U.S. News’ 2015 Ranking Of The Best MBA Programs

Stanford MBA students in a class discussion

Stanford MBA students in a class discussion

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business broke last year’s three-way tie as the nation’s best MBA program to become the undisputed winner in U.S. News & World Report‘s latest business school ranking. Harvard Business School slipped to second place, while the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School slid two places to third.

Wharton lost its tie for first due to slightly lower peer assessment and corporate recruiter survey scores. U.S. News surveys deans and MBA directors as well as employers and Wharton, which had tied its two rivals last time on these measures, was just a tad below Stanford and Harvard this year (see table on following page). Wharton also reported a higher acceptance rate of 20.7%, up from 18.7% a year earlier, another metric used by U.S. News to rank schools.

In a rankings race based on seven core measurements, slight differences can and often do make a world of difference. Consider average pay for an MBA graduate. When Wharton tied for first last year, it reported the highest average salary and bonus of any school: $141,243 vs. Harvard’s $138,346 and Stanford’s $137,525. This time, Wharton was fourth in pay, with $142,574, behind Harvard at $144,750, MIT at $142,936, and Stanford at $142,834. In fact, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business nearly matched Wharton on average salary and bonus, hitting $142,489–just $85 under Wharton (see below stats).


For Stanford, it is the first time since 2011 that its MBA program has stood alone atop the U.S. News list. It had been in a tie with Harvard in 2012, 2013, and 2014. This time, however, Stanford gained an edge over Harvard by reporting higher average GPA and GMAT scores of 3.74 and 732, respectively, the lowest acceptance rate of any U.S. MBA program at 7.1% versus Harvard’s 11.0%, and a higher percentage of employed graduates three months after commencement, 92.1% versus 89.4% at HBS.

Among the top 25 schools, there were mostly slight, relatively inconsequential changes in rank. Washington University’s Olin School of Business advanced three spots, most of any Top 25 MBA program, to No. 19, while the University of Washington and the University of Southern California both rose two places to 23 and 25, respectively.

Besides Wharton, three other Top 25 schools slipped two spots: The University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business to 17th, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business to 20th, and Notre Dame’s Mendoza School to 25th. Among the top schools that climbed the most this year were the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School which increased six places to a rank of 27th.

The Top Ten Business Schools On Core Metrics

School GMAT GPA Accept Rate Pay Jobs at Grad Jobs Later
  1. Stanford 732 3.74 7.1% $142,834 73.6% 91.1%
  2. Harvard 726 3.67 11.0% $144,750 76.9% 89.4%
  3. Wharton 728 3.60 20.7% $142,574 84.3% 95.6%
  4. Booth 724 3.60 23.5% $137,615 87.4% 97.2%
  5. MIT 713 3.58 13.8% $142,936 79.6% 92.8%
  6. Kellogg 713 3.60 23.2% $136,357 80.7% 88.6%
  7. Haas 717 3.62 13.2% $140,935 72.9% 86.7%
  8. Columbia 716 3.50 18.2% $139,006 75.7% 91.1%
  9. Tuck 716 3.54 22.1% $142,489 83.8% 93.8%
10. Darden 706 3.50 26.0% $136,474 86.8% 93.4%

Source: Schools reporting to U.S. News & World Report