2016 Businessweek MBA Ranking

Top Five Business Schools In The New 2016 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking

Cause for celebration at the top five business schools in the new 2016 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking: Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Chicago and Dartmouth.

For the second consecutive year, Harvard Business School stayed on top of Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking of the best MBA programs. But there were some rather shocking results up and down the new 2016 list of the best business schools published today (Nov. 16).

The Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University improbably jumped 11 places to secure a Top 10 ranking for the first time ever, bypassing such premium MBA brands as Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Columbia Business School, and Yale’s School of Management.

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management fell nine places to a rank of 22nd, while UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School dropped seven spots to place 24th. For the first time ever, No. 18 Texas A&M’s Mays School ranked ahead of UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business by three places, no less. Only three years ago, McCombs had a 19-place advantage over Mays, ranking 23rd to Texas A&M”s 42nd place finish. Mays, in fact, wasn’t even ranked by Businessweek until 2010.


In all, 21 of the Top 25 schools experienced changes in their year-over-year ranks.  Stanford’s Graduate School of Business climbed five places to rank second behind Harvard. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, which was Businessweek‘s top winner in 2014, rose five spots to claim third place. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, was up nine places to rank fifth, its best showing since 1988 when its MBA program was ranked third best.

It was a surprisingly disappointing year for the schools that have most won the top prize from Businessweek over the years. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business have both been number one in this survey five times each. But this year, Booth slipped two places to finish fourth, its weakest showing since 2000 when it ranked 10th, and Kellogg dropped six spots to ninth, its lowest Businessweek rank ever. Another surprise: On the underlying index scores upon which ranks are assigned, Harvard had more than a nine point lead over its nearest competitor this year, 100 vs. 90.6 for Stanford, up from less than two points in 2015.

As is typical in most rankings, the biggest changes tend to occur further down the list where MBA programs tend to cluster together and quality differences are difficult to measure. Three business schools ranked between 26th and 50th rose 13 places this year: UT-Dallas, Illinois, and Buffalo. American University Kogod School of Business leaped 15 places to finish 43rd, up from 58th in 2015. USC’s Marshall School of Business fell 13 positions to end up at a rank of 38th, falling out of the Top 25. Georgetown University’s McDonough School dropped eight places to finish 34th, from 26th last year.

More schools suffered double-digit falls this year than equivalent rises. Ten schools plunged by 10 or more positions, while eight schools had double-digit improvements, including the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business which zoomed ahead 20 places to a rank of 35. The toughest plunge of all? North Carolina State’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management was in a free fall, dropping 40 spots to a rank of 69th from 29th only a year ago. Two schools completely disappeared from last year: No. 62 Hult International Business School and No. 64 University of Tennessee.


The Businessweek ranking follows earlier lists published by U.S. News, the Financial Times, and The Economist. Harvard also topped this year’s U.S. News list, but INSEAD was on top at the FT and Chicago Booth came in first in The Economist ranking. Forbes, which publishes its ranking every other year, put Stanford GSB first last year. Poets&Quants will publish its new composite ranking before the end of this month.

This is the 17th ranking of MBA programs by Businessweek since its debut in 1988 (The magazine said its ranking of international business schools would come soon but did not disclose a release date). From the beginning until 2012, the magazine published its ranking every other year. In 2014, Businessweek substantially revised its methodology for the ranking, the magazine began cranking out the list on an annual basis. For many of those years, the ranking was relatively stable and authoritative, generally regarded as the go-to list for the MBA applicant pool in the U.S.

But since 2012, when Businessweek had to issue a corrected ranking due to a calculation error, the list’s influence has greatly diminished. Business school deans, rarely fans of rankings, have decried the volatility of such lists, the often head-scratching results, and the methodologies used to rank their MBA programs. Businessweek has seen dramatic changes in the methodology—three different approaches now in four years—and the wild up-and-down swings in ranks for many schools even though little, if anything, has changed from one year to the next. Last year, for example, every Top 25 school was given a rank different than the one it had only a year earlier. This year 21 schools saw rank changes.

The current methodology, adopted last year, puts a 35% weight on a survey of MBA employers who are asked to identify just ten schools and assess the track record of graduates in their companies. Harvard won this contest, followed by MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, Wharton, and Columbia Business School. A survey completed by school alumni accounts for 30% of the ranking and is based on the increase in their median compensation over their pre-MBA pay, job satisfaction, and their opinions of the MBA experience. The top alumni survey winners were Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Rice, and Emory’s Goizueta School. Businessweek then adds in a separate student survey of recent graduates that is weighted 15%. That survey includes 27 questions that contribute to a school’s rank. Indiana Kelley topped the student survey this year, followed by UVA’s Darden School, SMU, Georgia Tech, and USC’s Marshall School of Business.


