U.S. News 2016 Best Graduate Business Schools

U.S. News released its graduate school rankings today. Let’s see how our top b-schools fared…

Top 20 U.S. B-Schools – 2016

Visit our b-school zone page for info on the top business schools.1. Stanford GSB (1)
2. Harvard Business School (1)
3. UPenn Wharton (1)
4. Chicago Booth (4)
5. MIT Sloan (5)
6. Northwestern Kellogg (6)
7. UC Berkeley Haas (7)
8. Columbia Business School (8)
9. Dartmouth Tuck (9)
10. UVA Darden (11)
11. NYU Stern (10)
11. Michigan Ross (11)
13. Duke Fuqua (14)
13. Yale SOM (13)
15. UCLA Anderson (16)
16. Cornell Johnson (17)
17. Texas McCombs (15)
18. UNC Kenan-Flagler (19)
19. Washington Olin (22)
20. CMU Tepper (18)

25% of US News rankings is made up of survey responses from business school deans and directors; 15% is based on recruiters’ survey responses. The remaining 60% is based on statistical data reflecting program selectivity and placement success. (For details, read up on U.S. News methodology.)

Here are some highlights from the Poets & Quants article on the rankings:

• Last year’s three-way Stanford/Harvard/Wharton tie was broken this year with each school taking one of the first three spots (Stanford in first, HBS in second, and Wharton in third).

• The P&Q article states that Wharton’s slip to third is due to lower peer assessment and corporate recruiter survey scores.

• Wharton also reported an acceptance rate of 20.7%, up from last year’s 18.7% — this is another metric used by U.S. News in their methodology.

• Another factor contributing to Wharton’s position this year is its position regarding salary and bonus. Last year it took top slot at $141,243, while this year it slipped to fourth place at $142,574 – yes, higher than last year, but this year, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford reported even higher salaries/bonuses (HBS took the cake at $144,936 this year).

• Stanford’s top stats this year: average GMAT – 732; average GPA – 3.74; acceptance rate – 7.1%.

• In the top 20, there weren’t significant changes beyond a given school moving up or down a couple places. But further down in the rankings there were some big shifts. Texas A&M jumped 10 places to 27th place (tied with Carlson); Wake Forest jumped 13 places to 45th place; and Louisville moved up at least 31 places to 71st place – it was previously unranked.

• Big drops include Missouri Trulsake which fell 21 places from 58th to 79th place; Pepperdine Graziadio which fell at least 25 places, from last year’s 76th place to its unranked position this year.

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

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Related Resources:

• Financial Times Global MBA Rankings 2015
• What’s an MBA Really Worth?
• PayScale: How Much Can You Earn, and How to Earn It?

Are Schools Reducing Their Number of Admissions Essays?

Applying to Stanford GSB? Check out our Stanford application essay tips!

Is Stanford a trendsetter?

Elite schools like Yale, Wharton, and Stanford looked like they were starting a trend in cutting the number of required admissions essays for applicants, but according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 business school admissions officers survey, most U.S. MBA programs haven’t followed their lead. The survey indicates that just 13% of the participating 204 business schools say they reduced the number of essays for this admissions cycle, compared to last year. Only 3% of schools plan on further reducing the number of required essays for the next application cycle.

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs, Brian Carlidge, “Our survey finds that the overwhelming number of MBA programs continue to see value in applicants submitting more information about themselves. From what we’ve seen, the business schools that have cut their number of admissions essays are doing so to streamline the process, believing they can get what they need from applicants through fewer, more focused essays. While it may sound counter-intuitive, some applicants may find fewer essays and lower word counts difficult as it forces them to be more succinct. We encourage all aspiring MBAs to put effort into their essays, no matter the number or word count, as this piece of the application gives them the opportunity to show admissions officers why they’d be a good fit for the school in a way that their GMAT score, undergraduate GPA and work experience cannot.”


I certainly agree with Kaplan that MBA applicants need to put serious effort into their essays regardless of how many there are, but I found the disconnect between the highly publicized drop in essays for top-ranked programs vs. the relatively constant number of essays for lower ranked programs curious.

