The World’s Most Popular MBA Programs

Harvard Business School - Ethan Baron photo

Harvard Business School. Ethan Baron photo

Last year, the top 10 business schools in the United States rejected about 85% of the more than 52,000 applications they received from around the globe. It was the highest aggregated rejection rate in the past five years. The most exclusive among them: Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, which turned down almost 94% of the nearly 8,000 applicants to apply for 2015 admission, and Harvard Business School, which dinged just over 89% of more than 9,600 applicants that year. UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business came in third, saying no to 87% of its roughly 3,500 applicants.

Besides being incredibly selective, these three schools have another thing in common: They are three of the most popular MBA programs on the planet.

For the second year in a row, Ready4, a test-prep startup founded by MIT Sloan School of Management grad Elad Shoushan, has announced its list of the world’s most popular MBA programs. And for the second year in a row, Harvard was the most popular choice, followed by Stanford. The rankings are based on the choices of 250,000 registered Ready4GMAT users from 195 countries: When users register to download the platform’s GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) prep mobile application, they are required to choose up to 10 schools they are interested in applying to. Ready4 then compiles that massive dataset and tallies up which schools are mentioned most. Users have more than 1,000 schools worldwide to decide between, Shoushan says, and all of the users in the new dataset have registered since the previous rankings were published last September. Shoushan founded LTG Exam (which he rebranded to Ready4 earlier this year) the same year he enrolled at MIT Sloan and worked on it throughout his time there. Users may download test prep for six other college admissions exams, as well, including the SAT, ACT, and MCAT.

Harvard and Stanford often vie for the top spot in B-school rankings. This year there was more drama further down the Ready4 list. Pennsylvania’s Wharton School gained two spots to vault past MIT Sloan for third place; Sloan followed in fourth. Nabbing the fifth spot was the Indian School of Business — foremost among 10 international schools to make the top 25.

“Wharton surpassed — unfortunately or fortunately, I don’t know how to look at it — MIT, my university,” Shoushan tells Poets&Quants, laughing. “I’m not happy to see that, but great for Wharton of course.”

BIGGEST CLIMB: DUKE FUQUA & LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS

Of course there were also some big climbs and dropoffs since last year. On the positive end, no school jumped more than Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the London School of Economics. Fuqua turbocharged from 23rd last year to 15th this year, while LSE went from outside last year’s top 25 to land at 17th. Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management also joined the list from outside, going from unranked last year to 19th.

Other new entries to the list were Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, at 24th and 25th, respectively. Also making big moves: UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which climbed five spots to 10th.

When one school moves up, another must move down. This year the Indian Institute of Management fell the most spots, from seventh to 13th. The University of Oxford’s Said School of Business fell five places to 16th. And the National University of Singapore and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management both fell five spots to 21st and 22nd, respectively.

“We’re not trying to tell which university is better than another,” Shoushan says. “We’re trying to reflect the voice of the customers and the voice of the market. And we are able to reflect what users are actually wanting.”

  • Anonymous

    Here comes Haas student. Seriously? What makes you think Haas is better than those two? You should be surprised that Haas is more popular than Kellogg and Booth in this poll, buddy.

  • Londoner

    LSE has an MBA programme? Really??

  • Actually, according to Ready4, California was the highest represented state in the data. If you look at the country-by-country part on page two, you’ll see NYU Stern and Columbia both pop-up in the top five from registered users in China and the U.S. I think Chinese interest is likely what pushed the NYC schools to the top in the overall list.

  • Princeton Graduate

    Using the word “popular” to describe people makes me think you didn’t make it past high school.

  • Red Layug

    Columbia and NYU Stern over Berkeley HAAS?????!

    Maybe because of the NY advantage.
    But I would imagine the quality of HAAS applicants and admitted students is slightly better than those two.

  • somsquared

    Not shocking to see Yale SOM slipping in the ranks here. Good to see Cornell, CBS and the other M7 as gaining in popularity. Yale SOM only accepts kids that are really smart but not popular according to this chart. Johnson actually uses the interview process to make sure students are smart, nice and popular.