Poets&Quants’ Top 100 U.S. MBA Programs of 2012

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University began to show the benefits of new leadership by rising two places to fifth this year

For the third consecutive year, Harvard Business School remained at the top of Poets&Quants’ 2012 composite ranking of the business schools with the best full-time MBA programs. Harvard was followed by the No. 2 Stanford Graduate School of Business, No. 3 the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and No. 4 the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

It was the exact same lineup of top four business schools that made our 2011 list of the best 100 MBA programs in the U.S.

Among the top 25 business schools, the biggest news is that Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is beginning to show improvement under Dean Sally Blount who took over the school in July of 2010. Her new leadership team has turned the business school upside down, rethinking every aspect of the MBA program and the entire institution. Kellogg rose two places to finish fifth this year, jumping over MIT Sloan and Columbia.


No. 7 Columbia, meantime, was the only school in the top 25 to fall two places. The school’s weaker position is largely due to lower levels of graduate satisfaction with the MBA program. MBA graduates complained about the uneven quality of teaching in the first-year core curriculum, the university resources devoted to the business school, the outreach by career services to companies other than consulting and banking, and the acceptance of ‘connected’ applicants. “Too many students are ‘sons of,’” claimed one MBA graduate. “They are plain dumb but got in because dad or mom wrote a big check to the school. This is not acceptable.”

Those issues have been compounded by the decline of Wall Street, a steep 19% fall in MBA applications during the 2011-2012 academic year, and criticism of Dean R. Glenn Hubbard’s leadership of the school. Some students believe that Hubbard, whose credibility was questioned during a confrontational interview in the Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job, has been a largely absent dean due to his involvement as an economic adviser to Mitt Romney during the Presidential election.

Unlike other rankings, the Poets&Quants composite list combines the latest five most influential business school rankings in the world: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report. Instead of merely averaging the five, each ranking is separately weighted to account for our view of their authority and credibility. (The BusinessWeek, Forbes and U.S. News lists are given a weight of 25% each, while the FT is given a 15% weight and The Economist is given a 10% weight).

Combining the five most influential rankings doesn’t eliminate the flaws in each system, but it does significantly diminish them. When an anomaly pops on one list due to either faulty survey technique or biased methodology, bringing all the data together tends to suppress it. So the composite index tones down the noise in each of these five surveys to get more directly at the real signal that is being sent. Our list of the top 50 non-U.S. MBA programs for 2012 is published separately.


This is not unlike the prescient analysis that Nate Silver, the New York Times blogger, brought to the recent Presidential election. By smartly analyzing each political poll and averaging the results across all of them, Silver came to a greater truth than could be revealed by any single poll. When the election was done, he was pretty much the only outside observer who had accurately predicted the popular vote and the electoral vote outcome.

The index numbers accompanying the rank of each school allows you to assess how far above or behind one school is versus another. This is especially helpful because in some cases there is no meaningful difference between the schools. Yet, some of these rankings, including The Financial Times, still fail to provide the underlying index numbers that lead to a numerical rank.

Consider Southern Methodist University’s Cox School, ranked 47th this year with an index score of 43.9, versus UC-Irvine’s Merage, ranked right behind it at 48th, with an index score of 43.6. The difference between those two schools, separated by all of .3 on our index, can not be truly captured by a ranking. In terms of their market reputations, they are equal–based on this rankings result.


If you intend to make your professional career in Dallas, SMU is obviously the better bet. The degree not only would carry more prestige in the Texas area, the school’s alumni network would be better connected there as well. And if you intend to work in Southern California, UC-Irvine would likely be the better choice. To choose either of these two schools on the basis of their ranking would be foolhardy.


  • alwaysflying

    When will these be updated?

  • HPY

    Northwestern just announced their new facility in 2013. It’s infrastructure is actually pretty dismal compared to Chicago/ Stanford/ Ross

  • guest

    The job prospects, salaries, and connections will always be better at Columbia. Also Columbia has new business school buildings under construction, so its new facilies will put it back in the top five again. Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern all moved up when their new facilties were completed.

  • Jo

    Columbia has realized its shortcomings in facilities and has two new large buildings planned for its new campus under construction, including a meeting and recruiting center. Its facilties will be unmatched when completed in 2018.

  • avivalasvegas

    So much can and has changed in a year. I believe latest developments have created the following rankings:

    1) Harvard and Stanford
    2) Booth, Wharton and Kellogg (look at recent developments as you’ll see why the Chicago schools have risen and Wharton has fallen)
    3) MIT Sloan, Columbia
    4) Tuck, Ross, Haas
    5) Stern, Yale, Duke, Darden, Johnson
    6) UCLA, Tepper
    7) The rest

  • CuriousOne

    Great – Thanks!

  • JohnAByrne

    We’re working on it right now. Should be out shortly.

  • CuriousOne

    Hello John,
    any updates on timing for the release of your new P&Q rankings?

  • LOla

    So, he did what greedy evil people do? I don’t think the Oxford Dictionary defined the word “achievement” in such a manner.

  • HBSaspirant

    I’m sorry. Now it’s
    HBS, Stanford and Booth.

  • Don Jon

    Economist Rankings should be thrown out…they are completely ridiculous. The only data point that matters to someone who has gotten into multiple top 10 schools is yield…what schools would you want to go to…

  • Rollaroli

    Yep, but he was governor of his state and president of this country (twice) and he led the Western World with purpose and vision, right or wrong, into a Middle Eastern War that made a lot of American businesses wealthy. Not such an idiot after all. What are your achievements?

  • Rollaroli

    Haas also has a much smaller pool of applicants from which to choose. You can make percentages mean anything. No self-respecting applicant who applies to Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, and Columbia would lower their standards and add Haas to their list.

  • Rollaroli

    Wow! You are really smart. People have different experiences?
    I never knew that. Thank you for sharing your infinite knowledge.
    I suggest you rise to the challenge and pursue an online MBA at University of Phoenix. Maybe go to Thunderbird where the acceptance rate has risen to marginally under 100%. You can do it! Believe it, achieve it. Better yet, distinguish your illustrious resume further and register at Nova Southeastern University where they give school credit for life experience. Success is guaranteed. Just pay your fees and you will get your B’s. With your wisdom and depthless experience, you will not only thrive but you will also lead. Specifically, lead all the other mediocrites straight to the unemployment line.

  • Rollaroli

    Oxford only got a graduate business school about 20 years ago. Don’t really get your point. Innovators are more important than copiers or inventors. If you are looking for a historical foundation in higher education, then look at Italy, France and Germany, not Boston and Philadelphia.

  • Rollaroli

    You need to distinguish before Harvard College and HBS. Not one and the same.

  • Rollaroli

    Wow! You are really smart. People have different experiences?
    I never knew that. Thank you for sharing your infinite knowledge.
    I suggest you rise to the challenge and pursue an online MBA at University of Phoenix. Maybe go to Thunderbird where the acceptance rate has risen to marginally under 100%. You can do it! Better yet, distinguish your illustrous resume further and register at Nova Southeastern University where they give school credit for life experience. Success is guaranteed. Just pay your fees and you will get your B’s. With your wisdom and depthless experience, you will not only thrive but you will also lead. Specifically, lead all the other mediocrites straight to the unemployment line.

  • Think carefully before comment. It is a different experience. If you don’t even know how to differentiate this?

  • rubicx

    Ah, yeah, sure, I think Tuck led the way at Lehman Brothers and the rest of them got jobs at tax-payer subsidized Citibank. After all, isn’t “bulge-bracket investment banking” just a pretentious term for big banks.

  • Rollaroli

    It’s a blog, not an essay composition class. It’s not like anyone here is seriously working on a re-write of their opinion in order to rank better than everyone else merely because they astutely wrote “you’re” for “your.” I’m sure you got their point even with thier imperfect grammar. (Yes, i see that I made a typo and wrote “thier” instead of “their.” I’ll get over it. You do the same and maybe you’ll get some value from this website.)

