Big Winners & Losers In 2016 U.S. News MBA Ranking

NYU Stern School of Business - Ethan Baron photo

NYU Stern School of Business – Ethan Baron photo

There are business schools that gained more ground in U.S. News‘ 2016 ranking of the best full-time U.S. MBA programs than the Yale School of Management. And there are business schools that plunged far more than New York University’s Stern School of Business. But the biggest stories from this year’s U.S. News ranking is Yale’s climb to its higher rank ever at eighth place and Stern’s fall to 20th, its lowest rank ever.

The biggest gainer, up 20 places, was the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business, rising to a rank of 59th from 79th a year earlier. For Missouri, oddly, it’s something of a comeback because a year ago the school was among the largest double-digit decliners, plunging 21 positions.Coincidentally, the biggest loser, the University of Connecticut’s business school at Storrs, fell 20 spots to a rank of 68th from 48th.

But those larger changes among second-tier schools in the bottom half of the ranking are much more common. It’s more unusual for a first-tier school, such as Yale and NYU, to move up or down the ranking as much as they did. Yet, there are pretty clear reasons for the ups and downs.


For Yale, the climb can be attributed to Dean Edward ‘Ted’ Snyder and the leadership team he has put in place at the school. Yale SOM has been making a strong case for being a top ten school, having improved in several rankings since Snyder took over in 2011 as dean of the school—long an also-ran among the elite in business education. A new point of differentiation for the school, emphasizing global business and tighter integration with the overall university, along with a new modern bulding has led to a substantial increase in applications to its MBA program and has boosted both the incoming and outgoing stats used by U.S. News to crank out its annual ranking. Average GMATs have risen to 721 from 719 (higher than Berkeley Haas, Columbia, and Michigan Ross). Average undergraduate GPAs have also climbed from to 3.6 from 3.5 (equal to Northwestern Kellogg and Chicago Booth). Over the past year, applications have jumped more than 25%, to 3,449 from 2,756.

For NYU Stern, the reason behind the drop has to do with U.S. News‘ decision to penalize the school for failing to report critical data–the number of incoming students who had taken the GMAT and GRE exams–that is used in its ranking model. Stern later supplied the missing data, but the magazine said it was essentially too late. “U.S. News will not recalculate NYU’s rankings – or any other school’s rankings – because of non reporting,” said Robert Morse, chief data strategist for U.S. News.

Stern Dean Peter Henry, in an email to students, immediately took issue with the magazine’s decision. He called the resulting rank “anomalous and inconsistent” with the facts. “The failure to submit the data is ours,” he wrote. “That said, it was wholly unintentional, it’s a question we’ve always answered in the past, US News never flagged the missing information, and the missing data was virtually identical to last year’s. Going forward, we will further tighten the procedures for data submissions so such lapses do not recur” (see Why U.S. News Whacked NYU Stern).


But there were plenty of other winners and losers. Among the schools that will be celebrating today are North Carolina State, which gained 18 places to finish 57th; DePaul University which rose 16 places to 79 from 95th a year ago; Louisiana State University which went up 15 spots to rank 62nd, and Pepperdine University and Fordham University, both of which had been unranked last year but had to climb at least a dozen positions to get back in at a rank of 83rd.

And other schools on the short end of the stick? The University of Oregon fell off the list this year from a rank of 79 last year, imputing a decline of at least 15 places. UC-San Diego tumbled 14 spots to 77th. Auburn University and the University of Tulsa also disappeared from the new ranking, indicating falls of a minimum dozen places.

What causes a school to either go up or down in U.S. News’ ranking? The magazine uses seven core metrics in its methodology to rank full-time MBA programs, from surveys of deans and MBA directors and corporate recruiters to school-reported stats that include average GMAT and GPA scores, starting salaries and bonuses of the latest graduating class, as well as placement rates at graduation and three months later. Even slight changes in any of these metrics can cause a school to either fall or climb in the rankings.

Obviously, big drops are more often than not the result of falls in several metric categories, while sizable gains are often caused by improvement across the board. But because so many of the underlying index scores used to give a school its actual numerical rank are close, it’s possible that a significant drop or rise can result from meaningless changes in a key metric.

