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

8) Where The Champagne Corks Are Popped

If you’re one of the big winners, with a double-digit year-over-year gain in a ranking, you should really celebrate–before your new standing evaporates with the next ranking update. This year, eight business schools fell into the celebratory category.

They were led by North Carolina State’s Poole College of Management. Poole soared 33 places to rank 52nd from 85th last year. One telling stat for the school? Poole was able to get jobs for 96.6% of its MBA graduates within three months of commencement last year. That’s as good or better than many the elite schools, including MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, and Chicago Booth. In fact, no school ranked in the bottom half of U.S. News‘ list could boast a better MBA employment rate.

Other big winners include the University of Kansas, up 25 spots to place 68th, and the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management, which climbed 21 places to finish in 53rd place, up from 74th last year (see below table).

9) And the big losers?

Besides two schools that fell entirely off the ranking, including the MBA programs at the Drexel University and the University of Arkansas, 17 full-time MBA programs that managed to stay on the list had double-digit changes in their status. Two of the three biggest drops were at the University of California schools. UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business plunged 24 places to rank 67th from 43rd, while UC-San Diego’s Rady School of Management plummeted 20 spots to finish 89th from 69th a year earlier.

What could possibly cause a school to tumble more than 20 places in a single year? At UC-Irvine, the free fall by 24 places was largely the result of lower employment rates. Merage MBAs employed at graduation fell to 52.1% last year from 57.4% a year earlier but the job rate for MBA grads with jobs three months after commencement really tanked to 70.8% from 85.2% a year earlier, a difference of nearly 15 percentage points (see table above).

“The drop doesn’t represent the reality that 90 percent of our students accepted positions with many of today’s leading global organizations, just not within the 90-day period. Finding employment that resonates personally is critical for today’s talent, so we must also take a long-term view of student success, which is the ultimate value of attaining an MBA,” notes Eric Spangenberg, dean of the Paul Merage School of Business.

Otherwise, for Irvine, it was a mixed bag. Average class GMATs actually inched up three points to 670, along with average starting salaries and sign-on bonuses which came to $108,548 last year, up slightly from $107,905 in 2018. Those small gains were, no doubt, offset by a lower score on U.S. News‘ recruiter survey, falling to 2.7 from 2.8 on a five-point scale, and a higher acceptance rate which rose to 31.8% from 27.3%.


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