Poets&Quants’ Top 100 U.S. MBA Programs Of 2013

Unlike other rankings, the Poets&Quants composite list combines the latest five most influential business school rankings in the world: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report. Instead of merely averaging the five, each ranking is separately weighted to account for our view of their authority and credibility. (The BusinessWeek, Forbes and U.S. News lists are given a weight of 25% each, while the FT is given a 15% weight and The Economist is given a 10% weight).

Combining the five most influential rankings doesn’t eliminate the flaws in each system, but it does significantly diminish them. When an anomaly pops on one list due to either faulty survey technique or biased methodology, bringing all the data together tends to suppress it. So the composite index tones down the noise in each of these five surveys to get more directly at the real signal that is being sent. The upshot: The list is far more stable–and reliable–than most rankings published elsewhere.

This year our top 20 in the U.S. did change—but not much. UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School switched places this year: Fuqua took the ninth spot, and Haas landed in tenth place. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan’s Ross School and the University of Virginia’s Darden School also pulled a switch. The Midwestern titan rose to No. 12, while Darden slipped to No. 13. In the middle of all the swapping, Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management remained stable at No. 11.

Though its Northern Californian cousin slipped a little, UCLA climbed from No. 17 to No. 14. It even bumped NYU’s Stern School out of the No. 14 spot, sending it down to No. 15. Meanwhile, Ivy League Yale School of Management finished 17th, down from 15th last year. U.S. News and the Financial Times actually placed Yale above UCLA, but the other rankings—in particular, the return-on-investment focused Forbes list—favored the Los Angeles school.


Most of the real movement takes place further down the list. That’s generally true of all rankings because the differences among schools are not nearly as great. The deeper one goes in the list, the less information there is to work from. Many schools are ranked by only one or two sources, instead of the full five. Though U.S. News ranks more than 100 MBA programs, Forbes only tackles 70 and BusinessWeek ranks just 63. The Economist gives a numerical rank to 52 U.S. schools, while The Financial Times ranks just 50 in the U.S.

In any case, private schools might absolutely dominate the top, but two of the biggest gains came at public universities. The University of Washington and Georgia Tech both rose nine spots: the former from 33 to 24, and the latter from 40 to 31.

Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, a private institution in Dallas, also gained ground. Last year, the school slid from 29 to 47 after Bloomberg BusinessWeek changed the way it calculates its recruiter scores, but this year, it pulled itself up to 39 in our composite ranking (see Winners & Losers on Poets&Quants’ 2013 Ranking).


Sometimes, school drop for reasons that are peculiar to a given ranking. That’s certainly the case this year with the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School, which fell to 36th place on our list from 27th. It’s not that the school did badly in its rankings. In fact, U.S. News ranked Carlson a full seven points higher this year. Nevertheless, things were tougher across the pond: The Economist pushed the school from 34 to 69, and The Financial Times didn’t rank it at all.

The reason: The Financial Times occasionally audits school data, and Minnesota privacy law prevents the school from disclosing some of the information the auditor requested. Short of breaking the law, there’s not much the business school could’ve done to keep itself on the Financial Times list. If a reader were only consulting the British newspaper’s ranking, he or she could easily draw the wrong conclusions: that the school isn’t good enough to be included.

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