I’m going to indulge in speculating about the causes of this discrepancy:

The competition among the elite programs is intense. Application volume is a factor in rankings and also in perception of a school’s panache. Since more application work essentially raises the cost of applying, more essays could mean fewer applicants for these highly competitive programs. And they don’t want the hit to their application volume.

Perhaps lower ranked programs are more concerned about yield than about application volume. They want to accept people who put a little more effort into their applications. That effort implies the applicants are more invested in the application and are signaling more strongly that they really are interested in attending the programs they are applying to.

Finally another thought that really calls into question the validity of the Kaplan conclusions: While the Kaplan survey asks specifically about essays, it doesn’t discuss information being collected in short-answer responses and in boxes in the application. Many schools, notably HBS, have moved much of the information gathering to these boxes and short-form answers as opposed to the essays of a few years ago.

It’s a mistake to assume that those short-form answers are any less important than the essays.
MBA 5 Fatal Flaws
Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know
How to Answer “Mini” MBA Essay Questions

QS Global TopMBA Rankings 2014

TopMBA’s new 2014/2015 global report ranks business programs according to geographic location based on surveys completed by 5,669 actively-hiring MBA employers and 7,187 academics in the field of business and management. (See more about the methodology here.)

Top 20 B-Schools in North America

Learn how to make the business school rankings work for you, not against you!

Some highlights:

•  The top 10 remained virtually the same this year as last, with two rather large exceptions: Ross and Stern entered the top 10 scene from 12th place to 8th place for Ross and 12th place to 10th place for Stern. Losing top 10 stature this year were Duke Fuqua which fell from 10th to 13th place and Toronto Rotman which fell from 8th to 14th.

•  There were three newcomers to the top 10 this year – NYU Stern (see above), Texas McCombs (29th last year to 19th this year), and BU School of Management (24th to 20th). HEC Montreal fell from the top 20 (16th place last year to 22nd this year), as did York Schulich (13th to 28th) and Queen’s School of Business (18th to 31st).

•  Big jumpers further down in the rankings include USC Marshall (42nd to 23rd), UC Irvine Merage (51st to 33rd), UC Davis (54th to 36th), Michigan State Broad (71st to 38th), UC San Diego Rady (61st to 40th), Ohio State Fisher (60th to 42nd), UT Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management (83rd to 45th), Washington Olin (83rd to 47th), and Minnesota Carlson (87th to 49th).

•  Big droppers include UVA Darden (28th to 37th), University of Miami School of Business Administration (32nd to 77th), Rutgers Business School (67th to 82nd), and Vanderbilt Owen (37th to 86th).

Top 20 B-Schools in Europe

Learn how to make the rankings work for you and not against you!Some highlights:

•  HEC Paris jumped from 10th place last year to 4th place this year and Cambridge Judge jumped from 13th to 10th place; otherwise, the top 10 in Europe remain pretty much the same. Copenhagen fell from the top 10, from 9th place last year to 12th place this year.

•  New to the top 20 this year are ESSEC (29th place to 16th place), Manchester Bossiness School (27th to 14th place), and European Business School (21st to 19th). Trinity MBA in Dublin fell from the top 20, from 12th place to 21st

•  UK programs dominate the 65 schools on the European list with 26 programs represented. This is followed by France (9), Spain (5), Switzerland (4), Germany (4), the Netherlands (4), Italy (3), Denmark (2), Ireland (2), Greece (2), Finland (1), Portugal (1), Turkey (1), and Belgium (1).

You can download the full report here.

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• Businessweek Rankings 2014
• 2014 Economist MBA Rankings
• MBA Rankings: Why Should I Care?

Businessweek Rankings 2014

Let’s see how full-time MBA programs in the U.S. fared this year on the BW rankings…

Check out our Zone Pages for more info about the top MBA programs!

There were some huge changes this year! Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

• Newcomers to the top 20 this year are Yale SOM, which made a huge jump from 21st place to 10th place; Maryland Smith which went from 24th to 17th place; and Emory Goizueta which jumped from 22nd place to 18th place this year.

