"Each year, U.S. News ranks professional-school programs in business, education, engineering, law, and medicine. These rankings are based on two types of data: expert opinion about program quality and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research, and students. These data come from surveys of more than 1,200 programs and some 12,500 academics and professionals that were conducted in fall 2006. As you research course offerings and weigh different schools’ intangible attributes, U.S. News‘s rankings can help you compare programs’ academic excellence. It’s important that you use the rankings to supplement — not replace — careful thought and your own inquiries." [Emphasis added]
As you examine the rankings, keep in mind US News’ own caveat. Also consider Clear Admit’s related analysis:
"… the fact that there is so little change from year to year and that these same programs are included so consistently in the top 20 speaks to the consistent quality of these programs. It also underscores the importance of deeper research to really understand a school and its offerings to put these rankings in perspective and identify the school that’s the best personal and professional fit."
When thorough research and introspection determines your choice of target schools, any school that accepts you will support your goals, unless they have changed, and match your personal preferences. You will not end up in the sad situation of someone accepted at School A who no longer wants to attend School A and has to reapply all over again. When people apply almost randomly to schools in the top X ranking, they tend to end up applying to the wrong schools.
Yes, use the rankings as you would use opinion surveys and statistical data, but don’t let the rankings take the place of your own research, thought process, and decision-making.
Now US News’ top 10 full-time MBA programs.
US News also breaks out acceptance rates, salary data, and rankings for EMBA and part-time MBA programs.