Harvard Business School Tops Bloomberg Businessweek 2015 Ranking

Bloomberg Businessweek has a new MBA ranking with yet another revamped methodology

Bloomberg Businessweek has a new MBA ranking with yet another revamped methodology

For the first time since Businessweek started rating MBA programs in 1988, the Harvard Business School jumped into the No. 1 position of its influential ranking published today (Oct. 20). Oddly, Harvard switched places with Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business which ranked first last year. HBS rose seven spots, while Fuqua slid seven places this year to create that quirky reversal.

The 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking features a new methodology that diminishes the influence of the magazine’s long-standing surveys to the latest graduating class and adds the viewpoints of alumni from three separate classes: 2007, 2008, and 2009. Businessweek also added two key components of U.S. News’ ranking: starting salary and employment, though it used year-old data for this portion of the survey. In common with last year’s ranking, this list also excludes any measurement of the intellectual capital of a school’s faculty. All told, however, Businessweek says that it gathered data from more than 13,150 current students, 18,540 alumni, and 1,460 recruiters across 177 B-school programs. “The result is our deepest and broadest set of data ever,” according to the publication.

Changes in methodology, of course, also result in vast swings in rankings that have nothing to do with the quality of an MBA program’s experience. Among the Top 25 schools, no school has the same rank it did last year on Businessweek‘s list. Six of the Top 25 schools had either double-digit increases or declines, with Texas A&M jumping 22 places in a single year to a rank of 20 and the University of Washington’s Foster School soaring 17 spots to rank 17th. Even among the truly elite MBA programs, there were double-digit changes which tend to be rare and hardly credible. Berkeley and MIT both gained 10 places this year to rank ninth and fourth, respectively. The University of Maryland’s Smith School plummeted 16 places to a rank of 33rd, and Indiana University’s Kelley School fell a dozen ranks to 28th, an especially unusual showing for a perennial Top 20 MBA program.


The further down one goes on the list, the more peculiar the results. NYU’s Stern School of Business, ranked 24th this year, is below Rice, Texas A&M, and Georgia Tech. Even worse, North Carolina State is now ranked 29th best in the U.S., above such highly admired and respected MBA programs as those at Washington University (35), Vanderbilt (34), Southern Methodist University (32), and Notre Dame (31), Ohio State (39), and Minnesota Carlson (45), among others. Only last year, Businessweek claimed that NC State was 54th. In 12 months, the school jumped a head-scratching 25 places. That’s good news for NC State, but not very good news to shore up Businessweek‘s status as an authoritative source for business school rankings data.

The oddities don’t stop there, however. Ten business schools fell off of this year’s list entirely, including Boston College, UC-Davis, Tulane, the University of Arizona, and the University of South Carolina’s Moore School. Yet, somehow Howard University and Hult International found its way on the 2015 Businessweek list, respectively at 50 and 62. That puts Howard, rarely if ever ranked by anyone as having a top business school, above Purdue, UC-Irvine, Babson, Iowa, and Illinois. The ranking also essentially claims that Hult has a better MBA program than UC-San Diego, Syracuse, or for that matter, any of the schools that fell off the ranking. Bottom line: Of the 65 schools that remained on the list, slightly more than a third of them, 23 to be exact, experienced double-digit gains or falls in a single year, a widely volatile result.

Still, the new methodology generally produced a list that looks somewhat more credible than last year’s ranking which severely damaged the standing of the Businessweek ranking. That list had Duke at the top, the one and only time Fuqua was ranked first in any business school ranking–not that this list won’t raise a good deal of controversy. After all, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, the most selective school in the nation in the hottest sector of the global economy, is rated a lowly seventh and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, long considered solidly on anyone’s Top 10 list, fails to make the Top 10 again at a rank of 14th.


This is especially true because based on the underlying index numbers in the ranking, Stanford strangely appears to be in a second tier of sorts, scoring 95 points, while every school ahead of it is above that level. Rounding out this year’s top five are No. 2 University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (with an index number of 98.47), Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (98.24), No. 4 MIT’s Sloan School of Management (96.05), and No. 5 University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (95.92).

