B-Schools With The ‘Best Career Prospects’

by John A. Byrne on

For the best and brightest, the scholarship money is flowing like never before

Which business schools offer the “best career prospects” for their graduating MBAs?

If you were to simply scan three available numbers, you could come up with your own conclusions. Just look at starting salaries and bonuses, the percentage of the latest graduating class with job offers by graduation and the percentage with offers three months later. That pretty much tells you which schools are doing the best job at placing their MBA students into great jobs.

But there’s also another way to determine which schools offer the best career prospects. Every year, Princeton Review surveys MBA students at some 300 business schools and publishes a top ten list of the schools with the “best career prospects.” The Review ranks schools on the basis of students surveys and basic employment data provided by the schools.

As the authors of the Review’s annual guidebook put it, “This rating measures the confidence students have in their school’s ability to lead them to fruitful employment opportunities, as well as the school’s own record of having done so. Factors taken into consideration include statistics on the average starting salary and percent of students employed at graduation…and comments from the student survey, assessing the efforts of the placement office, the quality of recruiting companies, level of preparation, and opportunities for off-campus projects, internships, and mentorships.”


Those questions are among the 78 multiple-choice questions and seven “free-response” questions asked of current full-time students. Princeton Review says that at least 10% of full-time students responded “at almost all institutions we surveyed; at many schools, we scored responses from as many as one-third or one-half of the student body–and nearly all in a few cases.”

As we have pointed out in our rankings critiques, however, more often than not the differences among schools on student surveys is so slight as to be statistically meaningless. So in any given year, the results may not be worth the paper or bits they are printed on.

That’s why we’ve taken the results of the Princeton Review surveys over the past five years and combined them. The cumulative result is far more more credible than any one year which can be something of an anomaly. What did we find?


Not surprisingly, Harvard Business School provides its graduates with the best career prospects. Harvard made Princeton Review’s top ten list in every one of the last five years. But Stanford comes in next and actually ranked first in three of those five years–in the 2012 guidebook, 2009 and 2008. If not for a sixth place finish in recession-plagued 2010 that seemed to hurt Stanford more than other top schools, the best school on the West Coast would have beaten Harvard.

Only two other schools made the list five out of five times: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management does exceptionally well on the Princeton Review lists as well, though oddly not as well as it has done on BusinessWeek’s rankings which also grades schools on career placement (see ‘World’s Best MBA Career Management Centers’).

All told, there are 15 schools that made this list at least twice in the past five years–out of the nearly 300 at which students were surveyed. Two more–Europe’s IMD and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business–popped up on the list once in the past five years.

(see table of the top 17 schools on the following page)

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  • Koolaid

    I think this table is confusing to many at best. Cornell, Georgetown, Ross and Berkeley along with M7, Dartmouth, NYU with Columbia missing? Give me a break.

  • Busconnect

    hmm this is a very serious issue for a separate debate. Can you please bring his issue to the P&Q for executives site? It really is very interesting and will capture tons of attention. There was a lot of heat into the EMBA vs PLD of HBS alleging that HBS doesn’t have EMBA because they do too think that that EMBA is BS as well. Can you raise this issue please? thx 

  • My2cents

    I think there are a lot of people here who belong to no. 16 bschool, bashing Columbia, LBS and INSEAD actually. Paramia seems to be defending INSEAD against those. Not trashing other top US bschools. .

  • Ridiculous

    John publishes a lot of debatable rankings every week to excite outsider bschool students and alike. The general bschool audience knows that M7, which includes CBS, along with Dartmouth, NYU, Yale and two European schools (insead and lbs) are far more superior to, say, Cornell, Georgetown, Ross, Carnegie Mellon, IMD that are ranked here. The former and the latter grips don’t usually mix together with the latter clearly considered inferior to the former. I guess people who belong to the latter talk trash here.

  • Please

    I meant insead is “not just” a us top 15 equivalent. And I have never heard of the above person’s claim that it’s an equivalent of top 15. It’s a much better school. You need to learn to speak English. Because you don’t even know when I’m actually siding with you.

  • HBSboy

    HAHAHAAHAHAHA This is a really funny thread I really enjoy it! INSEAD is BY FAR FAR better school than HBS because HBS admitted a person with no undergraduate degree! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA  

    Yes! INSEAD is # 1. Top 15 US schools are all TRASH compared to INSEAD. I totally crack! 

  • Sunny

    Nobody gives a crap about INSEAD as well. INSEAD is a money making machine flooded with people who claim its even better than Harvard + top US 15 Schools. Just make a search on LinkeIn to see where people work and stand. Did you make this search? Because I have! This is the market man the market. You people are deadly scared and so insecure. A 10 month program comparing to top 15 US. Give me a break…

  • Georgetownie

    Relax there hbs boy. You sound like a hbs wanna be. In reality, I think you go to Georgetown?

