N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Harvard | Mr. 1st Gen Brazilian LGBT
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10
Wharton | Mr. Indian VC
GRE 333, GPA 3.61
MIT Sloan | Mr. Tech Enthusiast
GRE 325, GPA 6.61/10
Harvard | Mr. Midwest Dreamer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3

Harvard & Wharton Tie for 2018’s #1 MBA Program

WHO’S UP, WHO’S DOWN, AND HOW COME

Still, among the top 50 ranked MBA programs this year, only one experienced a year-over-year, double-digit change: UC-Davis’ Graduate School of Management, which jumped 11 places to rank 49th this year, from 61st in 2017. It took a lot of rankings momentum to gain that kind of improvement. UC-Davis earned rankings from both The Economist and Bloomberg Businessweek this year after being unranked in 2017. The school also had a five-point increase in U.S. News’ ranking.

Not surprisingly, volatility becomes a bigger issue as you wade further down the list of schools. That’s because the measurable differences among the schools tends to be much smaller and often less consequential, if not meaningless. That is one of the biggest issues in each of the five most influential rankings due to index scores that are clustered so closely together that they have little statistical relevance to justify putting a definite numerical rank next to a school.

Even so, only 11 of the 100 schools on the P&Q list had a double-digit advance or decline this year (see table below). In the more recent Bloomberg Businessweek ranking, nearly 40% of the schools that were ranked this year and last experienced a double-digit change, with 10 MBA programs improving or declining by 20 or more places. That is an unusual degree of volatility that says more about a ranking’s methodology than it does about the changing quality of MBA programs. Afterall, the vast majority of programs don’t change all that much year-over-year to justify double-digit jumps or falls. Volatility is the antithesis of reliability.

WHY GIES COLLEGE OF BUSINESS TUMBLED 15 PLACES THIS YEAR

A quick look at our ranking tables makes obvious the reasons for bigger movements up or down the list. More often than not, double-digit changes on the P&Q list occur when one of more of the most influential rankings drop or add an MBA program. Case Western University’s Weatherhead School of Management, for example, rose 14 places this year because it gained new rankings from The Economist and Forbes and improved its standing on both the U.S. News and Bloomberg Businessweek lists. In short, Weatherhead had a great rankings year.

On the down side, the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business at Urbana-Champaign tumbled 15 places this year because it lost two rankings—Financial Times and Forbes—and suffered declines on U.S. News’ list (falling eight places to 48th) and Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking (dropping 24 places to rank 69th). The loss of the FT and Forbes’ rankings were consequential because the school’s full-time MBA program had ranked 43rd among U.S. programs on the Financial Times list and 44th on Forbes’ ranking.

Every ranking list contains what would be considered anomalies, and the P&Q annual list, while more stable than others, is not an exception. The most glaring example of this is Howard University’s School of Business which had the single biggest gain this year. Howard’s full-time MBA program jumped 23 places to rank 71st from 94th last year. The reason: It was the biggest gainer in Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking this year, rising a remarkable 30 places to a 33rd finish.

There is no good reason that would explain such a huge jump in a single year on the Bloomberg Businessweek list. The school’s MBA program is unranked by Forbes, the Financial Times and The Economist. It is ranked 78th by U.S. News. While the P&Q approach dampens the full impact of that unexplainable improvement in the Businessweek ranking, Howard still managed a P&Q rank is defies its historical rankings. Is the improvement a fair reflection of Howard’s MBA program. Of course not. But then again, there’s a lot in life and plenty in rankings that is unfair.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.