HBS Analyzes Data from Student-Wide Survey on MBA Rankings

Harvard University
Mark Cautela, Contributor

Findings show how prospective students utilize rankings publications.

As reported in the October edition of the Harbus, HBS Marketing and Communications, along with Admissions, surveyed all current MBA students to gauge the role of various independent MBA rankings in their application decision-making process. The survey focused on the most highly visible rankings, asking respondents which ones they referred to in their research, and how influential those rankings were to their school choices.

U.S. News & World Report, one of the leading rankings publications, was the most read by students at 74%.  When asked which publication most influenced their decision, U.S. News & World Report again led the way at 46%.

“Aside from identifying which rankings are most popular among students, the survey affirms that the rankings are being used to inform rather than to drive decisions,” said Brian Kenny, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for Harvard Business School. “In most cases the rankings are one of many data points students consider when narrowing their selection set for where to apply.”

While the administration would not commit to making the survey annual, they are open to similar surveys in the future if they provide insight into what is important to students and thus where the school should focus its marketing efforts and allocate resources.

In his role as Director of Communications for Harvard Business School, Mark Cautela relies on close to 20 years of industry experience to manage the centralized teams responsible for public relations, social media, content and internal communications. He is always looking for ways to ensure consistent messaging across the school’s many vehicles and to raise awareness of all of the amazing things going on at Harvard Business School with both external and internal audiences. Prior to joining HBS, Mark was Head of Communications for Staples, Inc., where he worked for 10 years. He began his career developing a broad set of communications skills with television production and advertising roles, as well as marketing and public relations positions at several agencies.