MBA Rankings: Why Should I Care?

Last week, U.S. News released its 2015 Best Business Schools Ranking.

The big question that follows, of course, is: “So what?

Check out Linda’s 1-minute answer to find out why the rankings matter (and if they matter at all).

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the value of b-school rankings. Just leave us a comment below to let us know what’s on your mind.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

2015 Best Law Schools by U.S. News

Ready for this year’s U.S. News best law school rankings? Let’s jump right in!

Download your free copy of The Law School Admissions Guide!2015 Best Law Schools

1. Yale

2. Harvard

3. Stanford

4. Columbia

4. Chicago

6. NYU

7. UPenn

8. UVA

9. UC Berkeley

10. Duke 2015

Best Part-Time Law Schools

1. Georgetown

2. George Washington University

3. Fordham University

4. George Mason University

5. Loyola Marymount University

6. University Connecticut

7. Lewis & Clark College – Northwestern

7. Southern Methodist University – Dedman

7. University of Maryland – Carey

10. Temple University – Beasley

10. University of Houston

The Law School Admissions Guide: 8 Tips for Success

2015 Best Medical Schools by U.S. News

Ready to see how U.S. News ranked the best medical schools in the U.S.? Here we go!

Check out our Medical School Admissions 101 pages.2015 Best Medical Schools for Research

1. Harvard
2. Stanford
3. Johns Hopkins
4. UC San Francisco
4. UPenn Perelman
6. Washington University (St. Louis)
7. Yale
8. Columbia
8. Duke
10. University of Washington

2015 Best Medical Schools for Primary Care

1. University of Washington
2. UNC  Chapel Hill
3. Oregon Health and Science University
4. UC San Francisco
5. UMass Worcester
6. University of Minnesota
6. University of Nebraska Medical Center
8. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
9. Michigan state University College of Osteopathic Medicine
9. University of Wisconsin – Madison
11. Harvard

Download our special report: Navigate the Med School Maze

2015 Best Business Schools Ranked by U.S. News

Check out our MBA Admissions 101 pages!U.S. News released its annual best b-school rankings, and we’re here to provide all the top rankings all in one spot!

2015 Best MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. Harvard Business School (1)
1. Stanford GSB (2)
1. Wharton (3)
4. Chicago Booth (6)
5. MIT Sloan (4)
6. Northwestern Kellogg (4)
7. UC Berkeley – Haas (7)
8. Columbia (8)
9. Dartmouth Tuck (9)
10. NYU Stern (10)

2015 Best Executive MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. Wharton (1)
2. Chicago Booth (2)
3. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
4. Duke Fuqua (4)
5. Columbia (4)
6. NYU Stern (6)
7. Michigan Ross (8)
8. UCLA Anderson (7)
9. UC Berkeley – Haas (10)
9. UNC Kenan-Flagler (9)
11. USC Marshall

2015 Best Part-Time MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. UC Berkeley – Haas (1)
2. Chicago Booth (2)
3. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
4. NYU Stern (4)
4. UCLA Anderson (5)
6. Texas McCombs (7)
7. Michigan Ross (6)
8. Indiana Kelley (9)
9. Ohio State Fisher (8)
10. CMU Tepper (9)

Wondering how much rankings should play a roll in determining where you apply? Watch the video below for Linda Abraham’s answer:

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Top MBA Programs for Entrepreneurs

B-schools are always touting their entrepreneurial offerings, programs, and placement, so when we examined the employment reports of U.S. News’ top 25 business schools to see which schools send the most graduates into entrepreneurship, we were surprised to find that only thirteen programs provide this information in their employment reports.

