Poets&Quants’ Top 100 MBA Programs in the U.S.

by John A. Byrne on

Harvard’s Class of 2010 has a lot to celebrate

In the aftermath of the economic meltdown, things are slowly getting back to normal at the world’s top business schools. Job offers are up nearly everywhere, and corporate recruiters—especially from the once hard-hit financial sector—are back in hiring mode. So it is with little surprise, perhaps, that the Harvard Business School, the most famous MBA-granting institution in the world, is at the top again.

In a new ranking by Poets&Quants, Harvard won first-place honors among 100 of the best business schools in the U.S. Right behind Harvard was its West Coast rival Stanford, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Wharton, Columbia Business School, and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. London Business School, meantime, came in first among 50 of the best B-schools outside the U.S. France’s INSEAD was second, followed by IESE and IE Business School in Spain, and HEC in Paris (for the full list of all 50 ranked schools.)

This new P&Q list is a composite of the five major MBA rankings published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report. The ranking takes into account a massive wealth of quantitative and qualitative data captured in the five major lists, from surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, deans and faculty publication records to median GPA and GMAT scores of entering students as well as the latest salary and employment statistics of the latest graduating class.

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 most authoritative ranking of MBA programs ever published. The list, which includes the recently released 2010 rankings by BusinessWeek and The Economist, tends to eliminate anomalies and other statistical distortions that often occur in one ranking or another. In any case, the ranking measures the overall quality and reputation of the flagship full-time MBA programs at the schools, rather than the schools themselves.

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. BusinessWeek’s biennial rankings, however, have never had either Harvard or Stanford in the top spot. Through 12 rankings over 24 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 on three occasions. The global MBA rankings published by The Financial Times last ranked Harvard 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 was third and that was in 2007.

After the U.S., Europe remains the best place to get a business education. Of the top 20 non-U.S. B-schools, seven are based in Britain, including the relatively new MBA programs at No. 8 Cambridge and No. 10 Oxford universities, along with three each in Spain and in France. Only one Asian school, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, cracked the top 20 list at 17th.

In most cases, these top schools and the MBAs from them have weathered one of the toughest economic storms to ever hit the business world. At the school synonymous with the MBA degree, Harvard especially took it on the chin. Critics quickly pointed fingers at the school for the greed and excess that led to the global crash. The Masters of the Universe quickly became, in the words of one of Harvard’s own graduates, the “Masters of Disaster” who had their fingerprints on many a financial fiasco.

A 2006 Harvard MBA, Philip Delves Broughton, noted that the last two heads of Merrill Lynch—Stan O’Neal and John Thain—were both Harvard MBAs, along with then Securities & Exchange Commission head Chris Cox and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson who watched as Lehman Brothers went under. The crisis had spread panic and fear even at Harvard, which dispatched staffers to New York to handle the collateral damage to its MBAs on Wall Street from Lehman’s bankruptcy.

Today, however, the school’s MBAs are doing quite well, thank you. Some 95% of the Class of 2010 landed jobs three months after graduation. The median starting salary for a Harvard MBA this year was $110,000, down slightly from $114,000 a year earlier. Two of three grads were handed signing bonuses of $20,000, while one of every four grads picked up additional “guaranteed compensation” of $23,000, not including stock or stock options or performance bonuses. MBAs headed into investment banking are back into double-digits, 10% this year from a six-year low of 6% in 2009.

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  • Gargamol

    Actually Wharton is also number 3 (tie again) in the US News, not number 5??? Sorry but your ranking in highly flawed, at least for Wharton, so i doubt it is correct for the rest…

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Gargamol,

    Wharton was number five in the U.S. News survey last year. The school tied for third place in the U.S. News survey that came out this past March.

    Our ranking, which was done at the end of last year, takes into account all the up-to-date rankings to that point. It will be updated again later this year and will then reflect the new U.S. News rank. It would be silly to update the ranking every time one of the five major rankings is published. It really only makes sense to update it annually. In most cases, these small changes in a single survey won’t affect our ranking very much for two reasons: 1) A change–either up or down–in one of five rankings tends to have less impact because we’re looking at all the most influential rankings, and 2) Each ranking is weighted based on how authoritative we believe a ranking is.

