Chicago Booth & Wharton Tie For First In New U.S. News MBA Ranking

Chicago Booth and the Wharton School tie for first place in this year’s U.S. News ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S.

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the Wharton School nudged aside Stanford Graduate School of Business to claim top honors in the new U.S. News ranking of full-time MBA programs. Stanford slipped to a third-place finish in a tie with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. The new list, released today (March 29), again found Harvard Business School remaining in a fifth-place tie with MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Yale University’s School of Management climbed two places to rank seventh, just ahead of Columbia Business School and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, both of which finished in eighth place. It was Yale’s highest ranking in U.S. News ever. Yale moved up two places from ninth last year thanks to a six-point rise in its average GMAT score to 726, along with a drop of six percentage points on its acceptance rate to 23.6%. The school also reported an 8.8 percentage improvement on its placement rate three months after graduation at 94.1%.

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business muscled its way into the Top Ten of the ranking, rising three places from last year and pushing out Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, now 11th, and New York University’s Stern School of Business, now 12th.

After eliminating standardized test scores from its online MBA ranking earlier this year, U.S. News decided to keep the average class GMAT and GRE scores in its formula for its full-time ranking. But it continued the adjustment made last year so that only schools that admitted fewer than 25% of their latest incoming classes would be penalized in the ranking. Last year U.S. News reduced the threshold from 50% to account for admissions “disruptions” due to the pandemic. The change allows admission officers to make standardized tests optional or to deploy more generous waiver policies without an impact on their schools’ ranking.

U.S. News’ 2022 MBA Ranking: Surprises & Shocks Galore

As is often the case, the highly influential U.S. News list was loaded with surprises and shocks (see The Ten Biggest Surprises In U.S. News MBA Ranking). Nearly two dozen business schools saw their ranks change in double-digits, with the biggest year-over-year decline–30 places–occurring in the rank of the full-time MBA program at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business in Boston. The school’s MBA program plunged to an 85th finish, down from 55 only a year ago. The Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University experienced the single biggest advance, a 27-place improvement to a rank of 57 from 84th last year.

Among the Top 25 winners, two business schools stood out for their improved MBA rankings: Emory University’s Goizueta Business School rose five places to rank 21st, regaining Top 25 status from its showing in 26th place in 2021. Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame jumped 11 places to rank 25th from 36th. Outside the Top 25, Washington University’s Olin Business School in St. Louis gained seven spots to rank 29th, while the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business rose eight positions to place 47th.

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is no stranger to high rankings, though it is rare for the school’s MBA program to place first on U.S. News lists. The only other time Booth took top honors was in 2018 when it shared first place with Harvard Business School. Booth scored its victory by reporting improvements across a number of metrics used by the ranking organization to assess the quality of full-time MBA programs.

How Chicago Booth’s MBA Program Got Its First Place Ranking

Booth reported a class GMAT score that was six points higher than a year ago at 730 behind only two other schools, Stanford (738) and Wharton (733). The school’s acceptance rate fell five points to 22.6%, while its score on U.S. News‘ surveys to corporate recruiters improved from 4.4 to 4.5, matching Harvard and Wharton and behind only Stanford (4.6). The average salary and sign-on bonus for last year’s MBA grads jumped by $7,300 to a record $180,144, the second-highest of any business school, according to U.S. News‘ figures. Placement for the Class of 2021 was up five points three months after graduation at 96.4%, while placement at commencement rose by four points to 88.7%.

Those improvements drove Chicago’s MBA program into a first-place tie with Wharton which also turned in a number of impressive metrics counted by U.S. News. Wharton pushed its acceptance rate down by 4.9 percentage points to 18.2%, with a one-point gain on the class GMAT average. The average salary and signing bonus of Wharton MBAs jumped by $6,600 to $179,692, the second-highest of all schools behind only Booth. Meantime, job placement at graduation improved by 8.9 percentage points to 89.9% at graduation versus 81.0% a year earlier, while placement three months after commencement moved up by 3.3 percentage points to 96.8% from 93.5%.

MBA rankings, of course, are highly controversial yet eagerly consumed by applicants, students, and alumni. Harvard Business School’s fifth-place finish can largely be explained by U.S. News‘ methodology. While few applicants would decline an admit invite to HBS from schools that U.S. News ranks above Harvard, the school trails its peer group on a number of key metrics in the methodology employed by U.S. News. The average salary and bonus for Harvard’s MBAs last year was $172,774, lower than seven other U.S. business schools, including Cornell ($173,185) and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business ($176,167). It was also well below New York University’s Stern School of Business whose MBA grads last year posted an average salary and signing bonus of $181,803, higher than any other school.

Harvard Business School’s Abysmal Job Placement Rate

Harvard’s job rate of 69.0% was abysmal, the lowest of any Top Ten school and well below Wharton’s 89.9%, Chicago’s 88.7%, and Michigan’s 88.2%. The placement rate three months after graduation was little better at 92.3%, the second-lowest for a Top Ten school behind only UC-Berkeley’s 88.3%.

Just as surprisingly, HBS also trailed key rivals in all three admission metrics used in the ranking: admit rate, undergraduate GPA, and average GMAT. The school’s acceptance rate of 12.5% was up from 9.2% last year and more than double Stanford’s 6.2% and behind MIT Sloan’s 12.1%. Harvard’s class average GMAT score of 727 was behind six other schools and tied with Northwestern Kellogg. The undergraduate grade point average of Harvard’s MBAs of 3.69 also was behind both Stanford (3.78) and Kellogg (3.70).


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.