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In a new ranking of executive MBA programs by The Wall Street Journal, the Wharton School came in second to Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

For the first time ever, the Journal created a survey of executive MBA programs.

The newspaper created a list of the top 26 schools, based on surveys from thousands of students and hundreds of companies.

Kellogg and Wharton came in far ahead of their peer programs, primarily because of the high marks given to them by companies employing graduates.

Wharton ranked first with companies and received positive feedback from students for its curriculum.

Though Wharton ranked second overall, it did not place in the top 10 programs for developing leadership and management skills.

Scott Shrum, a director at Veritas MBA Admissions Consulting, said the new Journal ranking blends employer and student opinion, rather than focusing on one or the other, as other ranking systems do.

"It's important to keep in mind that whenever a new ranking comes out, there's a lot of pressure to formulate a new methodology that produces a different order of schools," Shrum said. "We tell our clients that rankings should be a starting point rather than a be-all end-all."

The 2008 U.S. News and World Report ranking of graduate business schools puts Wharton in third, behind Harvard and Stanford universities.

Like the Journal's list, Business Week's 2007 ranking of executive MBA programs also has Kellogg ranked first, followed by Wharton.

Shrum said new surveys that shake up the rankings are more important for lesser-known schools.

"Schools that aren't usually in the top five or 10 will market the heck out of that," he said. "It may not matter as much for Wharton, since it's already a high-ranked school."

Howard Kaufold, director of the Wharton MBA program for executives, said the program relies more heavily on its internal exit survey rather than surveys conducted by other institutions.

"We don't know the percentage of alumni responding to other surveys," Kaufold said. "And we don't know what sort of questions they're asking."

However, Kaufold said the program does use other rankings to some extent.

"We try to glean what useful feedback we can from them," he said. "And we always like coming in toward the top."

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