10 Business Schools To Watch In 2016

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Notre Dame (Mendoza): How is this for a good year? In 2015, Mendoza soared 12 spots to rank 24th in the Poets&Quants MBA rankings – the biggest leap of the year. Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of the banner year enjoyed by the Class of 2015. Here, three month placement leaped from 87.7% to 93%, with average starting bases rising from $102,404 to $108,219 (and average bonuses up over $1,500 to $21,099). Make no mistake: Mendoza grads benefit from the aura of the Notre Dame brand. More importantly, they can tap into one of the world’s strongest networks. Mendoza alumni themselves rank the school’s “network effectiveness” and “potential to network” as the 5th and 8th best in the world respectively according to The Economist’s latest survey. And that opens a lot of doors for talented and ambitious Golden Domers.

Jack Welch Management Institute: Ever wish business schools would run themselves like businesses? At the Jack Welch Management Institute, they literally practice what they preach. The school culture is based on customer service, where faculty and leadership measure themselves against customer satisfaction metrics. Here, there is continuous dialogue between students and school on faculty, curriculum and services. In fact, survey results help dictate pay. In conjunction with Jack Welch’s philosophy, the bottom 10% of faculty performers is weeded out too.

Jack Welch

Jack Welch

Such relentless focus on customer service and educational impact explains how the Institute has emerged as one of the fastest-growing MBA programs, with the student population climbing from 140 to 1,057 students in just four years. Beyond its popularity, the Institute delivers the goods. This summer, its Net Promoter Score hit a record 77, higher than NPS scores produced by leading brands like Amazon (69) and Jetblue (68). And this 77 score far exceeds educational stalwarts like Duke Fuqua (67), Wharton (51), and the Harvard Business School (41).

And the future of the Institute looks bright indeed. The program is led by Craig Clawson former managing director of Duke Corporate Education – consistently ranked among the top providers of customized executive education by the Financial Times. It also continues to draw executives from top names like IBM, General Electric, and FedEx. Not to mention, the Institute’s 80 year-old namesake is still heavily involved in its curriculum and operations (not to mention regularly engaging with his “customers”).

Students as customers? That’s all part of the Institute’s faculty mantra, which is summed up in one word: Generosity. “Believe in our students Focus on student success. Coach and mentor. Engage with compassion and understanding. Offer candid feedback. Instill confidence.” Who knew that such fundamentals could be so profound in a classroom!

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

University of Virginia (Darden): Darden has always been a bit of an outlier. Known for teaching excellence, it has a reputation for being a program where students work harder than everywhere else – digesting over 500 cases as part of a punishing pace. In the end, the rigor yields results. Darden finished as a Top 10 program by recruiters and students alike in the Bloomberg Businessweek 2015 satisfaction surveys. In fact, The Economist ranks Darden as the #2 MBA program globally – and the top school for both personal development and education experience.

So who would want to tinker with such success? This fall, Darden did just that, launching a mandatory experiential learning course (Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship in Action – IDEA) or first-years to keep pace with the Rosses and Tucks of the world. They also created a Darden Academy, a weekly gathering of first-years to discuss contemporary issues. No, don’t expect Darden to stray from tradition and abandon the case method anytime soon. Instead, think of this as refreshing an already-successful formula.

And it’s a nod to this summer’s changing of the guard, with outgoing Dean Bob Bruner passing the baton to Scott Beardsley, formerly one of the four managing directors of McKinsey. Like any great consultant, Beardsley has launched an exhaustive listening tour, absorbing input and data to find that little edge that makes all the difference. No doubt, Bruner ranks as the most transformational dean south of Roger Martin and Paul Danos. But we’re excited to see how Beardsley will use his McKinseyite might to take Darden to the next level.

HEC Paris

HEC Paris

HEC Paris: Traditionally, business schools have supplied talent to consulting firms. At HEC Paris, the school partnered with Bain & Company in 2012 to revamp its curriculum. As a result, the school developed a program grounded in the fundamentals, but an emphasis on developing soft skills and applying creative solutions – all in a small school setting where students learn by doing.

