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07/01/2013 06:39 pm ET

U.S. News Business School Rankings Validated By Study

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U.S. News & World Report is the preferred outlet for business school rankings, a peer-reviewed study found.

Graduates from business schools ranked high by the news magazine often earned higher salaries, on average, than graduates from lower-ranked schools, according to the study. The research also said U.S. News business school rankings were more objective than those by Bloomberg Businessweek or the Financial Times.

The study by Dawn Iacobucci, professor at the Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management, was published last week in the June edition of the Journal of Marketing Education.

Iacobucci measured whether MBA graduates from high-ranked schools collected higher salaries than graduates of lower-ranked schools in their first job after graduating:

For each higher U.S. News rank, a school's graduates earned $908.03 more in yearly salary, on average, at their first jobs following business school for the most recent year of data.

Every rank improvement for a school in the Financial Times rankings translated to, on average, $377.58 more, and in the Businessweek rankings, $605.27 more.

The study found that "schools that charge more, spend more, and sit on larger nest eggs, are those that are better ranked." But the study cautioned that the correlation didn't necessarily mean wealth caused top schools to be better.

The study praised U.S. News for publishing business school scores in addition to ranks and said it was the "strongest ranking in terms of objectivity."

U.S. News' college rankings began in 1983. The magazine has ranked business programs since 1990. Businessweek began its business school rankings in 1988, and the Financial Times started in 1999.

The general college and university rankings often take heat from college administrators, who say they have too much influence. College and high school counselors say the rankings confuse new college students and pressure institutions "to invest in strategies to maintain their rankings," according to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

A 2007 study published by the Law School Admission Council found rankings cause schools to "redistribute resources, alter the activities and job requirements of the organization, and develop strategies to 'game' the rankings." Rankings by multiple outlets prevent a dominant publication like U.S. News from becoming too powerful, the study said.

A disclosure in the study by Iacobucci said she did not receive any financial support from the publications studied, and has no potential conflicts of interest.

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