Poets Versus Quants: How U.S. News Ranks The Top B-Schools By MBA Specialization

Poets Versus Quants: How U.S. News Ranks The Top B-Schools By MBA Specialization

Wharton is once again the top finance school for MBAs according to a poll of deans and program directors conducted by U.S. News. File photo


The Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, ranked 55th overall this year, is best known for its incredible streak as U.S. News‘ top school for International Business. This year the Moore School made it 10 years in a row atop the ranking, and 34 consecutive years in the top three.

“The Moore School’s No. 1-ranked International MBA is a testament to the comprehensive and innovative program we offer, the talented students who pursue and complete the degree, and our top faculty who are known as expert thought leaders in the field,” says Jan Bass, the Moore School’s interim dean. “Our IMBA program prepares students for top positions at global corporations. The program’s stellar job placement rate and competitive salaries with multinational organizations contribute to this ranking.

“The Moore School has long established USC’s IMBA as the leader for U.S. IMBA programs, and that continued excellence has kept the program in the top three for 34 consecutive years.”

South Carolina’s International MBA program also was ranked 20th in Supply Chain, the first time it has earned a spot on that list.


The other major small-school streak extended by another year is Michigan State’s ownership of top marks in Supply Chain. For the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News named the Broad College of Business’ program the best for supply chain and logistics.

“We are honored to be recognized because it not only reflects the quality of our graduate curriculum, programs and specialty areas, but also the passion and expertise of our faculty and staff who help students reach their goals every day,” says Judith Whipple, interim dean of the Broad College. “Given the prominent role that supply chains have played, particularly in the past few years, the strength of our programs recognized through our seven-year No. 1 consecutive supply chain/logistics ranking is a source of great pride at the Broad College, and our supply chain faculty, staff, students and alumni continue to inspire the future of business.”

Michigan State had three other graduate programs ranked in the top 25: No. 9 in Production/Operations, No. 20 in Management, and No. 22 in Accounting.


U.S. News’ specialization rankings are based not on data but on polls of B-school deans and program directors, many of whom vote on schools they know little or nothing about. As such, strange outcomes are inevitable. The strangest, however, often have to do with a small group of schools that are very familiar with each other. These are part of a network of 28 Jesuit colleges in the U.S. that range from small liberal arts colleges to large research universities. The deans and others from these schools who respond to U.S. News‘ survey give each other enough high marks to flood the zone and land these schools coveted spots in the rankings.

In the Finance category, for example, of 34 ranked schools, nine are small Jesuit programs. Ranking 16th, 17th, and 18th, respectively, are Fordham University Gabelli School of Business in New York (ranked 68th overall), Fairfield Dolan School of Business of Connecticut (unranked), and Creighton University Heider College of Business of Omaha, Nebraska (unranked) — all ahead of top-25 programs Yale School of Management at 19th, Cornell Johnson College of Business at 20th, Indiana Kelley School of Business at 21st, and Dartmouth Tuck School of Business at 23rd. Two more Jesuit schools, Santa Clara Leavey School of Business of California and Seattle University Albers School of Business & Economics, are tied at 24th with Washington University at St. Louis Olin Business School, which Poets&Quants ranks in the top 30 in the U.S.

Other examples abound. In Business Analytics, of 45 ranked schools, more than one quarter are Jesuit schools, led by Fairfield Dolan and Santa Clara Leavey at No. 18; Fordham Gabelli, Georgetown McDonough, and the University of Scranton Kania School of Management at No. 24; and Creighton Heider, St. Joseph’s University Haub School of Business of Philadelphia, Loyola University Sellinger School of Business and Management of Baltimore, and the University of San Francisco Masagung Graduate School of Management at No. 28 — the latter four tied with UCLA Anderson School of Management and Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. Among the Jesuit schools, only Georgetown is a top-50 B-school.

In Marketing, of 33 ranked schools, seven are Jesuits, led by Fordham Gabelli at 14th, Fairfield Dolan at 15th, St. Joseph’s Haub and Santa Clara Leavey at 16th, Loyola New Orleans Butt College of Business at 20th, and Loyola Marymount of Los Angeles and Loyola Quinlan of Chicago tied at 23rd. All are ranked ahead of UNC Kenan-Flagler, Virginia Darden, Washington Foster, USC Marshall, Dartmouth Tuck, MIT Sloan, and Yale School of Management.

It’s a reminder that rankings based entirely on opinion polls should be taken with a large grain of salt.

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