A vanilla MBA program just a decade ago, HEC Paris harbors designs of being one of the top three MBA programs in Europe. And it has made serious strides towards this end recently. This year, it ranked 3rd in Forbes’ ranking of the top two-year international MBA programs, with 2010 graduates earning $152,000 within five years of graduation – a five year gain of $77,800. The school also climbed three spots in Poets&Quants’ International MBA ranking to #5, just a shade below IE Business School, as well as raking 7th internationally in the Bloomberg Businessweek’s employer survey.

Overall, HEC Paris also remains one of the most selective MBA programs globally, with just a 16.45% acceptance rate for its most recent class. Plus, it is one of the world’s most diverse programs, with international students constituting 90% of the population. Its 16-month curriculum is seemingly the right length – not too long to siphon away too much potential income and not too short to shortchange students on learning and internships. Of course, the school’s location in Paris, one of Europe’s premier business centers, can’t be underestimated. The same is true of school’s distinctive experience, which includes organizing the annual MBAT competition, which draws 1,500 MBA students from schools ranging from INSEAD to Oxford.

  • Mhier

    Here at Google we’ve always consider these schools are the solid top 5: Stanford GSB, Berkeley HAAS, Harvard, MIT Sloan and, a distance 5, Wharton.

  • bwanamia

    No, B. Wana Mia, IV

  • Spartan 22

    Things change over time though. There isn’t enough room in the M7 to accommodate the critical mass of qualified new applicants so those people will find themselves attending “lower” ranked programs-programs which have distinguished themselves in other ways since the MBA curriculum is mostly commoditized anyway. Fuqua catches alot of flack on here but Apple’s CEO has an MBA from Duke and now the school is a pipeline into the types of tech jobs MBAs place a premium on attaining these days. Ross and Tuck have salary levels comparable to the best of the M7 and the GMAT/GPA combos of Yale’s incoming classes put them just under HSW. It’s going to get a little more crowded at the top and that’s a good thing.

    We’re only going to see more of these trends provided the MBA continues to attract more and more talented applicants each year Reputation may die hard but ideas about prestige and the elite won’t mean much if you can capably offer someone the professional opportunities they want.

  • C. Taylor

    Right or wrong, it’s something of a virtuous circle. You ‘know’ which programs are the elite through your social network (family and or work, etc.). If working at the right place, you see colleagues getting into the elite programs. This network also informs your approach to successful entry.

    The right places also hire graduates of the elite programs both at the undergrad and MBA level. So what stresses the Japanese to no end also exists in the US. Most are just blind to it. Which high school you attend and how well you perform make it easier to join the elite undergrad programs. Perhaps the US is slightly more egalitarian in its meritocracy, but old habits die hard in the admissions/HR world.

    From the economic viewpoint, a well-deserved reputation for quality graduates/applicants is meaningful.

  • “Top 5” Class Of 2018 Member

    Disagree – in fact I still don’t view U Chi as top 5 school. Objectively, I would view someone from Sloan, Kellogg, CBS as a stronger. As someone who just went through the process, most of my fellow applicants viewed these schools as more attractive and from outcomes they seemed way more selective. Lots of folks that got denied w/o interview from wharton, sloan, CBS seemed to skate into Booth.

    When I visited for my Booth interview, I was very unimpressed with the quality of students: big 4 accounting folks, other unimpressive middle office finance jobs, big 10 schools and they came off as highly unpolished/weird in comparison to Wharton/CBS/kellogg students i met during interviews. My hypothesis is that U Chi decided to climb rankings after the big Booth donation and they became hyper-focused on GMAT/GPA. To get their stats up, they accept mediocre finance kids/nerds who studied really hard to get into booth and finally have their shot at the big leagues/front office. Plus, despite this metoric rise in rankings, Booth does not have strong senior-level alumni network in comparison to historically strong schools.

  • Questionable Post

    You sound a bit like Thurston Howell the III. Creepy post. I mean sure they are all great schools but such a creepy post. There are a significant number of “acceptable” business schools I would add to your list including Columbia, Northwestern, Tuck, and Haas. And just outside of that grouping there are a number of others that will provide an equally elite education with similar outcomes…

  • bwanamia

    Just seeing this. Rankings don’t mean a thing to me. For three generations of family and relations that I know personally, the acceptable five elite b-schools have been, in no particular order, HBS, GSB, Wharton, MIT, & Chicago. Period. Case closed.

  • Johnstoned

    Who’s Cornell?

