How U.S. News Ranks MBA Programs
U.S. News dubs the list a “2023 ranking” to preserve its shelf life, even though it comes out in 2022 and is based on 2021 data. And though the U.S. News ranking fails to assess schools outside the U.S., it is arguably the most-watched and followed of all the MBA rankings. The methodology takes into account a wealth of proprietary and school-supplied data to crank out its annual ranking of the best full-time MBA programs. This year, U.S. News said it surveyed all 493 MBA programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International in the U.S. in the fall of 2021 and early 2022. A total of 363 responded, with 134 providing enough information to be assessed for a ranking.
The magazine does its own peer assessment survey of B-school deans and MBA directors (25% of the score). U.S. News reported that 47% of those surveyed responded. The highest score achieved in this survey was a 4.8 on a five-point scale, with one representing a reply of “marginal” and five “outstanding.”
Wharton, Stanford, and Harvard all gained the top 4.8 score. MIT Sloan fell to 4.7 this year, having been among that elite company last year. It also does its own survey of corporate recruiters (accounting for 15% of the overall ranking). U.S. News said it averaged the recruiter scores over the past three years for the ranking. Stanford earned the highest score on this metric, a 4.6, with Harvard, Chicago Booth, and Wharton next, earning 4.5 scores.
Many Data Points In U.S. News MBA Ranking But Schools Cluster Closely Together Anyway
Other metrics included in the ranking are starting salaries and bonuses (14%), employment rates at and three months after graduation (7% and 14%, respectively), student GMATs and GREs scores (about 16%), undergrad GPAs (about 8%), and the percentage of applicants who are accepted to a school (a little over 1%). This year for only the third time, U.S. News included analytical writing scores as part of the methodology.
U.S. News maintained a subtle though important change in this year’s ranking due to the pandemic. If a school’s combined percentage of its fall 2021 entering class submitting GMAT and GRE scores was less than 25% of all its new entrants, it received less credit on this ranking indicator. The 25% threshold was reduced from 50% to account for recent changes in admission practices at many schools that are deemphasizing the importance of standardized tests.
Despite the wide variety of metrics used to rank MBA programs, the methodology can only measure what is easily tangible. And once you add all of these different data points together, the differences in index points that account for the numerical ranks cluster closely together. The closeness of the results can cause major changes in rank for some schools, even though there may be small differences among them.
The Biggest Winners & Losers In The New MBA Ranking
Consider the schools that either plunged or gained in double-digit changes this year. At almost all of these schools, there were no significant changes that would justify either a major decline or a sizable ranking improvement. Yet, there are full-time MBA programs that experienced roller-coaster-like results from last year.
More Top 100 schools found themselves on the positive side of the ledger. After Syracuse University, the biggest gainers included the MBA programs at William & Mary in Virginia (up 24 places to rank 47th), UC-Riverside's Anderson School (up 21 spots to rank 89th and the University of Cincinnati (up 21 places to also rank 89th).