Ten Biggest Surprises In U.S. News 2022 MBA Ranking

3) Show Me The Money: It’s NYU Stern At The Top

Which school’s MBA graduates make the most money right out of the gate?

If you guessed Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton–all incredibly logical choices–you would be wrong. According to U.S. News data, the grads who landed the biggest salaries and signing bonuses had New York University’s Stern School of Business imprinted on their MBA diplomas. Last year, Stern MBAs even beat their uptown Ivy League rivals at Columbia Business School.

In U.S. News‘ methodology, money matters because average starting salary and bonus accounts for 14% of the MBA ranking.

The average starting salary and sign-on bonus for a Stern MBA hit $181,803. That sum was nearly $10,000 more than the $172,774 average at Harvard Business School and about $5,000 more than the $176,956 average at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

How is that possible? Location helps but it doesn’t tell the full story. Placing more students in the expensive New York City metro area inflates pay, for sure. But you have to look at the mix of industries chosen by students to gain a deeper understanding of why NYU Stern is on top this year.

More Stern MBAs ventured into the two highest-paying fields–consulting and finance–than graduates of Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton. At Stern, two-thirds of the Class of 2021 landed jobs in those two fields, with 31.3% gravitating to consulting and 35.0% to financial services. Compare Stern’s 66.3% in consulting and finance to Wharton’s 62.4%, Harvard’s 58%, or Stanford’s 51%. Other top business schools are sending their MBAs into a wider variety of jobs that pay less in technology, healthcare, and consumer products.

Okay, so how did Stern beat Columbia Business School? CBS actually sent even more of its MBA graduates into consulting and finance: 69.4% vs. Stern’s 66.3%. Yet, Stern still beat Columbia’s $174,114 average salary and bonus by more than $7,500. That’s largely because more of Stern’s MBAs went into investment banking where the hours are long and the pressure is high. Some 28.3% of Stern’s MBAs signed up for i-banking careers versus Columbia’s 16.3%. It didn’t hurt that the median base salary for a Stern MBA entering investment banking was $175,000, $50K more than the $150K bagged by Columbia MBAs.

4) The Bad News In The Ranking For Ambitious MBA Applicants

For MBA applicants hoping to land a spot in a highly selective MBA program, it's gotten harder to get into a reach school.

Acceptance rate, yield, admit, and class size data from the recent release of the 2023 U.S. News & World Report ranking of U.S. MBA programs show that across the top 52 business schools, 35 increased their selectivity — including 21 of the top 25 schools — while most admitted fewer applicants and shrank their class sizes.

Responding to the heightened difficulty in securing a coveted spot in a premier program, the percentage of admits who enrolled in the school that accepted them — yield — went up at nearly all the top schools. Forty-five schools saw yield increases, including eight of the top 10, a year after 44 schools — including 23 of the top 25 — reported declines in yield. This year, 18 of 51 schools saw double-digit yield increases. The pandemic is truly over, at least where B-school admission realities are concerned.

The lowest acceptance rate in 2021 — and one of the lowest on record — was, not surprisingly, at Stanford Graduate School go Business, which admitted just 6.2% of applicants last year, down from 7.2% in 2020. Nearly all who were fortunate enough to get into Stanford leaped at the chance, as reflected in the school's astronomical yield: the school's highest level on record, 93.6%, up from 82.3% the year before.

Following Stanford in acceptance rate were MIT Sloan School of Management at 12.1%, Harvard Business School at 12.5%, Columbia Business School at 15.7%, and UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business at 17.6%. In all, 10 schools reported acceptance rates below 20% (compare that to just four schools in 2020), and 27 schools were below 30% (compared to 18).

The highest acceptance rate in the Poets&Quants top 10 was at Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business, at 29.5%; the highest in the top 25 was at Georgetown McDonough School of Business, at 48.1%, though Emory's Goizueta Business School, ranked 26th, was higher at 53.1%. Across all 52 schools we examined for this story, Fordham Gabelli School of Business, ranked No. 51, had the highest acceptance rate, at 67.1%; Brigham Young Marriott School of Business had the highest for a top-50 school, at 60.7%, followed by Utah's Eccles School of Business (57.6%) and Miami Herbert Business School (57.3%). The lowest rate in the lower 25 was at Arizona State W.P. Carey School of Business, at 16.8%, followed by Penn State Smeal College of Business (18.6%) and Rochester Simon Business School (21.9%)

Boston University's Questrom School of Business saw the biggest decline in acceptance rate, down 17.4 percentage points from 51.3% to 33.9%. In the top 25, Michigan Ross School of Business saw the most significant decline, down 16.8 points to 20.2% — one year after having the biggest jump of any school.

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