U.S. News’ Historical MBA Rankings

by John A. Byrne on

A historical look at U.S. News & World Report’s business school rankings is hard to come by. The magazine, which has been ranking business schools annually since 1990, does not publish anything other than the current annual list. In fact, U.S. News doesn’t even reveal what a school’s ranking was a year earlier for simple comparison purposes.

So putting together the table on the following page that tracks the last dozen years of U.S. News data was no easy task. For the top 20 schools, we were able to get a complete set of rankings from 2001 to 2012. It’s a bit more hit and miss for the schools that round out the top 50 (if you have some of the missing information, please let us know so we can fill in the gaps).

The undisputed winners over the past dozen years? The biggest surprise is arguably how stable the ranking has been, particularly for the schools at the very top. The first nine schools on U.S. News’ 2011 list (dated 2012 by U.S. News to extend its shelf life) are pretty much in the same positions as they would be if you factored in their standings over the 12-year period. Instead of a tie, however, Harvard Business School comes out on top, having captured first place in nine of the 12 reported years. Stanford comes next, with five first-place finishes in the past dozen years.

Then, it’s a familiar list of elite schools: No. 3 Wharton, No. 4 MIT Sloan, No. 5 Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, No. 6  the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, No. 7 UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, No. 8 Columbia Business School, and No. 9 Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.

CHICAGO AND YALE HAVE GAINED GROUND WHILE DUKE HAS LOST

Among the top ten schools, Chicago Booth and Yale University’s School of Management have done much better in recent years. Chicago, which had been ninth in 2001, finished in a three-way tie for fourth place this year with MIT and Kellogg. Yale, which was ranked 15th in 2006 and 2005, has placed tenth in three of the past four U.S. News’ rankings.

The most prominent school to lose significant ground over the past 12 years is Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Fuqua had been ranked as high as sixth place in 2002. It has now hovered between 12 and 14th in the past six years and was ranked 12th by U.S. News this year.

Here’s what the top 20 schools look like if you were to combine the rankings over the 12-year period.

A DOZEN YEARS WORTH OF U.S. NEWS’ RANKINGS FROM 2012 TO 2001

Rank & School                          Index    2011 Rank    Highest Rank    Lowest Rank
  1. Harvard Business School 100.0 1 1 2
  2. Stanford GSB 99.7 1 1 2
  3. Pennsylvania (Wharton) 98.2 3 2 5
  4. MIT (Sloan) 97.2 4 3 5
  5. Northwestern (Kellogg) 97.1 4 3 5
  6. Chicago (Booth) 95.2 4 4 9
  7. UC-Berkeley (Haas) 93.9 7 6 10
  8. Columbia  93.3 8 6 9
  9. Dartmouth (Tuck) 92.9 9 6 10
10. Duke (Fuqua) 90.4 12 6 14
11. New York (Stern) 89.7 11 9 14
12. Michigan (Ross) 89.6 13 10 14
13. Yale 88.6 10 10 15
14. Virginia (Darden) 88.3 13 10 15
15. UCLA (Anderson) 87.9 15 11 16
16. Cornell (Johnson) 85.5 16 14 17
17. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 84.2 18 15 18
18. Texas-Austin (McCombs) 83.3 17 16 23
19. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) 81.7 19 17 21
20. Emory (Goizueta) 79.9 19 18 27

Source: U.S. News & World Report busines school rankings

(See next page for the full historical list of U.S. News’ MBA Rankings for the top 50 schools) 

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  • Maki

    Hi John, thanks for putting this together!  However, it’ll be great if ranking layout from BusinessWeek’s historical ranking that you posted couple weeks ago can be consistent with the way you present US News’ historical rankings on this post.  That is, ranking these schools by the compiled order like you did for US News (above) rather than the most recent ranking order like you did for BW’s ranking.     