Below you’ll find the results – the U.S. News’ top 25 MBA programs that reveal the number and percentage of 2013 grads who immediately founded their own businesses after completing their MBA:


# of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

% of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

Standford GSB 70 18%
MIT Sloan 37 9.5%
Wharton 59 7.5%
Harvard Business School 63 7%
Yale SOM 10 4.5%
UCLA Anderson 14 4%
Kellogg* 3%
Chicago Booth 17 3%
Columbia 18 2.5%
NYU Stern 2%**
Michigan Ross 8 1.5%
Duke Fuqua 4 1%
CMU Tepper 2 1%

* Numbers include all Kellogg MBA programs
** % of reported placements

Clearly, Stanford is way out in front in this horse race. MIT Sloan with its program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a distant #2, followed by HBS and Wharton in a tie for third place. Stanford and Sloan have long been known for entrepreneurship, but HBS and Wharton are generally thought of as financial services and consulting breeding grounds. In reality, both programs – without taking away from their strength in consulting and financial services – have sharpened the entrepreneurial saw over the last decade.

This comparison is useful for those of you who want to start your own business ASAP after earning an MBA. It is an indication of an entrepreneurial culture and education. And if entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately an entrepreneurial alumni network is important to you, then you need to know which schools are strong in this area and how they compare.

While this listing is useful, it still doesn’t tell the entire story of MBA programs’ entrepreneurial strength. Many business school grads will work for a few years to pay back loans and then start their own businesses. Among those, there will be a few grads who immediately enter a startup, so essentially they will initially be entrepreneurs on someone else’s dime. There are other MBAs who will work in entrepreneurial areas of established companies. None of these MBAs are reflected in the chart above, but all still benefited from their MBA program’s entrepreneurial education and culture.

Additionally, either we couldn’t find the data or schools don’t all publish these numbers. Consequently, the chart above is incomplete. Don’t automatically assume that programs we haven’t listed aren’t good for entrepreneurship. For example Haas has a highly entrepreneurial culture and many courses relevant to entrepreneurship, but we couldn’t find the number of 2013 grads who started their own business immediately upon graduation. Don’t let that lack of info prevent you from considering Haas if founding a startup is your dream. Similarly, Georgetown has many entrepreneurship resources (See Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship at Georgetown). Finally, programs outside US News’ top 25, may be excellent for entrepreneurship, deserving of consideration, and easier to get into (For example, Babson).

As with almost all stats in MBA admissions – especially anything related to (un)rankings and comparing programs – take this data as useful information not as the be all and end all of evaluating the entrepreneurial value of different MBA programs. It is simply a succinct compilation of data that you should incorporate into the additional research you should do before deciding where to earn your MBA. Also consider:

• Entrepreneurial curriculum. What classes are offered? Are there opportunities to develop and work on a business plan?

• Extracurricular groups and activities. Are there venture capital competitions, clubs, events, etc.?

• The student profiles at specific schools. Are they entrepreneurial? Would you like to be on a project with them?

Now it’s time for me to get back to drafting that business plan on the back of a napkin.

If any school in the US News’ top 25 includes that data in their employment report and we missed it, or they published the data after we visited their site, please email and we’ll add it.

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

FT’s Best Global MBA Programs in 2014

The Financial Times released its 2014 global MBA rankings! Read on for the list, the facts, the analysis, and the sources.

The List:

2014 Rank

3 Year

School Country 
1 1 Harvard Business School USA
2 2 Stanford Graduate
School of Business
3 4 London Business School UK
4 3 U Penn Wharton USA
5 5 Columbia Business
6 6 INSEAD France/Singapore
7 8 IESE Business School Spain
8 8 MIT Sloan USA
9 10 Chicago Booth USA
10 15 Yale School of Management USA
11 12 UC Berkeley Haas USA
12 15 IMD Switzerland
13 11 IE Business School Spain
14 11 Hong Kong UST
Business School
15 15 Northwestern Kellogg USA
16 19 Cambridge Judge UK
17 17 Duke Fuqua USA
18 18 NYU Stern USA
19 19 CEIBS China
20 18 Dartmouth Tuck USA

To truly understand the rankings, much less use them, please see the methodology so you’ll know what’s being ranked. While there are twenty factors considered in the FT rankings, the FT methodology puts the most weight on increase in salary in $US PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) and weighted salary in $US PPP.