Finally, Businessweek tosses in two metrics from school reports: the job placement rate three months after graduation and starting salaries, each counting for 10% of the methodology. There’s a problem here as well. The job placement can oddly penalize schools where highly confident graduates hold out for their ideal jobs, refusing to accept offers they don’t want. Stanford, for example, ranks 57th in job placement, while Harvard ranks 35th. It’s not because Harvard and Stanford MBAs are having trouble finding jobs. It’s because more of them are wanting to land a job at early stage companies or other firms that do just-in-time hiring. They are super choosy about what they’re after. Yet, the methodology interprets that fact in a negative way. Because the magazine is collecting this data before all the schools have published their 2016 employment reports, this information also is already a year old. This year, Businessweek gave numerical ranks to 87 U.S. business schools, 13 more than in 2015, with Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver ranked 87th.

The single greatest flaw in the methodology is the survey of employers. Instead of sending a single survey to each major MBA employer—to the corporate official who oversees MBA hiring—Businessweek surveys every recruiter who comes on a business school campus, getting these lists from the schools. However, most companies sent to the schools alumni who work for them. So having alumni fill out these surveys causes significant bias in the sample. This change occurred in 2014, causing Businessweek to concede that alumni tended to rate their own schools “significantly more favorably than non-alumni.” In 2016, Businessweek sent surveys to 16,984 recruiters. Some 1,461 at 672 firms returned the survey, though there are probably no more than 250 firms that actively recruit MBAs at more than half a dozen schools.

The alumni and student surveys also are less than a true measure of a school’s quality because respondents know their answers will impact their alma mater’s standing in the ranking. As a result, they are likely provide less-than-candid answers. That bias occurs across the sample but it is a fact that every year several schools have hard-to-explain scores that seem to defy logic. A few disgruntled alums or students, moreover, can also have a disproportionate impact on the satisfaction rates in the alumni and student polls.


  • Michelin

    LOL – sounds like someone who was rejected from the GSB. 🙂 Not sure what your beef is with Stanford, but I know plenty of folks who got into HBS (but were rejected from the GSB) who would certainly have chosen Stanford had they gotten in. These rankings are pretty much a joke.

  • MBAHopeful

    I’m having a hard time deciding, I got into Fuqua and Wharton and don’t know which one to go to. Fuqua is rated higher but I heard Wharton is pretty good too..any thoughts?

  • Princeton Graduate

    Cool story.

  • CBSsquared

    I guess it speaks to the unity of Duke students to ban together to generate higher rankings wherever possible…but to actually think Fuqua (avg.gmat <700) is higher than Wharton, Booth, MIT, CBS, Kellogg etc etc….is ridiculous. I know a lot of students at Fuqua. They are hard working and determined, but certainly not top-tier quality.

  • Rolandgardner


  • CBSsquared

    Honestly – there is no way to take this ranking seriously….Rice over CBS, Haas, Kellogg, Yale, Ross ??

    I guarantee there is 0 students currently at Rice who were admitted to any of those other programs. That should be the true test of a rank – if you go into a higher ranked you generally choose to go there.

  • Booth’17

    You are right bro!

  • StanfordSucks

    Ah. As you can see, Harvard is consistently on top (or top 5) in ANY list. Stanford,not so much. Stanford is now a has been, just like its ex-Dean who has no ethics. Stanford is below Harvard in ever reputable (and even disreputable) ranking that matters.

    Stanford better watch because Booth is now its peer, not Harvard. Stanford is going to decline to rank 5-10 just like Wharton did 5 years ago and it will never recover just like Wharton never recovered.

  • C. Taylor

    On Rice:
    It is a little silly to think guys considering Rice expect an HBS experience or outcome. Rice has a fine MBA program and falls in a different consideration set. Consider your profile and what you’d like to do post-MBA, if that matches up with Rice–put in an app! Rice places a lot of guys in the Southwest.

    On the BB-BW ranking:
    It’s not all out yet. In general, I like the changes Bloomberg initiated last year. Bloomberg’s ranking is nicely differentiated now–and not in a bad way. Would I change some stuff? Definitely. Does it have value as is? Absolutely. BB put its own twist on the rankings and I like how this shakes things up.

