Poets&Quants 2021-2022 MBA Ranking: It’s Stanford Again At The Top!

Stanford Graduate School of Business won top honors for the third consecutive year in Poets&Quants’ 2021-2022 ranking of the best MBA programs in the U.S.


The overall Poets&Quants‘ 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 (even when we don’t count them in the P&Q rank this year). As a result, you can more clearly assess why a school moved up or down on the new 2021-2022 list of U.S. MBA programs. A separate ranking for international MBA programs will be published in the next week.

There were some big winnrs on this year’s ranking. Topping them all with a gain of 19 places was the School of Management at the State University of New York in Buffalo, known as the University at Buffalo. The school’s MBA program soared into a rank of 55th, up from 74th a year earlier, thanks to improved rankings from U.S. News & World Report (see below chart).

And, of course, there were losers. Four MBA programs declined in double-digits, with Rollins College in Florida dropping 19 places to rank 100th, from 81st a year ago. North Carolina State saw a similar plunge, losing 18 spots to finish in 72nd place, from 54th, while the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management experienced a drop of 17 places to rank 72nd with NC State, from a rank of 55 last year. Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business not only lost its dean this year but also dropped 10 places to finish 66th, from 56th a year ago (see chart below).


When it comes to getting an MBA, it's hard to beat Stanford. It's more intimate than Harvard and more selective, too. It's also located in the most dynamic economy in the world, Silicon Valley, making it an excellent place to study business and entrepreneurship in the modern era. Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley icons are often present in class and on campus. Many of them earned their own MBAs at Stanford.

Year in and year out, the school attracts the world's best applicants and enrolls a class of students with the highest average GMAT scores on the planet. The average 738 score of the latest entering cohort puts the class in the 97th percentile, or the top 3%, of all GMAT test takers in the world. Their undergraduate academic success is unrivaled, with a class GPA average of 3.78, compared to Harvard's 3.69 and Wharton's 3.60. Stanford also accepts fewer applicants–slightly above 6%–than any other prestige business school, attracting more than 17 applicants for each available seat, in a class of 426 students. No less impressive, its graduates typically land the highest starting compensation packages of any full-time MBAs.

Tim Brown, a 2020 GSB MBA, describes the school as a “playground for the curious” – a culture that “teaches, rewards, and reinforces kindness, introspection, and active self-improvement.” At its heart, the Stanford GSB mission starts with changing with lives, observes Mollie Viater, a second year who was previously a strategy consultant at Eli Lilly. It is a mission, she adds, that aligns with her own.


Under Dean Jon Levin, the school has taken a leadership role in racial equity, becoming the first business school to publish annual reports on its progress in diversity and inclusion, reporting on the makeup of its student body, faculty and staff. That level of transparency is virutally unheard of in graduate management education. Early evidence of progress can be glimpsed in the school's latest class profile which shows that Stanford significantly increased the racial and ethnic diversity of its entering students. In percentage terms, the school increased Black American students by 43% to 10%, up from 7% a year earlier, while Asian American students increased by 30% to 30% of the class, and Hispanic/Latinx students rose 9% to compose 12% of the incoming students. First-generation college students rose by a third to represent 12% of the class, up from the 9% a year earlier who were the first in their family to graduate from a four-year college or university.

Levin, by nature a humble and cerebral leader, also has made it a priority to recruit and hire faculty to help students learn how to cope with the vast changes artifical intelligence, machine learning and data science are bringing to organizations.

“All the changes in technology are right here in this ten-mile radius around where we sit," Levin has told Poets&Quants in an interview. "If you look at the way this technology wave is going, a lot of the decisions about how these technologies are developed and deployed are going to get made in the private sector. The students we are educating are going to be making those consequential decisions. We have to try to equip them so they can make those decisions thoughtfully and responsibly. We want to be proud of the decisions they are making.”

(See the following page for the complete ranking of the top 100 MBA progrqms of 2021-2022)

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