Stanford GSB Cruises Into First In P&Q’s 2019-2020 MBA Ranking

MBA students at Stanford GSB


Stanford GSB Dean Jonathan Levin

Stanford rose to the top on an improved performance in this year’s U.S. News ranking, rising to second place from fourth. The school also won top honors in both the Financial Times and Bloomberg Businessweek rankings in 2019 and retained its second place finish in Forbes. The GSB lost some ground in The Economist survey, slipping to seventh from fifth.

Stanford’s rise to the top is a reflection of the school’s overall quality along with its prime location in the most dynamic economy in the world. The school accepts fewer applicants–just 6%–than any other prestige business school and its graduates typically land the highest starting compensation packages of any full-time MBAs. It’s also a testament to the thoughtful leadership of Dean Jonathan Levin, who assumed the top job little more than three years ago.

The mild-mannered economist has brought a period of stability and innovation at the school. This year, Stanford became the first business school to publish a diversity and inclusion report. The school is also upping the ante on experiential learning, adding a trio of new ‘action learning’ courses that leverage Stanford’s advantageous location. The classes will bring MBA students into contact with key players in the high tech ecosystem in Silicon Valley (see Stanford Ups Ante On Experiential Learning For MBAs).


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. That is especially true in a composite ranking because some schools fail to gain a ranked spot on all of the major lists.

The P&Q methodology rewards schools for subjecting themselves to analysis by all five of the most influential rankings. Some 42 out of the 100 ranked MBA programs were ranked on every major list. That approach penalizes schools that deliberately refuse to participate in rankings where they may be at a disadvantage or that fail to gain a rank because the institution’s MBA program isn’t good enough to make every list.

The methodology also favors more fact-based ranking systems that depend on qualitative data that measures the quality of incoming students, their career outcomes as graduates and the return-on-the-investment given MBA tuition costs and scholarships. Rankings heavily based on opinion in surveys completed by students who know their answers will be used to rank their alma maters are given less weight. 

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