Forbes Announces Top Ten Business Schools


Forbes has just released its list of the top business schools in America. The Forbesranking methodology is based on the return on investment achieved by the class of 2006. They surveyed 16,000 alumni at over 100 schools and received feedback from 30% of those grads. They then compared the earnings of the respondents from 2006-2011 to the cost of business school.

While Forbes lists 74 top schools, the top ten are:

  1. Harvard
  2. Stanford
  3. Chicago (Booth)
  4. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  5. Columbia
  6. Dartmouth (Tuck)
  7. Northwestern (Kellogg)
  8. Cornell (Johnson)
  9. Virginia (Darden)
  10. MIT (Sloan)

Poets and Quants analyzes the Forbes’ data in terms of winners and losers, those who went up in the Forbes’ rankings and those who went down; it provides a useful table comparing the salary data by school to previous years’ salary data.

Of greater interest to me is the overall profitable MBA picture presented by the Forbes data: every single program in the top 74 has positive ROI, admittedly less in more expensive locales and a few in single digits, but the overwhelming majority showed a greater than 20% gain after five years. And that’s despite the recession.

So for those of you who have professional goals that require an MBA, it looks like a solid investment.   

Linda AbrahamBy , President and Founder of



A Few of the Mostest at

This is the time of year to look back at the most, best, (worst), etc. I am going to stick to the positive.

Top Ten Most Visited Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010:

In a nutshell, rankings and application tip posts rule. (I am only listing the current tip post when last year’s tip post also made the list):

  1. Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings
  2. Forbes ROI MBA Rankings for 2010
  3. Harvard HBS 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  4. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  5. NYU Stern 2011 MBA Application Questions, Tips, Deadlines
  6. Common Application Essay Tips
  7. Columbia 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  8. 2010 MBA Rankings Released by BusinessWeek
  9. Kellogg 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  10. London Business School 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

Three Most Commented Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010

  1. Harvard HBS 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (269)
  2. INSEAD 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (246)
  3. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (60)

Keep ‘em coming! (Please post your questions about this year’s applications on this year’s tips.)

Five Most Popular Articles on of 2010:

  1. Go for the Goals in your Statement of Purpose
  2. Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation for Medical School
  3. 4 Must-Haves in Residency Personal Statements
  4. MBA Admissions: Low GMAT or GPA 
  5. Sample MBA Interview Questions

Most Popular Resources of 2010:

Our Absolute, Best, Most Superlative Asset: YOU, our readers, followers, fans, subscribers, and most of all, our clients.

On behalf of Accepted’s staff, this post is where I

Thank you, all of you Acceptees, for making 2010 our best year ever!

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Columbia University’s Application: Tips to Compel

When I was a high school student, my parents agreed that I could apply to any colleges I wanted, with the exception of those in California and New York City.  Consequently, I didn’t set foot on Columbia’s campus until more than a decade later.  Among both fellow Ivies and its New York City brethren, Columbia stands out.

The integration of a strong campus center (the vast majority of students live on campus for four years) with the accessibility of the city as well as Columbia’s commitment to its core curriculum give this college a feeling that is unique from others.  With so many distinguishing features, you should be able to convey to the admissions committee your interest in Columbia.  For applicants to the Fu School of Engineering, there is also a question which asks about the roots of that interest.   In both cases, take a sentence or two to relate your own experience to the strengths of the college.   If you are struggling with this question, consider attending one of Columbia’s evening programs which are held throughout the country.  

The questions about your interests, which ask you to list books, concerts, media that you have enjoyed over the past year are looking for fairly straightforward responses.  The commitment to the arts, which is a large component of the Columbia College Core Curriculum, is evident from the application question about concerts and art exhibits.  As an academically engaged student, there should be plenty of media and arts which have captured your attention in the past year.  Share both the mundane and the more interesting.  If you have a strong interest in a subject area, chances are your reading interests at least peripherally relate.  

Columbia is a member of the Common Application, and does offer an early decision program for students who are confident that Columbia is their first choice.

 By Whitney Bruce, who has worked in college admissions since 1996. She has served as an Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to advise you as you apply to college.

Columbia Full-Time MBA: A Current Student Interview is continuing a blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at selected MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Our first stop?  New York City. Here are some excerpts from an interview with a current full-time Columbia MBA student from a finance background.