    The thing about USN’s ranking is that it is based in large part on what deans of b-schools think. And those old stodges are, shall we say, not flexible in their thinking. The reason rankings like BB’s show some differences is that BB brought in other parties who have fresher bases for comparison.

    So BB’s ranking isn’t ideal–but it does bring a welcome freshness in a positive direction. Keep at it Bloomberg! And bring in PPP.

  • Shivek Maroli

    you’ll need to do the number of placements over the total class size, or rather, number of people who apply to MBB within the class to get to a fair comparison. and yes, MBBD isn’t a thing. There are other consulting firms that are closer to MBB eg OW than Deloitte.

  • Stanford’19

    Also, logically it seems more likely that students from lower ranked schools (Rice) are more likely to artificially inflate certain variable scores in order to appear higher in the ranking (Bloomberg). It’s not personal experiences that shape the school rankings, but just a bunch of students who got rejected at M7 and T-15 trying to justify going to lower ranked schools.

    IMHO Rice will never be a top 25 school!

    MBA is a one time opportunity, and you will either have Harvard on your resume for your entire career or Rice. Big difference.

  • DACochran

    Thank you for eloquently describing my source of frustration with many who commented. Many cannot fathom how I can honestly say I would have chosen Rice over Kellogg or Columbia based on my life goals.

    Assuming that every high quality business school applicant desires a particular set of careers at a particular set of employers ignores the personal nature of business school. For me, accepting an offer at one of those firms has been the cherry on top that in no way changes the underlying transformative experience.

  • Very true, Barbara.

  • Barbara Coward

    I think that what’s behind some of the surprising results is, in part, due to the very personal experience and expectations of one’s education. For example, someone who is going to a top school will bring very high expectations of what the brand will deliver. One other hand, someone who has a broad and flexible approach to career goals (e.g., “I want to transition from the military to corporate sector, and it doesn’t have to be a blue-chip employer”) will invariably be more satisfied with the outcome. It’s all relative.

  • MBA alum

    one questions whether Rice does secure a ton of highly talented MBAs. Realistically, Rice still lags by a fair
    amount in average overall job placement compared to the top 10 MBA programs,
    especially for the most competitive employers.

    Using your example of job placement in consulting, you noted that Rice annually
    generates between 0 to 3 job placements at MBB.
    If you compare this to Kellogg and Columbia, which are rated lower on Bloomberg’s
    highly flawed MBA ranking system, then you will find that their MBB job
    placement is 30X to 40X greater than Rice.
    Kellogg generated 88 MBB jobs (34 McKinsey, 28 Bain and 26 BCG) and Columbia
    generated 119 MBB jobs (55 McKinsey, 35 Bain and 29 BCG). This may be one of the reasons that Kellogg
    and Columbia annually generate 6x to 7x more applications to their MBA programs as
    compared to Rice’s MBA program.

  • DrewRosenbaum

    Data that points to “frequent offers that effectively pay for business school via sign-on bonuses”? I’m seeing CBS at $30k and Rice at $25k from P&Q April article “The Highest MBA Signing Bonuses”.

    Completely agree with you about the global brand of Columbia vs. Rice and the flexibility that gives.

    As for entrepreneurship: I have to disagree, as does the Princeton Review. Rice is ranked 3rd, CBS is not in the top 25.

  • David__D

    Feel free to believe whatever you wish. Rice places anywhere from 0-3 per year at MBB. I’m not arguing that Rice places as well as CBS, simply noting that there are in fact a great deal of excellent MBA candidates who choose Rice for a number of reasons and I can speak to that personally.

  • MBA survey

    No one who works at one of the MBBs would ever refer to themselves as MBBD. It’s clea that you are working at Deloitte, which is a solid choice. Have not searched online, but do you happen to know how many students a year out of Rice get into MBB? Thanks.

  • Guest

    Columbia – any good MBA candidate would agree. Better education at the school. Better post graduation opportunities and income. Frequent offers that effectively pay for business school via sign-on bonuses. Globally known unlike Rice, thus affording graduates the chance to live and work in a greater variety of locations including Rice’s backyard.

    Also, in contrast to what the poster below states, Columbia would outdo Rice in entrepreneurship and real estate by some distance.

    In summary, the average present value of the Columbia investment would be much higher than the average present value of the Rice investment even with the $40,000 cash.