  • Rollaroli

    The millions who work at Wal-Mart have experience, too. Congratulations!

  • Jtoro

    Crispin, you clearly don’t have any idea what your talking about, and clearly dont have any idea where wall street gets its post MBA recruits from.

  • Crispin Gatieza

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Nor do you. “Bulge bracket IB” ?? That’s a valuable metric? Wishful thinking. Wall Street firms don’t recruit at Tuck. They would not know the difference between Tuck and Tufts. Tuck students craving a finance career have to go a begging on Wall Street. Most Wall Street firms get everything they need from NYC, Philadelphia and New Haven.

  • Jtoro

    You can use any metric you want to measure a schools “strength/rank” in a given area. But the measuring rod that matters is what the companies that recruit its candidates think. With regards to TUCK, it has one of the strongest contingents of bulge bracket IB classes every year. The TUCK IB brand on Wall Street is a strong as any.

  • Jimmy

    Ok for the confusion about Tuck. But, concerning Haas, you can check the figures: it is the third highest selectivity rate in the whole MBA offer (Number 1 is Stanford with 6%, then Harvard 9% and Haas 13%; Wharton, MIT Columbia or Chicago are all between 17 to 20%).

  • Dylan Wesley Crewell

    People shouldn’t look at rankings as who is the “best” but as what size will your pay check be? 25-40 get fairly solid jobs and paychecks. 40-60 decent 60- enh

  • rubicx

    Tuck is one of the best schools in Finance???? Man, that is the definition of a postulate. You must be confusing their finance department for their communications department. Haas is third hardest after Harvard and Stanford??? Most Haas students don’t apply to top b-schools. Top b-schools don’t offer classes in organic farming and manthropology. At least you got your facts and research on Columbia right.

  • rubicx

    You didn’t get into a top business school like you wanted to, did you? Top schools accept top people all of whom think they are “the bomb,” but when they are surrounded by other bombs, all they get are explosions. Even the schools that pretend to be not competitive are. Tuck has a ferocious grade curve and people who have made A grades all their lives for the first time are getting C grades, so their fangs will come out and their true competitive nature will arise. Repeatedly, I have heard Tuck students call it Tuck High and say things like the “alumni does not walk the talk.” Without a doubt, it’s a quality program, but to believe that it’s not competitive is rubbish.

    Columbia has a superb and supportive network. Classmates are not enemies, but everyone is not going to be your “friend.” That’s not even possible – anywhere. Friendships will develop through the challenge. Columbia has study groups. It has to. The work will be overwhelming for one student to take on alone. Columbia
    is not anymore cutthroat than Wharton or Chicago or HBS. Wall Street prefers all those four schools. For Wall Street, Tuck is second tier. A general management MBA is not of much use on Wall Street. No one, absolutely no one, walks into a general management job without at least 10 years of experience. Tuck emphasizes soft skills. Columbia emphasizes hard skills, and it already has concluded that their students have most of the soft skills, because most leaders do. Tuck students do well in Boston consulting firms at places like Bain, which is like Tuck, a cookie-cutter cult.

    Having lived in Europe for a few years, I can tell you that the most prominent business leaders, do not know the difference among Tuck, Fuqua, Johnson, Ross and Haas. In their eyes, the only American busines schools that matter are Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton and Anderson. Forget the rest. Yes, that’s right. The latter have the most brand equity and recognition over there. Personally, I find that the most enthusiastic networks are the from the country club schools – Kellogg, Marshall, Thunderbird. When you don’t face too much academic pressure, you got plenty of time to be social while you get “credentialized,”so, of course, you get great student body spirit and have fond memories of your alumni, and just love the place, blah, blah, blah. Who doesn’t love a good country club? Maybe you should consider one of those three schools.

  • morning_in_america

    The Economist’s readership might be erudite, but that doesn’t mean most of them would have a chance at getting accepted at an M-7 B-school, hence the result.

  • morning_in_america

    Far above Cayuga’s waters
    There’s an awful smell,
    Some say it’s Cayuga’s waters
    Others say Cornell.

  • morning_in_america

    That’s rubbish, the idea that going to a cutthroat, unfriendly environment is going to enhance your career prospects. One of the real assets of a top B-School is the alumni network, the contacts you make. If everyone treats it as every man for himself, you dont get the benefit of the contacts. Besides one good organization behavior course should give you all the techniques you need to manage the cutthroats. Business is both a competitive an collaborative game, people who dont get that dont do as well.

  • rubicx

    Yep, it is, especially among the finance types, but if you are going to enter the cut-throat world of finance, a good place to train for it is at a cut throat b-school. Tuck grads I’ve spoke to say it’s passive aggressive. No one is going to hurt you, but you aren’t going to get a lot of support either. I don’t get the impression it’s as collaborative as it claims. The facilities are nicer at Tuck, but most of them are new and deliberately designed to give a feeling of old money or old world, but if you are going to b-school so you can wear cashmere and plaid and smoke a pipe by the fireplace, then I suggest you study history or literature instead.

  • morning_in_america

    Columbia grads I spoke to said the place is cutthroat, no student body spirit. The building is tired and easily outclassed by 10 other top business schools. Tuck’s facilities look like classical academic buildings, old money.

  • morning_in_america

    Kellogg has great energy, super student spirit, has been that way since Dean Jacobs brought it into the top tier. Facilities are scheduled to be upgraded, but are better now than many schools. Columbia looks like a dump.

  • Hooligan73

    George W Bush graduated from Harvard – really? He can’t complete a sentence without sounding like an idiot.

  • Hooligan73

    Top MBA schools produce over inflated egos who eventually become corrupt with the Big Dollar sign as their god.

  • Jimmy

    A little understanding for non-native english speaker would be much appreciated ! 🙂

  • Outsideland

    What amazes me about these comments is that it appears that most people who have graduated from business school (I’m assuming the almost all of the people leaving comments have MBA degrees) do not seem to know the basic rules of grammar, usage, capitalization, or punctuation. Looks to me like anyone applying to a graduate business program should be required to repeat 3rd and 4th grade.

  • rubicx

    Why are you surprised? At Columbia finance is king, at Tuck consulting is. Columbia is a national program, Tuck is regional program. More C-level executives from Columbia than from Tuck. More interesting students at Columbia, too. More MBA-like jobs in NY than in New England.

  • rubicx

    So, Fuqua and Tuck and Johnson aren’t regional schools? They absolutely are. I don’t really get your point.

  • rubicx

    Haas exists because wimps want an MBA too. Of course, it’s second. (Second-Tier).

  • rubicx

    Brown is too small to take in the hoi polloi and too selective to be lower anything. You must be confusing it with the masses attending SUNY at Ithaca.

  • rubicx

    Tuck is the oldest business school in the US. It did not copy or come after any other American business school. At the same time, I don’t believe most of its press about being collaborative and tight-knit. Maybe on the surface.

  • MJackson

    Yes, we all know Harvard and Wharton and so on are highly competitive and only admit extremely smart students. But before you spend too much time s***ing your own d*** with how impressive you are, I would challenge you to actually ACCOMPLISH something besides following the standard pre-defined path of joining hundreds of people just like you in analyst start classes at McKinsey, Goldman, Bain, and all the other I-banks, MC firms, private equity, hedge funds and whatnot. Most of them will “decide it’s time to move on” after they are counseled out in a couple of years anyway.

  • sjf

    what bullshit…a pedigree does not make the best business minds…get out of your glass house

  • cs

    Babson, then all the rest

  • Raoul

    The best MBA is what you do with it in life so whether you go to Harvard or Hillbilly University it is rather superfluous.

  • JohnAByrne

    It’s important to remember that the Shanghai worldwide ranking emphasizes academic research over teaching and favors research in the natural sciences over the social science. It’s largely based on the publication of articles by faculty that have little to no relevance in the real world and little to no application by practitioners. A great business school applies theory to practice and goes out of its way to connect to the business community. GMAT scores are merely one of many qualitative factors to measure the quality of a student population: There’s also GPA, the quality of one’s undergraduate institution and company, the upward progression of an applicant’s career, and what others think of that person in the world of work. While UCSD has a “very good” business school, it lacks “excellent” status to be among the 100. Hope this helps.