The magazine put numerical ranks on the full-time MBA programs at 72 U.S. business schools, ranging from Harvard to No. 72 Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School, and 29 non-U.S. schools, topped by No. 1 Western University’s Ivey School to No. 29 HEC Montreal. Ivey was a repeat No. 1 winner, followed by London Business School, INSEAD, IE Business School, and IMD in the top five for international MBA programs (See Canada’s Ivey Tops International Schools in Bloomberg Businessweek Ranking).Β Businessweek also ranked 79 part-time MBA programs, a list that brought Northwestern’s Kellogg School to the No. 1 position.

While schools jumped up and down and all around on the list, perhaps the biggest news is the change in methodology. The system creates some unusual issues. Though Harvard finished first, for example, it is rated 35th in employment well behind such schools as the University of Washington, Texas A&M, and the University of Pittsburgh. That’s because HBS grads are so confident of their job prospects that they tend to be more choosy about accepting jobs. That phenomenon is common at many of the elite schools, including several in California, where the economy has been especially strong. Stanford ranks 21st on this measure; UC-Berkeley’s Haas School is 49th, while UCLA’s Anderson School is 40th. Yet in the new methodology that comes off as a negative.

  • MG

    Yep…so that’s that.

  • Steve

    Wasn’t Missouri busted for gaming a ranking before ? Hult students are pretty much told to blow grandly forever re. rankings, I mean Hult came out of the ashes of bankruptcy ten years ago, faculty light and promotion heavy.

  • Randall K

    How did Missouri (which was busted for gaming a ranking before), Mississippi, Kentucky, Chapman (never heard of them), Cincinnati, Willamette , HULT (the ultimate gamer of a program ! ), UC San Diego (small market school ), Buffalo (small market-range) EVER GET RANKED ????? These programs delegitimize and give this ranking a VERY suspicious odour !!

  • jackofalltrades

    I don’t know why Stern always ranks very poorly in BusinessWeek polls, which is quite a disconnect from reality and other rankings. Clearly, the metrics and criteria would be different for each ranking, but there are a lot of commonalities with the major factors such as GMAT, salary, employer, etc. I have to believe that US News provides the most prudent, though imperfect, ranking among all of the big players.

  • Guest

    Goldman already recruits here. You’re welcome.

  • Laku Chidambaram

    Thank you John.

  • Farrell Hehn


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  • raddddd

    What does Bloomberg have against NYU? Sounds like something is up here.

    If the value of an MBA is calculated by its impact on your career, how can you take this ranking seriously? They put NYU at 24 behind Texas A&M. NYU will put double digits into MBB, with the rest falling in Monitor Deloitte, Strategy&, OW, LEK, etc. How many kids from Texas A&M will hit these top tier consulting firms? What about top investment banks? Not to mention, NYU has put more kids into private equity than most of the M7, per an article by P&Q. NYU has better job placement than all of the 20s ranked schools combined.

    Maybe I’m not getting something here, but this is ridiculous. An interesting graphic would be mapping the immense volatility in their ranking. Duke at #1 last year? Stanford at #8 this year? Give me a break.

  • StanfordOrBooth

    BW should get its 35% back

  • pft

    Endowment Ranking

    H(2.9) > S (1.3) > B (1.1)> K (0.7) = M (0.7) = W (0.7) >C (0.6)

    This is why HS&B come up as number 1 in many rankings while C is the laggard of the M7 and that MK&W can never seem to be #1 in any ranking however weird the ranking is… they are just always below number 1 at best.

    If you factor in student population, M&S kinda looks better but even then, they still belong to their subgroup within the M7. K&H in comparison look bad in comparison to their subgroup. W gets demoted to C’s tier. C is just bad with or without factoring class size. B remains the same as the 3rd rank in its sub group.