(See following pages for the big winners and losers in the U.S. News ranking)


  • C. Taylor


  • dr

    Ha. Oh man. What a buffoon. If only I had supped at your cup of knowledge oh wise possessor of secret datasets! You don’t have anything to offer anyone except unsubstantiated and incorrect opinions. You’re correct about one thing: there are many publicly available datasets about employment and salary, all of which disprove your claims – a fact you have hopefully discovered by now. The most amusing part is that you might be pompous enough to be oblivious to your own total inability to produce a single argument to support your claims.

  • C. Taylor

    There are several ways to skin a cat. Some qualitative, some quantitative. Publicly available data for many of them–which anyone can access.

    You have failed to seek understanding. Not interested, it seems. Last chance closed.

  • dr

    I thought you would at least search around and backtrack into some weak post-hoc cherry-picked set of stats, but a total failure to find even a whiff of evidence that could plausibly be your “handy” dataset is remarkable. Too funny. That really makes my day.

  • dr

    Are you honestly just admitting you have no position, no data, and no argument whatsoever?

  • C. Taylor

    What are ways one might evaluate career impact, just down the road for the programs you cherish?

    “you misidentify logical fallacies?”
    This one is called a lie–another fallacy. Assuming you understand what you reference.

  • dr

    The attribute I’m interested in evaluating is career impact, just down the road. I’d like to approach this from an objective quantitative basis.

    Want to see if you can scrounge anything up and pretend it’s what you’ve been referring to in order to save face? Or, are you going to go off on more bizarrely overweening tangents in which you misidentify logical fallacies?

  • C. Taylor

    The data I have is solid. Pay the price for what you want, or not. It is your choice. Given your limitations, it is best if we approach the matter from within the set of attributes you value. If you can’t arrive at understanding though this approach it is unlikely you currently possess the capacity in general. Last chance.

  • dr

    So you totally fabricated the existence of that data, huh?

  • C. Taylor

    You have; 1) demonstrated a lack of analytical ability, and 2) not discussed your preferred means to evaluate and compare the program attributes you value. Start by fixing these issues and we can see what options are made available. If you can’t manage this then there is no point in continuing. If you put effort in this then I am willing to help. I’m rooting for you.

  • dr

    I’ll have asked is that you point to the source that supports the claim you made – that Wisconsin has better “career impact” results than Indiana or Notre Dame. You have been unable to do so.

  • C. Taylor

    I have a very handy set of data on a topic you have no interest in. This is accurate.

  • dr

    So, back to the point, when you said Wisconsin led Notre Dame and Indiana on “career impact” you weren’t actually citing anything, and were offering an unsubstantiated opinion under the guise of statistics?

  • C. Taylor

    As is plain, I value fit and career impact, just down the road. If these aren’t things you value and you are not willing to discuss what you value, then we have nothing to discuss. You see, anything you don’t value is useless to you. It doesn’t matter what any numbers suggest–you simply don’t value them. And if you have zero ability to cordially discuss what you value, I don’t see you possessing the ability to cordially discuss what you don’t.

    A corollary might be that you care about the programs impact on the migration of birds. You could trot out all the numbers you desire–but I couldn’t give less of a hoot. I simply don’t care about business school’s impact on the migratory patterns of birds. But neither would I discount your interest in sorting programs according to this attribute.

    Career impact just down the road does not fall in the category of attributes you value. Get over it and on with your life.

  • dr

    You’re quite touchy, eh? I still don’t see a single number or any reference to any rankings. Where does Wisconsin lead Notre Dame or Indiana? How are you defining career impact? I don’t have any interest in discussing Wisconsin’s specialties with you. I merely disputed your representation of numbers – numbers you have yet to produce. So much bluster and so little substance.

  • C. Taylor

    C. Taylor wrote: “the tier is quite flat. Booth leads Kellogg by twice as much as tier-leading Wisconsin leads Ohio State and Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (similar percentage, though)”
    dr wrote:”I don’t know . . . if you are in fact citing real numbers.
    What you have written here is known as an ad hominem argument–assaulting a person’s integrity (veiled as a leading question). This is a logical fallacy.

