yes; we will share the questions themselves with the school and will also publish the questions in our methodology.

Employer survey

Will employers be surveyed for this ranking?

We have decided not to include an employer survey for the first year of the ranking. 

After the ranking...

Will participating schools be given access to their data?

Schools who participate will be sent an overview of their performance across pillars and metrics, giving them their score in each and the general distribution across all ranked business schools.


Read next: overview of the THE Global Business School Rankings

We are currently in the process of collecting data both directly from the universities and through the alumni survey. The deadline for submitting data is 20 April 2018.

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Reader's comments (1)

As an enthusiastic follower of the THE, I welcome this new initiative; however, I am a bit surprised to see that accreditation by at least one of the three professional accreditation bodies (i.e. AACSB, AMBA, EFMD) has been set as one of the eligibility criteria for this new ranking to come. This is because I think that this type of accreditation, which is a voluntary path for business schools to follow, and in that different from the institutional accreditation or official recognition (e.g. Regional/National accreditation of the unis in the US, HEFCE recognition based on successful QAA review in the UK, etc.), could be included as another KPI with a specific weight, rather than as a pre-condition. Given there are also "diversity and engagement" aspects mentioned above, I think this criterion (i.e. professional accreditation) might play an adverse role, leading some quality business schools with strong links to industry to be left out. Regards,

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments