Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Enlisted Undergrad
GRE 315, GPA 3.75
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Cambridge Judge Business School | Mr. Social Scientist
GRE 330, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
INSEAD | Mr. Consulting Fin
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. NYC Native
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Tepper | Mr. Leadership Developement
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Ms. Athlete Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Education Consulting
GRE 326, GPA 3.58
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Unrealistic Ambitions
GMAT 710, GPA 2.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0

2012 U.S. News Ranking of the Best B-Schools

After winning sole possession of first place in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best business schools last year, Stanford managed a tie for first with arch rival Harvard Business School today (April 13).

By tying Stanford, Harvard regained the No. 1 ranking after dropping to second last year. Before that, Harvard had led or tied for first for eight straight years. It was Stanford’s third consecutive win or tie for first.

The University of Pennsylvania broke through its tie last year with MIT Sloan to take third in the annual ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S. Three schools—MIT, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and Chicago Booth—were in a dead tie for fourth place.

As reported by Poets&Quants last week, New York University’s Stern School fell out of the U.S. News top ten, winning an 11th place finish. The top ten were rounded out by No. 7 UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, No. 8 Columbia Business School, No. 9 Dartmouth College’s Tuck School, and No. 10 Yale’s School of Management.


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. This year, U.S. News said it surveyed all 441 master’s programs in business accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Some 393 responded, with 136 respondents providing enough data needed by the magazine to calculate full-time M.B.A. rankings. U.S. News ultimately ranked 102 business schools this year, down from the 111 it gave numerical rankings to last year. At the bottom in a tie for a ranking of 101 were the business schools at Rollins College in Florida and Santa Clara University in California.

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 2013 ranking to give it greater shelf life. It is based on 2011 data and released in 2012 which is why we label it a 2012 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 44% of those surveyed responded.  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 (about 16%), undergrad GPAs (about 8%), and the percentage of applicants who are accepted to a school (a little over 1%).


The most impressive gain in this year’s U.S. News’ Top 25 was achieved by Emory’s Goizueta School which rose four spots to finish 19th from a rank of 23rd last year. Emory’s advance was largely due to vastly improved placement stats: the average salary reported by a graduating MBA last year jumped to $121,050, from $100,300 in 2010, while 78.9% of the school’s graduates had jobs at commencement, up from 57.2% a year earlier. Emory told U.S. News that 94% of its Class of 2011 had jobs three months after graduation, up from 87.3%.

The University of Minnesota’s Carlson School, on the other hand, suffered the largest fall of any Top 25 school, dropping nine places to a rank of 30th this year from a 21st place finish in 2011. Carlson lost ground in U.S. News’ survey of recruiters, scoring a 3.1 on a five-point scale, down from 3.5 a year earlier. Its latest acceptance rate ballooned to 40.9%, up from 30.3% in 2011. Both the grade point average and GMAT scores fell for the latest entering MBA class: average GPA fell to 3.2 from 3.5, while its average GMAT score dropped eight points to 686 from 694 in a single year.


Typical of most rankings, the further down on the list you go, the more dramatic the year-over-year changes tend to be, largely because there is often little, if any, statistical significance to many of the numerical ranks assigned to schools by ranking organizations. In the next group of 25 schools, for example, Notre Dame’s Mendoza School was the biggest winner, gaining a dozen places to finish 25th this year, up from 37 a year ago. It was the largest jump in the rankings of any top 50 school.

The improvement could be attributed to Mendoza scoring better on U.S. News’ peer assessment survey, a 3.5 this year versus a 3.2 last, higher average GMATs, 692 for the latest entering class compared against 685 in the previous year, and much better placement numbers. The average salary for a member of Mendoza’s Class of 2011 was $104,763, up from $96,490. Some 68.6% of the class had jobs by graduation, up from 48.2% a year earlier, while 86.9% of the class was employed three months after commencement, up from 75.9%.

Similarly, big drops were suffered by both the University of Iowa’s Tippie School and UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business, which both tumbled nine places to finish in a tie for 49th. For a few schools, however, those drops would have offered comfort to deans who experienced the biggest declines of the year: The business school at the Rochester Institute of Technology plunged 31 places this year to a rank of 94 from 63 a year earlier. The Leavey Business School at Santa Clara University plummeted 26 spots to a rank of 101st from 75 last year, while the business school at Auburn University dropped 25 places to 88th from 63rd only a year ago.

(Table of the Top 25 and how they stack up against each other on the following page)

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.