Stanford Tops New U.S. News MBA Ranking

Stanford GSB topped the U.S. News ranking for the second consecutive year


COVID’s impact on the economy certainly had an impact on the MBA job market. Just 11 of the Top 25 schools posted job placement rates of 90% or above within three months of graduation. A year before, 21 of the 25 met that threshold. The best employment rate—94.2%—was again reported by the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. But that rate was below the year-earlier 98.9% level for Foster. Both Wharton and MIT Sloan were right behind Foster with a job rate of 93.5%, followed by Northwestern Kellogg at 92.5%, and Dartmouth Tuck at 92.3%. Yet, schools reported strong salary and bonus numbers almost across the board.

In addition to the overall MBA ranking, U.S. News also publishes specialty rankings for business schools on such common disciplines as finance, accounting, and marketing (see How U.S. News Ranks MBAs By Specialty). These lists are based solely on the magazine’s peer assessment surveys to business school deans and MBA directors. Each respondent is asked to nominate up to 15 programs for excellence in each listed specialty. The schools receiving the most votes in each discipline are then numerically ranked by U.S. News. A school must receive and least seven nominations to make each list.

Once again, no school was ranked in every specialty, but MIT Sloan School of Management — the No. 5 overall school in the main ranking — came closest, ranking in every quant specialization and only missing the baker’s dozen by failing to make the Nonprofit list. The Sloan School also had the most No. 1 rankings this year, with three: Production & Operations, Business Analytics, and Project Management. But MIT missed out on a fourth No. 1, losing its Information Systems crown to Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business.

MIT’s strong showing across the different specialty rankings comes with a big caveat. Like the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School — which had No. 1 placements in Finance (for the umpteenth year) and Real Estate (for the second year) and also placed second in Marketing and third in both Accounting and Analytics, the latter a jump of two places from last year — MIT refused to fill out U.S. News‘ statistical survey, forcing the magazine to use 2019 data. How this affected their performance is anyone’s guess, but both schools held serve in seven specialties and gained ground in three; Wharton was unranked in two specialties and only lost ground in one, while MIT lost ground in two and was unranked in only one.


As usual, there also were some dramatic year-over-year ups and downs for several schools. Of the 95 MBA programs that returned to the list from last year, 18 business school, or 19% of the Top 100, experienced double-digit gains or declines. Among the 10 schools that will pop champagne corks today is Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Krannert soared 36 places to rank 44th from 80th last year, the single biggest year-over-year rise of any MBA program on the list.

It is ironic that the school scored so well because only last year Purdue decided to pause its full-time MBA program after years of application declines, enrollment drops, red ink, and a freefall in earlier U.S. News‘ rankings. The program’s rise occurred as a result of what could very well be its last full-time class enrolled last fall. Other big winners include Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, which moved up 16 places to finish 64th, and Pepperdine University and Binghamton University at the State University of New York, both of which rose 15 places to rank, 68th and 84th, respectively (see below table).

And there are a bunch of newcomers or returnees. St. Louis University’s full-time MBA program was the stronger new player on the list, ranking 72nd. Mississippi State University, coming in at a rank of 92nd, Belmont University (97), Drexel University (97), and the University of Colorado at Denver (100) all were absent from last year’s ranking. Another group of schools, ranked in 2020 in a vague 99-131 category by U.S. News, made the Top 100. They included Binghamton University (84), American University (87),  the University of San Francisco (87), the University of San Diego (92), and North Carolina State A&T University (96).

And the big losers? Temple University’s Fox School of Business, whose former dean faces a possible criminal indictment for his alleged involvement in a years-long scheme to inflate reported stats to U.S. News to increase their rankings, plunged the most. Fox plummeted 22 places to rank 84th from 62nd (see table below). Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business dropped 21 spots to place 74th from a rank of 53rd a year earlier, while the University of Arizona and Tulane University, both lost 18 places to rank 64th and 92nd, respectively.

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