    If we were to use US News layout for your BusinessWeek historical ranking post, the historical winners of BusinessWeek for the top 10 schools would be the following:

    1. Northwestern (Kellogg)
    2. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
    3. Harvard Business School
    4. Chicago (Booth)
    5. Michigan (Ross)
    6. Stanford GSB
    7. Columbia
    8. Duke (Fuqua)
    9. MIT (Sloan)
    10. Dartmouth (Tuck)

    I think is the consistent presentation of the historical data for both US News and BusinessWeek. 

    On a separate note, Stanford comes in #1 and Harvard Business School #2 on US News’ historical ranking if one starts from 1990 – 2012. That’s the only change within the top 10 schools. 

  • JohnAByrne

    Maki,

    On page two of the article, there is the same presentation of the U.S. News data as there was for the BusinessWeek data. I did add the table that shows what the results would look like if you combined the 12 years of U.S. News data. Given your request, I’ll do the same for the BusinessWeek story. Also plan to do this for The Financial Times’ rankings. As I said, U.S. News doesn’t make this easy so it was a bear to get the data. Wish I had more of it.

    Best,
    John

  • BoothFanBoy

    Hi Maki
    Do you have the 1990-2012 historical data for USNews? Even if its just for the top 10-20 schools.. it would really add.
    thanks

  • Maki

    Give me your email address.. I’ll send it over to you.

  • Life

    I am always surprised to see how high MIT is in all these lists. Never really met anyone from there in any my work experience (NY banking), but then also very few Stanford people as well as more entrepreneurs.  Anyone know if it might be the next best fit for a lot of people who do not get into Stanford?

  • JohnAByrne

    Maki,

    Ok. I just posted the composite BusinessWeek rankings for the top 25 schools. Check it out:

    http://poetsandquants.com/2012/04/07/businessweeks-historical-mba-rankings/

  • Monseur Nuclearoption

    There’s a problem. If both HBS and GSB have a highest rank of 1 and a lowest rank of 2, then it is simply impossible that Wharton ever ranked 2 unless it shared the ranking.

    If none of either HBS, GSB, Wharton, MIT and Northwestern has ever ranked below 5, then it is impossible that Chicago has ever ranked 5 or above. But Chicago currently ranks 4th.

    What’s going on?

  • JohnAByrne

    It’s fairly common for ties to occur in these rankings. They happen all the time.

  • Maki

    And Yes, if history is an indicator of what would happen in the future… I think 1) Wharton probably will not rank 1 (highest will be at 2 and it will probably be a tie) and 2) Booth probably will not rank higher than 4 and will come in for either a tie (at best) or lower than MIT & Kellogg. Fyi, since 1990, Booth has never topped MIT in US News ranking and Booth has only beat Kellogg once in 1997. Who cares though… they are all great schools!  

  • PRC

    John, that is why a tier system among the top 16-18 schools is way more applicable – there is simply very little difference within certain ranges (e.g. 1-3, 4-9, 10-18).  Really, to do something like agonize over whether Harvard is better than Stanford or Chicago is better than Columbia or Duke is better than Virginia is a waste of time. 

  • What

    Chicago is not better than Columbia though. And except 1 and 2, current 3-10 schools can be very different 10 years from now. I predict Yale at #3, followed by Columbia, Dartmouth, MIT, Chicago, etc.

  • Maki

    Hi What, 

    Which planet are you from? You must be attending Yale. Although Yale is an awesome school, Yale being #3 10 years from now is just too far fetched. As far as US News ranking goes, rankings will NOT change much 10 years from now than what they are today. As far as top 5 schools in the US News Ranking (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan), the rankings of this top 5 didn’t move much for the past 22 years…that’s 22 years… 

    This top 5 will probably NOT change 10 years from now… Yale has moved up from  #19 in 1994 to #10 in 2012 but breaking into the top 5 wouldn’t be easy. Even Booth hasn’t clearly made the top 5 cut in US News ranking system yet. 