    If you come in guns blazing, you need to bring ammo. You don’t have any. And why come in guns blazing if actually interested in the topic? It looks like you simply seek to discount my fact based assessment. You are failing miserably if that is your intent.

    dr wrote: “global rankings . . . can’t be ignored.
    Switching someone’s position to something other than stated and then attacking that false position is a straw man argument. This is also a logical fallacy. btw, you can’t both discount the credibility of something and use it as a basis for discounting the credibility of something else. That is not intelligent. It is plain stupid.

    dr wrote:”You’re inability to cite anything or clarify in anyway
    I have no such inability. Why are you in such a huff? Are you associated with one of Wisconsin’s peers?

    Now I will pretend you do share a genuine interest in the topic. I cordially invite you to join me in this endeavor.

    dr wrote: “I personally value industry, function, and other niche strengths . . . . You aren’t making an argument about Wisconsin’s accounting specialty
    Let’s start here. What do you use to evaluate and compare these program attributes you value? To help you out, there are two basic types of assessment; qualitative, and quantitative.

  • dr

    I don’t personally use global rankings to evaluate schools, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth debating. They are drivers of overall reputation and can’t be ignored. When someone makes suggestions about a school’s overall quality rather than a functional focus, like you have, it becomes necessary to look at statistical composites. You aren’t making an argument about Wisconsin’s accounting specialty, you’re making dubious, unsourced, claims about the school overall, so composite approaches become necessary.

    My assumption is that by career impact you mean stats that indicate before and after salary numbers. However, there are many ways to produce these numbers. What I don’t know is whether we’re working form the same definition or if you are in fact citing real numbers. You’re inability to cite anything or clarify in anyway suggests you’re not in fact working from any numbers, and perhaps don’t even have a working definition of the metric you’re utilizing.

  • C. Taylor

    dr wrote: “I personally value industry, function, and other niche strengths”

    This does not conflict with my post you first replied to.

    You have made conflicting statements.

    dr wrote: “[Wisconsin] lag[s] in general rankings, and this year’s gain looks more anomalous then anything else . . . [I] think global rankings are silly.”
    dr wrote: “I’m not sure precisely what metric you’re referring to with ‘career impact,’ . . . I see ‘career impact’ stats as some of the least informative”

  • dr

    I’m not sure precisely what metric you’re referring to with “career impact,” but Wisconsin isn’t consistently above any of those schools in employment rates at or 3 months after graduation or starting salaries. They lag in general rankings, and this year’s gain looks more anomalous then anything else.

    I personally value industry, function, and other niche strengths and think global rankings are silly. I see “career impact” stats as some of the least informative, as they tend to reward lower overall entry profiles, and don’t actually indicate that someone will see proportionally larger salary increases by attending schools with more “impact.”

  • 2cents

    Yea… I’m not going that far. Just pointing out how something so trivial tracks incredibly closely with ranking changes to the point where I would assume a bit of causation.

    I don’t blame the human element for appreciating design, but it leads to extreme misuse of funds taking away from things that could actually improve student outcomes(granted, a lot of the donations probably wouldn’t come in without naming rights).

  • madmaxx

    Ur an idiot

  • avivalasvegas

    While I agree on your points on M7 schools, I doubt Sally’s myopia is going to get cured by new construction. When the schools moves away from supplying risk averse drones to the consulting industry, then Kellogg will deserve its place alongside HBS and Stanford.

  • C. Taylor

    Different people value different things. I value career impact data just down the road. What data do you value?

    In terms of career impact, Wisconsin does edge out those programs–as well as Minnesota. Ohio State is in a lower peer group. However, the tier is quite flat. Booth leads Kellogg by twice as much as tier-leading Wisconsin leads Ohio State.

  • dr

    Wisconsin is a lovely school. However, it is definitely not better, or even on par, with Indiana or Notre Dame. It is debatably on par with Minnesota and Ohio State, and definitely not better. It is likely on par with Michigan State and Illinois.

  • MbaGirl

    I choose Yale over CBS, bc CBS is ranked lower and has garbage facilities. They place terribly. NYU Stern is comical. I would forgo an mba than go to that third rate school.

  • C. Taylor

    Wisconsin has a very nice program. Leads its tier. Wisconsin currently edges out peers such as Notre Dame, Indiana (Kelley), Georgia Tech, and Washington (Foster).

