Our MBA Ranking of the Top 50 Business Schools in the U.S.

There are significant and telling flaws in every MBA ranking, no matter where it comes from or how it is put together. The vast disparities in rank across the major rankings shows that where a school ranks is more a function of the methodology than any overall indication of quality. That’s why we carefully studied the pros and cons of each ranking, weighted each of them based on their authority and credibility, and then used all of those inputs to come up with our own ranking.

The beauty of this methodology is that each of the five major MBA rankings—BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times, Forbes, and The Economist—are brought together for the very first time. By blending these rankings using a system that takes into account each of their strengths as well as their flaws, we’ve come up with what is arguably the best and most reliable ranking of MBA programs ever published.

This composite index also naturally accommodates some of the wild disparities that you find from one survey to the next. Consider the University of California’s excellent Anderson School of Management. The Economist ranks it 50th, well behind L.A. rival the University of Southern California and the University of Notre Dame. The Financial Times puts UCLA at 33rd. BusinessWeek rates it 14th, U.S. News at 15th, and Forbes at 19th. Those are some pretty big differences of opinion on UCLA’s Anderson School. We think it’s the 16th best school in the U.S., a rank that is the sum total of all of them, adjusted for the authority we believe the major rankings have. For our critique of the major rankings and the reasoning behind the weights we applied to each, see our ranking of the rankings.

Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Wharton and Dartmouth Rank At the Top

To some long-time watchers of MBA education, there may be little surprise at seeing the Harvard Business School and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business at the very top as No. 1 and No. 2. The most influential ranking by BusinessWeek, however, has never had either Harvard or Stanford in the top spot. Through 11 rankings over 22 years, BusinessWeek has awarded that accolade to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management five times, to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School four times, and to the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business twice. In the global MBA rankings published by The Financial Times, Harvard last ranked first back in 2005. Since then, Harvard has lost out to Wharton (four times in a row) and to London Business School (in the current 2010 FT ranking). The highest rank Stanford has ever achieved in The Financial Times ranking is third and that was four years ago in 2007. Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, which is penalized in some surveys due to its smaller size, comes in a strong fifth in the P&Q ranking.

But the power of this newest ranking by Poets&Quants is that it awards consistency across the various surveys, eliminates the greatest anomalies in any one ranking, and takes advantage of the largest amount of qualitative and quantitative data ever compiled in a single study of the best business schools. One problem we could not overcome: it was impossible to make this a true global ranking because BusinessWeek and Forbes separate international schools (with Forbes carving up the overseas market into one-year MBA programs and two-year MBA programs), U.S. News doesn’t rate any non-U.S. institutions, and the Financial Times and The Economist mix them. The lack of standardization across the surveys prevents a fair and credible blending of non-U.S. schools. However, it is possible to rank the non-U.S. schools separately, and that’s what we did in our list of the top 30 non-U.S. business schools.

Differences in Rank Can Be Statistically Insignificant

Unlike the majority of rankings, we also give you our index numbers, which gives you an understanding of how far ahead or behind one school is over another. In many cases, the differences are so slim that they are statistically insignificant, yet most of the organizations that rank schools hide this data from you. So you can see that Wharton at an index number of 95.6 is only 1.2 percentage points behind Chicago in this ranking. Showing you index numbers provides you with the analytical context to better make decisions on which schools to apply to and which schools to say yes when accepted. The index numbers reveal where the statistical differences are so slim as to matter very little, if at all.

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  • vic

    Chicago has actually been ranked #1 four times.. not 2x

  • Noel De La Torre

    Much appreciated John!

  • Noel,

    Yes, we have updated this list a while ago. Here’s our latest ranking:


  • Noel De La Torre

    Hi John,

    Unless I missed the updated rankings, I was just wondering if we will be seeing an updated version of this page any time soon.


  • Bruce Vann


    Per the above link Darden is 11 and Tuck is 14 for BW. For P&Q’s ranking I assume that you used some older BW data to come up with your own. Am I right? If so what of the new data?

