SOM ranking holds steady

Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking of MBA programs once again listed Yale’s at 21st.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking of MBA programs once again listed Yale’s at 21st. Photo by Kathryn Crandall.

Yale School of Management Dean Edward Snyder was not surprised by SOM’s spot on Bloomberg Businessweek’s biennial ranking of full-time U.S. MBA programs.

The list, which came out in November, gave SOM the 21st ranking — exactly the same spot the school earned two years ago. Though there has been no change in the rankings this year, professors and students interviewed said they think the school has been evolving under Snyder’s leadership, citing the launch of the Global Network for Advanced Management, a partnership between SOM and 21 international business schools, and staff changes within the school’s career development office as important initiatives Snyder has spearheaded since June 2011, when he assumed his post as the 10th dean of SOM. Most agreed that changes within an institution are usually slow to manifest themselves in rankings — especially in ones that come out annually or biennially.

“I did [not] anticipate a substantial change in SOM’s rankings the moment a new dean arrived,” said Jim Baron, the SOM professor who chaired the faculty committee that recommended Snyder’s appointment to the SOM deanship. “There is something pretty fishy about the notion that you can or should assess … how well institutions [like ours] are performing on a yearly or biannual basis.”

Snyder, who said he “did not have strong expectations” about this year’s rankings, said he has been trying to integrate SOM with the rest of the University and engage the school globally — initiatives he said take time to reach their full effect.

SOM student government president Caitlin Sullivan SOM ’13 called rankings “a lagging indicator,” adding that students have noticed improvements — such as the growing number of degree programs and the new associate deans hired to manage them — within the school since Snyder joined its administration. She said rankings with sound methodologies will likely reflect such improvements in the future.

Della Bradshaw, the business education editor of the United Kingdom-based Financial Times, said one would not expect a rise in SOM’s rankings before next year, adding that it can take up to three or four years for rankings to recognize a school’s improvements. The Financial Times ranked SOM 20th globally in its latest rankings released in January 2012.

But Snyder said he is “impatient” to see the school’s position in the rankings rise as soon as possible, since business school rankings influence the quality and range of opportunities offered to SOM students and alumni.

John Byrne, a former executive editor of Businessweek who designed the publication’s business school rankings and currently runs the business school news site Poets and Quants, said he was surprised SOM’s Businessweek ranking has not improved, adding that he thinks Snyder has been at SOM long enough for his initiatives to affect the primarily opinion-based ranking.

Byrne said Businessweek’s rankings are predominantly based on surveys that assess the satisfaction of a school’s graduates and the opinions of corporate recruiters. When compared with the University’s $19.3-billion endowment, Byrne said the amount of money Yale spends on its MBA program is “less than what [one] would expect,” a factor he said must lead to some graduate dissatisfaction. Byrne added that some recruiters might not be clear about the professional training SOM students receive, given the school’s historic reputation of educating students to work in the nonprofit and public sectors. As a result, companies may be more hesitant to hire SOM graduates, Byrne said.

“What we say to recruiters when they ask about the profiles of our students is that we have students interested in all sectors who have appreciation for the need to work across sectors,” Snyder said. “Recruiters and hirers like that, [but] it may take some time for it to be understood.”

SOM’s rankings could increase substantially, Byrne said, if Snyder makes a concerted effort to turn SOM into a “core recruiting school” by bringing mainstream recruiters like JPMorgan, McKinsey, Microsoft, Amazon and Google to campus.

A potential reason for SOM’s relatively low ranking, Bradshaw said, is the fact that only 89 percent of SOM graduates are employed within three months of graduation. Roughly 97 percent of 2011 alumni from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School — all ranked higher than SOM — were employed at three months after graduation.

Snyder said students at other business schools may have firmer plans for their post-graduation career trajectories than SOM students.

“The types of students we attract are exploring lots of options,” he said. “They like to explore all sectors. One thing we don’t want to do to improve our rankings is [stop] attracting such students — the broad-minded, intellectually curious, I-want-to-explore type of students.”

Before Snyder arrived at Yale, he was dean of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

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