    I suggest; in this tier, geographic fit becomes very important. Look to a program with strong regional ties with employers you want to work for.

  • stopTrolling

    You made this point twice. Relax man, your columbia degree will be well respected even if it falls to 11

  • 2cents

    Kellogg’s new campus opens this year. Watch the rankings move because of it. When there’s such little differentiation at the top in these rankings, its the margins that appear to make the difference.

    Short answer is – if you want Yale’s specialties, sure I could see people selecting it over other schools. But in almost every circumstance an M7 provides a better launch point. It’s a one year blip.

  • bwanamia

    In a heartbeat.

  • Wisconsin has a highly innovative MBA curriculum and is a very solid business school. The six-point jump is certainly recognition of its recent progress and makes the school one of this year’s more significant gainers, for sure.

  • MBA2017

    Interesting thought, but my understanding is Stern missed 1 of 300 data points in its original submission and US News put in a plug for that data point. During subsequent reviews, US News didn’t flag it as missing because there was a plug in their data set. Sounds like a big screw up on both sides of the ball. Given that US News’s calculations are likely run out of an excel model, it would not have been a big deal to update the rankings when Stern provided accurate info Well in advance of the planned release date. I guess I just doubt Stern was trying to “hide” 1 of 300 data points as you suggest. Seems more like US News wanted to be controversial than anything else.

  • Sharkie

    No matter how much talent you have, if you can’t meet deadlines like everyone else in the real world, you’re not going to get rated as better than your peers.

  • Ankit Sharma

    Hi John, What about Wisconsin. Its pretty good 6 spot jump and I never heard anything about this school. Is there any particualre reason


    Ah, okay. Thanks for responding. I was confused by the chart on the “big changes” article. It said their jump was 10+, with this note: “* indicates the minimum number of places a school had to score to move onto this year’s ranking when its MBA program was unranked last year.”

  • Prof. Tyrone S Pitsis

    This is concerning that a body dealing in rankings would not question such a significant variation in ranking given the symbolic importance and effort and resources spent by school’s in these rankings game.

  • Really nice win for Howard. This year’s ranking only goes to 94 so the imputed gain would be at least 4 places–not enough for a call out. But still this is good news for the school.


    Hi John, shouldn’t Howard also be listed as one of the winners from the new rankings? Higher jump (at least 10 spots) than 6 of the 13 schools listed as a winner… admittedly, 91st isn’t a super high ranking, but still a win for a historically black college.

  • BhagitRaulty

    Love how this is definitely a CBS student who doesn’t want to admit his program is going down the tubes

  • Suckstobeyou

    Hahaha love these sour NYU grads. The funny part is 99.9% of employers/people don’t know the reason for sterns fall (nor do they care). Stern students can say these rankings are discredited but unfortunately no one agrees.

    Must suck to go to stern right now…not only is your school ranked below Emory, Cornell and tepper but also the realization your dean is incompetent. Lol

  • It’s always somewhat difficult to determine with great certainly why a school drops in the U.S. News ranking. That’s because there are multiple metrics and the list is dynamic, meaning that a school could improve but its nearby rivals could improve slightly more and so the school looks bad when it falls in a ranking.

    That said, let me give you the good news first. Marshall trimmed its acceptance rate this past year to 28.9% from 31.6%, thanks to another increase in applications to its MBA program. Apps went up to 1,780 from 1,648 a year earlier and 2014 saw an impressive 9.8% jump in the number of people wanting to get into the full-time MBA program.

    Average salary and bonus for the latest graduating class also went up nicely to $120,207, from $114,129, and the recruiter score received by Marshall went up to 3.6 from 3.4. I could not access last year’s score on the U.S. News peer survey.

    Now for the less than positive news. The incoming class GPA and GMAT fell. GPA went to 3.31 from 3.35. The GMAT dropped to 679 from 684. Those are surprising numbers given the increase in applications.

    Numbers on the employment side also fell. The percent of graduates who had jobs at graduation was 60.8% last year, down from 64.0% a year earlier. The percentage of grads who had jobs three months after commencement were 80.7%, down from 85.0%. Those are also surprising stats given the strength of the MBA job market.

    So I think the decline in GMATs, GPA, and employment numbers are the reasons why Marshall fell.