  • mark

    How would you rank the sloan fellow program from MIT, LBS and Stanford. How would you rank them in the global MBA (1& 2 years program) spectrum. thanks

  • Imran

    Hi John,

    I was wondering if you could explain the following:

    I understand that in the 2010 BW Rankings the Corporate Poll ranking is measured using the Analytical Skills and Gen. Mgmt. Skills assessment by recruiters.

    How is it possible for some schools to do very well in the specific Anlalytical Skills and Gen. Mgmt. Skills assessment but do poorly in the overall Corporate Poll ranking ?


    NW Kellog
    Corporate Poll (4)
    Analytical Skills (B)
    Gen. Mgmt. Skills (B)

    Cornell Johnson
    Corporate Poll (23)
    Analytical Skills (A)
    Gen. Mgmt. Skills (A)


  • That’s an interesting idea.

  • Vishal Rana

    Looking forward to the new ranking John..!

    PnQ’s rankings are of great help to prospective students like me and gives a fresh and new perspective by equally weighing all other major rankings..!

    One suggestion: As your methodology takes average (AM) of five rankings, shouldn’t you discard a particular ranking for a specific school, if it’s way above or below the ranks the school got in other 4 rankings?

    For ex., if a school has got an average 15 rank in FT, BW, US News and Forbes, but has a rank of 35 in ,say, Economist ranking, shouldn’t you discard it’s 35th rank and declare it’s overall rank as 15?

    Because when we take AM for averages, outliers can affect the final rank a great deal.

    In the above example, if you take fifth ranking into calculation, the school’s rank will move from 15 to 19..!!!!
    My suggestion is in such cases; you can ignore the fifth ranking and can just publish the rank on the basis of other 4 rankings.

    Or maybe, if you can’t do so, when you publish your rankings, highlight such outliers in a different color, say red, so that if a user wants, he can ignore that particular ranking out of the five and re-calculate it on the basis of rest four.

  • Yes. We expect to publish the new and vastly expanded list on Monday morning: Instead of 50 U.S. schools, we’ll rank 100. Instead of 30 non-U.S. schools, we’ll rank 50.

  • Imran

    Awesome site! It’s very informative and insightful.

    Will you be publishing an updated list soon that includes the 2010 BW and Econ data?

    Otherwise, it would be awesome if your rankings were sortable by column.

  • Inquisitive Mind

    Thank John. This site is phenomenal. Best one out there. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Yes! I’m hard at work crunching the data and hope to have it out soon, probably in another week or two.

    And I do like that suggestion of yours. In fact, I’ve been working on what I call consideration sets–schools most likely to compete with each other on the basis of reputation, geography, program distinctiveness, and culture–and then comparing and contrasting them. Of course, my ambitions and ideas far outweigh my time at this point. But I am going to get some concentrated help over the summer that will make a very big difference.

  • Inquisitive Mind

    Per my earlier suggestion, you said you were going to implement the ranking comparison following the release of the BW rankings. Any update?

    Here’s another suggestion. Do you have historical data for all of the various rankings? BW, USN, FT, Economist, etc? I think it’d be phenomenally helpful if there was the ability to compare up to three schools on certain ranking. Maybe I’d like to see Wharton, Chicago, and Columbia and see how they’ve performed in the BW ranking over the past years. Then, maybe I could compare that with USN. What do you think?

  • Hi John,

    It is definitely a great ranking, more so because I did a similar ranking of my own and could appreciate the different bands of business schools that your Index scores suggested. Moreover reading across the different forums and taking opinions, the rankings and the bands made more sense. Kudos for that!

    I am interested in pursuing a PhD in Management, and wanted to know how would these MBA rankings relate to the PhD ones. Can I actually use them as a guide while selecting my universities for PhD application. It would be great if you could have suggested some good resources on PhDs.


  • Anthony M. Itrada

    Hi John,

    Any thoughts on the previous questions regarding online MBA rankings? Do you think an online MBA would be well-regarded by recruiters and employers?

