Harvard Business School Tops New 2015 Poets&Quants’ MBA Ranking

Yale University School of Management - photo by Chris Choi

Yale University School of Management – photo by Chris Choi

YALE SOM CRACKS THE TOP TEN, WHILE INSEAD CAPTURES FIRST AMONG NON-U.S. SCHOOLS

The new list of the Top Ten MBA programs in the U.S. saw both the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management edge one place higher this year, while Berkeley and Yale gained two spots over their 2014 standing in the survey. For the first time ever, Yale made P&Q’s Top Ten, pushing down Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business to 11th place. Only three years ago, Yale’s MBA program ranked 17th best.

In a separate ranking of MBA programs outside the U.S., INSEAD moved into first place, displacing London Business School which slipped to second. IESE Business School and IE Business School, both in Spain, took third and fourth, respectively, while HEC Paris ranked fifth, climbing three places from eighth last year (see our international ranking here).

Unlike other rankings, the Poets&Quants composite list combines the latest five most influential business school rankings in the world: U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Financial Times, and The Economist. Instead of merely averaging the five, each ranking is separately weighted to account for our view of their authority. (U.S. News is given a weight of 35%, Forbes, 25%, while both the FT and Businessweek is given a 15% weight, and The Economist, 10% weight.)

23 OF THE TOP 25 SCHOOLS HAD IDENTICAL YEAR-EARLIER RANKS OR CHANGED BY ONLY ONE OR TWO PLACES

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, taking into account a massive wealth of quantitative and qualitative data captured in these major lists, from surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, deans and faculty publication records to median GPA and GMAT scores of entering students as well as the latest salary and employment statistics of alumni.

This year, 23 of the top 25 schools had either an identical position as they had last year or experienced a change of only one or two places up or down. The stability in the list is reflective of the fact that from year to year, MBA programs rarely change dramatically. More consequential change may occur over a number of years as a program improves and that improvement becomes more generally recognized by stakeholders.

On the Poets&Quants’ list, changes obviously occur when a school’s MBA program gains or loses ground in any of the five major rankings, or when a school enters or completely drops out of one of those rankings. Bigger changes in a ranking often occur toward the end of a list where the underlying data clusters schools close to each other or a numerical ranking is based on less data, ie. fewer rankings, which make the school’s ranking less reliable.

Top 100 logo for 2015BIG WINS IN TOP 25 FOR NOTRE DAME AND MICHIGAN STATE

Yale was able to move up two spots this year because of a significant improvement in Forbes‘ return-on-investment ranking. Yale gained seven places to rank 11th this year on the Forbes‘ list, up from 18th two years ago. The school also did slightly better in The Economist ranking, rising to 13th best among U.S. MBA programs from 14th a year earlier.

The most consequential changes among the Top 25 schools saw Notre Dame University’s Mendoza School jump 11 places to a rank of 25th. Michigan State University’s Broad School of Business just missed the Top 25, rising nine spots to 26th.Both schools made those significant jumps as a result of gaining recognition from organizations that hadn’t ranked their MBA programs last year. Mendoza was ranked as the 45th best U.S. MBA program by The Financial Times, which did not have the school on its list last year, while Michigan State gained a ranking of 22nd best in the U.S. from The Economist, which hadn’t ranked the school a year earlier.

Otherwise, schools in the Top 25 saw little to no movement. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business both declined by two spots each to ranks of 11th and 13th, respectively. The business schools at the University of Virginia, Cornell, UNC, the University of Texas, the University of Washington, and Washington University all rose one place from last year.

BYU’s MARRIOTT SCHOOL FALLS 12 PLACES TO RANK 43RD

Most of the bigger action occurred further down the list. Double-digit ranking increases also were racked up by the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Business, which rose 12 places to rank 27th; George Washington University, which jumped ten places to rank 49th; the University of Texas at Dallas, which also improved by ten places to place 51, and Babson College, gaining 10 spots to finish 55th.

On the other hand, a large number of schools saw their rankings plunge, as if often the case in any year-end roundup. Brigham Young’s Marriott School of Business dropped 12 places to 43rd, while the business schools at both Tulane University and the University of Missouri both fell ten places to place 63rd and 62nd, respectively. Significant drops were also experienced by UC-Davis, which plunged 13 places this year, to rank 57th from 44th a year earlier, and Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, which fell 11 spots to end up at a rank of 59th from 48 last year.

In some cases, of course, the underlying index numbers for each school are more revealing than the actual ranks assigned to MBA programs. That’s because readers can use those numbers to see where the programs are so closely gathered together that there is little to no statistical difference in a school’s standing. Generally, P&Q considers a five-point difference in index scores significant.

(See following pages for the full Top 100 rankings)

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.