    So it is correct as published.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Gargamol,

    For many years, there was a trio of U.S. schools at the very top: Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago. In the 1990s and 2000s, Wharton shoved aside Chicago and effectively replaced it. Now, after Chicago’s first place finish in three consecutive BusinessWeek polls in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and Wharton’s fall in the FT rankings in recent years, I would say it’s pretty much neck and neck. You may prefer Wharton and that’s fine. It’s a terrific school. But it’s simply not true that Chicago Booth is a safety school.

  • Gargamol

    Ok, thank you for the answer. I understand your ranking now. Nevertheess. can you explain to me why yield is so low at Booth? It seems that people tend to prefer any other top B-School. Honestly i don’t know anyone who dream to go there : people dream to go to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and, more surprisingly, Columbia. But Booth’s prestige is somehow lower, even if the school is doing pretty well in rankings. Thus, a third raknk for Booth is exagereted in my view. But then, as you say, everyone can have its own opinion.

    Thanxxx

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    I think Booth’s yield is lower precisely because there are a good number of people who, like you, think Wharton is the preferred choice. A lot of this has to do with Wharton’s location: it’s close to Wall Street, New York and Connecticut where there is the highest concentration of jobs in finance in the world. And for many who don’t want to live in New York, but like to have easy access to it, Wharton is a good bet. Also, as far as rankings go, there is a significant lag factor before image and reputation change.

  • Gargamol

    You are probably right then. Actually, i’m European so maybe i don’t have the same sensitivity but from my european point of view i can assure you that most people here don’t even know that Booth (or Kellogg, Tuck and Haas) merely exist. Actually i think it is linked to the prestige of its university so people know about Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, the MIT and also surprisingly about Wharton in the US (but not about Penn U) and about LBS in the UK. But i also know that many Americans have Booth in high esteem, so i am probably wrong.

  • Tommy

    Gargamol,

    Simply put, Booth grads have their choice of any employer they desire. Booth MBA’s could care less what their reputation in relation to Wharton (or any other program) is.

  • Trine

    Um hey Gargamol, Booth’s yield isn’t low. Its about the same as MIT’s, just below Wharton’s (which is a LOT lower than hbs’s), and better than Kellogg’s. Isn’t that about where you’d expect it to be? Check your facts.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/gillmic/ Michael Gill

    Hi John,

    Love the site and your methodologies. One question, though: when considering Global Rankings (FT, Economist, etc.) in the ranking of U.S. schools, would it make more sense to provide the relative rank versus other U.S. schools only? For example, in the FT rankings, I’d view the ranking of U.S. schools as 1. Wharton 2. HBS 3. Stanford 4. Columbia 5. Sloan 6. Booth, as opposed to using their nominal Global rankings of 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, and 12 in an average of U.S-based rankings. Just a thought that should help normalize/standardize your aggregate rankings.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/gillmic/ Michael Gill

    Ah…John…actually saw that this idea has already been proposed. I apologize for not scanning previous posts.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Michael,

    I think the idea has merit. With the new Economist ranking now out, we’ll be working on our new composite ranking for publication in early November. We’ll see how that works.

  • B-school Guy ’13

    Mike: RE: “flattening” the rankings. Actually an interesting aspect of leaving the FT and Economist rankings “as is” is that it almost has an indexing effect built in to it. If a school is ranked 5 spots below another overall, but all of those spots are foreign schools, it almost kind of implies that there is a bit of space between the schools, even though they aren’t US schools.

    I’d say leave current system as it allows you to “index” the results a bit.

  • Daniel

    Wharton is clearly going down in every ranking, only FT still keeps it among the tops. I can’t wait to see the new P&Q ranking, I believe it’s the best ranking, given that it considers all the others.

  • Bobby Boy

    Morning Mr. Byrne,

    Any progress on updated composite rankings?

    Thanks for the great content.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Yes. Finished the U.S. piece last night. Now working on the non- U.S. Ranking. Should have this done on Monday.

  • Bobby Boy

    Thank you Mr. Byrne. We eagerly await the updates…

  • Mike

    Hi John:

    Any updates on the P&Q rankings?