  • krishnaxyz

    whynot some one visit IIM Ahemdabad, India

  • Jimmy

    I was looking for the whole californian MBA offer and I was surprised to see that UCSD which is a top 20 university in the Shanghai worldwilde ranking hardly appears in the Top 100 US MBA. I was all the more surprised than the average Gmat announced for the class profile is 680 which is equivalent to schools ranked between 20/25 (Georgetown – Emory – Vanderbilt or equivalent…). How would you explain this discrepency? It is true though that their job statistics are not so good (only 39% of people finding a job at graduation according to US News).

  • Just noticed

    FYI- The numbering is off. Hult should be 80, not 79 (there are two 78s in a row) and then every school after that point should be one number higher then it is listed as right now.

  • Bob Marley

    It’s Harvard and Chicago that have produced the best business minds in the world. Think of the founders of the following top companies in the most sought after industries post MBA:

    Private Equity: Blackstone, Carlyle, Oaktree, Advent, etc.

    Management Consulting: McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group

    Hedge Funds: Too long of a list

  • Pat Simmons

    Duke and Cornell have national reputations, but UCLA doesn’t? I would agree Tepper lacks in that category, but I would say UCLA has a better national reputation than Duke, and probably on par with Cornell. UCLA is also a much bigger international name than either Duke or Cornell (especially on the pacific rim).
    Duke and Cornell are great schools, but I would say UCLA is right there with them. Trying to distinguish between those 3 is splitting hairs.

  • Rebecca

    Why is Tuck always ranked so high? I feel like they are always inflated in rankings. I would argue that given employment statistics and CEOs that are churned out, schools like Duke, Darden, Yale, Cornell, and UCLA should be ranked above Tuck…never could understand what really drives their ranking…As someone based on the west coast, I know very few Tuck alumni. Probably a regional business school…

    And regarding the ivy league business schools, here is an order I propose: Harvard, UPenn, Columbia, Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth. Tuck has gotta be last among the ivy league schools…my humble opinion at least! Yale also isn’t great, but I feel they have potential…cornell is definitely on the rise…

  • Hello!

    I second this comment. This person has the order right as well within the same tier.

  • georgios

    guyz any take on hult..i can see its not in the list..

  • Dukie

    MastersBeingAmazing, completely agreed! Well said…thanks for this insight.

    I think prospective students should look at employment reports. That is a great indicator of how schools are viewed from the perspective of employers (which is arguably the most important perspective given the nature of an MBA).

  • MastersBeingAmazing

    Economist rankings are so stupid…frankly, I think Mr. Byrne should just get rid of it from the composite rankings. According to the Economist, Harvard and Stanford are 4 and 8, respectively. Really? No. And yes, I agree that Economist is underrating Fuqua…Fuqua has grounded itself as a top 10 school…Cornell is on its way too. I think Columbia will also remain in the top 10, but we will see more ties among schools (kind of how US News ranks Public Policy programs)…

  • MastersBeingAmazing

    ok…so exactly what is your point? Are you implying that aside from the schools you’ve listed that “all the rest” aren’t good schools? That seems very silly to me. I’d argue that plenty of people from Yale, Duke, Johnson, Darden, Ross, Haas, Anderson etc. etc. receive the same jobs or similar jobs as those students from the “elite” schools that you’ve mentioned. I think your way of viewing it is rather funneled and not objective. Now, after the top 20, yes, I would agree that you can say “all the rest.” And, I don’t mean that in a demeaning way (at least I hope I didn’t offend anyone reading this), but recruiting for coveted jobs like management consulting, i-banking, asset management, etc. after the top 20 schools is much harder due to lack of recruiters coming to campus because of the non-top 20 rank…unfortunately, it is a vicious cycle….

  • BSchoolAspirant

    Yes, UCLA and Carnegie Melon are way lower than Duke and Cornell. But you are right, all schools send people to amazing professions – so it is a moot point. But, both Duke and Cornell have national reputations (and growing international reputations) while UCLA and Tepper are often considered regional schools. It is not a bad thing at all – you just need to determine if you want to be in LA or Pittsburgh. If you want to be in either city, I don’t think any school other than Harvard or Stanford will give you the same leverage as UCLA and Tepper. That being said, I am one who is open to living throughout the US, so I would argue Fuqua (Duke) and Johnson (Cornell) are better fits. Good luck.

  • BHT

    Indiana university is in Indiana — IN — is the state abbreviation. Currently you’re showing IA (Iowa). Thanks for sharing the list!

  • Jimmy

    I disagree in everything you said. Duke as number 10 is about right. It cannot be in front of Tuck which is one of the best school in Finance and who is ranked number 2 by The Economist and number 6 by Forbes. Fuqua never reach such rankings anywhere. Haas is just the third hardest school to get after Harvard and Stanford and has an incredible selectivity rate and amazing jobs in High Tech due to its location. MIT is at its right place and I would say exactly the contrary of what you said about Columbia. For me, Columbia is the historical number 4 of the rankings behind Harvard, Stanford and… Wharton (and not Chicago which is overanked by P&Q). You can take all the stats: from number of applicants, salaries and bonuses and above all the number of students who choose to go Columbia when they are accepted at both Chicago, MIT and Columbia. Add the fact that many students want to stay in NY and that the school attracts such Super star teacher as the Nobel Prize Mister Stiglitz or the lectures of the alumni Warren Buffett….and you have the solid & historical number 4 of the ranking. I cannot understand that this school is so underevaluated here.

  • MBAGuru

    Duke is only ranked 10? Do people know that it is top 5 in marketing, top 8 in general management, top 3 in healthcare management, etc.? Should easily be ranked above Tuck and Haas, in my opinion. I think duke should actually be ranked somewhere in between 6 and 8. How is MIT ranked so highly (in business that is)? Same with Columbia? Some of these schools are extremely strong in 1 or 2 areas but not strong as a general platform…

    The top 5 on this list seem about right though…

  • As the second oldest b-school in the U.S (it was founded 17 years after Wharton and 20 years BEFORE Harvard), Haas can hardly be called a “newcomer” by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Jason

    Dude, you are not in business school. But, if everything you say makes you feel better about yourself, please continue!

  • Jimmy

    By the way, how would you explain the great ranking of Kelley given its relative low Gmat average score and international reputation (compared to the Top 20 schools) ? BW even ranks Kelley number 15 in front of Yale, UCLA, Austin or NYU !!! Quite surprising !

  • Eric

    Indiana University is in Indiana, not Iowa. (IN not IA). Thanks.

  • Guest-2

    @FStratford : You are truly a very stupid person …

  • Jimmy

    Hello John. Would you say Rice University is the best program to enter the Oil industry ? Better than Texas AM ? I feel Austin is much more generalist and not really specialized in this area, do you agree ? Thanks for your help !

  • John R

    The problem Michigan Ross has to stay in the top 10 is that it has a very collaborative environment; probably the most collaborative among top tier schools. To push harder it has to find a new equilibrium between collaboration and competition. It also has to solve the problem regarding loans for internationals and having BBAs in the same building.

  • plutus

    One more note on you assessment of a downward trajectory on Wharton. I really hate to bring up rankings, because they are less important than perception of schools, but the historical rankings don’t support your thesis. Yes, Wharton may be currently ranked lower than in the 2000s, but then again, this may just be a blip. Way too early to tell.

    Check out the following links to the historical rankings of the top MBA programs.


    Finally, the BW rankings support your argument the best, but only if you look at 1994 to today. Before that, Wharton was in the same spot it is in today. Look long term – 10+ years – and you will see that HBS, GSB, and Wharton are in roughly the same place as they were 10+ years ago.

