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Thirty Years of Bloomberg Businessweek B-School Rankings

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(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Thirty-plus years ago, when Businessweek set out to assess the quality of full-time U.S. MBA programs, getting the hard-copy surveys out the door took some doing. “I literally sat in front of the TV night after night stuffing envelopes,” recalls John Byrne, who headed the project. He printed out the surveys using an early-generation Mac and put in a lot of hours licking envelopes and stamps.

Byrne, the magazine’s management editor at the time, had seen numerous efforts to rate B-schools, but none had tried to measure how satisfied MBA graduates were with the education and training they’d received. Ultimately, Businessweek’s top editors were sold on the need to do just that. “Business schools believe in the discipline of the marketplace,” says Byrne, founder of, which covers MBA programs. But there was very little information available on how well they themselves were doing their job. “We thought, Why don’t we grade them on pure customer satisfaction?”

The 1988 inaugural survey also went to companies that hired from B-schools, in addition to recently minted MBAs. When the results were tallied, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, a pioneer in B-school teamwork building, came in No. 1 (it’s No. 8 this year), ahead of Harvard, Dartmouth, Wharton, and Cornell. Given that Kellogg wasn’t widely seen as a top-tier program, MBA deans across the country took notice.

Today’s rankings continue to gauge the quality of MBA training. To that end, Bloomberg News editors visited 15 schools this year and interviewed deans, professors, and administrators from 43, resulting in an overhaul of the methodology. Ultimately, schools, students, alumni, and the companies that hire MBAs are the best judges of the programs.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dimitra Kessenides at

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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