Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.2
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Senior Research Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.58
Stanford GSB | Mr. Doctor Who
GRE 322, GPA 4.0
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Data Savvy Engineer
GRE 316, GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9

Ten Biggest Surprises In U.S. News 2020 MBA Ranking

3) An NYU Stern Comeback

Most business schools want to set an example. Four years ago, New York University’s Stern School of Business became a poster child. After accidentally omitting a piece of data – out of 300 data points – in the U.S. News ranking, the school tumbled from 11th to 20th. It has been a rough road back, as NYU Stern has been seesawing between 12th and 13th…until now.

This year, NYU Stern cracked the Top Ten. If the school had posted slightly better recruiter and academic survey scores, it could’ve risen even further. Thanks to U.S. News’ ever-annoying ties, Stern actually vaulted over four MBA programs: Virginia Darden, Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, and Michigan Ross.

A new day ahead? Well, let’s just say Stern got its mojo back. Any headline starts with higher pay. According to U.S. News data, Stern MBAs pulled down starting pay packages of $168,291 – higher than any full-time MBA program except the Wharton School. Stern MBA earnings also outpaced Harvard Business School and cross-town rival Columbia Business School by nearly $3,500. At the same time, Stern boasted the third-best placement rate among the Top Ten.

Still, Stern’s surge was, in many ways, fueled by improvements in key areas. Not surprisingly, Stern pay rocketed over the previous year – to the tune of over $9,200 specifically. The school’s average GMAT also rose from 716 to 721 too.

Question is, can Stern sustain this momentum? Well, the school’s Manhattan zip code doesn’t hurt, putting students a cab ride away from the best minds and opportunities in finance, advertising, media, fashion, and even technology. The school is also launching a new core curriculum next fall, focused heavily on leadership and entrepreneurship, with strong doses of coaching, experiential learning, and problem-solving. Even more, the MBA program can piggyback off a community that includes nearly 5,400 students and 450 faculty members.

“At NYU Stern we call this our “size paradox,” says J.P. Eggers, the vice dean for MBA programs, in a 2019 interview. “Stern has a larger faculty than most business schools with a broad range of expertise. Our size gives us the flexibility to be nimble, to anticipate ever-changing market needs and to be first and fast to market.”

Michigan’s Ross School of Business

4) Ross At A Loss

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has everything. According to academics, Ross ranks among the ten-best in every conceivable graduate business concentration. It attracts one of the most diverse sets of recruiters. It is surrounded by one of the largest and resource-rich universities in the world. Best of all, MBA alumni enjoy education for life. Translation: they don’t have to pay for any executive or online courses they take after graduating (or career counseling, for that matter). And the school has one of the most visionary deans on the planet in Scott DeRue.

Sounds great on paper. What does that mean when it comes to rankings? For years, P&Q championed Michigan Ross as sorely underrated, an innovator whose across-the-board excellence and interdisciplinary spirit didn’t fit neatly into tight ranking parameters. That changed in 2018 when Ross rocketed to the #7 spot. The M7 was due for a shakeup, we thought – and Ross was just the school to disrupt the natural order.

Fast forward two years and Ross has dropped back to its familiar #12 spot with U.S. News, losing two spots over last year. What happened? Well, the school lost ground in the academic and recruiter surveys, falling from 4.4 to 4.3 and 4.1 to 4.0 in these categories respectively. No big deal? Well, they do account for 40% of the ranking, offsetting Ross’ 2.5% improvement in placement (35% of weight). At the same time, the school’s dip in average GMAT (Think 16.2% of ranking weight) overshadowed its improvement in average GPA (7.5%). Alas, there is little room for error with U.S. News, which is why Michigan Ross is bunched up with Duke Fuqua and Dartmouth Tuck at #12.

Ross is different, no doubt. It is project-based, problem-solving, experience-driven, and real world. Dean Scott DeRue likens it to a “teaching hospital” – a place where you can “try before you buy.” In other words, MBA students get their hands dirty. They aren’t just reading cases, they’re actually creating and living them. They’re even building new divisions in existing companies as part of the Living Business Leadership Experience! That’s tough to factor into a ranking where inputs and outputs account for 60% of the weight.

While a Top 10 ranking might be nice, Michigan Ross probably isn’t sweating being among the dirty dozen. After all, the U.S. News ranking is a snapshot of where schools were nine months ago – and Ross’ experiential model is geared towards where MBAs will be a decade from now.

“By emphasizing action-based learning, we challenge our students to try new and really difficult things, even if that means they fail sometimes,” explains Soojin Kwon, managing director of Full-time MBA admissions and program at Michigan Ross, in a 2019 Q&A with P&Q. “Our MBA students learn to be agile, adaptable and figure out how to add value amid ambiguity in new, changing, challenging situations. They also learn how to work effectively in teams and take leadership roles, which are traits employers look for in prospective employees. As a result, MBA students leave Ross ready to take on whatever lies ahead of them in their careers because they will have already developed the skillset to deal with those very tricky real-world business situations. In doing this, we’re training leaders for jobs that don’t exist today, but will in 5 years, 10 years, and beyond.”

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.