Among the top 25 business schools, the most significant ranking improvements were scored by Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business, which jumped five places, to finish in a tie for 25th place with the University of Washington’s Foster School. Notre Dame University’s Mendoza School also rose four places to climb into the top 25 by placing 23rd from 27th a year ago. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, which decreased its incoming class size by 47 students to 455 so it could improve its admission stats, gained three places to earn a two-way tie with the University of Virginia’s Darden School at 11th.
Ross, for example, was able to bring its acceptance rate down to 33.7%, from an unusually high 40.6% a year earlier. The school’s admit rate ballooned as a result of a decision to end co-signer loans for international students in the middle of its admissions cycle. Ross expected the decision to cause a greater number of international admits to turn down their acceptances so it accepted a greater percentage of prospective students to offset a decline in yield—the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll at a school. Ross also managed a slight one point increase in its average GMAT score to 704.
For every school that went up in the rankings, there was at least another that lost ground. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business slipped three places to finish 14th, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management dropped two places to a rank of sixth, and UCLA’s Anderson School also declined two spots to place 16th (see Winners & Losers In The 2014 U.S. News MBA Ranking).
Just how tightly clustered many schools are can be seen by the number of MBA programs that are tied with others for the same rank. In the Top 50, some 32 out of the 50 schools have the exact same rank of at least one other school. A half dozen schools are tied for 27th place: Arizona State, Brigham Young, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Southern California, and Wisconsin. Even worse, eight different schools are tied for a rank of 65th.
HOW U.S. NEWS RANKS FULL-TIME MBA PROGRAMS
As is typical of most rankings, the biggest tumbles and gains occur further down the list where very slim and often statistically meaningless separations among the schools exist. The University of Minnesota’s Carlson School plunged 10 places to a rank of 33, even though its underlying index score fell by only a single point to 68 from 69 a year ago. The business school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagn jumped 12 places to finish 35th from 47th in 2013, while Temple University’s Fox School in Philadelphia climbed ten spots to rank 48.
Like all rankings of business schools, the U.S. News list often engenders much controversy and debate. But it is among the most influential and most followed of several prominent rankings. The magazine only ranks U.S.-based schools, unlike BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, or The Economist which publish global rankings, either combined or separate. (One other note: As a marketing ploy, U.S. News claims this is a 2015 ranking to give it greater shelf life. It is based on 2013 data and released in 2014 which is why we label it a 2014 ranking.)
U.S. News’ methodology takes into account a wealth of proprietary and school-supplied data to crank out its annual ranking of the best business schools. The magazine does its own survey of B-school deans and MBA directors (25% of the score). This year, U.S. News said about 42% of those surveyed responded, but it did not reveal how many deans were actually surveyed or how many replied. It also does its own survey of corporate recruiters (accounting for 15% of the overall ranking and for which 18% of those surveyed responded), starting salaries and bonuses (14%), employment rates at and three months after graduation (7% to 14%, respectively), student GMATs and GREs scores (about 16%), undergrad GPAs (about 8%), and the percentage of applicants who are accepted to a school (a little over 1%). This is the second year U.S. News included GRE scores in its ranking methodology.
This year U.S. News assigned numerical ranks to 104 schools, ending the list with No. 104 North Arizona University’s Franke College of Business in Flagstaff.
(See following pages for complete ranking and year-over-year changes)