    Per capita

  • MIT Rules

    More like
    A+: Harvard, Booth, Wharton
    A: Kellogg, MIT
    A-: Columbia, Berkeley, Tuck
    B+: Darden, DukeFuckua, Cornell
    B: NYU, Yale, Michigan, UCLA, UNC, Tepper, Emory, Texas, Olin

    Stanford gets an F or a D for the F@cking Dean

  • StanfordOrBooth

    Trump doesnt like California, so he would put Stanford and Berkeley at the very very bottom. Stanford higher than Berkeley of course, since he likes whoremongers

    He would put W first, because he is biased
    Then the NYC schools.

    He also loves Chicago and the Midwest but not as much as NYC, Vegas and Atlantic City

    He also hates Massachusetts but like it better than California

    So here is Trump’s list

    #1 Wharton
    #2 Columbia
    #3 NYU
    #4 Booth
    #5 Kellogg
    #6 Tuck
    #7 Harvard
    #8 MIT
    #9 Stanford
    #10 Berkeley

  • nope

    Only USN thinks MIT is top tier. I would put it at par with Berkeley, and not in the Top5 aka “The Backwash” (BKWSH) πŸ˜‰ Lol

  • Wharton Sucks

    The survey speaks for itself, among its peer M7 schools, Wharton students think their school sucks the most.

  • Get Schwifty

    In other words, we are correct in assuming we should never trust a ranking system that made Duke Fuqua (Duqua?) #1.

  • C. Taylor

    Endowments are useful.

  • C. Taylor


  • MG

    I don’t know. Serial correlation tends to be pretty high with John, though. The stability in his approach is what makes the P&Q rankings appealing.

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for finding that error. Fixed now.

  • Laku Chidambaram

    John … Price FT MBA was ranked # 80 last year, and is now ranked # 52 … so, a +28 jump … your table shows Price MBA was unranked last year. Would appreciate a correction.

  • 2cents

    Would just seem certain schools seem more comfortable being honest rather than pandering to rankings. Also what John Said.

  • JohnAByrne

    You are actually raising a really good point. The reason why Harvard and Wharton rank lower on student satisfaction than you would expect occurs due to three primary reasons:

    1) The differences in student satisfaction are so slight that they are not statistically significant. Let me give you an example. A few years ago when Businessweek would selectively disclose scores on student surveys, the gap between the top and bottom schools was shockingly small given the black-and-white nature of an actual numerical rank. For example, when students were asked: “How would you judge the school’s alumni network and connections that can help you throughout your career?,” the school with the highest mark was Harvard with a 9.9 on a scale of 10 to one, with 10 being “outstanding” and one being “poor.” Wharton was third with a 9.0. Most of the scores for the better schools, however, were all in the 8.0 to 9.0 range. In other words, there was very little variation on this question or most other questions among the top-tier schools.

    2) If anything, the actual scores today are closer together than ever because students want to promote their schools. It’s their brand, too, and they want to see it do well in a ranking. You’ll still get a reading on what schools are doing certain things better or whether there was a real blowup at a school, but it’s harder to find.

    3) I suspect that in general–though not all cases–students at the schools with the best brands are more confident in the degree they are getting. If you go to an M7 school, you are pretty confident you are going to the best so you are less likely to fill the survey out as a cheerleader.

    My two cents.

  • JohnAByrne

    I think that’s in tune with the general cutback of this coverage at Bloomberg Businessweek. As you may know, the new owners stopped ranking executive MBA and executive education programs; they suspended for a year the undergraduate business ranking, and the amount of coverage of business schools on a weekly basis is probably 10% of what it once was.

  • Daniel Murphy

    as someone who goes to stern, these rankings make no sense. Every company and their mother comes to Stern and you seriously think that Goldman or bain or Pepsi are going to recruit at Texas AM? Give me a break.

  • avivalasvegas

    The guy has a point perhaps?

  • nope

    How do you know that he is not going to change the weighting again? Its preposterous that BW is weighted 15% and Forbes is weighted 25%.

  • Wharton Sucks

    It is true, look at the details of the M7. Current students rank Wharton at #27. The second lowest is Harvard at #19.

    Current Students at Wharton hate their school more than their peers from other schools hate their own.

  • MakeAmericaGreatAgain

    What would Trump say?