  • Please

    Coming from a guy who went to IMD, yeah right. Stop copying my style of writing by the way. Is that what IMD teaches you to do? Although I never thought about applying to IMD, I can see why it never occurred to me. It’s for people who are not original thinkers.

  • Merticul

    I think this table is superb. Thank you John! It shows a lot about B-School quality. NYU is on the list – top 8 why do you say that it is missing?

  • Koolaid

    If you are a native English speaker, you would read that I said Columbia is missing?

  • Merticul

    I was wondering why is Columbia is missing as well. INSEAD missing I totally understand and makes sense, for Columbia though I am not sure why its happening. There was an analysis by someone on this thread though on why Columbia is missing. The analysis pointed out that Stern is better by x% in placing its graduates vs Columbia. He provided some stats. Too long thread to look who provided it.

  • Merticul

    I found it was done by Martin:

    “I was purely going by the link I posted earlier – specifically the part quoted below. Going by Dreamer’s argument, if Columbia sent a bigger percentage of graduates into finance than Stern, you would expect to see their rankings come out worse in a period where the job market was weak for finance graduates.
    I wasn’t able to get data to suggest whether this claim was true or not. But the rankings could be based on other criteria besides which school is more of a “finance” school. Hope that clarifies things a little bit!
    “The financial meltdown of 2009 led to a disaster of an MBA recruiting season at Columbia’s Business School and NYU’s Stern School. Nearly four of every ten graduating students in Columbia’s Class of 2009 was without a job at commencement. Columbia was more severely impacted than any other top ten school because it traditionally feeds Wall Street and the big banks which were largely on life support at the time. In fact, for the first time in recent history, three consulting firms–McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain–were at the top of the list of employers hiring Columbia MBAs rather than the financial services firms which tend to dominate. Though NYU also is heavily dependent on finance for jobs, it seemed to do a much better job of getting its graduates placed. The number of Stern MBAs employed at graduation were 11 percentage points higher than those at Columbia. Stern’s uptown rival closed the gap three months later, but still trailed NYU by more than three percentage points.””

  • Koolaid

    I think you need to retake your GMAT. Their posts are about Stern vs Columbia. It still does not justify Columbia completely missing in the table when Georgetown, Cornell and Carnegie Mellon appear along with other outsiders.

  • Koolaid

    Insead and LBS missing is not understandable when IMD is in the table, let alone other non top American bschools.

  • paramia

    Harvard accepted someone with GMAT of 490, Tuck 570, Stanford 590…GMAT isn’t big deal..the deal is placement…INSEAD rules in this category..

  • What

    Duke is not better than Yale. Where did you get that? Yale is a much better school.

  • paramia

    Yale as university, Yes better than Duke. BUT as MBA program No, duke is better. statistics, employment reports, and overall program are better.. Yale MBA has huge potential but they need to increase their class size..

  • Dukevsyale

    this is not true  yale as a university and its mba program are much better than duke. US news ranking refkecrs that too along with entrance criteria and selectivity

  • paramia

    this is another mistake. people here tend to correlate how good is the program with its entrance criteria and selectivity. This is NOT always correct. You should measure any program with its outputs NOT inputs!! what can I do with a program that can’t open doors for me..Yale is very selective BUT does it place as MIT or Kellogg both less selective than Yale? NO, selectivity is proportional with the class size, and never be a major measure on how good is the program. It give indication, BUT always the main and true and real measure is the PLACEMENT after graduation..having said that, Duke MBA is better than Yale..so far..things may change..and BTW, placement factor is what made me very enthusiastic about INSEAD..and very excited  to see their placement report for 2011. their placement in 2010 is just incredible, NO single school can come close..93% of a class of 1000 employed with average salary $121000..thats unparalleled..

  • Guest


  • Guest

    INSEAD trashes all schools including HBS. HBS is total crap compared to INSEAD. The entire word dreams to go to INSEAD. INSEAD ppl become CEOs right after graduation, they speak 6 languages each, are winners in decathlon, and get unprecedented salaries. Moreover, they are immortals- shame on the highlanders!

    PS. Yale is total piece of crap compared to Duke. But since INSEAD is miles ahead of Duke, it is also miles ahead of Yale. But since INSEAD trashes HBS which>that Duke>Yale this implies that INSEAD trashes all schools.

  • Toomuchweed

    You need some medication there boy? It’s HBS > INSEAD and then HBS> Yale > Duke. 

