Paul L. Caron

Monday, April 27, 2020

GMAC, Accreditors Seek To Postpone Business School Rankings During COVID-19

Coronavirus US News Business SchoolBloomberg Businessweek
The Economist
Financial Times
US News & World Report

This has been an unprecedented few months for our world. As we all continue to navigate the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, our first thought is for the safety and well-being of our frontline healthcare professionals and everyone who continues to be impacted by these difficult circumstances. 

The reach of COVID-19 knows no boundaries:

  • Business schools and students are dealing with questions of when and how upcoming classes will begin, as all formats shift online.
  • MBA and business master’s graduates, poised to join a historically strong job market with record-high salaries for MBA’s, now find themselves dealing with uncertainty. 
  • While mobility has become a significant issue over the past few years, the current environment has effectively halted cross-border travel, a reality that will not resolve itself quickly. Accepted students face uncertainty about obtaining visas and getting to campus for the start of their chosen program. 
  • Governments around the world are grappling with how to manage their respective economies; commerce has come to a halt. 

Business school deans and administrators have always understood the impact outside forces have on their mission to develop diverse, high-level talent in their classrooms. Traditionally, such forces have included economic fluctuations, trade wars, advances in technology, and political factors. 

The forces we face today are extraordinary. 

As industry leaders representing business schools and candidates, AACSB [Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business], EFMD [European Foundation for Management Development] and GMAC [Graduate Management Admission Council] understand and appreciate the impact COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on the admissions process, coupled with the economic uncertainty for graduates and potential employers. Given this new normal, we need to work together to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis for schools and students around the world. Therefore, we strongly advocate that all rankings institutions postpone their work and publication on business school rankings, to provide business schools worldwide the opportunity to rebound in these tumultuous circumstances. 

The current crisis will have unknown impacts on key metrics that rankings institutions rely on to create their respective products. Graduating students, recent alumni and companies that recruit business school graduates are all dealing with their own challenges—a fact that on its own stands to skew results in a way that calls the viability of rankings surveys into question. 

While requesting this exceptional delay, our organizations, in line with perspective also shared by MBA CSEA [MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance], are also willing and eager to join you in a conversation that will help our community better understand the short and long-term implications COVID-19 will have on business education. These include increased restriction of student mobility, test center closures, and how corporations will assess hiring plans and growth in a time of contraction; all key metrics across any set of rankings. At the same time, we are seeing business schools respond to the emergent needs of businesses, local communities, and learners in agile and innovative ways that carry the opportunity for new areas of measurement; also a critical aspect of the rankings discussion.  We believe a collaborative dialogue will lead to stronger, more valid outcomes in the end, for all stakeholders. 

We need to do everything we can to support business schools in this environment, including their current and prospective students. We thank you for your consideration.  


Thomas Robinson
President and CEO, AACSB

Eric Cornuel
President, EFMD

Sangeet Chowfla
President and CEO, GMAC

Poets&Quants, GMAC Leads A Call For A Pause In MBA Rankings:

U.S. News said it is reviewing its policies. “The team at U.S. News most definitely understands that these are very challenging times because of the significant and unprecedented disruptions caused by COVID 19,” Bob Morse, chief data strategist for U.S. News.  “We’re currently reviewing our strategies for the next U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings and fall 2020 data collection.” ...

In an interview with Poets&Quants, GMAC’s Chowfla said the letter represents a “request” and not a “demand.” “Our intent is not to interfere with their role in the ecosystem of informing candidates and certainly rankings have a role to play,” he said. “We are hopeful we will get into a discussion. We are not in a position to make a demand. It is a request to work together with them to find the right structure and timing this year.”

While the letter does not specify how long a postponement should occur, the executives suggest that rankings should be put on ice “to provide business schools worldwide the opportunity to rebound in these tumultuous circumstances.” That suggestion would likely cause at least a year-long pause in rankings, a highly unlikely outcome.

Admission consultants say the letter is an attempt to at least temporarily hide data that is potentially embarrassing to the schools. “Schools’ class stats must not be looking good for the class entering in 2020,” said Linda Abraham, founder of, a leading admissions adviser. “Rankings force schools to make those numbers public unless all the schools refuse to provide data to the rankings. Clearly the schools don’t want those numbers known and don’t want to be ranked on traditional metrics.” ...

The business school community has long had a love/hate relationship with MBA rankings. Schools love them when they do well and despise the lists when they are ranked below expectations.

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

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