Poets and Quants criticizes the FT rankings for absurd results in calculating “Value for Money” as well as for having too many criteria and several criteria that really don’t reflect the quality of education. Others say that it is biased against U.S. programs.

Regardless of the criticism’s validity, the FT ranking is arguably the most cited ranking of global programs because it compares U.S. and international programs in one ranking and seems to do a better job of it than the alternatives. That prominence doesn’t mean these rankings are Gospel. It does mean you have a lot of data in a format where you can easily compare MBA programs from around the world on designated criteria.

The Facts:

Here are some fun facts about FT’s 2014 rankings:

• 7 of the top 10 and 12 of the top 20 programs ranked are US schools.

• Big jumpers this year include Boston University’s business school and Washington Forster, which each jumped 20 spots, to 75th and 58th place, respectively. Another big US jumper this year was USC Marshall which jumped 17 spots to 65th place. UNC Kenan Flagler jumped up 12 slots this year from its 3-year average rank, moving from #45 to #33.

• The biggest losers this year include Dublin’s Smurfit School (dropped 27 spots to 91st place) and Vlerick Business School (fell 16 places to 100th place), as well as the schools which disappeared off the list entirely: U of Iowa’s Tippie School (74th last year), Korea University Business School (86th last year), Incae Business School in Costa Rica (90th last year), Case Western’s Weatherhead School (94th last year), and others.

• Newcomers to the list include: UC Davis (98th), Wake Forest (94th), BYU’s Marriott School (93rd), and ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Germany (89th).

• In terms of geographic representation, the top 20 schools are all in the US, UK, Europe (France, Spain, Switzerland), China, and Singapore, but further down the list, other countries gain their spots: India comes in at 30th place with the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad; SDA Bocconi in 31st place represents Italy; South Korea appears in 45th place with Sungkyunkwan University’s GSB; Canada’s first school on the list is Toronto Rotman at 51st place; Portugal follows with The Lisbon MBA in 52nd place (new to list); South Africa’s U. of Cape Town GSB comes in at 59th place; in the 62nd slot we have Australia’s Australian Graduate School of Management; and Brazil’s Coppead is in 79th place.

•  The city with the highest concentration of schools in the top 100 is (of course) Boston with six top b-schools – Harvard (1), MIT Sloan (8), Hult International Business School (61), BU School of Management (75), Boston College Carroll (82), and Babson Olin (95).

The Analysis:

While it’s fun to look at the changes – who climbed and who sank – for me the real lessons from this ranking are:

1. The top programs move and change very slowly. That lack of drama in these rankings is a better reflection of reality than the gyrations one sees outside the top twenty. Significant change takes time so sharp jumps and dives probably mean nothing. Sustained change in ranking has greater credibility – if you value the same qualities as the FT.

2. The one point made repeatedly in the commentary on this ranking, and it is the same conclusion I draw from both the FT ranking and the Forbes ranking, which both emphasize ROI and increase in salary, is this: The MBA education at top programs provides a solid return on investment for most students. The MBAs surveyed for the FT rankings started their MBA in 2008, just as the Great Recession hit, and graduated in 2010. These MBAs still report on average a 100% increase in salary over what they were making before they started business school.

There are obviously critics of graduate business education, specifically the MBA, and those detractors either believe an MBA isn’t valuable or that the value has declined. I agree with the latter group. However, the questions for today’s applicants are:

1. “Given my current professional background and salary and my anticipated salary after I earn an MBA, do the anticipated financial rewards plus increased job satisfaction justify the investment (both out of pocket and opportunity costs)?” The fact that those entering b-school ten or twenty years ago could anticipate a higher ROI is irrelevant. It is merely a historical curiosity and for you an unfortunate one.

2. “Is the full-time MBA – or whatever flavor you are considering – the optimal way for me to attain my MBA goals?”

