Dartmouth’s Tuck vs. Stanford Graduate School of Business


In the rankings, Stanford tends to edge out Dartmouth. The only major ranking where Dartmouth bests Stanford is by The Economist which places Tuck at sixth and Stanford directly behind at seventh. Of the five major rankings, we consider The Economist the least credible due to its odd methodology. The P&Q rank–which factors into consideration all the major rankings weighted by their individual authority–puts Stanford at number two and Dartmouth at number five. These are the up-to-date rankings from each ranking organization.

MBA Rankings Stanford Dartmouth
Poets&Quants 2 5
BusinessWeek 6 12
Forbes 1 2
U.S. News & World Report 1 7
Financial Times 4 14
The Economist 7 6


Historical Rankings by BusinessWeek:

If any schools have a legitimate complaint about how they’ve performed in the BusinessWeek ranking, it’s definitely Dartmouth and Stanford. Over a 22-year period and 11 biennial rankings, BusinessWeek has never ranked either of these two highly prestigious business schools higher than number 3 and only Dartmouth reached that high on the survey once–in its inaugural year of 1988. The best Stanford has ever achieved in the BusinessWeek survey is number four. Over the years, however, Stanford has clearly outperformed Dartmouth as the chart shows. Still, Stanford has had a highly inconsistent run, going as low as number 11 in 2000 and as high as number four in three different surveys in 1994, 2002, and 2004. The answer for this lackluster performance for such a stellar institution is understandable. BusinessWeek measures customer satisfaction. While students rate these schools very highly, recruiters often have other issues. At Stanford, some recruiters dislike the fact that so few of the school’s MBAs are on the open market. Too many of them are headed for newer companies or directly become entrepreneurs that recruiting at Stanford is often frustrating for many companies. At Tuck, the graduating class is so small in comparison to other major business schools that Dartmouth is disadvantaged in the BusinessWeek survey due to its methodology. As bad as Stanford’s showing is over the years, Dartmouth has had an even more disappointing run in the BusinessWeek survey, ranking as low as 16th in 2000. In only three surveys has Dartmouth ranked at a single digit level: it came in at number three in the inaugural 1988 ranking and number six in 1990 and 1992. Since then, Dartmouth has been ranked 10th on four different occasions, and even worse, 11th, 12th, and 13th in three other ranking years. We think Tuck and Stanford have both been shortchanged by BusinessWeek’s methodology.



Historical Rankings by The Financial Times:

Unlike BusinessWeek’s rankings, The Financial Times includes business schools from all over the world. So the FT is ranking both Stanford and Dartmouth against such places as London Business School, which ranked number one in this survey in 2010 and 2009, and INSEAD, which ranked fifth these last two years. Stanford has done much better than Dartmouth in the 11 surveys charted below, ranking third on five occasions, fourth in four separate years, and no higher than sixth in 2009. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has never had a higher rank than 7 in 2005 and has been ranked as low as 15th twice and 13th on three occasions, including the past two consecutive years. Tuck’s showing in the Financial Times survey is a reflection of the methodology’s attempt to measure what the newspaper calls “the diversity and international reach” of the school. Among other things, the FT takes into account what it calls “international mobility,” “international experience,” and “international board,” factors that favor European schools where countries are not much larger than most states in the U.S.


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  • Ana Belen Mañón

    Welcome to Tuck!

  • Zach


    Where can I find this data for other schools: “However, 20 years out of Tuck, about half of its grads end up as entrepreneurs–roughly the same percentage as Stanford.”

    I am interested in schools like Tuck that feed the job force straight out of B-school and then have their alumni endeavor as entrepreneurs later in their careers – I think this is the most appealing path for me and would love to see a list of how the top 50 schools fair in this category (if data is available obviously).


  • Was this written 10 years ago?

    You really need to update this article.

  • rubicx

    Considering most of it is more SUNY than Ivy, of course, it’s forgotten.

  • Mike,

    First off, congrats. Those are two of the world’s best business schools and two of my personal favorites. You must be an incredible MBA applicant to have received an invite from both Tuck and Darden. They are very similar schools as you note–small, collaborative, caring and generous students and faculty, a general management approach, very strong alumni networks, premium MBA experiences (without distracting part-time MBA programs, undergrads, etc. They are in business for the flagship full-time MBA program and they devote their resources to make sure that program is the absolute best it can be.