  • I think the best available list for this, though hardly perfect, is the latest 2010 U.S. News & World Report ranking based on a poll of B-school deans and MBA directors.
    As you point out, Kellogg is number one, followed by Wharton, Duke, Stanford, and Harvard–all tough schools to get into. After the top five, you have: Columbia, Chicago, Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, NYU, Texas at Austin, UNC, MIT, Virginia, Tuck, Indiana, University of Florida in Gainesville, Cornell, USC, Marquette University in Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Emory, Fordham, St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Maryland, and Minnesota. As you can see, as you get farther down on the list, I would be extremely cautious in picking a school just because they’re on the list. Rather, I would simply try to get into the best possible school you can.

  • j


    Can you give me your take on which schools you think have a strong marketing / brand marketing program? Through my research it’s obvious that Kellogg, Cornell, Duke, Ross all have strong marketing programs but what about others down the top 50 list? What is your take on the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison program? They seem to have a strong brand marketing stream and have many top CPG recruiters come on campus. Are there any other schools I should put on my radar?


    This site you put together is amazing.

  • Khagan


    I have 3 questions and would really appreciate any insight that you (or anyone else on this board) may have.

    My first question is about the Sloan Fellows program at MIT. There does not seem to be enough data about this program and I was wondering if you have any insight. I have already conducted exhaustive research on the internet, spoken to the school, alumni etc. So looking for any incremental data, beyond the obvious regarding how this program is perceived in the job market. If you look at LinkedIn, you can’t really make a determination regarding the post-Sloan trajectory of alumni.

    My second question is regarding the OxBridge MBAs. These programs (especially Ox) are making great strides year-on-year and seems destined for great things and are very friendly to older applicants. Will they be comparable to Chicago/Kellogg (in 5-10 years) ? Also, I can not understand why INSEAD is ranked higher because it does not appear to provide better job opportunities, has no endowment to speak of, and is not even a university !

    Final question is regarding options for older applicants (34 +) interested in going back to school full-time for an MBA (not an EMBA) from a top school. I know that INSEAD and IMD have unofficial cut-offs at 34/35 (they told me) and the US schools are not encouraging (unless you are a Ph.d/Doctor/Soldier). What are some other options ? There do not seem to be too many if you are a career switcher in the mid-30s? I feel like there is age discrimination at some of the top schools and it totally looks like a class action lawsuit waiting to happen 🙂

    Thank you in advance for your consideration. Curious to hear your thoughts and those of the others on this board.

  • That is a great suggestion and one that we’ll work on over the next few weeks. As for your applying to go to business school directly from your undergraduate education, most schools do favor several years of work experience. There’s no question you will be at something of a disadvantage in getting into a top school. That said, there are exceptions, even at Harvard and Stanford which are both accepting candidates with less full-time work experience than other elite schools. If you don’t want to wait, you may need to explore something outside the top ten. The new global MBA program at John Hopkins University is one possibility because they are looking for less traditional MBA candidates and are willing to consider applicants with less work experience.

  • Hi John,

    Great website, professionally written – I believe I’ve read 90% of its content in the last few days. I actually prepared few weeks ago (before I saw your website) sort of a similar ranking system (that takes into account all the rankings) in Excel, just for my own personal use but because I lack your understanding of the pros and cons of each program I gave all the programs the same weight in my list. Surprisingly, it’s not that different from yours, here are the top 15 I got (lower score is obviously better):
    4.8 Harvard
    5.6 Wharton
    6 Chicago
    6.4 Stanford
    6.6 Columbia
    7.4 Tuck
    7.6 MIT
    10 Kellogg
    12.2 Berkeley
    13.6 Duke
    13.8 Yale
    14 NYU
    14.2 Michigan
    15.8 Darden
    17.8 Cornell

