An MBA Ratings Upset

An MBA Ratings Upset

In rare win, St. Thomas nudges Carlson in Bloomberg’s rankings for part-time MBAs.

In the arena of Best Business School ratings, the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management long has been top dog in Minnesota. So eyebrows raised when University of St. Thomas finished 57th, two slots ahead of Carlson, on Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2015 rankings of part-time MBA programs.

But not everyone loves the Tommie MBA. U.S. News rated part-time MBA programs, and its methodology gave Carlson a 10th-place rating, while UST finished 113th.

U.S. News uses factors such as peer assessments, average GMAT scores, average undergraduate GPAs and work placements. Bloomberg’s study took a customer satisfaction approach, deriving its scores solely by surveying current students and alumni.

At St. Thomas, administrators are feeling good about the Bloomberg ranking because it is “tangible evidence” of how alumni and students view their education, says Carleen Kerttula, director of program innovation at St. Thomas. “Students will use it in some way, shape and form, as the school will use it as an external validation.”

U.S. News, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Economist, Financial Times and Forbes all rate business schools. The University of Minnesota doesn’t heavily publicize ratings, says Phil Miller, assistant dean of MBA programs at the Carlson School, because it is a “live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword” type of marketplace. He notes that some surveys place a high premium on academic reputation so the voting can be subjective.

In U.S. News’ full-time MBA rankings, Stanford came in first, Carlson was tied for 27th and St. Thomas was not ranked. St. Thomas has about 700 students in its evening MBA program, but it has a much smaller full-time program.