  • [email protected]

    US News is the gold standard of rankings.

  • nope=donaldtrump

    re: non-profit, based on what evidence? Less than 5% of SOM students go into non-profit.

  • M7lover

    Sounds like you’re the one with the chip on your shoulder 😉

  • David

    Thanks for the insights! I am currently doing that due diligence with respect to individuals who have done the program. So far I am not convinced by their trajectories, but haven’t ruled it out yet. The credential and education are important to me in the longer term for accessing exec-level positions.

  • Aditya Tripathi

    Very surprising Oxford Said isnt on this list.

  • Orange 1

    David, MOOCs are continuing to advance to the point where a lot of MBA content can be accessed for next to nothing. At the least it can show an employer the willingness to keep learning. Then there are certified programs that try to capitalize on school name (e.g. eCornell and UCLA Extension).

    What people tell me is to look up the background of individuals with jobs for which you aspire and also review job postings. Do they require formal management training? A Yale EMBA is $160k. Will doors open because your resume has that school on it in addition to your other attributes? Really no concrete way to know. It’s a gamble. Any chance you could go to a part time program and have an employer pay part of it?

  • C. Taylor

    Surveys in which Booth was ranked in the top five:
    FT :: 01, 02, 03, 04 (first published in 01)
    US News :: 97, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 (first survey in 90)

    Surveys in which Booth was NOT ranked in the top five:
    BB/BW :: 88, 96, 00 (first published in 88)
    Forbes :: 99, 07, 15 (first published in 99)
    Economist :: 04, 05 (first published in 02)

  • M7

    Said literally no one ever. Booth, CBS, and Tuck all have a large number of sponsored students from MBB, Yale SOM…None. Why on Earth would you lie about being at MBB?

    Most of the Yale SOM grads I’ve met over the years have been nice and down to Earth. However, in recent years it seems current students and recent grads now have enormous chips on their shoulders. No one is taking SOM over Booth, CBS, or Tuck without MASSIVE scholarships or a desire to go into non-profits.

  • nope

    The M7 will not expand. Period. Yale’s 15 minutes will end in a few more years and then it will be back to its spot as the number one school for non-profit.

  • StanfordOrBooth

    Booth Is Highly Rated.

    There I fixed your user name for you

  • StanfordOrBooth

    You picked the one publication that refuses to rank Booth its deserved rank because it is in love with HBS, Tuck and MIT and is more than wiling to change its methodology to protect them. The rest of the other publications have ranked Booth from 1-5 in the same time period.

    You are sooooo wrong.

  • Spartan 22

    “foot” the bill*

  • Spartan 22

    If your employer isn’t going to fit the bill, don’t do it. I find the people who chase these degrees are typically senior enough/experienced enough to do without it.

  • David

    I agree with you, but may be a bit more bullish on Yale. The halo effect of the university and *massive* endowment should be quite helpful.

  • David

    Mrs. SOM – Awesome to get a reply from a full-time SOM student; thanks so much for weighing in! I actually went to a Yale EMBA event recently, so have had a bit of interaction with some current/prospective students and staff. Broadly speaking, the vast majority of impact from the MBA ‘racket’ seems to be from the summer internship and that one shot upon graduation in which they help you get access to interviews for elite positions that set you on an upward trajectory. I’ve looked closely at before and after resumes of EMBA grads and the degree doesn’t appear to be nearly as life changing/impacting as the full-time MBA. I already have a master’s in my field and am definitely thinking long-term for the EMBA impact, but am wavering because I’m not yet convinced that my career success will be dramatically better with the degree vs. without. Also, it’s incredibly expensive. Regarding cost, EMBAs seem to be priced about the same as full-time MBA programs in that the full package price usually includes food/lodging/books/materials. The one differentiation seems to be in availability of financial aid/scholarships.

    Orange 1 – I definitely empathize with your points! The true long-run value of the degree is the question that I am really hung up on.

  • C. Taylor

    If sustained, the free tuition at ASU’s full time program will cause waves.

