Poets&Quants’ Top 100 U.S. MBA Programs Of 2013

by John A. Byrne on


This year’s Poets&Quants ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S. proves that the best business schools tend to stay put: There is not a single difference between the top eight MBA programs in our new 2013 composite ranking and the top eight in 2012. What’s more, all top 10 schools remained firmly in the top 10 this year.

The steadiest institution is still Harvard Business School, which took the very first spot for the fourth year in a row. Despite less-than-flattering publicity generated by a New York Times’ front page story on gender inequality at Harvard, an MBA from the school remains the quintessential credential in business. No rival beats Harvard in the formidable resources it brings to the game: the outsized number of superstar professors, the diversity of its course offerings, the stellar quality of its students, the size and scope of its campus, and the career achievements of its alumni spread all over the world.

This year’s entering class at Harvard, moreover, is one of the most impressive ever. Drawing from an applicant pool that was up 3.9% last year to 9,315 hopefuls, Harvard welcomed just 941 incoming MBA students, with the highest percentage of women ever at 41% of the class. The median GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) score was a hefty 720, while the average undergraduate grade point average for the newest crop of MBA students was an impressive 3.67.


Yet, it’s worth noting that the underlying index scores in our composite ranking–which annually weighs the five most influential MBA rankings ranging from BusinessWeek to U.S. News & World Report–are especially close. The scores of No. 1 Harvard, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Chicago, and No. 4 University of Pennsylvania are fractions away from each other; a mere 0.35 separates No. 1 Harvard and its perennial West Coast rival No. 2 Stanford.

This is also the fourth time in a row that Chicago has ranked ahead of Wharton on the Poets&Quants list, giving slightly more credence to the view that it is no longer H/S/W at the top, but rather H/S/C. Wharton was the only Top 10 school that saw a decline in applications for the Class of 2015. It’s applicant pool shrunk by 5.8% this past year, while Chicago Booth reported the biggest percentage boost in applications of any Top 10 school–a healthy 9.9% that actually made Chicago slightly more selective than Wharton for the first time.

The immovable top eight differ in many ways—size, region, culture, and so on. But the schools do have one feature in common: They’re all private, pricey, highly prestigious institutions with powerful global brands.

This is business school, after all.


In a separate ranking of the best schools outside the U.S., London Business School again topped our list, followed by INSEAD. IMD took third place, moving up from fifth last year.  Two business schools based in Spain rounded out the top five, with the University of Navarra’s IESE Business School in Barcelona fourth, while IE Business School in Madrid was fifth (See Top 50 Non-U.S. MBA Programs of 2013).

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  • avivalasvegas

    Look at the US News rankings coming next week. You should find some of that magic there.

  • Bob Savino

    They should rank the elite MBA you can obtain from all these schools on Coursera for free. It would be ranked #1.

  • Cody, Mr. NCO

    Its not all about what you learn, its about the network you build, and the contacts you make.

  • Bob Savino

    Yes, $100,000 and 30% travel overhead for a network I can build on LinkedIn and at real work is really worth it! :)

  • Ferdea

    or take short executive course at the target school, thats direct and stronger connection to the students and alumni.

  • psk

    John & Sandy, When will you be updating your rankings to reflect the US News 2014 results?

  • Robert

    Hey money counts, at least when it comes to these phony rankings. I see a lot of schools that advertise in the Economist conveniently got Economist rankings. UC San Diego, really? Are they even accredited?

  • Robert

    People know which schools are good schools, but it’s impossible for someone to actually rank them without having attended every single one. Anytime someone pretends to be able to rank schools they immediately lose all credibility.

  • Peter Koeppel

    When will you be updating your rankings to reflect the US News 2014 results?

  • JohnAByrne

    Rather than update after each ranking, we wait until all the relevant rankings are released in a year and then update usually in early November. So we’ll wait until The Economist and BusinessWeek update their rankings this year.

  • Reader

    19 schools in your top 15? funny. And US News had H/S/W at the top… pretty good magic

  • Opp

    What happened to Claremont-Drucker?

  • Soumya Roy

    Hi Everyone,

    I have heard about Poets and Quants from an acquaintance. I needed some help as I am planning for MBA in Fall 2015. I have been working since May’13 and plan to do so till April’15. I have studied from National Institute of Technology Silchar, India. I have a GRE score of 323/340 (Quant – 170, Verbal – 153). Having studied a little about the B-Schools, I am really scared about my chances to get accepted in a good school. Can you please enlighten me with your thoughts Guys?


  • spindoc

    Stanford 1 lowest admission rate by far of any biz school.
    Harvard 2
    Wharton, Booth, Haas 3

  • Sam Iam

    Yes, and that is hilarious… the academic institutions are telling people that the content is secondary, it is about schmoozing. Think about a medical school that represented themselves that way. They would be a laughing stock.

  • WhartonLover

    Wharton>Harvard?Standford>Booth #letsbehonst

  • guest

    I mean, it is HS. Nobody picks W over H or S.

  • Zabbosko

    What’s your problem, you idiots? The top 25 are not displaying!!!!!

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