Stanford, Harvard & Wharton Also-Rans In Topsy-Turvy U.S. News MBA Ranking

In a year in which U.S. News has revamped the way it ranks MBA programs, the fearsome threesome widely considered the best business schools in the world find themselves mere also-rans. According to U.S. News’ 2023-2024 MBA ranking, Stanford Graduate School of Business now ranks sixth in a tie with Dartmouth Tuck; Harvard Business School continues to languish in fifth place for the third consecutive year, while Wharton slips to the third position from first behind both No. 1 Chicago Booth and No. 2 Northwestern Kellogg.

The big news at the top of the new U.S. News ranking, however, is the upward movement of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. The school jumped five places to sixth, up from 11th a year ago, largely the result of U.S. News‘ decision to increase the emphasis on outcome measures and to reduce the weight it places on reputation.

Notable changes among the top schools include the falling out of the Top Ten by both Columbia Business School and UC-Berkeley Haas. MBA programs at both of those schools fell by three places to rank 11th. Meantime, the University of Southern California’s Marshall School and Emory University’s Goizueta Business School both climbed four spots to rank 15th and 17th, respectively.


Overall, the changes in methodology caused plenty of wild swings up and down the ranking, particularly for smaller MBA programs with larger numbers of international students. American University’s Kogod School of Business went to a rank of 122 from 76th last year, while the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business fell 31 places to 86th from a rank of 55 last year. The University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business dropped 32 positions to rank 104th, from 72nd, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst plummeted 33 spots to rank 86th from 53rd.

Not all programs, of course, went down. Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business jumped 17 places to rank 50th this year from 67th. North Carolina A&T State made even bigger inroads, rising 31 places so that its MBA program ranks 63rd from 94th last year.

For the first time in five years, a new business school sits atop U.S. News‘ ranking of part-time MBA programs in the United States — the same B-school that was No. 1 five years ago: UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business nudged aside Chicago Booth.

The changes in the full-time MBA methodology–which impact all of U.S. News‘ graduate rankings–were made after a highly publicized boycott of the ranking organization by Harvard and Yale Law Schools. Many more law and medical schools walked out as well, and U.S. News has delayed the publication of their full rankings for JD and MD programs.


But the ranking organization went ahead with its closely-watched business school lists after changing the weighing on all eight metrics used to rank MBA programs as well as some of the subjective judgments that U.S. News uses to calculate those metrics. Those changes often resulted in dramatic swings among the top MBA programs this year.

The publication of the new ranking was delayed by a full week after many deans screamed foul after being given an embargoed copy of the ranking. Without explanation, U.S. News’ final MBA ranking significantly changed the positions of many schools. In fact, 84 business schools saw their rank change by at least one position, up or down. Seven schools saw their rankings fall by more than 20 spots, with the biggest plunge registered by the New Jersey Institute of Technology which was ranked 81st a week ago on the embargoed list and is now ranked 112th, a decline of 31 places.

In many quarters, the ranking is being viewed with far greater skepticism than is typical for an already controversial list. “It’s shocking,” one business school dean told Poets&Quants. “They changed the criteria with no notice. There is very, very little transparency. They adjusted the rankings after complaints but they gave no explanation. So some people went up and some went down, and everybody is shaking their head.”


Fully half of the new ranking is based on job placement and starting salaries with sign-on bonuses. Placement now accounts for 30% of the ranking, up from 21%, while the weight on starting pay was pushed up to 20% from 14%.

U.S. News increased the importance it places on undergraduate GPAs and acceptance rates, while putting slightly less emphasis on standardized test scores.  These adjustments were much less significant, with GMAT and GRE scores getting a 13.0% weight, down from 16.25%, for example. More influential in the ranking was its new rules for calculating average GPAs which now account for 10% of the ranking, up from 7.5%. U.S. News decided to only count GPAs reported on a 4.0 scale so most international students are not in the calculation. That change more severely impacts U.S. schools with larger international student bodies.

The ranking organization also put less focus on both its recruiter and peer assessment surveys. By reducing the weight of its survey of deans and senior faculty by half to 12.5% from 25%. U.S. News diminished one anchor of stability in its ranking. The same can be said of the corporate recruiter results which declined in importance to 12.5% from 15%.

DON'T MISS:Berkeley Haas Returns To The Top Of U.S. News’ Part-Time MBA Ranking

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