What’s the best way to plan for the two years so that you get the most out of it?
Point blank, you gotta know what you want to do. Especially now in this recession economy. I had a lot of friends who came into school with the assumption they would figure out their career plan in their first year–and they were left behind.  School starts in August, and recruiting starts in September.  It’s over very quickly and if you don’t get an internship, you’re not going to get a full-time offer.  So if you don’t know what you want to do, you might want to defer your plans to apply.

How close did you stick to your originally stated goals from your application?
My goal was to get into Columbia, and my second goal was to get into the value investment program.  So I followed my goals to the “T.”

So you were pretty focused on finance.  That’s been a good match for you at Columbia?
Absolutely. I came specifically for the value investment program, which you’re allowed into through interviews and write ups.  It’s an entire second-year specialization that allows direct access to industry practitioners.

What about the New York location?  How did that affect your experience?

It’s absolutely tremendous. Really, in any field the opportunities are in New York City. If you’re an investment banker you have access to Wall Street, such as morning phone calls with all the investment banks. Your professors are multimillionaires who’ve made it on Wall Street. One of them made phone calls on my behalf at internship time, which I thought was unheard of.  So the dedication of their time–from an internship standpoint it’s invaluable.

Any trade-offs?

I have a 600 sq. foot apartment without a second bedroom or even a desk to study. It’s not nice if you’re working your tail off and you have a wife who doesn’t think you’re paying enough attention to her and you have no place to get your studying done. I would chose to live close to school or the library.

What did you find out the school offers that you couldn’t find out from the website or an information session?

I guess the good access to the professors.  I was going through job recruiting and I was reached out to by multiple professors who said they would put out in a good word for me.  They will put out their neck out for you.  It was really something I didn’t anticipate.

What kind of leadership training or mentoring do you receive at Columbia?

Every class in the core curriculum now has a portion dedicated to leadership training, such as ethical decision making. All clubs have individual mentorship programs. And in the value investment program, which is opened to 30 people a year, those who make it into the program have a mentor matched up to them for their desired work location in the future.

How much help has career services been to you?  How much job search have you had to do on your own?
Career services is instrumental in setting up resume critiques, mock interviews, and actual meet-ups. But I think the most important part of the Columbia experience is the clubs.  The real vital knowledge about internships and connections is in the clubs.

Can you tell me about your best day so far on campus?

Making it through the interviews for internships and getting an internship offer. You go through 5 to 7 interviews a day, that can last an hour and a half, where you pitch your stuff and it gets pretty intense.  But it was worth it in the end when I got good news.

The challenges?

The unavoidable part is definitely choosing between your significant other, socializing, making good grades, and your career search.  You can really only do three at the most and usually it’s best to stick to two out of the four.  You need to really map out your plan about what you’re okay letting go of and where you really want to focus your time, then stick too it–or you’re not going to make anybody happy. I had a professor say that everybody likes hot tea and iced tea, but nobody likes tepid tea.  You don’t want to be tepid.  You have to decide where you’re really going to excel.

Last words of advice?

Know what you want to do before you get here. A lot of people are very focused. Competition is tough, so executing a well-thought out plan will get you ahead.

 Interview conducted by Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted clients applying to top business schools since 2007.  She is happy to help you with your application.

Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings

The Financial Times  published today its 2010 ranking of global MBA programs. Its ranking attempts to “assess the effect of the MBA on … subsequent career progression and salary growth.” Consequently it draws its data from the schools themselves and from surveys of graduates at least three years after earning their MBA degree. In building its rankings, FT analyzes “alumni salaries and career development; the diversity and international reach of the business school and its MBA programme; and the research capabilities of each school.” For complete information on FT’s methodology, please see “Getting to Grips with the Method.”

Rather than list all my important caveats for using rankings, I’ll simply refer you to our MBA Rankings Report.