  • Merticul

    HBS>Yale>Duke>top 15>INSEAD

  • Merticul

    IMD>LBS>INSEAD bitter truth

  • Astonished

    INSEAD is losing loads of ground in its MBA program. Ratings go down, reputation is deteriorating and costs are sky high. They realized it and they have launched a Master in Finance program: 
    http://www.insead.edu/media_relations/press_release/2012_master-in-finance.cfm  However, the problem is that is insanely expensive and you got to pay your accommodation yourself despite its modular format! Also they are getting into NYU Stern’s territory of excellent modular programs: The MSc in Risk management 
    http://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/global-degrees/ms-risk-management-executives/global-network/student-profiles/index.htm and its MSc in Global Finance Program (check the spectacular profiles of people). These 2 NYU Stern programs are unparalleled. Notable is also the profile of this guy who is an INSEAD MBA: 
    http://es.linkedin.com/pub/luis-adão-da-fonseca/0/603/b35 who subsequently attended Stern. Also INSEAD is a Master in Finance but NOT an MSc degree. Its really astonishing that INSEAD, a supposedly strategy school is attempting to compete with other schools by trying to replicate their highly successful programs.

  • Guest

    No they don’t, but in all honesty, the survey polls students. It shows that a lot of CBS students, in general, are not realistic with their expectations. Read the comment first. 

    And in all honesty, Ross and Darden are not that far off from CBS. CBS is closer to Ross and Darden than it is to Wharton. 

  • paramia

    I understand INSEAD make you crazy :) it is expected ..

  • Confused…

    Are your own grammatical mistakes meant to be ironic or are you just a standard issue troll?

  • paramia

    IMD is quality program and very unique. It is not for everyone. all the ultra elite employers know IMD very well. It is the only school in the world that treat students as executives..However, INSEAD is much bigger in size and then broader alumni network..brand in MBA industry..in my opinion, the person who go to IMD is very confident one and very unique..but I can’t put it in comparison with INSEAD..It somewhat similar to Tuck..

  • AstonishedatAstonished

    So your claim of INSEAD losing loads of ground in its MBA program, deteriorating reputation and rating are completely baseless but your own opinion, which means nothing to everyone else. Stop stating your opinion and tell us what your bases of such an opinion are.

  • MerdiculRidicule

    I wouldn’t put INSEAD below Duke or other top 15 schools. Come on now.

  • Whatwhat

    Are you dumb? Selectivity means higher caliber students, which sooner than later translate to better careers, higher salaries, better reputation of the school, and eventually better ranking of the school.

  • Koolaid

    This is exactly like saying, Cornell>Wharton>HBS and telling the world that this is the truth…wake up! 

  • DartmouthRules

    Dartmouth is the oldest graduate business school and has a long tradition of sending its grads to everywhere throughout the world. It is not a regional school that only has an influence on Northeastern US. I understand INSEAD is very global but come on, claiming that Dartmouth is a regional school shows your lack of understanding of US bschools. Dartmouth is sure on part with HBS, Stanford and Wharton, and they are not just regional schools. INSEAD is surely a great internationally focused school but stop insulting other great US programs.

  • Believer……….

    @Critical thinker…….. please try to see the Bigger picture ………Dont try to point out petty Mistakes and doubt someone’s credibility ….. I think John and his folks are doing a pretty great job at keeping this site perfect and so informative…..

  • Guest


  • Guest

    Lots and lots of butthurt CBS or soon to be CBS students here. Who cares, it’s just a ranking. 

  • Koolaid

    I disagree. CBS should be up there with Wharton, although the recent rankings do not show that. KKR and Berkshire Hathaway didn’t just create themselves. CBS was behind their makings.

  • Coronaz

    All the buzz about this freaking GMAT. It is defnitely true, that INSEAD is not putting too much focus on it.. so what. It is clear, that any Top B-School could fill up their classes with 750+ers, but they don’t? Also, for the GMAT scores to be indicative you should only consider the Q scores, when you compare a highly international school such as INSEAD, where you have 10% native english speakers max with US schools where you might have 50% plus.
    I really love the US, actually had a great time doing my masters at Georgia Tech. That said, with my score of 760 (yeah thanks!) I was happy to turn down 3 of your Top 7 US schools for INSEAD. If you want to stay in the US, a US B-School is certainly the best choice. However, the world is much much bigger than the US 😀

  • Coronaz

     I chose INSEAD over HBS, my friend :)

  • ChrisR

    Yup.  I believe the applicant pool at Yale SOM averages above a 700 GMAT and their are applicants with higher GMATs who are not even interviewed!

  • duke&wharton

    For your information, Fuqua has consistently been ranked higher than SOM, Duke Med is miles better than Yale Med, and the Pratt School of Engineering (the most improved engineering school in the nation) blows SEAS out of the water. Is Yale still a better school? Perhaps. But you should really throw some of your preconceived notions out of the window and do some actual research on the topic.

  • Sure

    Except according to the reports its IMD, not insead, has over 93% employed at above 121000.
    But we digress, because INSEAD has to be the best school. Otherwise it’s students might loose their identity completely, at least the identity they are trying to creat here on PnQ

  • sadiq

    Guys I would also like to point out that Darden UVA is a particularly good school that has produced the maximum number of CEOs as a percentage of student population and is a very highly respect MBA program at par with Harvard and Wharton. Infact Harvard with 1800 graduates is more like cattle class carrier whilst Darden with a 350 graduates is like cool cab.

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