  • plutus

    Interesting perspective. First, to my reference of the businessinsider ranking, I was not saying it the best ranking around – or even in the top 5. I was saying that it is a ranking purely on reputation. Yes, sample rate error is high. Yes, it disagrees with your thesis. But, it is still interesting to note.

    I noticed that you decided to use an attack the opponent strategy (me in this case) in your comment above when you said “I’m surprised anyone with half a brain would even give credence to it.” You will notice that I did not do the same when commenting on your post – even when it was possible to do so. I recommend that you try to take the higher road and outwit me instead of throwing insults. It shows higher class and will give more credence to your argument.

    Now, to your other points, I can see where you are coming from. I would agree that Booth and Duke are doing well. Not sure about your predictions on Cornell or HBS. I stated my reasoning supporting Wharton in my previous comment, so I am not going to hash out a new line of reasoning. However, I would still argue that it comes down to perceptions and Wharton seems to be doing very well in that category. 2-5 year rankings and perceptions will shift rather frequently, but the meaningful shift would be in the 10+ year perceptions. It takes a long time to really make a difference since the majority of the smartest applicants will choose the school that has the best long term reputation and alumni network. Until a lot of those powerful people from schools such as HBS, GSB, and Wharton leave their CXO jobs, stop being entrepreneurs, and get out of politics, it will be tough to change the real power of the school’s reputation and alumni network.

    Once again, in my opinion it comes down to reputation and alumni network. Things like buildings, method and content of education, and other ‘innovations’ only marginally matter.

  • FStratford

    I would believe you but your grammar is so atrocious, I don’t think you are an Ivy Leaguer. Well, maybe from one of those lower ivies. Those people from Providence take in too many hoi polloi. And they really shouldn’t.

  • FStratford

    Hmm. First, let’s ignore that Business Insider ranking. It has zero history and zero reputation as a ranking. Its methodlogy is suspect and its sampling error is high. And no one even remotely considers it meaningful. I’m surprised anyone with half a brain would even give credence to it.

    Second, Wharton has been slipping for a long time. 15 years ago when they were still in USNew’s top 3, they lost the Marketing crown to Kellogg. 10 years ago their Career Office was so bad, they tanked on BusinessWeek. Wharton has not recovered from those eversince. Their one chance at jumpstarting their way back to redemption was their new building, which tuned out to be a catastrophic failure. Now, its just an also-ran, largely relying on its former glory to push its old alumni into rah rah rah land. But really, what good things, what good news has come out of Wharton in the last 10 years? Nada. Only bad news. Add the fact that all the rankings that matter no longer put it in a top 3 position and is jostling for top 5 recognition only underlies its fate.

    Wharton used to be a beacon with WRDS, and Knowledge@Wharton, but now there really is nothing that makes it special compared to its competitors. Its negatives, however, still are haunting it. And there are tons of negatives that I wont even care to list.

    Wharton is to Top 3 in the 2010’s as Duke was to Top 5 in the 90’s and Yale is to Top 10 in the 2000’s. They tried … and failed. They can try again though. God knows, Duke is gaining traction again… but for now, Wharton is continuing its downward trajectory and nothing seems to be stopping the downward momentum.

    Btw Stanford, is also showing signs of fatigue… so keep an eye on that one. Now that tech is no longer confined to SIlicon Valley, entrepreneurial types no longer have to be in SF, much like Finance types do not have to get their MBA in NYC.

    I could be wrong. I have been bearish on HBS for a while, because of the scandals that its alums and professors are getting into – many of which could have maligned a normal BSchool. But so far, its still a Top 3 school in both rankings and people’s minds. Not the undisputed number 1, but still definitely top 3.

    I’m bullish on Booth and Cornell and Duke right. They seem to be innovating in both method and content of education.

    I reserve the right to change my opinion as new information come in, so this opinion is only valid within the next 2 months:-)

  • plutus

    I am not eliminating the possibility that Wharton is an also-ran, but I would love to know what you are basing this on. I believe this theory started being propagated in just the past couple of years, and mostly due to rankings. The problem is that rankings fluctuate and don’t necessarily represent perceptions of applicants, recruiters, etc. Wharton held the number 1 position in several rankings for years, but most didn’t seriously consider it better than HBS/GSB. Booth has held the number 1 position in a few rankings, and again, most don’t consider it better than HBS/GSB.

    In addition, I (an most people I know) don’t believe that the education you get from a school such as Cornell, CSB, Kellogg, Booth, Wharton, or HBS are markedly different. Rather, most people I know choose to go to the best school to be surrounded by the best and brightest classmates, to have access to the better network, and to gain brand prestige on your resume. Everyone probably gets about the same level of education – albeit there are strengths of different programs.

    For me, I made school selections when applying largely based on the reputation of the school, the alumni network, and how I felt when I visited the program.

    I would like you to take a look at this ranking. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-worlds-best-business-schools-2012-6?op=1
    It is a ranking based purely on perceptions of the programs. In other words, it is a reputation ranking. I actually participated in this ranking, and while flawed, I think it portrays a relatively accurate representation of school reputation. I ask you to look at the raw numbers, because you will see that certain schools cluster in groupings based on their raw numbers.

  • FStratford

    B&W sounds like ice cream flavor. I think H is due for a bitch-slapping. Those criminals (a.k.a bad leaders) that they keep on producing is not doing the country and the world any good.

  • FStratford

    Ha. I think Wharton is already out of the top 3. Its not as obvious yet, but wait a few more years.

    Harvard and Stanford better not rest on their laurels or they will suffer Wharton’s fate!

  • FStratford

    Wharton is now an also-ran. Dontcha know? Oh wait, you are a fanatic, there’s no point talking to you about facts.

  • Yale is building a new campus to open Jan 2014, http://community.som.yale.edu/evanshall/

  • guest

    Columbia’s yield was about 50%, that’s why they instituted the pretty unheard of binding Early Decision policy, which none of their competitors do. And Booth and MIT have about the same yield with MIT usually high 60’s and Booth mid 60’s. Kellogg is in the 50’s. Wharton generally about 70%. Your PE placement ranking below Wharton is just wrong…Booth is above CBS and miles above Kellogg and Tuck. Agreed H / S then W is the traditional order of things and probably still today’s order but it’s beyond obvious that Booth has miles better momentum, money, you name it vs its former peers K and MIT, with CBS at one point in recent memory being lumped in with that group but now having clearly fallen down to the Tuck/Haas camp.

  • norman

    Don’t try boy! I deeply believe that I am not in a mood to think about the notion of the idea of “california is good”! for vacation may be! for having little bit of what so called “fun” may be!. To have an education and wisdom!? this is against nature and all gods of our visible and hidden worlds!! New england is the upgraded england, and harvard and yale are the new leading schools of the mankind, you can add princeton to them if wish! they are doing well in mathematics.


    What’s so funny about it?

  • Josh

    An fool and his money are soon parted. I suggest you hang on to your so-called fortune, boy!

    Before you blather on, understand some things first.

    Oxford and Cambridge were founded 100s of years before Harvard. In fact, the “New England” settlers modeled Harvard college after those two institutions. “New England” came from where??

    Your logic is silly norman. What’s this nonsensical bias against California? Are you norman bates from Psycho??

    By the way, the school you refer to in France is ESCP Europe, The World’s First Business School. It was founded in 1819 —- but by 1824 — Already the class of 1824 counted 30% of international students with 15 different nationalities, amongst them seven Spanish, five Brazilians, five Dutch, four Germans, and two Americans. Language education was an essential part of its first curriculum which included, in addition to French grammar, also courses in English, German, and Spanish. As of 1825, a total of ten languages were taught at ESCP Europe and students had to study at least three of them.