• There are three new schools in the top 10 this year – Yale SOM, as mentioned above; Columbia Business School (13th in 2012 and 5th this year); and CMU Tepper (which moved just one place from 11th place to 10th place).

• Beyond that, there was some major shifting in the rankings. The top 3 schools were all different this year (Wharton and Booth still there, but rearranged), with Harvard Business School falling from 2nd place to 8th place.

UVA Darden also fell significantly this year, from 10th place to 20th.

• Big jumpers further down the rankings include Rice University Jones (from 34th to 25th); UC Irvine Merage (43rd to 31st); and Rochester Simon (50th to 38th).

• The schools that fell the most in the rankings include Texas A&M Mays (26th to 42nd); University of Wisconsin-Madison (33rd to 44th); Boston University (39th to 57th); Babson Olin (from 42nd to 58th); Thunderbird (45th to 62nd); and Arizona Carey (49th to 67th).

And here’s the scoop on the best U.S. undergraduate business schools in 2014…

Do MBA rankings really matter? Click here for the 2-min answer.

Some highlights include:

• Newcomers to the top 20 are Northeastern (from 25th last year to 19th this year) and CMU Tepper (from 24th last year to 17th this year).

• The only new school in the top 10 this year is Indiana Kelley, which jumped from 13th place last year to 8th place this year.

Michigan Ross fell from the top 10, from 8th place to 12th place.

• Big jumpers include Southern Methodist Cox, which jumped from 30th to 21st place; Babson, which jumped from 36th place to 26th place; UM Amherst Isenberg, which jumped from 45th to 36th; Bryant, which jumped from 63rd to 49th; and Case Western Reserve Weatherhead which jumped from 69th to 50th.

• Big falls include Villanova, which fell from 15th place to 24th; U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign which fell from 21st to 34th; and James Madison University which fell from 29th to 40th place.

For details on how ranking methodology see:

Best Business Schools 2014: How They Were Ranked

Best Undergraduate Business Schools 2014: How We Ranked Them

Analysis of the 2014 Businessweek Rankings

Businessweek made changes to its methodology (presented here and analyzed here by John Byrne, the founder of the BW rankings) this year.

The Basics of BW’s Rankings Remain Unchanged

This year, as in the past, BW surveyed recruiters and students. The recruiter satisfaction results comprise 45% of the ranking. The student satisfaction survey results comprise another 45% and the remaining 10% is determined by “expertise of each school’s faculty” as evidenced by faculty research published in prominent academic journals AKA intellectual capital.

What’s New in BW’s Rankings Methodology?

• The employer ranking reflects this year’s data only. Previous rankings used data from the last three surveys or six years of biannual rankings data while weighting the most recent year most heavily.

BW surveyed fifteen times the recruiters this year than it did in previous years. Previously, BW surveyed major recruiters who tended to recruit at multiple business schools. This year, BW attempted to survey as many MBA recruiters as possible, including “recruiters” who recruit primarily if not exclusively at their alma mater. The increased survey size is a major methodology change. The alumni recruiters may have a certain bias towards the school they attended. BW attempted statistically to reduce the impact of that bias, but it probably helped smaller schools like Duke, Tepper, and Yale, and hurt the traditional leaders, like Harvard, Wharton, and Chicago.

Impact of the Methodology Changes

• Surprise! The results will shock many applicants. Seven programs, including Duke and Yale, rank above HBS and MIT. Indiana Kelley and Maryland Smith rank above Haas, NYU Stern, and Darden. These are unexpected results.

• Reemphasizes the importance of understanding methodology. The changes highlight the need for anyone using the rankings as indications of “quality” or even reputation and brand value (a bad idea in my book) to look at the underlying data. Smith is ranked overall at 17. It was ranked #1 for student satisfaction and #51 in the employer survey ranking. Applicants to Smith should inquire about what is changing in its career management center. Clearly there is a satisfaction gap that has to be addressed.