    My sense is that the quality of teaching at Darden is consistently better than it is at Tuck, that the first-year core is more challenging than it is at Tuck as well. On the other hand, the Tuck alumni network is stronger than the one at Darden, and, of course the Tuck brand has more prestige and stature. Yet even pay over a 20-year career, according to currently available data, isn’t all that different: $3.1 million for a Tuckie and $2.9 million for a Darden grad.

    I honestly don’t think you can make a bad decision here, either way. And to close the deal, I would re-visit each campus and stay a night, speak with a few more students and teachers and act on your gut. It is worth the extra cost and effort to help you make up your mind and feel no regret over the choice.

    All this said, you asked a question and I won’t evade an answer: I would probably go with the bigger brand, especially because it would buy you the best alumni network on the market (better even than Harvard or Stanford). I’d take out the larger loan and head north.

  • Mike

    John – i was recently admitted to Tuck and Darden w/ third tuition scholarship. I love both schools as aside from location and case method vs blend i see many things in common. I am currently located in the Northeast and everyone i talk to doesnt even consider the fact that i may go to UVA upon getting into Tuck and i think this may be a function of being in Tucks backyard/resonating ivy leage stigma for those who dont neccesarily know anything about business schools. Is the Tuck brand that much stonger than Darden where i should seriously be considering passing on the $$?

  • Jess,

    Very good suggestion. We will fix these charts and update them with the latest info over the next few weeks.

  • Jess

    HI John,

    Great article, as always. If I may make one suggestion: on your ranking comparison charts, have you considered flipping the Y-axis (so 1 would appear at the top… and a dip in the line would corresponded to a dip in the rankings)? It may make your charts, which I love, more meaningful visually. Just a suggestion.


  • Quite a bit of weight is put on both GPA and work experience. If you have been following our series on “Your Chances of Getting In,” it will give you a good feel for how these variables are weighed by the top schools.

  • sari

    This was indeed an exhaustive comparison … as a fairly young (25 years) aspirant for 2012, what’s the premium these schools put on work ex and age? Also, how critical is the under grad GPA ?

  • Ouri

    Hi John,

    I wanted to know if you can make a quick comparison between these schools from the aspect of foreign students?

    I talked to some Tuck and Stanford alumni, and got the feeling that it is far more difficult for a foreign student to integrate with US students in Tuck, in comparison with Stanford’s foreign students. Do you think Tuck’s strong community aspect is less relevant for foreign students than other schools’, such as Stanford?

  • Deepak Kapoor

    hi john !!
    I am applying to Tuck (no doubt, I am already done with Stanford app :).
    What are the stakes on technology and entrepreneurship as far as Tuck is concerned ?

  • Lim,

    Thank you John. B-school research will never be the same again! As a prospective career changer, I’m particularly interested in the who hires who section.

  • Lim,

    Yes, indeed. I wish I had more time! I haven’t forgotten about Cornell. It’s a fabulous business school. I soon plan to finally get to Cornell, Darden, Duke, UNC, and UCLA. These smackdowns take a good deal of research and writing time. Utlmately, I would hope to have hundreds of them on the site. Best, John.

  • Lim,

    Hmm.. anyone still remember Cornell? I thought Johnson school of management was great. Can’t wait for the ‘forgotten Ivy’ to come out and join the smackdown party too. 🙂

  • Vikalp

    Simply Incredible. I have never gone through such an exhaustive comparison of two schools. Thanks!!
    Kindly direct me to some other similar comparisons as well. I will be applying for Fall 2011 this year.

  • Congratulations Derrick! You’re going to an incredible school. Meantime, thanks for your kind comments. They’re really appreciated.

  • DD


    This is a great post about two amazing schools. I will be attending Tuck this fall and can’t tell you how excited I am to attend. I had a fairly arduous process, applying to six schools, accepted to four (MIT, Kellogg, Yale, Tuck). I am confident I made the right decision about attending Tuck, and am looking forward to an amazing experience.

    This site is great as well, and looking forward to seeing more profiles, reading more smackdowns, and spreading the word to MBA candidates going forward!