2016 Poets&Quants’ MBA Ranking


For the sixth time in seven years, Harvard Business School is again atop the new Poets&Quants’ ranking of the best MBA experiences in the U.S. The new 2016 list of America’s best business schools has Stanford in second place, Chicago Booth in third, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management along with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in a tie for fourth.

It is also the sixth out of seven lists that the University of Chicago has bested the Wharton School since 2010. No less crucial, this year Booth beat Wharton in four of the five rankings that make up Poets&Quants’ composite list. U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and The Economist this year all ranked Booth ahead of Wharton. Only The Financial Times had Wharton over Booth.

As is typical on such lists, the further down you go, the more likely you are to see changes and surprises. That’s largely because the differences among school scores down the list tend to be smaller so changes in an MBA program’s rankings tend to loom larger. Just outside the Top 20, for instance, Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business gained five places to rank 23rd this year, up from 28th a year earlier. Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business edged up one place to finish 24th.


Usually, we publish a separate ranking of MBA programs outside the U.S. along side the American ranking. Bloomberg Businessweek‘s decision to delay its international ranking, however, requires that we delay our international ranking until after publication of Businessweek‘s list during the week of Dec. 5.

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.)

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.


On P&Q’s lineup of the best U.S. MBA programs, all top ten schools in last year’s ranking, for example, remain in the top ten this year. In fact, every top 20 school retained its top 20 status in 2016. While there were some changes, they were slight: Columbia Business School fell three spots to rank ninth this year from sixth in 2015. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business gained two places to rank seventh, while Kellogg edged ahead one place to rank fourth.

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.

What’s more, users can see at one glance where their target schools fall across the spectrum of core rankings. And for the first time, we’re including year-over-year changes in each of the five lists that comprise our overall ranking (see this year’s ranking tables.) As a result, you can more clearly assess why a school moved up or down on the new 2016 list.


School Gain 2016 Rank 2015 Rank Reason
Fordham (Gabelli) +16 83 99 Gained U.S. rank; improved BW standing
Connecticut-Storrs +10 63 73 Improved in BW & FT rankings
Brigham Young (Marriott) +9 34 43 Improved U.S. & BW rankings, added to FT list
Boston College (Carroll) +9 50 59 Improved in FT, added to BW
Pepperdine (Graziadio) +9 72 81 Gained U.S. News ranking

Source: P&Q analysis

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