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The Top Ten Business Schools of All-Time?

This unusual list is based on 18 years of BusinessWeek rankings so it has much greater authority and credibility than any one-year look at where a business school may stand. Any single ranking is obviously far more susceptible to error and manipulation than rankings over time. That’s why this list of the top ten based on nine different ranking exercises by BusinessWeek is a good indication of the strongest MBA institutions in the world.

The obvious question—and one asked since BusinessWeek first ranked MBA schools in 1988—is how can Northwestern or Wharton possibly beat Harvard and Stanford? Afterall, the most selective business schools in the world are Stanford, which accepts only eight percent of its applicants, and Harvard, which generally says “yes” to only 14 percent of those who apply.

The answer lies in BusinessWeek’s methodology which heavily relies on the opinions of MBA graduates and corporate recruiters. Grads from Northwestern and the University of Pennsylvania are far more likely to be treated royally at their schools. The result: Kellogg and Wharton grads are likely to be more satisfied with their experiences than Harvard or Stanford grads. Recruiters, meantime, tend to like the fact that Northwestern and Wharton grads cost less and are perceived to be more flexible than Harvard MBAs, who tend to go into investment banking and consulting, or Stanford MBAs, who often prefer venture capital and entrepreneurial pursuits. The result: the companies that hire MBAs tend to slightly prefer Kellogg and Wharton grads.

The All-Time 10-Best Business Schools

  1. Northwestern
  2. University of Pennsylvania
  3. Harvard
  4. Chicago
  5. Michigan
  6. Stanford
  7. Columbia
  8. Dartmouth
  9. Duke
  10. MIT

Source: BusinessWeek Fast Track: The Best B-Schools by Louis Lavelle, published in 2008, by McGraw-Hill