Duke Tops 2014 Businessweek Ranking

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business today (Nov. 11) emerged the big winner in Bloomberg Businessweek’s latest ranking of the best full-time MBA programs. Duke topped the ranking for the very first time, knocking down the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business which had dominated the list for the past eight years.

Duke’s No. 1 ranking—despite a relatively poor 22nd place finish in the magazine’s survey of student satisfaction—is something of a surprise. The only other time that Duke finished in the top five was 14 years ago in 2000 when it claimed fifth place. As expected, Chicago slipped to third place behind the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School which lost out to Duke largely on the basis of Wharton’s shockingly low 22nd place finish in intellectual capital.

Based on the index scores that determine a school’s overall rank, Duke beat Wharton by the razor thin margin of 1.03 index points, 100.0 vs. 98.97. Chicago Booth was not far behind, with an index score of 98.3. In 2012, Booth beat No. 2 Harvard by a margin of 2.71–nearly three times this year’s difference.


The new top five: Fuqua, Wharton, Booth, Stanford, and Columbia. In the 26 years that Businessweek has been ranking full-time MBA programs, Harvard and Stanford have never placed first. The only other schools to achieve that distinction have been Chicago (four times), Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (five times), and Wharton (four times).

In a separate ranking of the best international MBA programs, the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey School came out first, nudging out the previous No. 1, London Business School, which fell to fourth place. IE Business School in Spain was second, while previously unranked ESMT came in third, and INSEAD fifth.

The new ranking is filled with many shocking surprises, some of which will no doubt cause howls of laughter among the deans at many business schools. Harvard Business School failed to even make this year’s top five MBA programs. The school–widely regarded as having the world’s best MBA program–slumped to eighth place, its worst showing ever. Yale University’s School of Management, meantime, rose 15 places to achieve its highest ever rank at No. 6. MIT Sloan fell out of the top ten to a lowly rank of 14th.

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, the second most highly selective MBA program in the U.S., is way down at No. 19, with UCLA’s Anderson School high above it at a rank of 11. The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business skidded ten spots to rank 20th. The University of Maryland’s Smith School finished in first place in the magazine’s student survey where Harvard finished 25th and Stanford finished 17th. And UC-San Diego’s Rady School of Management, which failed to even make the Businessweek ranking two years ago, finished first in intellectual capital, 24 places above Stanford which was ranked 25th on this measure.


Businessweek’s 2014 lineup is sure to raise increasing doubts about the credibility and the authority of its ranking. That’s especially true this year because most of the odd results can be attributed not to changes in the MBA programs being evaluated but rather to substantial alternations in the methodology the magazine uses to crank out its business school ranking. Those changes make the ranking far more volatile than it has ever been.

At least 20 of the 85 ranked MBA programs in the U.S. experienced double-digit increases or decreases. Two schools dropped 22 places each, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-Kim and Iowa University’s Tippie School, now respectively 73rd and 75th. Both Boston University and Arizona State University’s Carey School each plunged 18 spots to 57th and 67th. Meantime, the full-time MBA program at the University of Buffalo jumped 18 places to a rank of 39th, while Texas A&M’s Mays School slumped 16 spots to finish 42nd.

The Businessweek list is based on three components: a survey of corporate recruiters, which is given a weight of 45% in the overall ranking; a survey of graduating students, which is also give a 45% weight, and the publication record of faculty at each school, the so-called intellectual capital rating, which accounts for the remaining 10% of the methodology. In claiming the No. 1 spot, Duke rated second in both the employer and intellectual capital portions of the ranking, while obtaining a 22nd place showing in the student survey.

What role changes in Businessweek’s methodology played in allowing Duke to capture first place is not known. But the most significant change resulted in Businessweek surveying alumni who return to their alma maters as recruiters—something the magazine had never done. The magazine conceded that when a recruiter who was an alum of a school rated his or her alma mater, the scores were about 18% higher than the average non-alumni rating. Some 38 schools in the sample derived at least 25% of their ratings from alumni, while five schools derived “at least 50%” of their ratings from alumni. In effect, alumni played a substantial role in ranking nearly four in ten schools–43 out of 112–in this year’s Businessweek survey.


The magazine also has acknowledged that both Yale and Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business “were scored by enthusiastic alumni recruiters.” Yale’s recruiter score rose to eighth place, a jump of 19 spots from its 27th place finish in 2012 and an increase of 29 places from 37th in 2010. That boost allowed the school to gain an overall rank of 6th, well above its best ever previous showing in the Businessweek list at 14th. In nine previous rankings, dating back to 1996, Yale never scored higher than 20th on the employer survey and its overall recruiter standing over that 18-year timeframe was 28th.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s No. 1 MBA Program Through The Years


Duke is the first MBA program to top Businessweek’s list with as low a student score rank as 22.

Year School Employer Rank Student Rank Intel Capital Rank
2014 Duke (Fuqua) 2 22 2
2012 Chicago (Booth) 1 11 11
2010 Chicago (Booth) 1 2 8
2008 Chicago (Booth) 1 2 6
2006 Chicago (Booth) 3 1 9
2004 Northwestern (Kellogg) 3 2 20
2002 Northwestern (Kellogg) 2 1 18
2000 Pennsylvania (Wharton) 1 3 8
1998 Pennsylvania (Wharton) 1 2 NA
1996 Pennsylvania (Wharton) 1 4 NA
1994 Pennsylvania (Wharton) 1 3 NA
1992 Northwestern (Kellogg) 1 3 NA
1990 Northwestern (Kellogg) 2 7 NA
1988 Northwestern (Kellogg) 1 5 NA

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek MBA rankings from 2012 to 1988

Note: Businessweek added the intellectual capital component of the ranking, giving it a 10% weight, in 2000.

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