Harvard Business School & Yale SOM Will Stay In U.S. News’ MBA Ranking

After the law schools at Harvard and Yale dropped out of U.S. News’ rankings, the business schools at both universities confirmed that they would continue to cooperate with the organization’s MBA ranking.

Spokespersons for Harvard Business School and the Yale School of Management told Poets&Quants that their schools intend to stay in U.S. News‘ controversial annual MBA ranking. Earlier this year, U.S. News ranked Harvard’s MBA program fifth, while Yale’s full-time MBA placed seventh best in the U.S. Wharton and Chicago Booth ended up in a tie for first place in the ranking.

The withdrawal from the law school ranking was announced by the deans of the Harvard and Yale law schools in separate letters posted on their websites. Both deans criticized  U.S. News for using a methodology that they said devalued the efforts of schools like their own to recruit poor and working-class students, provide financial aid based on need and encourage students to go into low-paid public service law after graduation. UC-Berkeley’s law school has since joined the two Ivy League schools in walking away.


Yale Law Dean Heather K. Gerken was the first to announce the withdrawal which was then quickly followed by Harvard. Gerken called the U.S. News rankings a “for-profit” and “commercial” enterprise that is “profoundly flawed.” She said the methodology does not give enough weight to programs “that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession.”

She noted that 20% of a law school’s overall ranking comes from grades and test scores. “This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses,” she said in her letter. “It also pushes schools to use financial aid to recruit high-scoring students.”

“It has become impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives the U.S. News rankings reflect,” Harvard Law Dean John F. Manning said in his statement.

Business school deans have made similar criticisms of U.S. News‘ MBA rankings in the past. With diversity and inclusion a major priority of B-school deans, the metrics used by U.S. News could make it more likely that a business school revolt may eventually occur. Since the pandemic, many business schools have made standardized tests optional or are willing to waive them, a change that can lead to greater manipulation of reported GMAT and GRE scores.

The decision by the law schools to drop out of the ranking comes at a time of increased scrutiny of rankings and a focus on their many flaws. The Economist concluded this year that it would abandon its business school rankings for MBA, Executive MBA and Master’s in Management programs after enduring heavy criticism of the rankings for years. Bloomberg Businessweek has come under criticism from Anjani Jain, deputy dean overseeing academic programs at Yale’s School of Management He conducted an in-depth analysis of the methodology and data in the magazine’s 2021 list and found that applying the stated weights to the five metrics used by the magazine would lead to results “egregiously off-kilter when compared to the published ranking.” He calculated that the only way to replicate the ranks published by Businessweek is to apply a very different set of weights to the five metrics used to rank programs.


Despite the love/hate relationship that business schools have long had with rankings, the annual lists have telegraphed to millions of prospective students the importance of business education and helped to make the MBA degree the most popular graduate degree in America.

The decision by Harvard and Yale, however, could change in the future. “I think the business schools will watch closely which way the wind blows,” says Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com, an admissions consulting firm.  “If this move is a negotiating tactic on the part of HLS and Yale and USN bends, MBA programs may try it too. Or they may not have to because USN may make changes across the board. If this move is followed by a mass exit from the law school rankings, business schools and other programs would probably follow suit.
“Most higher ed administrations don’t like the USN rankings unless they do unexpectedly well in them, and even then the approval is somewhat begrudging,” notes Abraham. “As explained in the deans’ announcements, the rankings are blamed for an over-focus on test scores, lack of student body diversity, and various other unwanted distortions.  Schools have voiced these criticisms for years. HLS and Yale just now acted.If other law schools do not follow HLS’ and Yale’s lead and next year or the following one these two programs quietly and with little fanfare rejoin the USN rankings, B-schools will remain in the rankings for the near term.”

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