    I have a suggestion and a question.
    My suggestion is that you should make the site more “social network friendly” – give users the option to “Like” the articles in their Facebook’s, “Tweet” on the articles, etc. It would definitely drive more traffic to the site.
    My question is that: I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree in May 2011 and want to start my MBA at one of the top ten schools few months later – September 2011. I don’t have the problem of lack of work experience as I served 3 years in the Israeli Army and I’m working full-time in a serious job during the last 5 years while earning my bachelor’s degree at the same time. With that, there are few programs, and I know for sure that Haas is definitely one of them, that won’t even look at my application until my bachelor’s is finished – which means I won’t be able to apply to them this year. On the other hand, I know that my situation is accepted by Tuck and NYU and they will consider my application as equal to the others. My question is whether you know the policy of the other top schools regarding applying while still finishing the bachelor’s degree and to what extent (if at all) will it influence negatively my application?

    Thanks and I wish you and your website a lot of success.

  • Sonali

    Hi John,

    Brilliant website, your direction and attitude make this website stand out. Do tell me which would be a better choice between Eller(University of Arizona) & Thunderbird, for someone who wants to enter marketing/consulting.I wanted to ask you this since they both are in the same area Arizona(Southwest).

  • Yes. We can do that. In fact, I have plans to do exactly that when BW comes out with its new ranking on Nov. 11th.

  • Inquisitive Mind

    Here’s another suggestion. Do you have historical data for all of the various rankings? BW, USN, FT, Economist, etc? I think it’d be phenomenally helpful if there was the ability to compare up to three schools on certain ranking. Maybe I’d like to see Wharton, Chicago, and Columbia and see how they’ve performed in the BW ranking over the past years. Then, maybe I could compare that with USN. What do you think?

  • Great idea. I’ll try to make it happen.

  • Hi,

    Can we have a sort feature on all the individual ranking columns. That way users can sort on different rankings and draw their conclusions as well. For example, I want to go by BW rankings and sort it on that column to see how the ranked colleges from BW rank amongst others. (Hope I’m making sense).


  • Sarah

    Thanks for your wonderful inputs. Your website is invaluable to all MBA aspirants. Please tell me which is a better proposition in terms of reputation and prospects in Strategy,Marketing or Consulting between Thunderbird(Arizona) and University of Arizona(Eller School of Business)?Since both cater to the South West Market.

  • Anthony M. Itrada

    Hi John,

    Thank you for a great website! It certainly helps to get an objective view of business school and the MBA experience, but especially the rankings.

    I’m keen to read your response to Hannu K’s post regarding online MBA rankings. Are online programs still viewed as lower quality (or even completely worthless) by recruiters and employers?

    My curiosity stems from the fact that I live in South Africa and I need to decide whether to attend a full-time program at one of the South African B-schools or opt for an online program from a US B-school such as Isenberg (UMass Amherst), Kelley (Indiana) or T-Bird (the high cost of a full-time program at a top tier US B-school coupled with no income for two years makes Harvard/Stanford/etc. impossible for me).

    The other consideration is that I’d like to work in the USA someday, so which would look better on a resume? South Africa’s top-ranked full-time program or Isenberg?

    Thanks again for the great work you’re doing.

  • rick argo

    Hi John, thanks for the response and you are absolutely right!! it is a very difficult decision, but I definitely agree with you. Thank you for crystallizing the thought process. I think i will enjoy Disneyland!

    Great website!!

  • Rick,
    First off, let me just say you can’t make a wrong decision here. The fact that you have three great choices tells me a lot about what you have already achieved. Nonetheless, your question reminds me of a recent conversation I had with Len Schlesinger, president of Babson College and former chief operating officer of The Limited as well as former director of Harvard’s MBA program. In describing the full MBA experience versus the basic coursework, Len said this: “It’s the day at Disneyland. It’s not the ride.” In other words, at Chicago you’ll get the ride, the basic MBA curriculum you’d get at Dartmouth or at Insead. You’ll learn what you need to know about leadership, marketing, finance, statistics, strategy, and operations. You’ll take electives that will give you a deeper understanding and terrific preparation for a career in asset management or investment banking. You’ll take the ride and it will be a good one. But you won’t ever get the greater benefit of the full MBA experience. You won’t see a new world of possibilities that you haven’t even imagined. You won’t have endless opportunities to flex your leadership muscles by running a club or a conference. You won’t get to learn as much from your classmates and vicariously experience all the wonderful things they have done to get an invite into a top MBA program. And you won’t leave with an enduring network of lifelong friends who would greatly enrich your personal and your professional life. You know what I’m leading up to. I wouldn’t go on the ride. I would want to go to Disneyland. As for a park–Tuck vs. Insead–that is more of a personal choice. Do you want a total immersive international experience or a premium elite MBA experience? I would go to Tuck’s Disneyland. My wife, by the way, would go to France.

