He Devised A Way To Rank Schools & Then Tossed His Analysis Away

Olin MBA Geoff Nykin crunched the numbers and came to a different conclusion

Olin MBA Geoff Nykin crunched the numbers and came to a different conclusion

By the fall of 2012, Geoff Nykin knew he wanted to get an MBA degree so the quintessential poet did a very quant kind of thing. He began crunching stats. He compiled a list of target schools and began to measure each of them on outcomes.

“I looked at salary data and employment data and tried to quantify that into one raw number,” he says. So he took the average salary and bonus for each school and simply multiplied it by the placement rate three months after graduation. For Nykin, then a project manager in Chicago for Edelman Berland, a reputation and branding firm, it was the ultimate bottom line measurement for a degree from professional school.

It told you how much money you could expect and how likely you were to land a job within a relatively short time after getting the degree. Nykin, now 28, decided to use the three-month mark for offers because it thought it was the “better barometer.” Some graduates, after all, might need more time to think over potential job offers.


“I wanted to make this as simple as possible,” he says. “The calculation rubs in all the other elements, including companies on campus and the alumni base. ”On a spreadsheet, he ranked more than 20 target schools based on salary and bonus, placement, his perception of a school’s alumni strength, the quality of the academics, and the location, weighing each factor by 20%. “That was a starting point but by no means was it an ending point,” he says. “I was trying to make as fact-based a decision as possible which was ironic coming from a poet.”

Originally hoping to become a sports broadcaster, he had majored in communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But by the time he graduated in 2009, Nykin realized there was little money to be made broadcasting sports games. He was hired as a business analyst by State Farm Insurance and later switched jobs to work for Edelman in Chicago when he began doing his spreadsheet analysis.

What did the raw scores for pay and placement tell him? Pretty much what most people already know, with some interesting variations. The school that topped the list wasn’t Harvard or Stanford. In fact, the MBA programs at those highly revered schools ended up being No. 6 and No. 5, respectively (see table below). Wharton was first, followed by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.

A Poet’s Quant-Like Analysis Of School Outcomes


SchoolIndexSalary & Bonus3-Month PlacementTotal
  1. Wharton100.0$142,57495.6%13,630,074
  2. Chicago98.1$137,61597.2%13.376,178
  3. Dartmouth98.0$142,48993.8%13,365,468
  4. MIT97.3$142,93692.8%13,264,461
  5. Stanford96.5$142,83492.1%13,155,011
  6. Harvard94.9$144,75089.4%12,940,650
  7. Virginia93.5$136,47493.4%12,746,672
  8. Columbia92.9$139,00691.1%12,663,497
  9. Michigan92.5$140,49789.7%12,602,581
10. Duke90.4$137,15489.8%12,316,429
11. NYU90.2$135,93390.4%12,288,343
12. Berkeley89.6$140,93586.7%12,219,065
13. Emory89.3$128,34794.8%12,167,286
14. Kellogg88.6$136,35788.6%12,081,230
15. U Wash88.1$125,36795.8%12,010,159
16. Cornell87.2$132,31689.8%11,881,977
17. Carnegie85.4$131,86588.3%11,643,680
18. Texas84.5$126,16091.3%11,518,408
19. UCLA82.9$127,53588.6%11,299,601
20. Yale82.7$126,87188.9%11,278,832
21. UNC81.4$124,64189.0%11,093,049
22. Wash U79.6$111,97496.9%10,850,281
23. Indiana77.3$119,58188.1%10,535,086
24. Georgetown77.2$118,93888.5%10,526,013
25. Vanderbilt75.8$113,83090.8%10,335,764

Source: P&Q analysis of publicly available business school data

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder of C-Change Media, a global digital media company of higher education content. C-Change now has five websites, including Poets&Quants, and the author or co-author of more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers, and is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, and editor-in-chief of Fast Company. He also is the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools.