The MBA ratings explained

How to use the ratings

This section brings together a number of ratings and rankings of business schools and their MBAs.

  • The first group of ratings and rankings covers the providers of the MBAs: the business schools or faculties. They look at the characteristics of business schools; staff qualities (such as the academic qualifications and management experience of academic staff); their share of the MBA market; and their links with industry.
  • The next group looks at graduate outcomes (graduate jobs and starting salaries). Note that some of these ratings may relate to the university in which a business school is based and cover outcomes from programs other than MBAs.
  • The final group of ratings and rankings relates to MBAs, including the costs and time commitment required, the curriculum and characteristics of each program and the demographics of those enrolled.

The ratings and rankings include comparisons of employment rates and starting salaries. These are influenced by many things other than the business school or university attended, including differences between cities and regions in levels of demand for graduates. Note also that these ratings refer to those who graduated from masters by coursework programs in the field of business administration or management. For a specific institution, this may include MBA programs and other graduate management programs. The rankings and ratings show that courses differ in many ways — only you can decide the differences that really matter.

Remember that ratings and rankings are indicators only. They help but do not present a full picture of what it’s like to study a certain course or attend a particular campus. Make sure you do careful on-the-ground research and choose carefully!

Institution ratings

Characteristics

The ‘Corporate links’ rating
★★★★★ places the institution in the first of five bands; ★★★★ puts it in the second band; and so on. This information is based on the number of organisations that are represented on the board of the business school, provide donations of $10,000 or more each year and/or have endowed a professorial position. This information is provided by the business schools.

The ‘Size of management faculty’ rating
★★★★★ indicates that the number of specialist academics is high enough to be in the top 20 per cent of business schools; ★★★★ indicates that the school is in the next 20 per cent; and so on. This information is provided by the business schools.

Staff profile

The ‘Gender diversity: staff and students’ rating
★★★★★ indicates that the gender divide is within five per cent of an ideal 50:50 split; ★★★★ indicates that it's within 15 per cent of a 50:50 split; ★★★ indicates that it's within 25 per cent of a 50:50 split; ★★ indicates that it's within 35 per cent of a 50:50 split; and ★ indicates that the gender divide is heavily skewed in favour of either majority male or majority female (85 per cent or more). This information is provided by the business schools.

The ‘International management experience’ rating
★★★★★ indicates that 80 per cent or more of the academic staff of the business school have had at least one year of experience in management overseas; ★★★★ indicates between 60 and 79 per cent; and so on. This information is provided by the business schools.

The ‘Academic qualifications’ rating
★★★★★ indicates that 80 per cent or more of teaching staff in the business school hold a PhD or equivalent; ★★★★ indicates between 60 and 79 per cent; and so on. This information is provided by the business schools.

The ‘Academic staff proportion female’ rating
★★★★★ indicates that the proportion of academics in management education who are women is high enough to put the business school in the top 20 per cent; ★★★★ indicates that the school is in the next 20 per cent; and so on. This information is provided by the business schools.

Market share — all students and international market

This information is based on data for 2012 full-year enrolments in MBA programs as provided by the business schools.

Outcomes for business and management graduates

The ‘Graduate salary’ rating
★★★★★ means the average salaries for graduates from masters-level coursework programs in management (which may include MBAs) are high enough to put this institution in the top 20 per cent; ★★★★ puts it in the second 20 per cent; and so on. Two salary scales are used in this rating: salaries of graduates who undertook their studies on a full-time basis and those who undertook their studies on a part-time basis. This information is based on the Graduate Destinations Survey of 2010 and 2011 graduates conducted by Graduate Careers Australia.

The ‘Getting a job’ rating
★★★★★ means the proportion of jobseeking graduates from a masters degree in management (which may include MBAs) from the university who were successful in securing full-time employment within four months of graduation or part-time employment (for those not seeking full-time employment) is high enough to put this institution among the top 20 per cent; ★★★★ puts it in the second 20 per cent; and so on. This information is based on the Graduate Destinations Survey of 2010 and 2011 graduates conducted by Graduate Careers Australia.

MBA courses

Length of program
This refers to the minimum time usually taken for completion. This varies greatly — from up to two years (or six semesters) of full-time study for some programs to as little as one year (or two semesters) for others. The average is about 1.5 years of full-time study. Some providers also offer their programs over three trimesters or four terms per calendar year. This information is supplied by MBA providers.

Time commitment
This refers to the estimated total amount of time required for class attendance and private study. This rating takes into account the total number of commitment hours required over the minimum number of years in which a student may be able to complete a program. The result of this calculation can be expressed in equivalent days per week over the life of a program.

Very high: 5 days per week
High: 4 days
Average: 3 days
Low: 2 days
Very low: 1 day or less

Note: This rating is intended as a very broad basis of comparison only. In most cases, prospective students can expect the time commitment for their chosen program to fluctuate significantly. Residential programs, for example, may require greater commitment than indicated by this broad comparison. When residential programs are completed, the total time commitment for an MBA program may drop below that indicated by this scale.

Contact hours
This refers to the estimated time required for MBA class attendance. This range from a very low requirement of below 288 hours to a very high requirement of up to 850 hours as reported by MBA providers. At one end of the scale, some programs require residential attendance, and, at the other end, some distance education providers do not require any contact hours. Our rating uses the following:

Very high: equivalent to 2 or more days
High: 1.5 to 2 days
Average: 1 day
Low: half a day
Very low: less than half a day

Note: This rating is intended as a very broad basis of comparison only. Contact hour requirements will typically fluctuate over the life of the program — prospective students can expect a much higher contact requirement than indicated by this scale for one half of a given program, and less for the second half of the same program. Contact institutions for full details.

The investment

Fees — international and domestic
This shows the tuition fees charged for the whole program to fee-paying students (international and domestic). These fees generally do not include costs of books, travel or other incidentals.

For international students, fees refer to the following:
Very high: $54,500 or above
High: over $44,000 to under $54,500
Average: $35,400 to under $44,000
Low: over $29,700 to under $35,400
Very low: less than $29,700

For domestic students, fees refer to the following:
Very high: $47,500 and above
High: over $39,600 to under $47,500
Average: over $30,500 to under $36,900
Low: over $26,000 to under $30,500
Very low: less than $26,000

Note that some institutions offer Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs). These contributions are considerably lower than the above listing of full-fee paying places.

The experience

Choice in curriculum
This rating looks at the number of elective and compulsory units in a given MBA program and expresses the number of elective units as a proportion of all units. ‘Very wide’ indicates that the proportion of electives offered by the business school puts it in the highest band; ‘wide’ puts it in the next highest band; and so on. This information is provided by the business schools.

Who's there?

MBAs range from programs with less than 30 enrolments to distance education cohorts of over 2000. Some have only one or two (or no) international students, while others have hundreds of students from overseas or who are studying at an overseas campus. Some have a very low (less than 20 per cent) enrolment of part-timers, women or non-English-speaking background (NESB) students. In others, the enrolment of these groups is very high, at over 80 per cent.