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

Rankings are very much a numbers game. Here are some of the numbers worth noting in U.S. News’ new MBA ranking

7) Numbers That Stand Out

Yes, rankings are instruments designed to bring order to chaotic data. Occasionally, you’ll find numbers that flash on a spreadsheet. They defy conventional wisdom and serve as reminders that business schools aren’t always tiered in various dimensions. 

Take acceptance rates. Despite their Top 25 pedigrees, North Carolina Kenan-Flagler, Georgetown McDonough, and Emory Goizueta accept a high number of applicants — 44.3%, 48.1%, and 53.1%, respectively to be exact. That’s far less selective than Arizona State W. P. Carey and Penn State Smeal, where the rates are 16.8% and 18.6%.  And Ohio State Fisher and Rochester Simon come in just above those averages at 21.9% and 22.5% respectively. If you’re looking for a sure-fire admission, look into Clemson University, which accepts 91.7% of all applicants.   

Speaking of W. P. Carey, their selectivity translates to high undergraduate GPAs. In fact, the Class of 2023’s 3.62 average is higher than their peers at the Wharton School and MIT Sloan. While Tennessee’s Haslam College ranks 53rd overall, the latest class’ 3.52 GPA average is nearly equal to #1 Chicago Booth (3.54) and higher than two Ivy League programs (Columbia Business School and Cornell Johnson).  

High GMAT averages aren’t reserved for top-ranked programs, either. Case in point: 93rd-ranked Saint Louis University. Their incoming class boasted a 700 average, which is better than programs like North Carolina Kenan-Flagler (696), Emory Goizueta (692), and Georgia Tech Scheller (690), and Notre Dame Mendoza (668).

Alas, it is no secret that NYU Stern graduates earn bigger paychecks than their peers. Despite ranking 12th overall, Sternies collect $181,803 between base and bonus. To put that in context, it is $9,029 more than Harvard Business School grads — and over $10,000 more than grads from MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, and UC Berkeley Haas. And that’s not the only surprise when it comes to pay. Looking for a strong return on investment? Rochester Simon grads pulled in $154,529 to start, higher than grads from USC Marshall and North Carolina Kenan-Flagler. The same could be said for Howard University, where 2021 grads are earning $152,534. The difference: Howard ranks 53rd. 

If you’re seeking reassurance that you’ll land a job, consider Michigan State. 100% of Broad graduates held jobs within three months of leaving campus last year. Historically, Emory Goizueta ranks high in placement — and their 99.1% rate in 2021 will only reinforce this reputation. You could say the same about Penn State Smeal (97.4%) and Rutgers University (97.2%) too.

The D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University suffered the biggest ranking decline, falling 30 places to rank 85th from 55th a year ago

8) The Story Behind This Year’s Biggest Collapse: The 30-Place Plunge For Northeastern’s MBA

How does a school plunge 30 places in a single year when it became more selective, increased the average GMAT score of its incoming class by more than 35 points, and managed to get better grades from corporate recruiters?

That is the position Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business finds itself in this year. The school’s full-time MBA program plummeted into 85th place in U.S. News‘ ranking from 55th last year. No school sustained a bigger decrease this year and still remained in the Top 100 ranking.

But Northeastern did it after becoming far more selective, accepting only 16.7% of its applicants, down from 39.2% a year earlier, while raising the incoming class GMAT score to 654 from 618. What’s more, the school’s corporate recruiter score rose to 3.4 from 3.2. All this improvement occurred while Northeastern’s peer assessment score remained unchanged at 3.2, and the average undergraduate GPA of its latest MBA class also remained exactly the same: 3.4.

So what happened? Pay and placement for D’Amore-McKim’s graduating Class of 2021 tanked. While many schools reported better pay and job offers for their graduates, things really soured for those MBAs. The average salary and bonus fell a little over 4% to $88,362 from $92,333 a year earlier. Placement at graduation fell by nearly ten percentage points to 47.9% from 59.5%, while placement three months later had only improved to 68.8%, also down nearly ten points from 78.4%. Those are abysmal results in a year when so many schools reported record or near-record starting pay and job offers for their MBA graduates.

Interim Dean Emery Trahan, who took over last August when “Raj” Echambadi left to join Illinois Tech as its 10th president, must be wondering what hit him. But he could take some consolation from the fact that while no school did as bad as Northeastern, he’s not alone. Misery does love company, and Trahan has plenty of company. Seven other schools suffered double-digit declines this year (see below) and several other MBA programs fell out of the Top 100 altogether.

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