    For undergraduate ranking, Yale is def top #3 but I don’t see how Yale MBA can become #3 10 yrs from now… Yale may break into a solid consistent top 10 in ten years, but #3 is just a stretch… 

    Also note that Yale (#10 is just for US News ranking). Yale still has a lot of room to go for other rankings (i.e. BW #21, FT #12, Econ #16, Forbes #11, QS Top MBA #15)… 

  • Guest

    I agree that tiers are better, but unfortunately, telling someone they should attend a top tier school that best fits their needs and goals doesn’t sell magazines – ranking schools 1-xx does.

  • What

    Maki,

    I am from Planet Earth. Are you busy rolling makis? I do not attend Yale but I clearly see Yale shooting up.

    Breaking into top 5 is never easy but Yale can do it because it’s Yale. I am from Princeton undergrad. Booth is not Yale. Yale hasn’t even had the kind of endowment Booth got from David Booth.

    Other rankings do not carry as much weight. You can clearly see that by looking at where Harvard or Stanford is.

    For undergraduate ranking, Yale is #2. Not #3. My alma mater is #3. Keep it HYPed.

  • What

    Clearly, the ranking you came up with above shouldn’t be cited.
    I can’t imagine K or W above H or S. Let alone Michigan and Duke above Columbia, Stanford, MIT or Dartmouth. 

    That’s garbage. Period. Throw it away.

  • Highwyre237

    If anything, it shows you how lightly rankings should be taken.  People now say its garbage Michigan and Duke are over Columbia, but what will they say in 10 or 20 years?  You claim that Yale will shoot up in the rankings… maybe in 10-20 years it will, and we’ll have some troll claiming its garbage because Yale ranks under Kellogg…  Who knows?  All he’s showing here is what the data is saying.  Over the past 20 years, this is the average ranking, not a current snap shot.

  • Highwyre237

    edit 10years*

  • What

    Yeah that is the snap shot of the past 10 years of data from Businessweek. That is right. The big issue is the input is garbage so the output is garbage, no matter what complex model you apply. Do you get that?

  • What

    Yale is different. Yale is Yale. It’s a leaders’ school that produces US presidents, etc. So that I won’t be surprised at if it ranks above Kellogg. It’s only a matter of time.

  • Guest

    LOL. U are so MAD bro.

    Who cares what a composite ranking is?

  • highwyre237

    I do agree that business week should not be viewed alone as a school ranking guide… BUT if you take into account what it messures, it is useful in the big picture. 

    This is why a composite ranking of all of the major rankings makes the most sense.  BW is just a slice of the pie, a slice that favors student experience, and recruiter reviews.  Would I base my school selection soley off of that, no… but I wouldnt base it off of any ranking.

    You seem to have a strong Ivy League bias, which is fine.  Some people value certain things over others.  Personally, I would pick Ross Duke and UVA over Columbia or Yale. (although tuck is my #1)

  • What

    That’s your choice.
    K, MIT and Stanford are not ivies.

  • Rtgant

    crap! 

  • Rtgant

    you are such a crap! Yale troller!

  • What

    Maybe you need to drink my shit? It’s from a guy who went to Princeton so it’s as high class as it can be. And I wasn’t just rooting for Yale in all fairness. K or W just don’t rank above H or S.

  • Rchwell

    BW heavily ranks based on how well students liked the school.  Michigan and Duke have very nice campuses and plenty of school spirit due to big time athletics.  Columbia is in, well, Morningside Heights.  So tell me, how many Columbia students are going to say, “great school, fun things to do, all the students were really into the school, beautiful campus?. 

    That is why I go with the tier system approach.  If I wanted access to Wall Street, I am going to rate Columbia and NYU Stern very highly but these places are not going to have Division 1 sports, tailgating, and people throwing Frisbees across a grassy quad.  They are also going to have less school spirit because students are spread out all over NYC vs. on a campus.  For some people, they are going to thrive in that type of environment, but others are going to think, “yes, the school got me where I wanted to be but I didn’t enjoy it here because of the atmosphere”.

