GETTING RESULTS

So far, global-oriented MBA programs seem to be benefiting students, the schools, and employers. Says Mike DeBellis, whose New York company recruits students for a host of multinationals in the northeast, "Companies deal on a global basis, and they want students who can do that for them. It's more important for them to recruit these students than ever before."

So necessary, in fact, that companies are not only recruiting students from schools with a more global focus, but even underwriting international programs. American Airlines sponsors SMU's course and a Leadership for the Americas program at Fort Worth's Texas Christian University. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter has a partnership with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's School of Business. And General Motors supports a Stanford Business School program called GMIX, or "global management immersion experience," in which students complete four-week internships in China.

What's good for corporate recruiters and the companies they recruit for is good for the schools - who earn a reputation for placing students in better jobs at better pay - and ultimately is good for the students, too. "It was an eye-opener," says Vanessa Lapice, who will graduate from SMU in May 2002. "There's a big difference between going to museums and beaches and touring manufacturing facilities and seeing the systems and the challenges they face."

Which is precisely the lesson that Niemi, and his colleagues across the country, wanted their students to learn.

KNOW YOUR RANKINGS

Ranking business schools is, well, big business. Yet each survey doesn't measure the same thing, or even use the same methods to compare similar standards. Five of the best known, used for this story, are those compiled by Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times, and Forbes.

• Business Week measures satisfaction from recruiters and students (it queried 16,843 and got a 60 percent response rate for this poll), as well as what the magazine calls intellectual capital - a school's influence and prominence in research. The 2000 results, announced in October, placed Wharton at the top.

• The Wall Street Journal queries recruiters on 27 attributes, ranging from the school's career services, to students' leadership potential, to whether recruiters got their money's worth from that school. The top program, announced in April 2001, was the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

• The Financial Times, the only ranking to include business schools across the globe, focuses on the career progression of students, factoring in how global the programs were and how much research each school did. Its top choice, announced last winter, was Wharton.

• The Forbes list, which appeared in the magazine's February 2000 issue and hasn't been repeated, measured salary increases thanks to an MBA, and then compared that to the cost of the MBA. This return-on-investment approach ranked Harvard first.

• U.S. News & World Report combines surveys of business schools deans and corporate recruiters; placement success as measured by salary and employment rates; and strength of students based on test scores, grade point averages, and percentage of applicants accepted. That survey, released in April, anointed Stanford as No. 1.