Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. Healthtech Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.44
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45
Kellogg | Mr. Social Impact Initiative
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Navy Nuke
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
London Business School | Mr. LGBT Pivot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4

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

7) Those Ridiculous U.S. News Ties

Over the years, the methodology that U.S. News employs to rank the best full-time MBA programs has apparently lost its ability to more clearly differentiate one program for another. The proof of it? Just take a look at the incredibly large number of schools tied for the same rank. Een in the Top 20, you have Wharton and Stanford tied for first this year, defeating the need for a clear winner. Then, you have two schools tied for third: Kellogg and Chicago Booth which defeats the need for a champion in the Chicago metro area. And how about 12th place where you have a three-way tie among Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, and Michigan Ross.

In all, 13 of the top 25 schools are in deadlocked positions, while 34 of the top 50 share a rank with at least one if not three other schools. Four full-time MBA programs–Boston College, Boston University, UC-Davis, and the University of Utah–are all tied for a rank of 48th.

It gets worse. When you dip into the last half of the list, 39 of the schools are tied. There are another four MBA programs in a tie for 56th place, and another five programs tied at 62nd. The upshot: 74 of the 98 schools with actual numerical ranks share a position with another school. Yet, the most maddening result of all is the stub MBA programs that are all ranked “99-131.” In other words, U.S. News decided not to put any definite numerical ranks on these schools, merely putting a “99-131” badge on all those MBA programs.

On one hand, you might want to congratulate U.S. News for not artificially placing ranks on schools with nearly identical index scores. On the other hand, it’s disconcerting that a methodology with eight different metrics can lead to so little differentiation.

University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business

8) Pittsburgh On The Prowl

Five years ago, the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business ranked 55th according to U.S. News. Just two years ago, it had crawled up to 52nd. This year, Katz has cracked the Top 40 – and that comes after a nine spot jump the year before.

That’s solid momentum for a program that differentiates itself with “Katz Ready” graduates. By that, Katz means graduates who have honed their fundamentals through intensive hands-on project experience.

“We focus extensively on what we call experience-based learning (EBL), both in classes and in the co-curriculum,” explains Laura Oknefski, Katz’s director of MBA programs, in a 2019 interview with P&Q. “Through opportunities like Consulting Field Projects, case competitions, Management Simulation, Global Research Practicums, Six Sigma, and fall and spring professional development weeks, our students take foundational business theories and apply them in real-world contexts. In doing so, students are intentionally coached by faculty, staff, and Executives in Residence in how to not only make successful business decisions but also to approach teamwork and problem-solving in creative and collaborative ways.”

Recruiters have certainly taken note. In the U.S. News recruiter survey, Katz grads earned a 3.5 score – better than or tied with 14 programs ranked above the school. By the same token, Katz reported pay increasing by $7,000 and average GMAT scores rising by 12 points over the past year. According to Forbes, Katz graduates also experienced the biggest jump from pre-MBA pay in the world, giving them a return on investment that’s second-to-none. What’s more, this small school gem remains popular with applicants, with an acceptance rate that’s lower than 17 programs ranked above it. 

Translation: Katz may be poised to take another step forward in the coming year – particularly as it doubles down on its strength in employer satisfaction. “We’ve integrated new professional development weeks into our fall and spring semesters,” adds Oknefski. “Each professional development week is a time when classes do not meet. Instead, the MBA program office along with the Career Management office provides a wide variety of professional development opportunities for students. These opportunities include Wall Street Prep, CAPM, diversity and inclusion workshops, time management seminars, and national conference attendance. We’ve made this change in order to help students balance their academic studies with special-topic professional development that we think will help to set them apart in their career search.”

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.