This month, U.S. News & World Report announced its “Best Graduate Schools” rankings—placing the Carroll School of Management among the nation’s leading institutions for graduate management programs and specialties.
The Carroll School maintained its position among the top 30 part-time M.B.A. programs, standing at 28th in that particular ranking—well ahead of any other Boston-area school. Meanwhile, the School’s full-time M.B.A. program jumped to #43 in the annual survey, five notches above its ranking last year.
U.S. News also looked at M.B.A. specialties. For instance, the Carroll School held steady at #23 for finance, while checking in at 25th nationally for its marketing specialty. The School also placed 31st among accounting programs, four spots higher than in 2018.
Overall, U.S. News ranked M.B.A. programs at 131 schools, out of 475 surveyed. The publication based its rankings on a range of factors, such as assessments by peers (primarily deans at business schools), along with scores on entrance exams and average undergraduate GPA. Some other factors in the methodology—including work experience, job placement rates, and starting salaries—varied according to the kind of program surveyed.
In recent years, the Carroll School’s graduate programs have performed increasingly well in this and similar surveys—with the part-time M.B.A., for instance, running 18 steps above its U.S. News ranking just two years ago. The heightened reputation has not come about by chance, according to deans and others.
John and Linda Powers Family Dean Andy Boynton pointed out that in its 2016 strategic plan, the Carroll School pledged to “make our graduate programs more competitive every year, generating profession-ready graduates equipped with hard skills and ready to lead and innovate in their organizations.” That was one of three undergraduate and graduate goals laid out in the document, crafted as part of a broader strategic planning process at Boston College.
“We had already started making big changes in the BC M.B.A., before the 2016 plan,” Boynton said, citing a substantial curricular overhaul that began with the full-time M.B.A. program. “We put an emphasis on in-demand skills such as the ability to work with data, and the innovations have gone hand in hand with improvements in other areas too, including enrollments, admissions, advising, and career services.”
Many of the changes had their roots in meetings that the graduate staff held six years ago with recruiters and executives at leading firms, according to Marilyn Eckelman, the Carroll School’s associate dean for graduate programs. “We started asking some hard questions, like ‘What does an M.B.A. degree really mean to employers?’” she said, adding that the staff also analyzed a myriad of job postings. “We concluded that the degree, while still valuable, had much greater value in combination with hard skills.” Those findings led to a series of changes in the graduate programs, revolving notably around a three-course sequence in data analytics.
Boynton noted that the intensified focus on graduate programs is part of a larger vision and strategy at the Carroll School.
“We’re constantly working to further enhance the educational experience of our top-notch undergraduate students,” the dean said. “We’re continuing to attract and retain elite faculty who excel in both research and teaching. And we’re offering increasingly high-quality graduate programs that build on our distinctive strengths, including the emphasis on data analytics.”
William Bole is senior writer and editor at the Carroll School.