The Top 100 U.S. MBA Programs of 2011

by John A. Byrne on

Harvard Business School retains its No. 1 ranking in the new 2011 PoetsandQuants list of the best MBA programs in the U.S.

Dimming prospects of employment on Wall Street may be causing some jitters on campus, but the mood at the Harvard Business School is decidedly upbeat. Many students came back from their summer internships with lucrative job offers in hand, and for the first time in the school’s history, the entire first year class of some 900-plus MBA students is about to embark next month on an eight-day global immersion experience.

“We are feeling the pressure of final exams and projects,” says Jehan deFonseka, a second-year student who is also editor of The Harbus, the B-school’s student newspaper. “One of my professors, Joe Lassiter, gave us the advice, “Die exhausted, not bored.” So far, this year has lived up to that belief.”

And now the school is about to get a pre-holiday present of sorts. For the second consecutive year, Harvard Business School bested all other business schools for having the best MBA program in the U.S., according to the new 2011 ranking by PoetsandQuants.

Like the first last year, this second annual 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 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 published. The list, which includes the recently released 2011 rankings by The Economist, tends to eliminate anomalies and other statistical distortions that often occur in a single ranking. 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.

Right behind Harvard is a familiar group of world-renown schools whose MBAs have long represented the best and brightest in business. Stanford Graduate School of Business is second, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is third, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is fourth, and New York’s Columbia Business School rounds out the top five.

Among the top ten, eight schools retained their rankings from last year. The two exceptions: MIT Sloan moved up to a fifth place tie with Columbia Business School from eight last year, largely due to a significantly improved ranking from Forbes. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School, despite receiving a No. 1 rank from The Economist this year, slipped two places to a rank of eighth from sixth, primarily because the school fell several places in the rival Forbes ranking. Poets&Quants’ ranking of the 50 best MBA programs outside the U.S. will be released shortly.


Compared to most other rankings, the P&Q analysis leads to a far more stable–and therefore more credible–list. Only 11 of the 100 ranked U.S. schools experienced double-digit changes. In some other rankings as many as one out of three or four schools randomly dive or rise by ten or more places in a 12-month period, even though there have been no significant changes in the quality of the schools. In the P&Q ranking, not a single MBA program ranked in the top 25 had a double-digit increase or decline. In fact, 16 of the 25 schools had no changes in rank at all and another three schools moved just one place up or down (see table of top 25).

Among the top-tier 25 schools, the most notable improvements occurred at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which moved up six places to a rank of 24 from 30th a year ago, and at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School, which inched up three spots to 25 from 28 a year earlier. New York University’s Stern School, meantime, slipped three positions to a rank of 15 this year from 12th in 2010.

Bigger changes were most likely to occur further down the list, where the qualitative differences among the business schools aren’t nearly as great as they are at the top of the ranking. So small changes often can cause outsized results because the schools are so close together in overall quality—especially “quality” as it can be discerned by an external ranking. In these cases, the most significant changes tended to occur at schools which were either added or dropped from one of the major rankings in the past year.


Washington University’s Olin School, for example, plummeted 15 places to 41 from 26 because it fell off the top 100 list compiled by The Financial Times, while also losing ground in two others rankings by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. Similarly, Ohio State’s Fisher School of Business climbed 14 spots to 26th from 40th in 2010 by improving in the Forbes ranking and getting onto both The Economist and The Financial Times’ rankings. The school had been excluded from those lists a year earlier.

What’s most surprising is what you can’t see. It’s the University of Chicago’s continuing emergence as a powerhouse business school. While the school still ranks third as it did in our last ranking, it has gained significant ground. The index score for Booth this year is 98.5, just .3 behind Stanford Graduate School of Business. A year ago, the difference in the index score between Stanford and Chicago was twice that level. If Poets&Quants kept its methodology the same, Chicago would would have nudged aside Stanford as the No. 2 school in the ranking. Because P&Q decreased the weight of BusinessWeek’s ranking (to 25% from 30%) and increased the weight of U.S. News’ ranking (to 25% from 20%), Stanford maintained its 2010 position.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Next
  • Joe He

    As an international student at Emory Full Time MBA program, I am very surprised by this post for someone claims that Job placement is the weakness of the program. In face, it is the strongest part of Emory’s MBA program and one of the biggest reasons international students chose to attend Emory.  

    The data is public in the career report as below:

    If you compare the job placement rate within 3 months after graduation between students of Emory and students of other top schools, you will find Emory did an excellent job placing its students, 

    I personally enjoy the experience at Emory MBA very much. Particularly, the CMC is doing a good job and they are serious and responsible about international students’ job placement, which is very satisfactory to me. 

  • Amit Bhatnagar

    Knowing Insider, Here is a partial list of companies that International MBA Graduates from Classes of 2011 and 2010 are currently working at:

    Adobe Systems, McKinsey, IBM, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, eBay, PayPal, SAP, Facebook,
    Intuit, Citibank, Coca Cola, Suntrust Bank, Colgate-Palmolive, ExxonMobil, American Airlines, Amazon….