    #1 Wharton
    #2 Harvard
    #3 Stanford
    #4 Columbia
    #5 MIT
    #6#7 Booth/Kellogg
    #8 Tuck
    #9 Berkeley
    #10 NYU

  • Greek4Lyfe

    Douchebag is a relative term, don’t you think? I’ve found that the only people who refer to others as “douchebags” have somewhat of a social complex themselves. Besides, I have credibility with the topic because I happen to be one!

  • Bryguy

    I’m taking a two week course in Palo Alto right now, and I can’t wait to get back to NYC! Holy heck!

  • JohnAByrne

    Couldn’t agree more! Thanks for weighing in.

  • hangtime79

    I would agree with your thoughts John. One of things that isn’t discussed enough is the absolute increase in quality of programs across the board. Finding a quality MBA program that will help in career advancement has gotten a lot easier even if the competition to get into Top Tier programs has stiffened significantly. There is a reason, the desire for Sandy’s services and other admission consultants has grown exponentially. I just remember hanging out on the Business Week B-Forums a decade ago and reading his critiques.

    The other key influence has been the consumption of MBA talent. While consulting and I-banks are still the dominant consumers of MBA talent, you see so many more organizations today stepping into the pool, start-ups, early-stage companies, not-for-profits, big multi-nationals and small regional firms are all recruiting MBAs. One of things I think is most interesting is how people continue to throw mud on the degree when in fact demand for it from industry has never been stronger.

    There is a term thrown around in college football called t-shirt fans. If you think you need a Top 7, 10, 20, etc. MBA in order to be successful than you should straighten up your priorities. That does not mean, however, you are going to have success going to a school and getting a job at McKinsey if you end up at a school in the 40s range. McKinsey goes to top schools and if you want to work for McKinsey – you should be gunning for those programs. Your chances of landing at McKinsey if you are not at one of those top schools while possible but highly doubtful.

    This gets back to my last statement. Go to a school that recruits where you want to go work after your MBA. For example, Indiana is a great school for marketing. I have a number of friends from my class (2007) that are now brand managers, brand directors, strategy managers, etc. all over CPG, manufacturing, and retail. Anyone who would want to go into marketing would be well served there especially if your desired location has you ending up in the Midwest. That said, if you are looking to be on the West Coast in media and entertainment – would advise a change in search patter. Schools tend to say your degree can take you anywhere, but really only a select few schools can give you entry into any location within any discipline.

    So in conclusion:
    Overall MBA program quality is the highest its been as more schools have stepped into this area and are putting pressure on everyone else to up their game.

    The competition for spots at the top programs has never been higher. I do not envy those who are trying to get in a program today.

    School seekers should be spending more time looking who recruits their target schools and plan accordingly. That said, if your desire is to not be in I-Banking, Consulting, or one of the specialty disciplines such as VC or Private Equity don’t be afraid to broaden your school search and ultimately find the best fit for you.

    One final note:
    While the B-Week study was all over the map, I do give them credit for trying to standardize across regions and industries when it comes to pay scale. A starting salary of $125K in NYC or San Francisco is heckuva a lot less than $95K in Chicago. Ultimately, this is a quality of life metric and if we can add discipline: finance, marketing, etc – it would make it even better as we could more easily baseline the premium that is being paid based on the school.

  • JohnAByrne

    Those are very valuable insights and I thank you for making them. While brand is very important and all the data pretty much proves it, you have to go where you will be happy and everyone certainly does not need to go to an M7 school. In fact, some of the absolute best MBA experiences are in under-the-radar places with relatively small annual intakes of students, such as Minnesota’s Carlson School, Ohio State’s Fischer School, USC’s Marshall School, Washington University’s Olin School. I’ll single out these programs in particular because in the past few weeks I’ve had the distinct pleasure of spending time on each of those campuses, interviewing students, faculty, and deans and have been blown away by the attention to detail, the innovation and quality of the programs, and the passion and smarts of the students.

  • JohnAByrne

    My sense is that is not true at all. At every school, you’re going to find a few people who probably are there for the wrong reasons or who just don’t fit the culture of the place. But one thing I’ve found over all these years is that the satisfaction levels with top MBA programs–and I mean those generally ranked in the top 100 in the world– is exceptionally high across the board.

