Ten Biggest Surprises In U.S. News’ 2019 MBA Ranking

The University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business

9) Warrington Cracks The Top 25

Looking for a predictable player in the U.S. News MBA ranking? You could always depend on the University of Florida to rank somewhere from 35-40, in that same block as Michigan State and Illinois. They were a ‘solid state school,’ marked by high placement and small school experience that rested heavily on one-on-one attention and feedback. 

In 2020, the Warrington School broke out of its rut, climbing nine spots to 25th. The reason? Start with the school’s acceptance rate, an impressively low 18.8%. In other words, applicants have a better shot of getting into the Wharton School, Chicago Booth, or Northwestern Kellogg than Warrington. Make no mistake: Warrington attracts an impressive cadre of candidates. The Class of 2020, for example, brought an average 3.55 undergraduate GPA to campus – or just .02 of a point less than MIT Sloan’s incoming class averaged. On top of that, 89.1% of second years have already landed a job by graduation, second only to Michigan Ross among Top 25 schools. Within three months of graduation, the school’s 95.7% placement rate ranks third-best in this same range. 

Those variables alone account for over 43% of the U.S. News ranking weight!

It was a banner year for Warrington, though some measures continue to dog the MBA program. The school’s peer assessment score – a measure more of reputation than actual performance – remains lodged at 3.5 – though a marked improvement over its 3.2 in the 2012 ranking. The same is true for its 3.5 recruiter survey score. While it is a .5 of a point jump over the past eight years, it still lags behind Warrington’s new company: Georgetown McDonough (3.9) and Indiana Kelley (3.8). In addition, average pay and bonus – $121,558 – is the lowest in the Top 25…and it trails programs nipping at its heels, such as Notre Dame Mendoza, Georgia Tech Scheller, and Vanderbilt Owen.

That begs the question: Can Warrington sustain this momentum – or was this jump simply a one-year anomaly. On the negative side, the average class is just 95 students – the fourth smallest among Top 50 full-time MBA programs. Of course, Warrington also benefits from a resource-rich larger public university – not to mention a robust undergraduate and online MBA programs. 

Here’s where it gets interesting. Just look back in history. In 2011, Warrington ranked just 47th with U.S. News. Four years ago, it had clawed its way to 37th. Now it is 25th. In other words, Warrington has been quietly building up to this moment – and we wouldn’t be surprised if they are a Top 25 program to stay.

10) Those Inevitable Roller-Coaster Ups & Downs

What goes up must come down. Well, in rankings that is certainly true.

As is customary, the biggest changes tend to occur further down in the rankings. Excluding schools that either disappeared completely from last year’s list or popped up on the new ranking, ten MBA programs experienced double-digit improvements in their rankings and another 13 suffered setbacks.

The year’s biggest winner? Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business soared 32 places to rank 47th from 79th just a year ago.

And the biggest loser? Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management plunged 21 spots to rank 74th from 53rd last year.

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