  • rick argo

    This has definitely become my favorite site for MBA related opinions, very well written with “honest” opinions and minimal sugar coating. Thank you!

    Ranking are valuable and provide a general sense of quality regarding the schools. But sometimes decisions are not A Vs B, and I was hoping to ask a question just like that.

    I currently have the option to either go to Insead/Tuck or go to Chicago Booth evening MBA program (for free) while working for *the best* Investment Bank’s middle office. Upon graduation, I would like to work within Asset Management or Investment Banking. So was just wondering what your opinions might be regarding this. Go for the prestige of a full time MBA and spend the $$, or study for free at one of the best PT programs while getting that bank’s “brand name recognition”.

    Thanks a lot for creating this website!!
    If this question belongs in another forum, I will be happy to post it there.

  • Andrew,

    Yes but I will probably wait until BusinessWeek publishes it’s latest biennial ranking on Nov. 11th.


  • Hi John. Will you be reconfiguring the P&Q rankings to factor in the new Economist rankings?

  • Yes! The priority right now is to get the fundamental content on school comparisons and specialized programs built out and deep, especially for the top 25 or so schools. Then, we’ll push out into part-time and EMBA from there.

  • Clint

    Any plans to rank part-time programs?

  • Great idea. At the very least, we’ll start a community group in our community section and start posting advice and help there on a regular basis. Thanks!

  • Mannu

    Thanks for starting a great website – I have been following you from the days of businessweek.com rankings start and have no doubts that this venture too will be hugely successful.

    I was wondering if there are any plans to start something on scholarship information assistance as well. With so much scattered info, blogs and noise around scholarships – it sometimes become painful for prospective students to secure genuinely actionable scholarship advice.


  • Hello John,
    First of all hearty thanks for creating such a valuable site.However, I wish if the website gets a tie up with ambassadors of different schools it works wonder.Moreover, if subject specific MBA professors are also among the prying eyes then it adds a qualitative qualifier for sure.

    Well about the International ranking part, I wonder why schools from few of the most developed economies do not fare better in it.For example schools from Scandinavian countries or export oriented economies as those of Germany and Japan.

    I also wanted to have subject specific rankings mostly for International Business with a focus for International students concern on ROI.

    This will be all for the time being.

    Thank you beforehand.

  • Sorry for my hasty and incorrect answer. i went back into our ranking database to get to the bottom of it: here’s what I found: In fact, Thunderbird is ranked by four of the five rankings we blended, with it’s highest ranking from Business Week which effectively rates it a top 50 school by including Thunderbird in its “second tier.” U.S. News gives the school a rank of 62; The Financial Times, 67, and The Economist, 84. When you add and weight all these scores, plus the lack of being ranked by Forbes, the school did not make our more limited list of the top 50. If we expanded the list by another 10 or so schools, it would be safe to say Thunderbird would be on it.

  • Sonali

    Thanks but that is partially true since Thunderbird is ranked by FT.com as well!!!no 67 !!! So it is indeed ranked by 3 ranking organizations:usnews, ft and business week. Therefore, why isnt it ranked?

  • Andrew

    Do you know of any polls, lists, or rankings for Graduate programs in International Economics/Finance? I predict a high demand for Grad students in this field in years to come.

  • It is a fine institution, indeed. One requirement for the list is that every school had to be ranked by at least three of the five ranking organizations. Thunderbird was ranked by two: BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report, but not by Forbes, The Economist, or The Financial Times. As a result, it was not included in the methodology.