  • David__D

    Depends on a candidate’s goals. Rice places very well in energy banking, decent in consulting. Rice would edge out CBS in Real Estate, Energy, Healthcare, and Entrepreneurship.

    PE/VC/other high finance goals should go to CBS. General Management is probably a wash, I highly doubt Rice does as well at the C-Suite level but CBS isn’t HBS either. Still, if that was my goal I’d likely go to CBS.

    And then there’s the question of location. I’m not a NY guy (loved living in Boston) and I’m from Texas so for me making $150k living like a king in Dallas or Houston is 10x better than trying to live on that in Manhattan. That’s a personal preference though, I completely understand many people want to be in NYC.

    Full disclosure: I go to Rice, transitioned from engineering to consulting (MBBD) and couldn’t be happier. I would have gone to Sloan or HBS over Rice but can honestly say I wouldn’t have gone to CBS (didn’t apply, not interested in NYC or finance).

  • MBA alum

    Good point. In fact, Bloomberg’s methodology is somewhat silly. For example, the student salary rank and job placement rank is equally rated by Bloomberg. Stanford is ranked #1 in salary and #57 in job placement. Whereas, Rutgers is ranked #47 in salary and #1 in job placement. Thus, Rutgers gets a better overall combined job salary and placement ranking compared to
    Stanford. This does not remotely reflect reality, where Stanford’s graduates have much better access to the most desirable or elite jobs (PE, IB, VC, BMB Consulting, Google, etc.) and Stanford
    average starting salary of $140,553 is over 50% higher than Rutgers’ average starting salary of $91,588.

    The US News & World Report ranking methodology clearly more accurately reflects the true market value for the top 25 MBA programs using its combination of peer assessment, recruiter assessment, salaries, employment rates, and selectivity measurement (GPA, GMAT, acceptance
    rate). It is not a perfect system, but is much more in line with student selectivity, recruiter preferences, and short and long term compensation.

  • Orange1

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • Tesla

    Columbia no question..

  • AP

    Columbia any day. Not even close.

  • MBA survey

    Question to everyone!! Please like so it gets on top and everyone would get a chance to respond!!
    Which option would you choose:
    1) Rice -> full ride + $40K cash at graduation as your bonus
    2) Columbia -> no scholarships

  • Top Tier MBA

    As someone who has followed various MBA rankings for a number of years, I think B School candidates should view/use both the Bloomberg and US News rankings in order to get a couple of data points. Yes, the US News rankings display more reliability over time, but you you really think the Dean’s Peer Assessment Scores are gong to change materially over time as well? In my view, the Bloomberg rankings can help candidates identify diamonds in the rough (i.e., Rice), and they can couple that assessment with the US News Rankings in order to determine specifically what schools to apply to.

  • WizWaz

    Dear Bloomberg Joking team, every single cow in Netherlands knows that Kellogg is better than Rice. Please stop this Joke.

  • radish

    Not really. Students and MBA aspirants are pretty aware these days about the top 20 programs, that are: (without order): M7 schools + Haas, Tuck, Duke, Darden, Yale, Cornell, NYU, Michigan, UCLA, UNC, Tepper, Emory, and Indiana + Texas. M7 schools are the top followed by these schools, everyone of them provide almost same quality education, same target jobs. There are of course what called soft differentiation for choosing program over the other, for example, if someone interested in consulting, it is better to go for Kellogg from M7 or Darden, Tuck, or Emory. For finance, there are Wharton, Chicago, Columbia on M7 and there are Cornell, NYU, and UNC. For technology, there are Stanford, MIT in M7 and Tepper, Cornell, and Haas or UCLA or Texas. For general management there are HBS, Kellogg, Stanford, in M7 and Tuck, darden, Michigan..So, this list is solid and it is very hard to be affected by any fluctuation in rankings..

  • zamiatin

    Not a knock on Jones (Rice) as I had a client apply there last year, but there are at least five lower-ranked schools that most applicants would prefer. The year-to-year swings in the ratings underscore how unreliable they are, as programs (and the perceptions thereof) don’t change that much in that short a timeframe.

  • Mario

    I think these rankings need a good sanity check.
    These rankings are harmful for strong MBA programs that are consistently between the 10th and 20th spots.

  • James

    Just wonder: What kind of employers that put Stanford in 6th place?!

  • Edward

    For me, and after long time observing MBA rankings, It is clear that USNEWS ranking is the most credible, most reliable, and provide much more information than any other ranking. This Bloomberg rank is the economist US equivalent rank. Complete joke.