  • Norman

    No need to be surprised boy! I bet you a fortune, no one could make it into harvard and look to that non-ivy, young and vocational school in california! technical education remains technical education for technicians and plumbers… economics, philosophy, arts and classics are in the ivy circles, Wharton used to be named wahrton school of finance, it is the first institution in the world to start this field. French did something close in the same era; late nineteen century through the grande ecole schools, but it kept within the francophone world, which away behind the anglo-saxson influence in businesses and politics ! my point is Harvrad is the defining institution in management and wharton in finance, all the others are just came later and copied every thing. they are copiers NOT inventors ! I don’t believe in schools in california which itself couldn’t have an identity..spanish or english, or asian or what..the original education is in new england. thats it.

  • Double-Check

    Hello John,

    Thanks for all the work you put into P&Q. Your site has great content and I frequent it often.

    Quick question: while viewing this list, it seemed to me that Ohio State (Fisher) is definitely mathematically misplaced. Based on the weights (25% of BW, Forbes, US News, 15% of FT, 10% of Economist), Fisher should be three places higher- at 25. What other criteria are you using in this calculation?

    Keep up the good work!

    (By doing the weighted average using the rankings, I got Fisher at 28.55, USC at 29.1, Wisconsin at 30.65, and Minnesota at 31.4. Fisher was the only one out of place.)

  • PQFanBoy

    The link at the bottom of your homepage does not direct to the latest ranking. Its still pointing to 2010 rankings.

  • While all improvements that a given school makes should be applauded, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they tomorrow they’ll be taking the spot of schools that have perennially been considered as multiple tiers ahead of them.

  • Josh

    This is what I call typical applicant bias – the tendency to see everything from a historical perspective without any concern for what is going on NOW! Please, get off this high-horse and visit some of the schools. Talk to the students..find out what’s going on in the top MBA programs. You will be surprised.

  • anderson

    I think that Duke is going to usurp Columbia’s spot. It’s doing remarkably well (in spite of being underrated by the economist), but more importantly, every Fuqua grad that I have ever encountered has great things to say about the school and the Duke brand in general. As for SOM, give it some more time, it’s still a relatively young school (although surprisingly enough it’s not too much younger than Fuqua). Prospects seem to be bleak for Columbia though!

  • wangkon936

    … and the top 5 about 88% of the time.

  • wangkon936

    Why bother P&Q? You guys only talk about the top 10 or so 95% of the time.

  • Whocares

    Right, feelings. Name calling is def unnecessary, but calling Booth’s rigor a marketing camping and countering with the school’s contributions to modern finance stipulating that it permeates to today’s curriculum doesn’t seem that “feeble”, no? Listen, PE is a prestigious job and yes, someone looking to enter or stay in the industry will most likely pick H/S/W and C, but how about the other 95% of MBA career paths? I think you should look further into it and you may be surprised. Just a thought.

  • Sorry, I have only one MBA – experience. 🙂

  • El Tri


  • Hu Jintao

    opposite is correct. MBA50 is similar to P&Q ranking. cuz P&Q started before MBA50

  • Poets and WHAT??

    “Not unlike”? John, don’t be unduly modest, this works “precisely like” Nate Silver’s approach, which weights polls based on their past predictive performance against the real outcomes of actual elections.

    We should applaud Poets and QUANTS for not being deterred by the lack of comparable real outcomes with which to devise its own weightings of authority. After all, POETic license permits persuasion by analogy and flights of fancy, and the building of castles in the clouds! In any case, I’m sure that John has asked at least, say, ten people, arbitrarily but appropriately weighted, to confirm that jotting out incantations of “signal” and “noise” while slapping Nate Silver’s name on this ingenious ranking would not tremendously damage rather than bolster its credibility and reflect highly on its creator. And that’s a sufficient statistic, in the rigorous sense, to be sure!

  • RV

    It reflects so poorly on our society when people attack someone (or a service) that is providing access to more information and knowledge. I love P&Q and have learned so much from here.

  • RV

    So why do you bother posting and wasting your time? Would you rather have P&Q cover the fiscal cliff? You are painting with a broad brush, and as a result it’s hard to take anything you say seriously.

  • Dreamer


    Not sure where to post this but I want to say this website is awesome! I received admission to my top two choices and this website has been a great source of information. Sorry to hear all the negativity.

  • Randy

    John Byrne,

    Rankings are getting to the point of does anyone really care ! Seriously the degree has been sliced, diced and revamped so many times that it has lost it’s lustre ( never mind the recession). You had a good gig playing schools off of each other at BW, thus creating insecurity amongst and setting off a boom in branding, boasting programs and new ridiculously expensive buildings named after some supposed titan. Reality is the degree became a factory for printing money and everybody joined and spoiled the party, it rained excess. It is probably time to move on from your perpetual spinning of Harvard vs Wharton or Chicago mantra, seriously it has gotten old and frankly just boring. Poet & Quants is a raison d’etre for a time that has passed.

  • mba rankings quant

    This is silly.

    Harvard, Stanford
    Kellogg, MIT, Chicago, Tuck, Columbia
    All the rest

  • Manny

    Actually, his arguments

    Booth is a top school but not HSW

    1) Lower amount of students who went to Ivy
    undergrad or similar quality top undergraduate as a total % of students < other top schools (mainly HSW)
    2) Most prestigious post-MBA job of PE
    placement is weak among M7, Booth is ranked 7th and MIT is ranked 8th in this category
    3) Most people will INDEED take Wharton over Booth
    4) Booth's academic rigor is just a marketing campaign

    Your refuting statements

    1) P/E is just one subset of Finance and you have lots of noble laureates
    2) He is a moron
    3) He hurt your feelings because he thinks the school you chose is not as highly regarded as Wharton

    Booth is a great school. You should let it stand on its own merits not your feeble attempts to defend it.

  • AudiCommercial

    you, sir, are a moron. PE is not Finance. Have you ever heard of modern finance theory? Efficient markets? How bout you base your list on Nobel prizes? I get you are a brand sucker and prefer to be the guy at the meeting dropping names instead of knowledge, but go peddle your weak arguments elsewhere else. If you think that because you know “someone” who plays golf that the curriculum is not hard core, maybe you should consider coming to Booth and learning a thing or two about statistical significance.

  • John A. Byrne

    Yes. We’re updating every day and those two will be complete today.

  • Jason

    Yale SOM also has issues bringing in minorities and really old facilities (mansions)

  • MBA

    John- will you be completing the program pages, i.e. McCombs & Goizueta? I have noticed that not all are updated for the 2012 statistics.

  • papo

    don’t post when drinking!

  • El Tri

    Cornell ahead of Ross and Stern, HAHA, that’s funny!

  • RV

    Well written analysis.

  • Orange 1

    John’s ranking is almost identical to the MBA 50 ranking, which should be no surprise because the sources are the same with a bit of tweaking to the percentages used for each listing. I do disagree with giving the Forbes ranking so much weight because the straight ROA analysis is a statistic that can be easily misinterpreted, For example, I would think that many Columbia and NYU MBAs already lived in expensive cities and had relatively high paying jobs so the post-MBA salary bump-up is not going to be as impressive as other schools.
    I also think, and have written before, that a tier ranking makes much more sense. Are UCLA and Carnegie Mellon much lower than Cornell or Duke? Come one. Both of these schools produce people who go on to do great things and have highly regarded teaching. There are 18 schools in the top 15.
    This gets to another point. A good number of professors rotate among business schools – Duke to Columbia or Tuck to NYU or Wharton to Darden. Same for administrators as Kellogg’s dean used to be the undergraduate dean at NYU. So with all this movement, how different can the schools from 9 or 10 to 15 or 18 be? All the students have GMATs that are very close and have done some fantastic things before applying. As others have said, it is all about fit. Someone could be very happy at Tuck and miserable at Columbia, and vice versa, for a variety of reasons. And while Harvard and Stanford are the Mt. Olympus of applicants, there are probably people who would be happier not going their, although very few turn down the opportunity to attend. Truth be told, graduating from 1-18 puts you in great company and nobody should be ashamed that they have done this, even if they had hoped for a higher-ranked school.

  • lala

    Biggest Flaw: FT and Economist are world rankings……..not just US….so if you want to put in the rankings as comparison please include their US ranking only. Geeezzz…it was only a matter of one click.