  • Sonali

    Why is Thunderbird not on the list? It is a fine institution, and it is ranked among the Second Tier Schools on the BusinessWeek list. Also, in the Business Week 2008 rankings that you have displayed, T-bird is there in the top 50.

  • The methodology for this ranking (and your ranking of rankings) is fatally flawed: garbage-in, garbage-out. For example, BusinessWeek uses “customer satisfaction” of alumni as a huge factor, so it is in the alumni’s self-interest to report high satisfaction regardless of reality. The other major factor is recruiter satisfaction but recruiters that have to compete for top candidates (and lose) will report lower satisfaction with schools that have the most desired students.

  • Hannu K

    Hello Gents,

    I am curious as to online MBA’s rankings, and would like at least a opinion piece on it or a ranking if possible.

    Currently I am taking the MBA (online) at the University of Liverpool (UK) It is quite demanding and very interesting, but I can’t help to think how it would compare to a fulltime campus oriented MBA.

    Or would you say that part-time / online MBA’s are still considered ‘dodgy’ or ‘suspect’ ?

    Thanks and best regards,
    Hannu K

  • Paul, it certainly shouldn’t be. But what happens in some ranking surveys is that the much smaller graduating class at Tuck means that fewer MBA recruiters will go to the school. That’s simply a fact of supply and demand. And those who do go to interview Tuck students are more likely to come up empty because there are considerably fewer students to recruit. As a result, corporate recruiters can overlook the school or be less happy with the recruiting outcome. That has nothing to do with the quality of education, or even with the ability to get a great job and have a hugely successful career. But it can impact Tuck’s showing in rankings that depend on recruiter polling.

  • paul f young

    Why is Dartmouth’s Tuck School penalized for being smaller?

  • The Journal stopped ranking full-time MBA programs in 2007. That last ranking, in September of 2007, is no longer current. Check out our analysis on all of the rankings, including what we think of the WSJ methodology when the paper regularly did a ranking.

  • gets

    Why didn’t you include WSJ ranking?

  • It’s an interesting approach using different rankings to compile your own. While we (Quant Network) focus on the quant audience, not the MBA type, we compiled a quantitatively-based ranking of MBA programs in 2009 using our proprietary algorithm. If you look at our methodology, we also have a table where we compare our ranking with the other well-known rankings (Forbes, NW, BW,etc)

    You can find our ranking here http://www.quantnet.com/business-schools-rankings/

    Our 2009 ranking of MFE programs has been viewed over 50,000 times.


    Founder, Quant Network

  • I agree we need to do a much better job of surveying and analyzing non-U.S. business schools. We do have a list of the top 30 non-U.S. schools based on rankings those schools have received by The Financial Times and The Economist, which both published global rankings, as well as BusinessWeek and Forbes, which both publish separate rankings for non-U.S. schools. You can see it here It’s still insufficient, but it’s a start. We’ll do better as soon as possible.

  • Jenny

    I’d be interested in seeing ranks of Canadian universities and other prominent non-US schools.

  • The Darla Moore School is a fine school, but unfortunately it’s not in our top 50 or any other top 50 list of the best business schools with full-time MBA programs. The latest U.S. News ranking puts it at 62nd, and the latest Financial Times ranking places it at 67th. The school isn’t ranked by BusinessWeek, The Economist, or Forbes. Our ranking only covers the top 50 in the U.S. We’ll expand it in the future, but for now Darla Moore fails to make the cut. Now when you get to specialty rankings, such as international business, you’re in a different space. We are going to profile schools that have carved out important niches in the business market, and in the area of international business this is where Darla Moore could gain special recognition.

  • I am interested as to why the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina is not on this list- that is shocking. The Moore School has been named the best school in the world for international experience by the Financial Times for the past 21 years and is number three in the international business specialty by U.S. News and World Report. Such a prestigious and reputable International MBA program should be recognized as such.