    Also, would love to see a smackdown of Fuqua vs. Darden and Fuqua vs.Tuck.

    Thanks for all your hard work. Love the website.

    Mike

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Mike,

    Yes. We’re getting close. Any day now.

  • Mike

    Hi John:

    Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. The Fuqua community is chomping at the bit…we are anxiously awaiting your rankings!

    Mike

  • b-school guy

    Ditto – what’s the due date of the rankings???

  • moonwashed

    I am having a difficult time choosing between Duke and Dartmouth. I am a military applicant (Interrogation/Chinese language background), and I plan to focus on strategy consulting (in China) for the first few years post-MBA.

    I am trying not to let rankings poison my outlook on each school, and I am sure most of you can relate to that challenge. Each school puts similar emphasis (possibly a little more so at Fuqua) on business in China through electives, experiential opportunities, and job treks, and each is extremely collaborative with comparable brand names.

    I am interested in all of your opinions on these two schools. I think what it really boils down to is a slightly better fit vs. a slightly better brand–so maybe it’s just an issue of pride that I need to overcome. I would appreciate ANY insight from the forum followers. I have until Sunday to decide to go ahead with the binding contract of Duke’s early action round.

    Thanks.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/bschool13/ bschool2013

    Moonwashed…I’m a military applicant (well, applying in 2012 anyway) and I visited both Duke and Dartmouth. My thoughts and musings have been recorded on my blog here:

    http://bschool2013.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/tuck-visit/
    http://bschool2013.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/duke-visit/

    Though if you’ve already been on campus yourself for a visit/interview, you may find my opinions fairly useless.

  • moonwashed

    bschool2013, I appreciate the quick response. My experience at Tuck sounds identical to yours, but our Fuqua visits sound completely different. My visit to Duke was similar to my visit to Dartmouth, even down to the meal and the info session with the admissions staff. If there is a chance that you would reconsider it for next year, I would encourage you to to do so…I really enjoyed it!

    Anyway, thanks for the blog link.

  • Venki

    Penn state 42 Rutgers at 61 and Boston and u Maryland ranked higher than Rutgers ? Check the best value for getting a job ranking its at 10. Just not sure how much weightage jobs have in the ranking. Imagine a situation where you graduated from a top ranked but have no job? That doesn’t make sense at the end of graduation higher ranking, great facilities , great faculty doesn’t matter. Jobs,jobs and only jobs matter. On the jobs argument ranking should be focused, which school has great value and a great chance to get a job? Than then rest of criteria as this is most important criteria in this economy. Come with jobs z score ranking…:) forgot rest of the soft variables. …

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/bschool13/ bschool2013

    moonwashed – no problem. Best of luck with your decision!

  • MBA Aspirant 2012

    Hi John,

    it would be great if you can write about Chicago Booth vs Wharton B school smack-down. Many, like me, would find it useful, apart from the combined ranking shown above.

  • Waiting for 2011 MBA ranking

    John,

    We are waiting for your new ranking.
    When will it be out?
    Thanks =)

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Waiting,

    Really any day now. It’s merely a question of coordinating the release with my syndication partner, Fortune.com. So it could be as early as Tuesday.

    Best,
    John

  • Ann

    John,

    What about Hult?

    Thanks,

  • Ann

    John,

    What about Hult?

    Thanks,

  • guy

    John,

    We are still waiting…

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    So some news: We’re going live with the new ranking of the top 100 U.S. schools on Thursday morning. We’ll follow with the top 50 non-U.S. schools a few days after that. Phew.

  • cb2

    Very excited to see the new rankings…

  • Booth Fanboy

    Hi John
    I recently got hooked to your side. I have accepted an admit from Chicago Booth. As I am already in the industry I wish to be (amongst other issues) I have chosen their part-time options.
    Three questions.
    1. I cant find the 2011 rankings on the fortune site as well as your site. Am I missing something here?

    2. I decided to not apply to other schools after accepted Booth’s office since I immediately felt a fit with the research community there. I am curious what can a school like Booth do to get back to the image and prestige of the pre-90 era when Booth was in the same breath as Harvard and Stanford.
    3. Do you believe there is a difference in the reputation of Booth or Wharton when it comes to strategy, general management … esp in the High-Tech Sector.