  • Harsh

    Interested Part,

    I think Columbia’s decline is not just about finance and wall st. Dean Hubbard and his leadership, or lack thereof, has been a major reason for the lack of satisfaction among the students. The new improved curriculum has been delayed. The career center has been slow to respond to the needs of the students. There is also a 20% decline in the number of applicants. Columbia has all the ingredients for a top school, but desperately needs a chance in leadership.

  • pasionate

    looks like everyone agree on Duke!

  • John A. Byrne

    Thanks for sharing those very valuable impressions with our readers.

  • SpringboksJon86

    If it might be helpful to some, the following is my subjective MBA application experience in no particular order (South African citizen but US educated, Green card holder, FL resident).

    1. Kellogg: Visited and subsequently interviewed (waiting for R1 decision) – School has a lot of energy and the student body is very engaged. There are a LOT of students here and the 1 YR MBA seems to be attracting a lot of interest. I wasn’t too impressed with the facilities though and a majority of the students i spoke to were focused on a career in consulting. The students I met were extremely friendly and engaging. Great rugby club on campus as well and quite a few Afrikaners (white South Africans) as well.

    2. Ross: Visited but decided not to apply. The facilities are pretty decent and I met some interesting people there. Somehow felt the students weren’t too enthusiastic about the school. In fact, one asked me what schools I was considering, and mentioned that he himself would have gone to XYZ if admitted. I admire his honesty, but it also left me feeling that even the students themselves may not consider it a top school.

    3. Darden: I visited the school on a beautiful spring morning. It’s a terrific place and a great school steeped in rich history and tradition; a proper university setting. The students were very outgoing and friendly. But in speaking to them, it was clear that the workload was quite stressful and demanding. It’s definitely a bootcamp, eh! I decided not to apply, but left with the feeling that it was an awesome place to spend two years.

    4. Cornell: Visited, interviewed and waiting for the R1 decision. Cornell easily exceeded my expectations and was a wonderful place. I visited in late spring, but am well aware that it’s a different beast in winter. The students were enthusiastic about the school, and I found the facilities to be excellent. Unlike some others who posted here, I did not sense that unbridled excitement from the student body.

    5. Yale: Unlike my experience at Cornell, I left underwhelmed by my experience here. Perhaps, I had extremely high expectations. The students liked the integrated curriculum and the opportunity to take more electives. But many said the recruiters still did not understand / appreciate the integrated curriculum etc. I left with the feeling that somehow the students felt slightly mislead about the value of the integrated curriculum. I did not feel the energy here and decided not to apply.

    6. Fuqua: Great lesson in never judge a book by its cover! I wasn’t very enthusiastic about this school, but decided to visit anyway because I needed a another top school to apply to after eliminating Yale from my list. I visited in early fall and completely fell in love with the school. When I told one of the students i was a big rugby fan, he immediately put me in-touch with some other rugby players / fans mostly from Europe and Latin America. We immediately hit if off, and SA had just beaten England in the cricket test series, so there was some great banter back and forth as well. It was like I knew these guys forever. The facilities were also excellent and above all it was the human connections. I did not expect to like Fuqua because I imagined the place very differently. It’s definitely a very diverse and vibrant atmosphere. Applied, interviewed and waiting for R1 decisions.

    To be honest, I know Kellogg is ranked higher and a better brand than Fuqua. But I’m sure it will not be such a straightforward decision if I can convert both. Having lived in FL, the NC weather is not so bad and opportunity to golf almost round the year. I’d be happy to attend Cornell as well, but just not as much as the other two.

    I recommend you visit the schools and make up your own minds about it. If I just went with my gut feeling, then I might have missed out on a great opportunity. Also, don’t be afraid of taking a position and trusting your gut instincts. If you don’t feel like you fit somewhere or are going to be happy there, they don’t make the mistake of applying simply because of the rankings. Not many back in South Africa have heard of Cornell or Fuqua or even Kellogg (to a lesser extent), but everyone knows Harvard and Oxford and Cambridge. But that doesn’t influence my view and how I look at things. I got to do what’s in my best interests. Sharp-Sharp!

  • Joe

    Same experience at Duke. I’m in tech… and I felt the energy.

  • norman

    regardless all rankings: Wharton and Harvard are the business schools. the others are just newcomers. stanford and mit are just technical schools like michigan and penn state.

  • ahmed

    hahaha why u felt strange and left early at haas ?!! :)))

  • Sali

    undoubtedly, Duke Fuqua! I visited Yale, Cornell, MIT Sloan, Haas at Berkeley, and Duke. I talked to students and did sit on classes. all of them are great, but it is about comparing the impression and the previous perception I have. Yale was the best on my imagination before the visit. I met many Yale Law grad, they are super smart, thus I got the impression that everyone and every program at Yale should be on the same level. But to be honest, the school of management needs a lot to be comparable to the law school in all aspects. I heard that the mother university (Yale) aren’t really passionate about having a (business school), and therefore the school didn’t really got the needed attention, though they have a good portion of the endowment But again, this is just my impression, if you know what I mean, Yale as a name is head to head to Harvard, and as a sequence of this thought, I guess many people (mistakenly) got the idea of comparing SOM to HBS. when you come to ground and see students, lectures, campus, the attitude in general, it is really behind many top school. you get to feel the business school and mba students at lower ranked school. as I said, all the schools I visited I found good people and environment BUT at Duke I felt ALIVE! down to earth students, global, you see many type of faces, the attitude in general is very high and optimistic. students in MIT are so humble and smart, but I didn’t get the chimestry there. Haas is strange, I don’t know why but, I left early!. if I could rank my preference based on my visit: Duke, Cornell, MIT, Haas, and Yale, respectively.

    please note: every personality is different, thus what I like is not necessary what you should like, you have to visit the campus to get your own feeling, what I am writing here is my own impression. (note: I am an international student from eastern europe )

  • JohnAByrne


    You’re right. The rankings are still correct: Stanford is second and Chicago is third, but the underlying index number for Chicago is higher than originally stated and has been corrected. The correct index number for Chicago is 98.5, while the index number for Wharton is 97.8 (these numbers are not rounded). So the difference between these two schools is 0.7–not 0.2. Thanks for alerting me to this.

  • Orange1

    Sali, based on the schools you visited, which did you like and not like, and why? I think it sometimes depends on which classes and people you meet at a given place.

  • Leslie

    You did something wrong. Stanford is still second:
    Harvard 2 1 1 2 4 – 1.70
    Stanford 4 2 1 1 8 – 2.70
    Booth 1 3 4 6 1 – 3.00
    Wharton 3 4 3 3 10 – 3.95

    However the difference between Booth and Stanford is smaller than Booth and Wharton, and the ranking says the contrary….

  • Mathew

    I did the numbers, this ranking is wrong, Booth is even ahead of Stanford!
    – Harvard 2 1 1 2 4 -> INDEX: 1.90
    – Booth 1 3 4 6 1 -> INDEX: 3.05
    – Stanford 4 2 1 1 8 -> INDEX: 1 3.10
    – Wharton 3 4 3 3 10 -> INDEX: 1 4.45

    I did INDEX = 25%*(BW+US+Forbes) + 15%*FT + 10%*Econ

    The missing part is indexing the results to 1-100 scale, but that
    shouldn’t change the order.


  • Mathew

    The index is wrongly calculated, the difference is much higher than .2, do the numbers.

  • InterestedParty

    @ Sali,
    Nice post! As has been pointed out on this Board, I very much admire Cornell Johnson and the positive momentum that is experiencing, as you also suggest, but I do not believe that Columbia will be replaced by Cornell, in any way…
    IMO Columbia is and will consistently remain a top 5-7 player, and deservedly so. It’s location, history, Columbia University-wide benefits, and specializtion (at least historically) on finance cements it as a top choice. I think its recently experienced bumps have far more to do with the fall from grace of Wall Street and Finance/Banking jobs than any meaningful change at the school. Columbia will be back as the financial industry improves more substantially…
    My arguments about Cornell are more that I think is moving (at the moment at least) towards comepting to be a top 10 player rather than a top 15 player…
    Fit aside, as it always a key consideration, but on balance, more applicants will favor an admit to Columbia than Cornell at this time…although over time that may change a bit, if the Cornell NYC Campus offers comprehensive MBA degree offerings…
    Just my thoughts….thx!