  • Anon

    MIT in the same tier as Duke and mich? That’s funny.

  • gad

    where to put cornell? ist tech or finance?

  • Chill

    Finance: B/C/W/H
    Tech: S/M/Haas
    Marketing: K
    Consulting: M7+Haas/Tuck – K/H have edge

    Grouping by rankings for the top .01% is pointless except for those that are insecure/elitist

  • Chill

    I enjoy how people make up their own ranking tiers in discussions…FYI these arbitrary groupings don’t mean anything, just find where the recruiters for companies you want to work for target and focus there or a program’s strengths in your interests. Pretty obvious where to target if you want any of the main fields: Finance/Tech/Consulting/Marketing

  • MG

    Not the P&Q ranking. Its weights are 25% Forbes, 10% Economist, 15% Business Week, 35% US News, and 15% Financial Times. To what were you referring?

  • guest

    Come on, this site deserves a better class of troll. Weak effort: C-

  • K

    Not false at all. I know multiple MBAs that disliked their experience at Wharton, not because of the school itself but because of the huge amount of douchbags it attracts.

  • dergo

    “and others” .. can you please complete the list..because the fight is on naming these others.. can you name 6 or 7 more πŸ˜‰

  • hangtime79

    Full Disclosure: I’m a graduate of Indiana, but have been out for 8 years so rankings are more of novelty to me at this point then something I’m directly impacted by.

    The time has come for the numbers game to be jettisoned and move to a tier-like structure.

    The swings due to methodology don’t help with how the quality of an institution is growing our fading over time.

    Your Booths, Whartons, Stanford GSBs, Harvards, Northwesterns and others all are top programs and rating 1 to n is more of an ego trip. They are all fantastic schools and they will open up the doors for you, wherever and whenever immediately after you get your MBA.

    Next tier: your MITs, Dukes, Michigans and others. National name brands.

    Next Tier: Your region-specific or discipline-specific powerhouses – Your Indianas, Texass, Rices, Emorys, Teppers, and others. Programs that are extremely strong in a particular region of the country and/or particular strength(s) in discipline(s).

    The one thing I tell everyone who wants to get their MBA. Go to a place that fits you and the companies where you want to work post-MBA recruit. If you go some place that is not a fit, you will have a horrible time and if you go some place that doesn’t recruit well to your post-MBA role you are going to settle after school and be unhappy. Follow those two pieces of advice and you are set.

    Of course, this sort of thought process doesn’t generate sales or clicks so its not nearly as exciting as the horse race.

  • 2cents

    Why? it’s almost just as expensive to live in Palo Alto. If you like New York, it’s the perfect opportunity to network and gain experience in the city. If you like SF, same story goes for Stanford and Berkeley. To each their own.

  • MBAGrad2015

    Because then the rankings would actually be based on something!

  • RMH

    Columbia is basically the same cost of all of it’s peer schools. Your quality of life ends up being a little lower (as far as what you can rent/etc) but it’s a trade off with being in a bigger and more vibrant city. But in terms of Cost/Benefit of the degree you can’t really argue that Columbia is any different than a Booth/Kellogg/MIT. Obviously that calculation may change depending on your specific career goal or scholarships, but holding all things equal it’s in no way any more insane then leaving your career to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars anywhere else.

  • drea

    its insane to live and study in NYC with current fees of NYU and Columbia.

  • Orange 1

    With the cost of NYU so high, how in the world do they justify the tuition in light of such a terrible ranking?

  • george

    There is one common thing for M7 schools, each school has an endowment that exceeds 500m, all M7 schools are in major metropolitan areas. Very difficult to compete with them, unless someone gives Rice or Texas 500m, Emory or Berkeley, 500m,…etc..

  • deferan

    looks like good grouping.

  • Sali

    why there are no details in Bloomberg Ranking this year? details such as jobs, salaries, admissions, ..etc. There is no profiles for schools!

