10 Business Schools To Watch In 2017

Yale School of Management

Yale School of Management: Yale is the proverbial lightning rod among Poets&Quants readers. The school seemingly has everything going for it: Ivy League status, a spiffy new facility, passionate alums, innovative leadership, and a signature integrative curriculum — global in nature — that’s predicated on the principle that business is a force for good. As a result, the program has been able to poach MBA applicants who’d normally be ticketed to the Big Three.

Under Dean Edward ‘Ted’ Synder, Yale has emerged as one of the hottest tickets in the B-school universe. There are 10.6 applicants for every open seat, a better ratio than either Harvard or Wharton. This demand is reflected in the school’s incoming class numbers. Yale first years produced a median 730 GMAT, equal to Harvard and Booth. It also ranks among the most diverse student bodies, with 46% international students and 43% women. Such numbers bode well for Yale to rise in future rankings, after solidifying its credentials by finally breaking into the U.S. News top 10.

However, it is Yale’s fervent alumni who could push the school into top five territory in the coming years. In The Economist student survey, the program earned top 10 marks in personal development and educational experience. The SOM merited similar sentiments from alumni in Bloomberg Businessweek’s alumni survey. Even more, alumni participation peaked at 51.9% during Yale’s latest annual giving campaign, double the average reported by peer MBA programs. Even more impressive, the program raised nearly $3.4 million, more than twice the amount from three years earlier. One more thing: the alumni number just 7,000 graduates at a sprite 46 years of age on average. In other words, they are just heading into the prime of their careers and earning power, making them all the more formidable in the coming years to both contribute to the school and to lend a helping hand to future generations of students starting out.

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Duke University (Fuqua): “Duke the fluke?”  That was the word after the 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking. After rocketing to the #1 spot a year earlier, Fuqua tumbled back down to earth by finishing 8th. You could almost hear the critics: ‘Those survey samples must have been too small,’ they theorized, ‘which made them vulnerable to volatility and bias.’ Fast forward to 2016 and even the critics must now concede that Fuqua is the real deal.

In a bounce back year, Duke ranked third in the latest Bloomberg Businessweek ranking, buoyed by survey enthusiasm from employers, alumni, and students alike. Such warmth was reflected in the starting pay of the 2016 graduating class, who cracked the $150,000 average total pay mark for the first time, with one graduate finagling a $225,000 deal to boot. At the opposite end, Fuqua netted an all-time high in applications, while holding their acceptance rate to an exclusive 22%.

However, it is difficult to measure Fuqua’s appeal through numbers. Instead, it has become a destination for MBAs looking to become part of “Team Fuqua,” a close-knit and nurturing culture characterized by openness and feedback. Here, students look out for each other and support their personal and career ambitions. A marketing gimmick, you say? Hardly! It is the criteria by which Fuqua selects its classes. Even more, it is a core value system, a way of thinking and interacting that reflects what fosters success in business…and life.

“Team Fuqua is not a notion that just lives in this building,” explains Liz Riley Hargrove, associate dean of admissions, in a 2016 interview. “They take it with them to their jobs. Students are taught to look at the team and organize around the strengths and weaknesses of each person to best solve a problem and get the most out of a group. They see how it works and so it stays with them.”

It is an appeal that has resonated with Millennial applicants and employers. “We made a bet that a great team will always beat a great individual,” admits Fuqua Dean William Boulding. Based on the returns, the bet is paying off big time.


INSEAD:  Think American programs have a distinct advantage in the MBA space? You must have missed the 2016 Financial Times ranking, where INSEAD edged out Harvard to become the world’s top MBA program.

It’s rather fitting, considering INSEAD’s tagline is “The Business School for the World.” It’s no empty boast, either. The latest cohort, for example, is comprised of 73 nationalities, with 93% of the class hailing from outside France. By the same token, 93% of INSEAD faculty grew up outside France. As a result, students are exposed to a breathtaking number of business practices and cultural nuances in their day-to-day interactions. Immersed in the unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable, INSEAD grads are often better prepared to adapt to plum overseas assignments and forge teams from different backgrounds. It is a hopeful juxtaposition to 2016, where the Brits lionized Brexit and Americans pondered building a border wall after calling for the iron curtain to be torn down a generation earlier.

Despite being the world’s largest business school, INSEAD could still be considered a waking giant that is still grasping with its own potential. In recent years, it has poured heavy resources into career services. The result has been better placement and salaries. INSEAD has also devoted more care to alumni engagement, quintupling its annual fund-raising dollars over five years in the process. Don’t expect INSEAD to rest on its laurels. The school is currently putting the finishing touches on a new curriculum, launching in September of 2017, that places greater emphasis on leadership, ethics, and public policy — all key business drivers in the 21st century.

In fact, you could argue that INSEAD provides the template for tomorrow’s business school. Cosmopolitan in makeup with far-flung campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, INSEAD features an intensive 10-month-long curriculum that enables students to quickly return to making money — and well-heeled alumni across the globe who can help them achieve their career goals. That’s a tough combination to beat…and one to watch for in 2017.

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