  • Mathew

    I did the numbers, this ranking is wrong, Booth is even ahead of Stanford!
    – Harvard 2 1 1 2 4 -> INDEX: 1.90
    – Booth 1 3 4 6 1 -> INDEX: 3.05
    – Stanford 4 2 1 1 8 -> INDEX: 1 3.10
    – Wharton 3 4 3 3 10 -> INDEX: 1 4.45

    I did INDEX = 25%*(BW+US+Forbes) + 15%*FT + 10%*Econ

    The missing part is indexing the results to 1-100 scale, but that shouldn’t change the order, and the difference between Wharton and Booth, which is huge.

    John, can you please see what happen?

  • Ivan

    Current student here. I chose Booth over Wharton, although I think both schools are very similar.

    About PE placement, I don’t think is right to rank schools based on it, as here at Booth there are many students that prefer IM (Investment Management) over PE (no clue why one or the other, I’m recruiting for marketing)

  • leslie

    John, I wonder how come Booth this year is just 0.2 points ahead Wharton. Last year Booth was ahead by 0.8, when it seems that Booth has done better in rankings than Wharton this year.
    – The Economist: Booth was 2nd last year, this year is 1st. (Wharton remains 10th)
    – FT: Booth remains 6th. Wharton has fallen from 1st (2011) to 3rd (2012).
    – US News: Booth was 5th, this year is 4th. Wharton was 4th, this year is 3rd.
    I didn’t do the exact numbers, but at a first glance I would guess that Booth should have increased the difference with Wharton, and not the contrary.
    Can you please double check?


  • Sali

    Yale SOM has money, new great dean, brand, and location, and yet it goes down by all rankings. Frankly, I am not surprised at all, as I visited the school, my impression wasn’t that good. in opposite, you will notice the improvement and passion among cornell johnson team and students, the only new thing they got is an outsider new dean, yes he is a famous and comes from super school, but to be honest he is not like Mr Sydner of Yale, thus, cornell is going up year after year. I assume that cornell will be the ivy’s replacement of columbia.

  • El Jefe

    You guys are dorks… you should probably go out and get laid…

  • KFC

    Glad you enjoyed it! On a side note, Cornell lost to Upenn, Columbia, Harvard and Dartmouth this year in football. But you guys did beat Yale. I think that sums up the b-school rankings debate: Cornell better than Yale but worse than Wharton, Columbia, HBS and Tuck!

  • Dreamer

    True, I would prefer Tuck over all other schools except H/S/W.

  • ranking

    John is just one person (well-educated in the MBA ranking field). I respect John a lot, but it is still just one person’s opinion. I am sure there are many others who would prefer Tuck over other M7 schools. I get that. But I just want to say that most ppl will prefer M7 over Tuck. There is nothing wrong with liking Tuck over other top schools, as ppl value things differently. In the general ranking world though, ppl and those who put rankings together will prefer other M7 schools over Tuck most of the times. That’s all. Reason can be ranking, location, size or whatever but the majority will prefer other M7 schools over Tuck.

    All great schools. We are just splitting hairs…

  • SaintsFanLSUGrad

    Bro, I interviewed at Fuqua this past Friday and I was frankly blown away by the atmosphere, the students and my fellow applicants. I was at Cornell 3 weeks ago – the weekend before Thanksgiving. I can’t say I felt the same energy as you did. Most of the FY kids were worried about their MicroEcon and Fin final exams. The SY students were engaged but I guess were also preoccupied with final exams. My point is, all this energy and stuff really depends on a number of external factors; it also depends on our individual experience.

  • Orange1

    Couldn’t agree more. Tiers are the way to go.

  • Orange1

    And people said Michigan would rise because of the gift from Ross. Seriously, even if someone gave $600 million to one of Duke/Virginia/Michigan/NYU/UCLA/Cornell/Yale/Tepper, would that move them 2 or 3 slots in the rankings?

  • Benjamin Cohn

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your response. To be honest I hadn’t heard of the M-7 schools before. I only recently started researching schools and was pointed to your website by a friend. Needless to say, I have learned so much from your posts. The smack-downs and the handicapping odds sections have really helped me understand the process. I’m from a non-traditional background (non-profit and special education) and I’m still trying to figure out what the MBA is all about and how it can help me achieve my long-term goals in the field of education.

    By the way, do you have any thoughts or comments about a recent debate on: “Would the economy be better off without MBA students?” hosted by The Economist magazine. Apparently, 51% thought so, which I found rather disconcerting considering the magazine’s erudite readership.

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond and best wishes for the continued success of P&Q.


  • InterestedParty

    Thanks KFC!! Selfless promotion and some fun are always nice…but my points remain intact!

  • AGuest

    I would 2nd what InterestedParty said. I have visited 5 of the top 11 schools on this list and while all are amazing schools, no place was buzzing as much Cornell. According to their admissions office, applications for R1 are up 25-30% over the previous year- an extremely impressive stat if true. I think Fuqua and Haas are starting to hear footsteps.

  • KFC

    In honor of my Cornell Friend – I hope you enjoy this.

    The lyrics of the Cornell Alma Mater:

    Far above Cayuga’s waters
    With its waves of blue
    Stands our noble Alma Mater
    Glorious to view
    (Refrain) Lift the chorus
    Speed it onward
    Loud her praises tell
    Hail to thee our Alma Mater
    Hail, all hail, Cornell!

    Far above the busy humming
    Of the bustling town
    Reared against the arch of heaven
    Looks she proudly down

    Sentry-like o’er lake and valley
    Towers her regal form
    Watch and ward forever keeping
    Braving time and storm
    So through clouds of doubt and darkness
    Gleams her beacon light
    Fault and error clear revealing
    Blazing forth the right

    To the glory of her founder
    Rise her stately walls
    May her sons pay equal tribute
    Whene’er duty calls
    When the moments swiftly fleeting
    Ages roll between
    Many yet unborn shall hail her
    Alma Mater, Queen!

    In the music of the waters
    As they glide along
    In the murmur of the breezes
    With their whispered song
    In the tuneful chorus blending
    With each pealing bell
    One refrain seems oft repeated
    Hail, all hail, Cornell

    Here, by flood and foaming torrent
    Gorge and rocky dell
    Pledge we faith and homage ever
    To our loved Cornell.
    May time ne’er efface the memory
    Of her natal day
    And her name and fame be honored
    Far and wide alway!

  • KFC

    Interested Party – You are a huge Cornell fan! I have read many of your recent posts and you keep saying the same thing about Cornell everywhere! We get it! You love Cornell and I’m sure it’s a great school; I just wanted to say that I appreciate your enthusiasm. But remember – everyone is going to cheer-lead for his/her school and mention the positive aspects. I have followed MBA rankings for a while now and the trend is always the same. A few years ago they said Yale is going to give H/S/W a run for their money and will be a sure shot top 5 program. Hasn’t happened. They said the same thing about Tuck as well, saying it’s going to be a top 3 school and along with H and S. Dean Hubbard was going to make Columbia the best finance school in the country. But what’s different is that Cornell is being realistic. It’s focused on becoming a perennial top 10 like Tuck, MIT, etc. I think Duke is also moving towards that direction and trying to put some space between itself and its peer schools like Ross, Darden, etc.

    Last point: I hope you change your ID to CornellGrad or Big Red Bear or something like that.