  • Orange 1

    Let’s face it. MBA programs are the cash cows of major universities. It’s not like you have to spends millions to erect a nuclear particle chamber. Just set up some classrooms, lecture halls, and a student lounge and away you go.
    EMBA programs are the logical extension of this thinking. Take someone who has been successful but a ha, if only they had an MBA their climb would be so much faster, and you have created a need. A cash cow on top of a cash cow as @Mrs SOM notes they are more expensive and 75% of the students are paying their own freight. Do you get a “brand” on your resume? Sure but whether that is going to help in the long run is debatable.

  • Jeff Schmitt

    Hi, Bwanamia. Booth may have had the reputation of a “Top 5” school, but the rankings (at least U.S. News) don’t bear that out historically. In the 2003 U.S. News rankings, Booth placed 9th (behind programs like Kellogg, Fuqua, and Haas). In 2004, it tied with Columbia for 6th. In 2005, it was 8th. Come 2006, it was back to 6th before finally cracking the Top 5 in 2007…where it has remained ever since. Thanks for posting.

  • Jeff Schmitt

    Hi, Jack. Sorry, no kickbacks. One factor that John and I weighed was innovative approaches. By that measure, the Institute really cleared the bar. By that token, I am really kicking myself for not giving greater consideration to Arizona State with their free tuition.

  • Jack Welch

    Jack Welch Institute? Surely you are joking right? The rest of the list is fine but JWI makes me really think if got a kickback from that institute.

  • bwanamia

    Chicago always was a “top 5 school”. This has been the case for several decades. That’s what bothers me about this blog: almost no comprehension of the elite school landscape.

  • Orange1

    Agreed. I think John said it nicely, the Terrific Ten, I believe is how he put it. I think its safe to say the only school Yale SOM can leapfrog at this point is Darden (on USNW) and perhaps Haas/Kellogg/CBS in the future.

  • Mrs.SOM

    Columbia has a solid EMBA program as well..Honestly as a Yale SOM student I couldn’t tell you, the executive MBA students come to class on the weekend and I have yet to interact with a single one.

    I think EMBA is a waste of money quite frankly. It cost more than a normal MBA and as soon as people find out your MBA was at the executive level I think that immediately changes their perception. I guess it makes sense if you are truly coming to school to learn material and network, but for most the goal is to have a prestigious mark on the resume to advance their career.

    Proud to see SOM got a nice shoutout. Apparently apps are up big again Y-o-Y, so we are starting to see momentum.

  • Hey now

    No love for Cornell? Not like they just made the biggest announcement in the history of the program or anything 🙂

  • Booth_overrated

    What a joke

  • David

    At the EMBA level there appears to be quite a lot of room for competition and improvement right now. Executive level degrees are relatively new in their current iteration and most have definitely not caught up to student needs, particularly in terms of career outcomes. I am curious to see how hard Yale intends to compete with their new EMBA program and how much emphasis to place on empowering and assisting students in career progression. As far as I can tell there are really only two games in town right now in attempts to match the quality and impact of a full time MBA program – Booth and Wharton – and even those seem to pack far less punch than the regular 2-year MBA.

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  • Spartan 22


  • Spartan 22

    Don’t envision a downswing. The game is too competitive at this level for school’s to simply lose their advantage, give up, or fall off. I just expect there to be more room at the top now-the M7 will now become the M10. Yale had the brand equity and resources to leapfrog the cluttered 10-15 space, but once past there, the variations become much smaller. The latest employment reports show you just how closely grouped the schools within the top 10 really are-only H and S have achieved any real separation.

  • Orange 1

    It was only a matter of time that a business school associated with Yale would move up. If Princeton started a business school, the same thing would happen within 20-30. But for them to move up further, who drops down? All the schools have top faculty, students, etc. In fact, perhaps the top 20 schools are commoditized in terms of education content with the only differentiator the companies that recruit, which see the students as differentiated for whatever reason.
    Would also be interested in which schools people think are on the downswing and why?

  • McKingMeCrazy

    Interesting article. Wouldn’t say too groundbreaking with Yale SOM. Working at MBB out of undergrad I am considering BSchool next year and Yale is top on my list. Many of my managers went there in recent years and speak very highly of it. Not up with HBS or Stanford just yet, but I would consider it over Booth, Columbia and Tuck anyday of the week.

  • StanfordOrBooth

    the architect of the University of Chicago’s rise to being a Top 1 MBA program

    There, I corrected it for you

  • Ocean Study

    It’s puck not pick