  • 2cents

    These rankings are a little bit ridiculous… but so is trying to group
    schools like this. These aren’t BCS rankings. The M7 actually exists as an entity that essentially colludes to keep the spoils at the top.
    Anything else is just opinio

  • Berkeley

    Absolutely false. The recent/current Wharton students would tell you that the school is amongst the very top in the “student life” category, if not a clear #1

  • Nope

    You were wrong. It is Harvard, Booth, Kellogg, MIT, Wharton, Columbia, Stanford

  • Booth Sucks

    And Booth is loved by Employers who end up showering them with jobs jobs jobs everywhere… and salaries that are not to be sneezed at either

  • Wharton Sucks

    One thing is for sure. Wharton students absolutely HATE their school. I think that is the most important metric of all. It means that Wharton does not deliver what it promises

  • HBSGSBSucks

    I like this ranking. It puts Stanford in its rightful place as the laggard in the M7. Flame on!!!

    Employer survey rank (35%)
    Alumni survey rank (30%)
    Student survey rank (15%)
    Salary rank (10%)
    Job placement rank (10%)
    Ranking index score

    1Harvard42192351002Chicago (Booth)129106198.473Northwestern (Kellogg)211653498.244MIT (Sloan)5151831696.055Pennsylvania (Wharton)614274795.926Columbia 3191692595.617Stanford1411412194.66


    For the first time, HBS is #1. And the M7 are all in their well-deserved placement πŸ™‚

  • DiggaALittleDeeper

    While everybody has their own personal preference for choosing a school, I like your idea grouping. However, I would group the US schools slightly differently.

    Grp 1: Harvard, Stanford

    Grp 2: Wharton, Booth

    Grp 3: Sloan, Kellogg, Tuck, Columbia, Berkley

    Grp 4: Darden, Ross, Fuqua, Yale

    Grp 5: UCLA, Cornell, NYU

    With the caveat that the difference between Grp2 and 3 is negligible.


    How is the Forbes ranking less viable than the US News ranking? Isn’t it actually more data-driven and less bias?

  • TB12

    Not sure how you came up with the Group 1 and Group 2, but INSEAD and LBS are in a league of their own at the top, with INSEAD getting the top spot based on this year’s cumulative rankings (Economist, Bloomberg, Forbes, etc.). After that I’d put IMD, IE, HEC Paris, HKUST and IESE in Group 2. The rest you mentioned would be a Group 3…not sure why you think Cambridge and Oxford deserve a high ranking – is it just name value?

  • MG

    Updated P&Q ranking (once John releases it):
    Harvard Business School
    Stanford Graduate School of Business
    The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
    The Wharton School
    Kellogg School of Management
    Columbia Business School
    MIT – Sloan School of Management
    Berkeley – Haas School of Business
    Dartmouth – Tuck School of Business
    Yale School of Management
    Duke – Fuqua School of Business

  • Charles

    regardless of rankings, here is a solid group of business schools:
    Group 1: Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia, MIT
    Group 2: Tuck, Berkeley, Duke, Darden, Michigan, Cornell, UCLA, Yale, NYU

    Group 3: UNC, Tepper, Emory, Texas, Washington’s Olin

    For International Schools:

    Group 1: London, Cambridge, Oxford, IMD
    Group 2: INSEAD, IESE, IE, Warwick, SDA Bocconi, St Gallen, ESADE, HKUST, NUS, IIM

    If want to combine internationals with US, you should start with group 2 or 3 of the US schools, as the Group 1 has no international equivalent.

  • Dan

    With Businessweek’s rapidly changing methodology and wild swings, the only remaining value in the ranking seems to be as a short-lived marketing piece for the current year’s beneficiaries.

  • MBA

    Top 10 is somewhat more credible now even with Duke at a much more believable #8. Top 25 is still unbelievably dumb. Stern at #24 behind Texas A&M?? Lol..maybe in football!

    This just proves how accurate the US News list is. John you need to give US news 100% weight in the P&Q rankings because the other ranking systems are just junk.

    Also 99.8% employment rate at a school with 100 ft grads who are complacent with accounting jobs in middle america is not the same as a 90% rate for 500 grads looking for elite top-tier gigs. Apples and oranges.