FT, to its credit, also has an article on those claiming the MBA is not worth the effort. Sometimes they are right. Each one of you individually needs to examine your circumstances and goals to see if for you the MBA is an expensive waste of time and effort, or if for you it is likely to be worth both. Clearly, most of the people surveyed by Forbes, the Financial Times, and GMAC are in the latter group.

In this video  Della Bradshaw, FT’s Business Education Editor, discusses the results of this year’s FT Global MBA rankings including the finding that MBAs in the class of 2010 are now enjoying salaries double those they were earning before they entered b-school.

The Sources

• FT Global MBA Ranking 2014

•  FT: MBA Ranking 2014: Key & Methodology

•  FT: Big Names Dominate FT MBA Ranking Top Spots

•  P&Q: Winners & Losers in 2014 FT MBA Ranking

•  Accepted: 4 Ways You Should NOT Use the MBA Rankings

•  Accepted: MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know

Learn how to evaluate your profile to determine the best business school for you!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

2013 P&Q Top B-School Rankings

Get application essay tips for the top b-school applications!

Harvard Business School is the top MBA program for the fourth year in a row.

The top 8 schools in the 2013 Poets & Quants b-school rankings remain unchanged from last year, with slots 9 and 10 merely swapping positions (Duke Fuqua moved from 10th place to 9th place and UC Berkeley Haas moved from 9th to 10th).


About Harvard Business School, top MBA program for the fourth year in a row, John Byrne, P&Q editor, says:

Despite less-than-flattering publicity generated by a New York Times’ front page story on gender inequality at Harvard, an MBA from the school remains the quintessential credential in business. No rival beats Harvard in the formidable resources it brings to the game: the outsized number of superstar professors, the diversity of its course offerings, the stellar quality of its students, the size and scope of its campus, and the career achievements of its alumni spread all over the world.

He goes on to sing praises for this year’s HBS entering class – an average GMAT score of 720, a 3.9% increase in application volume, a record high of women (at 41% of the class), and an average undergrad GPA of 3.67.

Other Highlights…

• Chicago Booth ranked ahead of Wharton for the fourth year in a row, making the top three Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago (H/S/C) instead of the traditional Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton (H/S/W).

• Wharton was the only school in the top 10 to see a decrease in its application volume this year with a 5.8% decrease.

• Booth saw the highest boost in app volume with a 9.9% increase.

• For top b-schools outside of the U.S., London Business School again took the top slot.

• Two big jumpers in the top 50 include U. of Washington which jumped 9 places from 33rd place to 24th and Georgia Tech which also jumped 9 places from 40th to 31st place.

The Top 20

2013 P&Q Rank and School 2012 P&Q Rank BW FT
1. Harvard Business School 1 2 2
2. Stanford GSB 2 4 2
3. Chicago Booth 3 1 6
4. UPenn Wharton 4 3 3
5. Northwestern Kellogg 5 5 8
6. MIT Sloan 6 9 5
7. Columbia 7 13 4
8. Dartmouth Tuck 8 12 10
9. Duke Fuqua 10 6 11
10. UC Berkeley Haas 9 14 7
11. Cornell Johnson 11 7 14
12. Michigan Ross 13 8 15
13. UVA Darden 12 10 16
14. UCLA Anderson 17 18 13
15. NYU Stern 14 16 12
16. CMU Tepper 16 11 19
17. Yale SOM 15 21 9
18. UNC Kenan- Flagler 19 17 21
19. Texas McCombs 18 19 22
20. Indiana Kelley 21 15 26

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Businessweek’s Top 20 2013 Executive MBA Programs

Top 20 2013 EMBA Programs (2011’s rank is in parentheses)
Check out our EMBA Admissions 101 page for tips & advice.

1. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
2. Chicago Booth (1)
3. SMU Cox (7)
4. Pennsylvania Wharton (9)
5. UCLA Anderson (5)
6. Columbia (2)
7. IE (4)
8. USC Marshall (8)
9. Ohio State Fisher (14)
10. Michigan Ross (6)
11. IESE (12)
12. UNC Kenan-Flagler (11)
13. UVA Darden (N/A)
14. Duke Fuqua (10)
15. Notre Dame Mendoza (27)
16. INSEAD (18)
17. Maryland Smith (17)
18. Georgetown McDonough (24)
19. IMD (28)
20. ESADE (19)

The changes in this year’s BW EMBA rankings are much less dramatic than in the part-time rankings. Some major jumpers include Boston University, Rutgers, Georgia Tech Scheller, and Rochester Simon which all jumped from the second tier to the first – to 30th place for BU, 26th place for Rutgers, 34th for Georgia Tech, and 39th for Rochester Simon; Pepperdine Graziadio jumped from 31st place to 23rd; IMD moved from 28th to 19th place; and Notre Dame Mendoza jumped from 27th place in 2011 to 15th place this year.

Losses were experienced by NYU Stern which dropped from 13th place in 2011 to 21st place this year; Thunderbird fell from 16th place to 27th place; Washington Olin fell from 20th to 31st place; and London Business School dropped from 25th place in 2011 to 32nd place in 2013.

See the BW EMBA rankings lead article, “Kellogg Reclaims Title of Best Executive MBA Program,” for more details.

Businessweek Announces Top Part-Time MBA Programs for 2013

Top 20 2013 Best Part-Time MBA Programs (2011’s rank in parentheses)

Check out our B-School Zones for more info about top MBA programs.

Schools are like aircraft carriers.

1. CMU Tepper (3)

2. UC Berkeley Haas (5)

3. SMU Cox (7)

4. UCLA Anderson (2)

5. Elon Love (1)

6. Loyola Marymount (13)

7. Rice Jones (6)

8. Chicago Booth (17)

9. Rollins Crummer (44)

10. Michigan Ross (9)

11. USC Marshall (16)

12. Lehigh University (15)

13. UNC-Greensboro Bryan (50)

14. Emory Goizueta (23)

15. Washington Foster (10)

16. Worcester Polytechnic (8)

17. San Diego (14)

18. Nebraska (N/A)

19. Villanova (12)

20. NC State Jenkins (30)

As you can see from the above list, there were some super high jumps and drops in this year’s part-time MBA rankings. There are newcomers to the top 20 list that didn’t make it to 2011’s rankings at all (Nebraska), and there are others that made huge strides to make to the top 20 from much further down the list in 2011 (like NC State Jenkins which jumped from 30th place to 20th place, Rollins Crummer which jumped from 44th to 9th, and UNC-Greensboro Bryan that jumped from 50th to 13th).

Other big jumpers further down the list include South Florida which jumped 31 spots from 67th place in 2011 to 36th place this year, and Utah Eccles which jumped 28 spots from 65th to 37th.

Big losses include Nevada which fell 20 spots from 4th place to 2011 to 24th place this year, and Texas McCombs which fell 24 spots from 11th to 35th place.

See the BW article, “Carnegie Mellon Takes Top Spot in Part-Time MBA Ranking,” for more details, including a breakdown of the top part-time MBA programs according to U.S. region.

My thoughts:

Those whopping jumps and dives raise suspicion in my mind about the rankings’ validity. Schools are like aircraft carriers. They don’t turn on a dime. Incremental change over time is much more believable than a quantum transformation in a mere two years.

Which Universities Contribute the Most to VC-Backed Entrepreneurship?

PitchBook did a study that ranks universities around the world based on the number of graduates who have founded U.S. companies with VC-funding from 2010 to 2013. The idea is that a school’s ranking success shouldn’t just reflect its scores or its sports teams, but that it should reflect how actively the schools are producing economic value in the U.S. – attracting investors and generating jobs.

Check out our College Admissions 101 page.

The Indian Institutes of India is the only non-American school on the list, showing, as the PitchBook blog post points out, the value immigrants bring to the U.S. economy.

See the PitchBook blog for more info.