• Increased volatility. Since BW has removed older rankings data from the ranking and has dramatically widened the survey pool while incorporating alumni recruiters, you are guaranteed to see more changes and more radical changes than with the previous methodology.

• Cognitive Dissonance. Either BW rankings will lose credibility because they don’t conform to expectations and will be more volatile, or people’s perception of the programs will change because of the BW rankings.

My money is on the former: loss of credibility. If BW’s results become less stable and predictable (like The Economist’s), they are more likely to lose credibility than to contribute to changes in school reputation.

As always my best advice to applicants reviewing the rankings is to:

• Use specialty rankings to get a sense of what schools excel in your areas of interest.

• Use the data that the ranking databases provide.

• If you have any thought of actually using the overall rankings, understand what they measure, and ask yourself if those qualities are of paramount importance to you. BW has been wonderfully transparent and even shared the questions actually asked in the survey.

• Layer in reputation and brand, i.e. ranking, after determining what schools best support your goals and are most likely to accept you.

Learn How to Choose the Best MBA Program for You!

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com 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.


Related Resources:

• 2014 Economist MBA Rankings
• MBA Rankings: Why Should I Care?
• U.S. News 2015 Best Colleges

What’s an MBA Really Worth?

Applying to top MBA programs? Download your free copy of Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One

How much do MBAs really earn?

This is the question tackled in a recent Poets & Quants article in which John Byrne presents PayScale data provided exclusively for P&Q. In the analysis, PayScale calculates the estimated median pay and bonuses (not including stock-based compensation, retirement benefits, or non-cash benefits like healthcare) of graduates from the top 50 U.S. MBA programs from 2004 to 2014. Here are some of the highlights from the article:

Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton earn the most over a 20-year period (at $3,233,000, $3,011,000 and $2,989,000 respectively), with average income at the former nearly doubling the average income of graduates from Texas A&M’s Mays Business School (at $1,781,820.)

• Some schools “punched above their weight class” like Boston University, whose graduates earned an average of $2,329,000, making the school rank in 19th place on this list, while ranked overall (in the regular MBA full-time rankings) by P&Q in 40th.

• Another high roller from lower down on the list is UC-Irvine Merage, where MBAs earn $2,319,932 over 20 years, putting them in 21st place, though generally ranked in 47th.

• More food for thought: At HBS, the average age of graduation is 29 years old. Our 20-year payout here brings these MBAs up to 49 years old, giving them another 16 years until retirement at 65. Based on their 20-year earnings, they may earn another $3.2 million, which combined with their 20-year earnings, brings their total up to $6.5 million. (Remember, this is a conservative estimate as it doesn’t include stock and non-cash compensation.)

• Compare the above HBS figures to the $2.5 million estimated lifetime earnings (age 24 to 64) of people with a master’s degree (non-MBA). (Data from the U.S. Census Bureau.) Someone with an MBA from Harvard will earn nearly three times as much as someone with a master’s degree. And someone with an MBA from Texas A&M will still earn about $1 million more than the average MA/MS holder.

• More comparisons (based on U.S. Census Bureau data): The average high school graduate can expect to earn $1.2 million in a lifetime, compared to the $2.1 million of someone with a bachelor’s degree. PhDs earn $3.4 million on average during their working lifetime. Doctors and lawyers can expect lifetime earnings of about $4.4 million – still less than the lifetime earnings of MBAs from at least 28 business schools.

• According to PayScale data, graduates from BA programs earn a median $1,301,000 20 years post-graduation. All MBAs, on average, earned $1,771,000, with those in the top 50 earning a median $2,266,000. An MBA in general will earn you about half a million more than a BA; an MBA from a top 50 school will get you yet another half a million more.

Looking for admissions advice?
Source: PayScale for Poets&Quants

For MBA admissions tips, check out our MBA Admissions 101 Pages!
Source: Payscale Inc. for 20-year estimate, business schools reporting to U.S. News for 2013 starting pay and bonus.

Click here for the complete Poets & Quants article.

Learn How to Choose the Best MBA Program for You!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know
• B-Schools with the Highest ROIs
PayScale: How Much You Can Earn, And How to Earn It