2013 Forbes’ MBA Ranking


Still, it’s clear the recession has taken its toll on the MBAs of the Class of 2008. Total gains and payback periods were down across the board. The five-year total gain figure for No. 1 Stanford was $99,700 and the payback period was 4.1 years. That compares with Harvard’s No. 1 performance in 2011 with a total gain of $118,000 and a payback period of 3.6 years.

This year, according to Forbes, the five-year gain for a Harvard MBA shrunk to $79,600, with a payback of 4.0 years. Chicago Booth MBAs weathered the recession better than most. The payback on a Chicago MBA rose just two months to 3.7 years from 3.5 years. The total five-year gain due to the degree was $92,600, off from $112,000 in 2011, but not nearly as big a decline as Harvard.

Movement on the Forbes ranking is completely dependent on the compensation numbers reported to the magazine by alumni. Because alums know that the data will be used to rank their schools, it’s possible that some could inflate their actual income so their alma maters would be ranked higher.

When Poets&Quants recently asked Forbes Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen if he knows that alumni honestly fill out the magazine’s surveys, he conceded: “We don’t. We survey the schools and ask them for pre-MBA and post-MBA salaries so we can match up what the alumni say with what the schools say. When there are extreme differences, we’ve knocked out a school. I find the data quite resembles what the alumni report. Could a class get together and game the ranking? Yes. But any sort of ranking is hardly foolproof.”


That methodology delivers some unusual results. Schools that are typically assumed to be in and around the Top 10, such as UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, MIT’s Sloan School, and Yale University’s School of Management tend to rank lower on the Forbes list. This year, for example, Yale is 18th, MIT Sloan is 12th, and UC-Berkeley is 14th. In comparison, U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking puts MIT Sloan fourth, Haas seventh, and Yale 13th.

This year’s biggest gainer of all was UC-Davis’ Graduate School of Management, which jumped 22 places to finish 50th. The biggest loser? City University of New York Baruch College, which plunged 16 spots to finish 66th (See Winners & Losers In The 2013 Forbes MBA Ranking).

The Top 25 schools showing the biggest gains were Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, which leapt eight places to finish 19th, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School and UCLA’s Anderson School, which both moved up seven spots to place 16th and 13th, respectively, and North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, which rose five places to finish 11th.


The Top 25 schools to suffer the biggest falls? Yale’s School of Management plunged seven spots to 18th this year from 11th in 2011. The University of Virginia’s Darden School dropped six places to finish 15th, while New York University’s Stern School of Business fell five spots to end up in 23rd place.

Yale’s showing in the Forbes survey is its worst ever. In both 2003 and 2005, Yale was ranked fifth among all U.S. business schools by Forbes. Yale typically places more MBA graduates in the social sector, but it’s unclear why Yale could at one time finish fifth and now drop to 18th. Forbes said the five-year gain from a Yale MBA fell to $62,100, from $96,000 in 2011, increasing the payback period to 4.0 years from 3.3 two years ago. The median salary last year for a Class of 2008 alum was $144,000, down from $150,000 in 2011 for the Class of 2006.

Darden also had its worst ever rank in this year’s Forbes survey. As recently as 2007, the school was ranked fourth by Forbes, behind only Dartmouth Tuck, Harvard, and Stanford. At 15th, it’s Darden’s weakest Forbes ranking since 2001 when the school placed 13th among U.S. MBA programs.

Several other schools on the Forbes list posted their best ever years. They include Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, which placed eighth this year, a gain of four places from its rank of 12 two years ago. In 2003, Fuqua had been ranked 22nd by Forbes. The University of Michigan’s Ross School, which ranked tenth this year, up four places from 14th in 2011, also had its best showing ever. On Forbes’ 2005 list, Ross was ranked 26th. No. 19 Indiana University’s Kelley School, which in 2003 was ranked 35th by Forbes, and No. 25 University of Minnesota’s Carlson School, ranked 35th in 2005, also scored their best ranking years in the new Forbes survey (see Forbes’ Historical MBA Rankings).

(See following page for Forbes’ 2013 MBA Ranking)

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