The best business schools according to FT:

  1. London Business School
  2. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. Stanford GSB
  6. Columbia Business School
  7. IE (tied with Columbia)
  8. MIT Sloan
  9. Chicago Booth
  10. Hong Kong UST Business School

I have long argued that far more valuable than the overall rankings are the specialty rankings. Here are FT’s specialty rankings:

Top for international business
1 Thunderbird School of Global Management
2 University of South Carolina: Moore
3 Georgetown University: McDonough
4 Insead
5 George Washington University
6 Hult International Business School
8 Manchester Business School
9 University of Southern California: Marshall
10 London Business School

Top for finance
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 New York University: Stern
3 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
4 Rice University: Jones
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 London Business School
7 Columbia Business School
8 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
9 University of Iowa: Tippie
10 University of Toronto: Rotman

Top for accountancy

1 Brigham Young University: Marriott
2 University of Chicago: Booth
3 University of Texas at Austin: McCombs
4 New York University: Stern
5 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
6 University of Rochester: Simon
7 Cornell University: Johnson
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 Rice University: Jones
10 Texas A & M University: Mays

Top for entrepreneurship
1 Babson College: Olin
2 Stanford University GSB
3 Imperial College Business School
4 UCLA: Anderson
5 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
6 MIT Sloan School of Management
7 University of Cambridge: Judge
9 Wisconsin School of Business
10 Insead

Top for economics
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 Cranfield School of Management
3 MIT Sloan School of Management
4 Yale School of Management
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 Imperial College Business School
7 Melbourne Business School
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 IE Business School
10 New York University: Stern

Top for corporate social responsibility
1 University of Notre Dame: Mendoza
2 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
3 Yale School of Management
4 Ipade
5 University of Virginia: Darden
6 Brigham Young University: Marriott
7 Esade Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler
10 Thunderbird School of Global Management

Top for general management
1 University of Virginia: Darden
2 Harvard Business School
3 Ipade
4 Dartmouth College: Tuck
6 University of Michigan: Ross
7 University of Western Ontario: Ivey
8 Northwestern University: Kellogg
9 Stanford University GSB
10 Duke University: Fuqua

Top for marketing
1 Northwestern University: Kellogg
2 Duke University: Fuqua
3 Indiana University: Kelley
4 Ipade
5 Esade Business School
6 Wisconsin School of Business
7 Imperial College Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 HEC Paris
10 Cornell University: Johnson

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Reject Rejection!

The holidays are over, and so is the “honeymoon” for many grad school hopefuls.

Fortunately, I’m hearing good news from lots of clients: admissions to top schools. But I know it has been a tough year for many of you: maybe Harvard Business School gave you a precious interview invite, the interview went great, and then you got the email or letter telling you how the applicant pool was just so competitive that they can’t offer you a spot; or Columbia Business School waitlisted you and you sent them a great update letter or two and even had alums write notes of support and then, when your online-application status changed and you clicked on it excitedly, you found the status had changed in the wrong direction; or the five PhD programs you researched extensively, contacted professors at, and sent the best statements of purpose you could didn’t even offer you an interview.

These stories are all too common right now. It has been a particularly challenging year for grad school admissions, at least from what I’ve observed. Many, many well-qualified people aren’t getting those precious admission calls and letters—perhaps even more than in recent years.

But so many applicants make such bad news worse than it has to be. They begin to believe their careers, or at least their ideal visions of their careers, are over. In some extreme cases, they extend this idea to their whole lives. I know rejection is always disappointing. And I know it can delay or potentially modify a career dream. But the only way it can derail you completely is if you let it do that.


Instead, vent as much as you need to (ideally you have some willing ears—even your Accepted editor’s!), and start moving on. Here are three ways you can do that: 

1. Revise your plans. Was going to b-school or any other graduate program really the only way to your dreams? Yes, for aspiring doctors and lawyers, grad school is pretty much a must. But did it have to be now? If grad school truly weren’t an option any more, what would you do? Long-term plans are important, but it’s important to grow every day, in some way, and to avoid staking your entire future on one major event (i.e., getting into graduate school). What are short-term goals you want to achieve at work and in your personal life—job-related, fitness, family, friends, hobbies, spirituality? Don’t just give lip service to these things; think them through, in part because they may be crucial to the next strategy . . . 

2. Reapply to top-choice and other programs. More and more applicants these days are reapplicants—people who didn’t give up. And guess what? Reapplicants are more likely to get in than those in the general pool. Why? Usually because reapplicants represent a more dedicated, focused, “serious” group. They know they want to get into a particular school, they know why, and they (usually) know what it takes and have worked hard to achieve it. So start thinking about which programs you really want to focus on next time, and start building the application to turn a disappointing “no” into a triumphant “yes.” Also, be willing to cast a wider net if you didn’t get at least some positive results (e.g., interviews) overall. 