  • Mike Ar

    I would also like to know the reasoning behind the drop for Marshall.

  • Jon

    Reposting from another thread:

    With respect to NYU Stern’s 2017 ranking, If US News is willing to publish rankings which they themselves have admitted are incorrect, I think it signals a lack of quality, independence, and trustworthiness going forward. While it’s inexcusable for Stern to not properly submit data to an entity at represents a significant part of the school’s public perception, this does entirely call into question the validity of US News’s rankings.

    Regardless of a clerical error, It’s still a top program and either should be (1) entirely excluded with an explanation as to why or (2) the rankings should be corrected. As a current student, I have had a stellar academic experience under a strong school administration and alongslide a smart, passionate group of students. I have witnessed firsthand the school’s superior job placement and believe US News’ rankings completely and knowingly misrepresent the character and quality of the program.

  • I’ll look into that for you. U.S. News doesn’t make this easy because they hide all the previous data. But I have a way to get around this, I think. Let’s see.

  • MBA

    I think most agree. It discredits the rankings.

  • it would be nice to learn more about drop in ranking of Marshall school of business. It has dropped from 25th to 31st position. Is this because of recruitment figures of the school or some other factors contributed to it as well?

  • Jesse

    Yes, its BS. The statistics speak for themselves.

  • al

    Idk I think it is a little ridiculous to drop Stern that much because they, for whatever reason, did not report a piece of data timely. Like if HBS or Stanford did this would they drop them out of the top 10? I doubt it – it would make the rankings look ridiculous. They can get away with the Stern drop because nobody really cares about that school, outside of the student going there. I would be pissed off if I was them. Not quite fair. Hopefully it doesn’t have any long-term damage. Because 99 percent of people looking at rankings are not going to dig into methodology or reason behind Stern’s drop

  • Thanks for sharing Dean Peter Henry’s full email to the students. We have written a separate story on all this and you can find it here:

  • jesse

    That’s a pretty weak argument with no basis. Show some stats for your conclusion. How does NYU compare with the schools you posted in terms of ROI, GMAT scores, Salary….etc?

  • Fixranking

    Yale is tied for 8th*

  • Fixranking

    Yale is not tied for 8th, not 9th place. Please correct!

  • JamesD

    1) Harvard
    2) Stanford
    3) Booth / Wharton
    5) Kellogg / MIT
    7) Columbia
    8) Tuck
    9) Haas
    10) Yale
    11) Fuqua / Johnson / Darden / Ross
    15) UCLA

  • JamesD

    Stern is a pretty weak school. NYC has so many Stern grads from PT MBAers, EMBAers, and FT MBAers that it doesn’t hold much value. Not too mention the 200K debt from going there which is insane.

    MBA Rankings:
    1) Harvard
    2) Stanford
    3) Booth / Wharton
    5) Kellogg / MIT
    7) Columbia
    8) Tuck
    9) Haas
    10) Yale
    12) Fuqua / Johnson / Darden / Ross
    15) UCLA

  • Nick

    Dear Stern Community,

    US News and World Report published its rankings of full-time MBA programs today, and Stern dropped from 11 last year to 20 this year, we know why, and here’s why you shouldn’t accept it at face value.

    US News shared the rankings with us last week. We were surprised, looked at the data, and found that Stern’s scores were higher than a number of other schools with higher ranks (see here for example.) So we challenged their ranking of Stern.

    US News told us that Stern’s drop was largely attributable to a single missing data point – one missing answer (concerning how many students submitted GMAT scores) out of over 300 questions. In its absence, US News had substituted an “estimated” number (we do not know how this estimate was derived.)

    We promptly provided the correct information, but US News declined to adjust the rankings.

    The failure to submit the data is ours; that said, it was wholly unintentional, it’s a question we’ve always answered in the past, US News never flagged the missing information, and the missing data was virtually identical to last year’s. Going forward, we will further tighten the procedures for data submissions so such lapses do not recur.

    I thought it important to write you because it is not right to let this ranking stand without comment given that we know it is based on faulty information that we sought to correct before US News released its rankings publicly.

    In addition, for both prospective students and current members of our community, I would ask you to bear in mind: in the real world Stern’s outstanding quality is no different this week than it was last week.