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

For only the second time in ten years, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business claimed sole possession of first place in Poets&Quants‘ MBA ranking for 2019-2020. To win the title for the best full-time MBA program in the U.S., Stanford rose two places to pass by Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

The new ranking reflects a slight reshuffling over last year’s top ten players, with only one school–Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management–retaining its year-earlier rank of fifth place. But almost all the changes are of minor note, an improvement or decline of one or two places, with one notable exception. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School slipped three spots to finish in fourth place behind Stanford, Chicago Booth, and Harvard Business School. MIT’s Sloan School of Management placed sixth, ahead of Columbia Business School. The so-called M7, the group of elite schools known as the Magnificent Seven, retained their hold on the top seven positions, proving again their durability in the prestige game.

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business was right behind the M7 in eighth place, while Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business finished in ninth place. Yale School of Management broke back into the top ten, capturing the very last rung on the ladder with a rank of ten, displacing the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Yale moved up one spot from a year-earlier to join that elite company, while Ross slipped two places to finish 12th. Only six years ago, Yale SOM’s MBA program had ranked 17th but the school’s significant rankings improvement landed it in tenth place in 2015, 2016 and 2017.


Elsewhere in the top 25, the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business continued its upward march in the rankings, moving up three places to its highest rank ever at 19th. However, this is the last rank achieved by former Dean James Ellis who was unfairly forced to leave his post by the university on June 30th (see Marshall’s Ousted Dean Assails Administration For ‘Fabrications’). He will be succeeded next year by Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett who will, no doubt, struggle to maintain the school’s unusually high rankings.

Unlike other rankings, the tenth annual Poets&Quants 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 credibility. (U.S. News is given a weight of 35%, Forbes, 25%, while both the Financial Times and Businessweek is given a 15% weight, and The Economist, 10% (see How We Crunched The Data For Our 2019-2020 MBA Ranking).

Combining these five major 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 oddball results in a single ranking. 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.


The upshot: The Poets&Quants list is more stable–and reliable–than most rankings published elsewhere. Among the top 50 ranked MBA programs, for example, only two experienced double-digit changes in their year-over-year rankings: Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management plunged ten laces to finish 48th from a rank of 38th last year, while Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business soared 12 spots to rank 50th from 62nd in 2018.

One solid example of this would be Tuck’s unusual second place finish in the recent Bloomberg Businessweek ranking. The school’s full-time MBA program moved up 17 places in a single year, according to that ranking, after Tuck plunged a dozen spots in the previous year. In the P&Q ranking, Tuck held steady at a rank of ninth place despite all the ups and downs on the Businessweek list. That’s because two of the school’s other rankings—U.S. News and Forbes—continued to slide. In U.S. News this year, Tuck slipped two spots to rank 12th, while the school dropped one spot on the Forbes list to sixth from fifth.

The overall list takes 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 fourth year in a row, 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 2019-2020 list of U.S. MBA programs. A separate ranking for international MBA programs will be published in December.

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