3. Respect what you already have. “I must keep perspective,” we often say in times of adversity. But how many of us really do that? It’s unfortunately easier than ever to understand how much we have—the economy has taken away so many jobs, many countries are embroiled in military situations and/or civil unrest, and so many just lost their lives in the Haiti earthquakes. In this context, getting to apply to graduate school is truly a luxury that many have never had and never will. So if you have a job that compensates you for using key skills, be thankful for it. If you enjoy the company of your family and friends, revel in it. If you are healthy, work hard to maintain that. It’s not all about professional advancement, unless you let it all be about that. 

Trust me, I’ve changed careers enough times and sacrificed a lot of money in the process, often finding myself frustrated with what seemed like closed career doors or dead ends. But by using these and other tips, I’ve continued being a fairly happy guy. 

I hope they help you keep perspective, even when the news you get isn’t the news you want.

  By Sachin Waikar,  Ph.D., McKinsey alum and published author.

Top Universities Run Billion Dollar Campaigns

The Chronicle last week updated us on the progress of 33 top universities’ billion dollar fund raising campaigns.

Here are some highlights:

  • The schools collectively raised $540.6 million in November 2009.
  • Cornell University raised the most that month, at $88.8 million. The University of California at Berkeley and The University of Cincinnati came in second and third place for the most money collected November 2009 at $85.4 million and $85.3 million, respectively.
  • On December 31, 2009, Dartmouth successfully wrapped up its campaign by raising a total $1.308 billion, exceeding its goal by $8 million. 
  • As of September 30, Columbia University had collected $1.521 billion of its 2015 $3 billion goal.
  • Stanford University hit (and exceeded) its $4.3 billion goal on August 31, 2009—one and half years ahead of schedule.
  • Other schools that have already hit their $1+ billion goals include The University of Notre Dame and Brown University. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

MBA Admissions Round Up: Notre Dame, LBS Q&A, Application Volume, WSJ Rankings, and More

There is so much happening at this time of year! It’s time for a round-up:

Aspirant (Sep 16, 2009 12:06:25 PM)
Phillipa, the LBS website mentions that the program is targeted at people who are at a relatively early stage in their career. Can you please elaborate on this? What would typically be viewed as “early”?

PhillipaHainLONDON (Sep 16, 2009 12:09:00 PM)
Hi Aspirant, typically MBA students have between 2-14 years work experience and on average 5.6 years. By early, we mean that students will typically be in their first leadership role or looking to move onto a leadership role post MBA. But we do offer programs which are tailored to business professionals who are already in those leadership roles.


vivek (Sep 16, 2009 12:26:54 PM)
Vlad: Can you please elaborate on how LBS helps students who are interested in Entrepreneurship?

DavidMorrisLONDON (Sep 16, 2009 12:27:32 PM)
Vivek: The school has a strong tradition of entrepreneurship and very strong faculty working in this area. From a career services perspective, we work with a lot of entrepreneurship companies and the VCs behind them. Our faculty also runs a summer entrepreneurship school assisting students who are looking to launch or develop their own enterprise. We also have a very strong entrepreneurship club who run a range of events from their annual conference through to networking sessions.

Linda Abraham (Sep 16, 2009 12:31:04 PM)
David, Louise, and Hannah: Does Career Services play a role in application evaluation? If yes, what is it?

LouiseWeirLONDON (Sep 16, 2009 12:33:57 PM) Hi
Linda – Career Services is indeed involved as early as the application process and we work closely with the program office throughout the student’s time at the School – members of our team sit on the application committee to ensure that student career aspirations are appropriate to the support that we offer, ultimately enabling us to offer a fantastic service to the new class of students.

  • GMAC releases a report on MBA application volume trends.The report showed that 66% of full-time MBA programs reported an increase in applications for the class entering in 2009, compared to 77% in 2008. One-year full-time MBA programs had the sharpest application growth of any MBA program type in the survey, with 69 percent reporting an increase in 2009 and 70% in 2008. In contrast EMBA programs suffered a drop in MBA application volume: Only 37% reported in an increase in application volume in 2009 as opposed to 60% in 2008.
  • “Steering a New Course” (The Economist). The Economist presents a thoughtful article on the counter balancing forces pressing on business schools to modify their curricula in light of the credit melt-down last year. On one hand, there are definitely lessons to be learned. On the other, they don’t want to make changes they will regret in calmer times. Having observed the silliness that accompanied the dot-com boom in the late-90′s and some other academic fads in my years as an admissions consultant, I think a little caution is in order.
  • WSJ Rankings of “Accelerated” MBA Programs. More important than the rankings is the discussion of the pros and cons of the different less-than-fifteen-month programs. I also recommend ” Schools Expand ‘Pre-Experience’ Offerings” if you are a college senior who wants to study business. 
  • MBA Interview Feedback Database. We have started receiving reports from 2009 MBA interviews, including Columbia. When you want to prepare for your MBA interviews, please check them out. Also, get tips for preparing for you interviews with the FREE MBA Interview Prep Mini Course .
  • MBA Expectations and Realities. On the AIGAC blog Maxx Duffy explores the gaps and intersections between applicant expectations and b-school realities.