  • Guest

    And that makes sense in a ranking. Think about it. Students who loved their time at their school will always look back fondly and become loyal alums. Loyal alums help students down the line in line in the future. Pretty simple. 

    Although CSB has great clout, it’ll get you your first job out of schol. Your Alumni Base and network will get your second job out of your school. 

    And because of this, I can see how student satisfaction can factor into a school’s ranking. In all honesty, given they are peer schools, I cannot fathom how anyone would pick Columbia over Tuck (although I grew up in NYC, so I’m biased and don’t need to be in the city). Also why a school like Michigan and Duke do incredibly well is because of their student satisfaction and alumni bases. Go to anyone wearing a Michigan t-shirt and say “go blue” and you’ll see my point. 

  • GUEST

    HOLY $HIT YOU WENT TO PRINCETON!!!

  • Guest

    I bet he didn’t…

  • What

    I did indeed attend Princeton for my undergrad.

  • Another Guest

     What did you do your thesis on?

  • What

    Nice try. I won’t reveal my ID that easily by letting you look up the catalog of theses.

  • ABC

    Totally immature response. I have no idea how you got into Princeton…

  • What

    Welcome to the high society where it doesn’t matter whether one is mature but what matters is pedigree, family name, wealth, philanthropy and looks. 

  • Maki

    Hi What, can you please learn how to respect other people? You should really watch your language here. P&Q community would appreciate constructive and neutral point of view than your harsh and offensive language..  

  • What

    What you put together is a BS ranking that deserves nothing less than harsh and offensive language. Again, stop advertising a ranking where K or W are ranked above H or S, let alone Michigan and Duke above Columbia, Stanford, MIT or Dartmouth. You must be a sushiman to come up with that kind of ranking.

  • Sashimi

    Hi What, I DID NOT come up with that ranking. I don’t work for BusinessWeek. What I have summarized is the composite BW ranking from 1988-2010 from BW. Follow this link:  
    http://poetsandquants.com/2012/04/07/businessweeks-historical-mba-rankings/

    sigh… 

    I apologize that your Ivy darlings (Columbia, Dartmouth, Yale) are not higher ranked… sorry… it’s just from BW, not my fault. Again, I know many people think BW measures something really valuable – that is recruiter & student satisfaction.

  • OLD&freak

    I just want to say:

    when people say a car, they most likely mean Mercedes..
    when people say a fashion, they most likely mean Paris..
    when people say an engineering, they most likely mean Germany..
    when people say a women, they most likely mean, Elizabeth Taylor..
    when people say a BUSINESS SCHOOL, they most likely mean HARVARD..

    cheers..

  • What

    Sushiman, you are missing the point.
    K or W just do not rank above H or S and Michigan or Duke just do not rank above CBS, MIT, Stanford or Dartmouth Tuck. And mind you, MIT or Stanford are not ivies. So get your head straight.

  • YOUNG+SEXY

    When people say a car, they mean BMW
    fashion, Italy or France
    engineering, American or Japanese or ok German
    a woman, Scarlett Johansson
    bschool, H/S/W/Tuck/Yale

  • http://www.mbaupdates.com/FindCourses.aspx?CountryId=11 MBA Colleges

    I am planning to apply to NUS but i am a bit cynical about my application regarding the profile and costs of MBA.

  • http://mbarankings.org/ MBA Rankings

    I am always very excited to see the new rankings. The US News results for the historical MBA Rankings show’s exactly how important it has all become. I am usually the first in line to buy a new copy and amaze myself with the results. 

  • hello

    why refer to every school by the name of their parent universities except wharton?

  • coconut

    cuz Wharton Brand Name is much valuable than UPenn..Wharton name means Money, banks, wealth, success, ..

  • Rhey Hardj

    John, can you update this list please? It’s a few years outdated and the 2015 rank was just released today. Thanks.

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