  • InterestedParty

    I also think Cornell has positive momentum right now and will continue to challenge for a spot in the top 10 instead of the top 15 going forward. Their new Dean Dutta (from INSEAD), a developing campus in NYC that has Google support, great satisfaction ratings from students in BW rankings, great professor ratings, a very strong (and underutilized) Ivy League global brand/name, and one of the few schools with growing applications are indicative, to me at least, of a school on the move in a positive direction. One to watch IMO!

  • Deloitte

    I don’t think the original post is just about placement. he/she refers to placement as one of the reasons. also don’t think the pe placement is how he/she ranks mbas. they are just pe placement ranking. if you read the original post, the message is pretty clear. it seems like h/s/w/ then the rest of top 7 programs w/ no specific order?? i agree

  • Reggie

    See John’s post below addressed to Ben. He rates Tuck higher than some M7. I think John knows more about b-schools than most other experts. I’m going to take his word.

  • Winchester42

    If you are including Yale and Hass, then I think you should include Fuqua in that mix as well. It’s ranked 6 by BW and ahead of Yale in most rankings except US news.

  • Stan

    So your rankings are based on PE placements?

  • mindbullet26

    All b-schools could improve, but we still LOVE this place.
    – Columbia MBA 2013

  • ranking

    I agree about HBS/Stan…..and W….. Tuck maybe I can swallow that but I can’t agree putting Yale in the same tier… I am sure many people will feel the same unless they went to Yale for under or are currently attending Yale or have strong affiliation with Yale… Many still consider Tuck a rung below M7 and I agree with that idea. Thanks.

  • Dreamer

    Seems right though to be honest Columbia is number four because many PE guys just want to stay in NYC rather than leave.

  • Dreamer

    I am not a fan of ranking but let us be honest. Top two are HBS and GSB. Number three is Wharton. Then the rest (Booth/Kellog/Columbia/Tuck/Haas/MIT/Yale?) are to be honest the same quality.

  • guest

    Yeah, we can play this game and make it the BIG 5: H/S/W/B/K (back in the days of Big 5 Accounting firms analogy – LOL!). That’s why the term M7 exists… quit the top 3 top 4 whatever… It’s going to be H/S….. W and the rest of M7….. that’s it. Booth on big 3? I don’t know about that… Reason: 1) students who went to Ivy undergrad or similar quality top undergraduate as a total % of students < other top schools (mainly HSW), 2) most prestigious post-MBA job of PE placement is weak among M7, Booth is ranked 7th and MIT is ranked 8th in this category, 3) most people will INDEED take Wharton over Booth, in fact a lot of people still take MIT/Kellogg/Columbia over Booth. This is not as clear cut as taking Wharton over Booth but if accepted at both Booth and M7 (excl HSW), most people still tend to go for other M7 schools over Booth. Proof: Booth's yield is so much lower than Columbia and MIT and YES Wharton. 4) Booth's academic rigor is just a marketing campaign. Booth MBAs I know go out and play golf. Their academic rigor reputation is what they benefit from having a ridiculously nerdy undergrad and PhD programs, especially in economics. Booth itself isn't that hardcore…

    I am not trying to bash Booth. Let's just not forget about W. Putting B ahead of W and discussing Big 3 is just not right. I honestly believe Booth's rep isn't there yet to make a clear Big 3. They are big 5 for sure but not quiet the big 3 yet. Just look at all PE firms… It's predominantly H and S….. then W………….. Booth not so much. They are ranked 7th in PE placement among M7 schools. People call them the finance powerhouse. This is ironic. Why are we calling Booth a finance powerhouse when the most prestigious PE job placement is ranked 6th?

    From what I recall, PE placement rankings is the following:
    1) HBS
    2) Stanford
    3) Wharton
    4) Columbia
    5) Tuck
    6) Kellogg
    7) Booth
    8) MIT

  • Thank You

    Kellogg’s jump isn’t that huge. If you look at the index score of last year’s P&Q ranking, MIT and Columbia were tied at 5th place with 95 index pts and Kellogg was right behind with 94.9 pts. There was no difference between Kellogg, Columbia, and MIT last year. Really what is that 0.1 pts difference anyways. Take that 0.1 pts difference out, three schools were pretty much tied at 5th last year. So Kellogg didn’t really gain much in ranking this year. Kellogg kept the 5th place while Columbia and MIT dropped in pts just a tiny bit – that’s all, no big deal.

    Golden rule guys…. It’s going to be H,S, …..and W, then there is ABSOLUTELY no difference among Booth, Kellogg, MIT, and Columbia. Just go where you fit best – simple as that. Thanks for the ranking, John.

  • JohnAByrne


    You may have heard about the so-called M-7. Generally, they are Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Wharton, Northwestern, MIT, and Columbia. These are the super elite schools for MBA programs in the U.S. I, however, would add Tuck to that group and would prefer over several M-7 schools.

  • PhilliPhanatic

    Big 3? Dude, i wouldn’t even put Booth in the same sentence with HBS, GSB and Wharton. Your silly analogies are even worse. Why don’t you stick to posting comments on forums about football or the pgatour?

  • Sim

    Ben, why don’t you just apply to the programs that are the best fit for you? Why do you want to know what an elite MBA is? If you know why you want an MBA and what you would like to do with it, then all this would be pointless. Stop obsessing over these numbers and focus on yourself.

  • Guest

    I would take the year-to-year rankings with a grain of salt. Look at
    trends and reputations. Most would still choose Wharton over Booth. Yes, a lot of people choose Booth over Wharton, but the vast majority still choose Wharton.

    Now for these scores Booth is doing well, but the underlying
    composite scores for Booth and Wharton are 98.0 and 97.8, respectively.
    Hardly enough to say that Booth is now one of the big 3 way ahead of
    Wharton. A .2 margin isn’t very statistically significant.

    Tone down your excitement.

  • guest

    If you want to do tiers I think it would be more like

    1: H/S
    2: B/W/MIT/NW/CO/TUCK, with B & W at the top of this tier
    3. The ~9-15 schools you mentioned

    IMO B&W are closer to the second group as they are the H/S group

  • Benjamin Cohn

    Hi John,

    I have a question and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. Do you consider any top 15 (from your list) to be an elite MBA program? For instance, the law schools have this t-14 list. I’m just wondering whether a top 15 b-school MBA would be the equivalent? However, looking at the composite scores, it seems that there are 3 tiers among the top 15 schools and can be divided into: H/S/B/W; MIT/NW/CO/TUCK; and schools ranked 9 to 15. if you could spare a couple of minutes, i would really appreciate your perspective on this. Thank you much and warm regards,


  • Chris

    I like your big 3 golf analogy! But I’m going with the “final 4” basketball analogy. Harvard-Stanford-Booth-Wharton – the only 4 schools that matter for elite students. The rest – thanks for playing. If you look at the index scores closely, Wharton is right up there as well.

  • Miami Phil

    These rankings have SO MUCH credibility. John’s approach is the best and indeed, it’s the Nate Silver approach as well. There isn’t a lot of movement and I think that reflects the nature of the process. How can one school jump 5 or 6 places in one year? There is no steroids pr PEDs equivalent in the b-school setup! Kellogg and Cornell have jumped two places — that’s the most significant movement among the top schools.

    Another thing has become quite clear in recent years — it has become a three horse race at the top with Wharton out of the mix. HBS, GSB and Booth are the big games in town. Wharton is not ranked 1 in any of the surveys. In fact Wharton’s best ranking in a 3. So i think it’s safe to say that we are in the era of the big 3 – Stanford, Harvard and Booth. The Jack Nicklaus, Arnie Palmer and Gary Player of b-schools!

  • RV

    Terrific job John! This the the gold standard of MBA rankings. I’m a bit surprised that Columbia being ranked higher than Tuck! I was expecting to see Columbia at 8 or 9. Also, surprising to see Fuqua barely holding on to the top 10; I thought Fuqua would be ranked slightly higher at 8 or 9. Cornell is making a great case to break the top 10 next year. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Justin

    The links to pages 2, 3… at the bottom do not seem to work… Thanks!