How Masters Rankings Can Help School Selection

Look behind the numbers to understand how Masters rankings are compiled for programmes in Finance, Accounting, Management, Business, and Marketing.

How Masters Rankings Can Help School Selection

Masters rankings can be a great resource to assist you in the selection of a post-graduate degree programme by revealing the quality and diversity of options available.

To use university rankings most effectively, look behind the numbers to understand how the lists are compiled and what type of information is revealed about each school. For post-graduate business studies, there are a number of reputable publications and online sites that rank specialised Masters programmes in accounting, business, management, or marketing.

Finance and Accounting Masters Rankings

One of the most reputable rankings for business degrees, the Financial Times (FT) Business School Rankings, is published annually in January and lists the top 55 pre-experience and the top five post-experience Masters in finance programmes. To be eligible for consideration in a ranking, universities must meet strict criteria for entry, including international accreditation, a minimum of 30 graduates, at least a four-year programme age, and a minimum of 20% of alumni survey participation. For the colleges eligible for ranking, analysts compile school data and survey programme graduates to produce the detailed list.

Check out: How to Choose a Masters Degree

A Masters in accounting is so closely related to a Masters in finance degree that one of the reputable rankings lumps them together. The Times Higher Education (THE) is a weekly, London-based publication that releases a global ranking called World University Rankings every two years in September. This ranking, which is independently audited by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, allows you to view the top-ranked Masters programmes in "accounting & finance" worldwide or by country, and you can also sort by specific criteria such as per cent of international students or male-to-female ratio.

Management and Business Masters Rankings

A ranking of top Masters in management degrees is released by FT at the same time as the Masters in finance ranking described above and uses virtually the same entry criteria. Over half the weight of the FT ranking comes directly from alumni surveys containing questions such as their current salary, the percentage of salary increase, their present career field, the level of placement assistance they received, and if they would recommend the programme. The remaining data used to calculate the ranking refers to the school itself, looking at criteria such as the diversity of students, staff, and board members; the number of faculty with doctorates; and how published the faculty was in the previous two years.

The published list contains much of the information listed above, as well as statistics such as the business schools’ rank the previous year and how many graduates found employment within three months of receiving their degree. One unique field included in the FT list is called “value,” and refers to a calculation based on the cost of the overall programme in relation to the salary earned by the graduate.

Check out: The Graduate School Search and Selection Process

Marketing Masters Rankings

Every two years, Eduniversal releases its ranking of Masters degrees in marketing by geographic region, such as in Western Europe or North America. Unlike FT and THE, Eduniversal is not a published periodical, but rather a business focused specifically on ranking universities around the world. Schools are given a ranking of one to five stars based on three categories, all equally weighted: 1) the reputation of the school, derived from the opinions of recruiters and administrators, 2) the salary of first employment, and 3) student satisfaction. Additionally, it offers bonus points for features such as the availability of distance learning or the opportunity to work abroad.

Conclusion

Even if ranked schools fall outside your budget or geographic range, there is still much information to be gleaned by studying rankings. For example, minimum entry criteria for a university to be considered for a ranking reveal the sort of standards you can expect from a reputable post-graduate institution, such as proper accreditation and age of the programme. Also, the formula used for ranking includes data you can use to compare a university you are considering to a top-ranked one, such as faculty-to-student ratio.

Check out: Masters Rankings and Reputation

Also noteworthy when analysing rankings is the fact that some universities may choose not to participate in the process. For example, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is not ranked at all by the FT’s Business School Rankings. This is not because LSE was found to be inferior, but because it chooses not to participate, which FT requires to be ranked.

Many more rankings can be found online, but instead of being overwhelmed by the information, seek only the data that is most important to you. Is it the salary earned by graduates? Is it the quality and reputation of the faculty? Or is it something else? Once you determine that, then you can find the ranking system that best reflects what you value most.

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