    Thanks a lot once again. Appreciate your help.

    Best
    Booth Fanboy

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Booth Fanboy,

    Congrats on your acceptance. The reason you can’t find a ranking for part-time MBA programs is that we don’t yet have one. In general, there’s not as much data in the market on part-time programs as full-time ones. However, the full-time ranking is a nice proxy for the overall reputation and image of a business school brand, anyway. And Booth is highly regarded. Overall, I believe Booth is pretty much neck-and-neck with Wharton at this point. The school has done an incredible job restoring the luster of its brand in the past ten years thanks to putting a lot of resources behind its MBA programs. When it comes to general management and strategy, however, I would give a slight nod to Wharton because of the considerable muscle it has built up in these areas. But you should be very happy with Chicago Booth. It’s a great school and if you seek out the right profs in the right departments and befriend them, that can offset Wharton’s better rep in these two areas for you.

  • Booth Fanboy

    Thanks John. Thats actually what I expected to hear and thats what I have in plans.
    Just as a follow-up question.

    In what areas would you give Chicago the nod ahead of Wharton?

    Also, I read in one of your comments that you were infact planning a comparison/analysis between these two. That would be immensely helpful.

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Booth Fanboy,

    I’d rather look at it this way, if you don’t mind: Chicago business teaching is more econ-centric than at Wharton. If you expect to stay in the mid-west, I would give Chicago the nod over Wharton as well because the school’s geographic ties are especially strong.

    But when you look at each of the core business disciplines and where Chicago stands vs. Wharton, you’re looking at a Wharton sweep. While the U.S. News’ specialty rankings are quite flawed–they are based solely on the opinions of business school deans and MBA program directors–they are somewhat telling.

    In accounting, Wharton is ranked 2nd; Chicago 3rd.
    In finance, Wharton is ranked 1st; Chicago 2nd.
    In management, Wharton is ranked 4th; Chicago 11th.
    In entrepreneurship, Wharton is ranked 5th; Chicago 14th.
    In marketing, Wharton is ranked 2nd; Chicago 7th.
    In international business, Wharton is ranked 3rd; Chicago 11th.
    In technology/info systems, Wharton is ranked 6th; Chicago isn’t ranked among the top schools in this area at all.

    So that’s seven out of seven disciplines where Wharton beats Chicago. Now don’t get too disappointed in this because 1) This is a flawed ranking, 2) Sometimes, particularly in accounting and finance where the schools are only one rank apart, the differences are completely inconsequential, and 3) None of this really matters if you stay in Chicago where the brand is very, very strong. We’re sort of splitting hairs, to be honest.

    And as a part-time student who I presume is in the Chicago area, you can’t really do anything about it. Just go and enjoy the program knowing that it is one of the very best in the world!

  • Booth Fanboy

    Thanks a lot John.

    Though I am not from the Chicago area or the midwest.. but would rather be flying in from the west coast for their weekend program.. but I get the idea.

    Thanks a lot once again..

  • http://poetsandquants.com/members/jbyrne/ John A. Byrne

    Booth Fanboy,

    That explains your interest in Wharton, given its San Fran version and the fact that you’re flying into a program, anyway. Since it is the EMBA program and your elective options are extremely limited, strength in any given discipline should be less of a concern. I will say that I really like the international exposure in the Chicago program and that is one very big advantage over Wharton. Good luck!

  • Nimrodster

    Hi John, thank you very much for all the useful info. 

    I am mostly interested in Tech-oriented and Innovation-managemet oriented programs (due to general interest in the field, I am a “poet” by training). Also, after taking several MBA courses, I figured that I prefer the case method. Could you recommend me on good programs in that arena, in the U.S and abroad (for me it’s all abroad, i’m not a U.S citizen), which are also appreciated by recruiting companies? 

  • Freddy K.

    Any reason why the index numbers are significantly different than the pre-updated list you posted? (i.e. UNC at a 79 as opposed to mid-50s on your initial list)

  • Jim

    Hult is a joke and just exploits the three letters MBA, great marketing of it’s program but guilty of making a mockery of the degree.

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