Medical School Curriculum Reform

Inside Higher Ed reports that medical schools are increasingly using new technology in conjunction with a greater emphasis on the behavioral sciences. Motivated by advances in medicine, med schools have started to utilize creative approaches to enable students to view patients as human beings rather than collections of symptoms. 

M. Brownell Anderson, senior director of education affairs at the AAMC explains, “Medicine has moved away from the focus on curing disease to wellness and prevention, so the patient is considered in a holistic way. It’s not looking at the diabetic ulcer of the foot, but saying ‘this is Ms. Jones and she has problems maintaining her diabetes.’”

Tremendous change has occurred in curricula at medical schools. One of the more significant changes involves the use of virtual simulations, enabling students to serve as physicians for avatars.

Since they have fewer preconceptions, newer medical schools have a distinct advantage when it comes to innovative curriculum design and technology usage in the classroom. For example, The University of Central Florida Medical Schools, which is about to induct its first class this fall, has developed a program where each student will work with a virtual patient throughout their four years in medical school. Students will treat their avatars from birth to death, following their complete medical history through the life cycle. Creators of the new technology hope to share it with other medical schools, as well.

While perhaps more slowly, some older medical schools have revamped the traditional curriculum:

  • Harvard University – The Medical School is reforming its curriculum to bring together clinical education, small group tutorials, and problem-based learning. Students start their clinical experience at a teaching hospital earlier in their medical studies than they have in the past.
  • Columbia University – The College of Physicians and Surgeons requires students to take classes in narrative medicine with the goal of helping students understand the emotional aspects of illness and ultimately work more effectively with patients.
  • UCSF – The School of Medicine is beginning to use portfolios to help students assess their progress. Mentors review the portfolios to determine whether students are ready to move forward in their medical education.

US News Grad Rankings Are Out!

The US News just released its 2009 Grad School Rankings. I’m going to list the top ten for business school, law school, and medical school (research) and provide links to the ranking methodology for each category. For other graduate specialties, please visit the US News site.

Business School Rankings and methodology

1. Harvard
2. Stanford
3. Northwestern Kellogg
3. Wharton
5. MIT Sloan
5. Univ. of Chicago
7. UC Berkeley Haas   
8. Dartmouth Tuck
9. Columbia
10. Yale

Law School Rankings and  Methodology
1. Yale
2. Harvard
2. Stanford
4. Columbia
5. NYU
6. UC Berkeley
6. Univ. of Chicago
8. Penn
9. Univ. of Michigan
10. Duke
10. Northwestern
10. University of Virginia

Medical School Rankings (Research) and Methodology
1. Harvard
2. Johns Hopkins
3. Penn
3. Washington U (St. Louis)
6. Duke
6. Stanford
6. Univ. of Washington
6. Yale
10. Columbia

A few caveats: My strong recommendation is to use the rankings as a library of raw data conveniently compiled in one location and not as a tried and true guide of educational quality. They are not the latter. They are the former. To the extent you are going to use the rankings as a guide to school reputation and brand value, you must understand the methodology behind them and what they are measuring. Be cognizant of the differences between what is important to you and what is important to the rankings.

A few observations on the rankings themselves:

  1. There are many ties in the rankings, which implies that the differences in reputation are almost imperceptible when talking about closely ranked programs. For example the difference between being “in the top ten” and out of the top ten (i.e. #11) for medical (research) programs is 1 point, for the top law and business schools it’s  2 points. Don’t get hung up on these differences.
  2. The “top ten” changes little from year to year. In most cases, if you compare these rankings to the 2009 version, it looks as if US News just reshuffled the deck a tiny bit.

For more on rankings, please see:

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