    To the best of my knowledge, Class of 2012 also has a comparable (or better) record. Does this look like the job placement record of a school, whose placement for internationals is “just terrible” as you say? If you were actually an “insider”, you would already know this, but your claim that 2/3 of the class is from India/Korea made it obvious that you are not.

    Yes, Not everyone gets into his/her dream company, and International students do face some additional challenges, but that is true for every business school in the country! Personally, as an international student, I had an awesome experience at Goizueta,and would highly recommend this program to anyone.

  • TheBusinessProfessor

    I highly recommend Goizueta MBA program. I completed the 1YR MBA program this year. 

    – All of the large consulting, finance and marketing companies/firms recruit on campus. –  The employment numbers are outstanding (Within one month of graduation over 90% already have job offers).  – Nearly 40% of the class is international, that are from dozens of countries.- Integration of innovative learning experiences into the curriculum.  (Keystone leadership experience, Goizueta Leadership Academy, Mandatory international course, Mid-Semest foreign and local modules, directed studies, cross-school course availability, Centers (Marketing Analytics, VC, Alt. Investments, Real Estate, etc.).- The most substantial benefit is that MBA alumni are expected to assist current students in their career search.  I found the alumni exceptionally helpful and willing to assist.  (This is a strong contributor to the high employment statistics).

    Here are a couple of articles about the program from a student (inside) and publisher (outside) perspective:

    JM Gordon

  • Question

    Does anyone have thoughts on the program at Georgetown McDonough?

  • Kumar

    Are you saying that Foster School of Business is much better than HBS/Stanford/Wharton combined in sending graduates to Amazon and Microsoft?! Is it really true?

  • Nahid Islam

    Anybody give me the information which university will be better for MBA course in USA as well as the cost,requirements etc……………………………???????????????????????

  • Jake Murray

    My dad is bigger than your dad….who cares! All of you care way too much about rankings. Rather, it seems more wise to use them to learn about a school and where they stand in a general sense. It’s just very petty the way prospective and current students debate the rankings. We all know HSW are the top schools, but after that there are like 12 schools that are considered best of the best. OK, now go find which one you like the best. 

  • Patrick S. Noonan

    As a Goizueta faculty member, I’d suggest that this critic needs to recheck his data analysis. Our MBA programs’ CMC placement results, especially in the past few years, have been cited as among the best.

  • guest

    as a Wharton grad from a decade ago, my preferred order back then was H/S/W; I was admitted to Chi, MIT as well, and passed them to go to Wharton; had I been admitted to H or S, I would have taken them.

    That said, I graduated when the market was at the bottom, and many of my fellow Wharton MBAs went on to accept sub-optimal jobs, and some of them still have not succeeded anywhere close to their potential. And I think this was hardly unique to W. I dont think it would have mattered much if I or they had gone to other top schools instead of W. But who knows..

  • Jack Tao

    Cornell (Johnson) will be top 10, maybe as high as 7, in the next five years. That is the unbiased truth. They are under-rated due to their size and location. Their win and development of the Cornell NYC Tech campus to compete with Silicone Valley will be the game changer. Already being one of the elite schools in engineering, medicine, law and hotel mgmt, the school has huge plans in the coming years to be a powerhouse in tech and business. The word is that they will have some of the best intellectual/human capital. Bill Gates is already erecting a new CS building in Ithaca next to the b-school and behemoths like Google already jumping on the bandwagon by partnering with them and creating a Cornell campus in their headquarters.
    This is coming from someone who is totally neutral and a F100 global corporate recruiter. Plus, Cornell’s brand is way more recognized internationally abroad than some of the schools in the top 10. Forbes got it right. Mark my word.

  • gillmic

    Current top 10, with updated data, would be:


  • fonanie


  • MBA Candidate

    Hi John.. We are still waiting for your Chicago Booth Vs Wharton smackdown… its long due. Would be great to have it as that’s a choice a lot of people are making currently.

  • Cherie A


    Can you tell me, what made Kellstadt (DePaul University) come in at No. 99?

    Also, does the ranking for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have any correlation to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus? I always see rankings for UI-UC but I never really come across info on UIC (Chicago).

    Thanks so much for all of your work.


    10 is a double digit number and 1 – 9 single digit number :-)

  • vicky


    I have a score of 600 on GMAT and have average scores in my acads. I am a postgraduate in computer science and now after 9 years of work experience (in India, US and Europe) I want to do my MBA. I have a lot of extra curricular activities on my profile including a new venture of my own which is shaping up slowly. Is it worth applying at Emory (considering my low GMAT score) ?

  • Seema

    I am international student enrolled for MBA program full time at argosy university San Diego campus. but i am shocked with the reviews plz let me know more about the program.

Partner Sites: C-Change Media | Poets & Quants for Execs | Tipping the Scales | Poets & Quants for Undergrads