Ten Biggest Surprises In Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2022 MBA Ranking

9) The Winners Circle 

Rankings mean bragging rights and job security. Show improvement and you issue a press release and gin up the fund-raising machine. Lose ground and you join the legions questioning the methodology – or even the validity of rankings altogether.

There is an axiom that history is written by the winners. They define the terms, spelling out what gets emphasized and what gets left out. The same is true in business schools, where ranking is often a substitute for achievement. The big names set the expectations as much as the tuitions. And the lesser-knowns must celebrate their wins when they can.

So forget the M7 or disruptors like Yale SOM and Washington Olin or high potentials like Georgetown McDonough and USC Marshall. This section is a victory lap for the winners. 

That starts with the University of Georgia’s Terry School. Often overshadowed by Emory Goizueta and Georgia Tech Scheller in their home state, Terry made its move in 2022, climbing from 50th to 33rd over the past year. A high-touch, community-driven program, Terry posted the 3rd-highest score in the Learning survey – better than every M7 program. And its 85.5 index score in Networking bested Columbia, MIT Sloan, and NYU Stern. The only disappointment for Terry? Bloomberg Businessweek still ranked the school as the third-best full-time MBA program in Georgia.

A year ago, Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School ranked suspiciously low at #55. That wasn’t an issue in 2022, when it vaulted 23 spots to #32. Like Terry, Learning and Networking were W. P. Carey strengths. By the same token, American University’s Kogod School splashed into the top 50, bouncing from 70th to 47th in just one year. The highlight: An 88.2 Learning score that edged out Harvard Business School by 0.1 of a point. Here’s the kicker: Kogod ranked 92nd just two years ago. Talk about a program on the rise!

And let’s give the College of William & Mary its due: it jumped from 58th to 41st. We’ve pointed out how their Top 10 scores in Learning, Networking, and Entrepreneurship came at the expense of some distinguished MBA programs. Ask yourself this: Name a program besides Stanford GSB that ranked among the top 10 in these three BW categories. You can’t. In the end, Mason’s Achilles Heel was Compensation, where it ranked 49th. The takeaway: Maybe the blue-chip recruiters might want to devote more time to Williamsburg when they’re shuttling between DC and the Carolinas. They may just uncover a real gem.

Speaking of gems, Georgia Tech Scheller and Washington Olin continued to live up to their “small but mighty” reputations. Scheller cracked the top 20, moving from 29th to 18th.  This achievement can be traced to topping the 80-point mark in three of the five measurables – a commonality among schools finishing among the top 20. Washington Olin matched Scheller in this regard. Hence, it raced up 15 spots to #21.

And how is this for a fortunate bounce? After ranking 11th in 2019, Cornell Johnson slipped to 20th. So how did they perform this year? The Ithaca Icon returned to 11th – just 0.5 of a point outside the top 10.


10) Next Year Can’t Come Soon Enough For These Schools

Call it the Berkeley bellyflop. For years, Haas sat on the outskirts of the M7. Some years, they took comfort in outpacing MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, Columbia, and even Wharton. Still, they could never break through and stake their claim.

This year, Haas isn’t on the cusp. Instead, they’ve been booted out of first row seating. The school plunged from 7th to 14th, falling behind MIT Sloan, Wharton, Virginia Darden, Yale SOM, NYU Stern, Cornell Johnson, and Duke Fuqua in the process. The strange part? Just 2.1 index points separate #7 from #14. Even weirder? The Haas School – ground zero for diverse populations and inclusive leadership – actually ranked 33rd for Diversity – a calculation so complex that it requires Bloomberg Businessweek to devote 12 paragraphs and a table to explain it. 

They don’t make it easy, do they?

Still, the fundamentals are there, so maybe Haas will seesaw back to their usual perch next year. The same could be said for Georgetown University’s McDonough School. Five years ago, McDonough ranked 35th before peaking at 17th last year. Now, it is back to the drawing board after tumbling to 26th overall, a fall precipitated by the 47th-best score for Learning. And McDonough wasn’t the only BW favorite to lose ground. For years, Bloomberg Businessweek was the only outlet to rank The University of Texas-Dallas’ Jindal School among its top 40. This year, Jindal slipped from 32nd to 41st. Despite owning the 4th-highest score for Learning, Jindal was doomed by finishing 46th for Compensation (the most heavily-weighted variable).

Haas, McDonough, and Jindal were the biggest names to lose ground in this year’s Bloomberg Businessweek MBA ranking. They aren’t the only ones who rue their lot. Florida Hough fell from 27th to 38th. This was a slightly better fate than Maryland Smith, which dropped from 28th to 36th. SMU Cox dipped from 31st to 40th. After breaking into the Top 50 last year, Tennessee Haslam lost 18 spots to end up at 66th, while the Wisconsin Business School’s 11-spot skid left it at 49th.

At the very top of this ranking, for the fourth consecutive time, is the Stanford Graduate School of Business. It’s no surprise that the GSB wins top honors. The big surprise is that the school has been able to achieve that success four times in a row in a highly unpredictable, roller-coaster of a ranking.

If anything, it adds a bit more evidence that Stanford–not Harvard–is the best business school in the world. After all, it’s MBA program is the most selective. The school’s admission stats–GMAT and GRE scores as well as class average grade point averages–consistently beat Harvard’s. And the starting compensation for Stanford MBAs always exceeds the Harvard averages. Add to all this the fact that Stanford is centered at the heart of the world’s most dynamic economices–Silicon Valley–and it becomes difficult to say that Harvard is better than Stanford.

But there’s also more to the Stanford vs. Harvard smackdown. Stanford has taken the lead in diversity and inclusion, one of the hottest agenda items for business schools these days. It was the first and remains one of the very few schools to publish an annual report card on its progress. That transparency adds much gravitas to the school’s efforts to diversity students, staff, and faculty.

The smaller size of the MBA student body provides a more intimate experience than the one at HBS which has enrolled more than 1,000 students in each of the past two years. Size plays a big impact on culture, leading to deeper bonds with classmates during the two years a student is on campus and then after graduation. And Stanford alums play a bigger role, with a higher percentage of grads, going into the two most lucrative fields post-MBA: venture capital and private equity.

Many of these attributes are not entirely captured by Businessweek’s methodology. So how does Stanford keep coming out ahead on this ranking? Stanford ranks first in compensation (versus fourth for Harvard), sixth in learning (vs. 14th at Harvard), first in networking (versus third for Harvard), and first in entrepreneurship (vs. fifth for Harvard). The only Businessweek metric in which Harvard does better than Stanford is, oddly, diversity where Harvard is ranked 13th vs. Stanford’s 18th. But this measure doesn’t really measure diversity in a more inclusive sense nor does it measure inclusion. It reflects the percentage of minorities and women enrolled in the MBA program.


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