Harvard & Wharton Slump In New 2023 Businessweek MBA Ranking


Some 13 of the 72 ranked MBA programs that had been on last year’s list fell or climbed by double-digits, representing 18% of the U.S. schools. The biggest gainers: UC-San Diego’s Rady School of Management surged 17 places to rank 53rd from 70th; Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business rose 15 positions to rank 50th from 65th, and Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business jumped 15 spots to finish 50th from 65th.

The biggest decline occurred at American University’s Kogod School of Business where the rank of the MBA slipped by 15 places to 62nd from 47th.

A number of U.S. schools disappeared from the ranking, including Michigan State (ranked 35th last year), Penn State (44th), Babson College (50th), South Carolina (56), and Pepperdine University (63). The University of San Diego and Tampa were unranked but listed, a change from last year’s list when San Diego ranked 69th and Tampa placed 79th.


Stanford earned its first-place finish by scoring well across all five of the categories used by Businessweek to rank MBA programs. The GSB was first in entrepreneurship, fifth in networking, sixth in compensation, seventh in learning, and 20th in diversity. Stanford bested Harvard Business School in three of the five measures, tying one (networking), and barely losing another (diversity).

Most of the differences between the two schools were relatively small with one exception: Learning which Businessweek defines as the quality, depth, and range of instruction, focusing on the curriculum relative to real-world business situations; emphasis on innovation, problem-solving, and strategic thinking; mentoring and support from instructors; class size; and collaboration. Stanford crushed HBS here, with its seventh place rank vs. Harvard’s 26th place finish.

Among the Top Ten MBA programs, however, the highest scoring school in learning was UVA Darden, ranking fourth overall in the category. Darden’s rise to third place in the overall ranking can be attributed to gains in three categories: Darden rose to fourth in compensation (up six places from tenth), fourth in learning (up six places from tenth) and 11th in networking (up 11 places from 22nd). Businessweek said that “The big move was a result of recent alumni reporting higher starting salaries upon graduation. Darden’s median starting salary, according to this year’s ranking, of $175,000—up from $144,500—tied with Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Dartmouth and Harvard for the highest.”


For Wharton, the learning metric was a real stinker. Wharton ranked 55th out of the 75 ranked U.S. business schools on learning, its weakest score across the five categories and the absolute worst ranking for any Top Ten program in any category. It was the most significant reason why Wharton performed so poorly in the overall ranking.

Of course, you have to take these rankings with a large grain of salt. In the diversity category, for example, Howard University’s business school ranks first, even though it may well have the least diverse population of MBA students for any of the listed programs. That’s because of the way Businessweek defines diversity. The editors reward schools for recruiting both minority students and women and nonbinary students, with additional weight given to underrepresented minorities. As a historically black university, Howard’s MBA class profile is 95% minority, with only 5% international, mostly from Nigeria.

Looking back on a historical basis, from the launch of the Businessweek ranking in 1988 to the present, only six business schools have occupied the No. 1 rank over the 22 individual rankings published by the magazine. Stanford and Northwestern Kellogg lead the pack, each achieving the top rank five times (see table below). Wharton and Chicago Booth follow, with four No. 1 rankings, followed by Harvard, with 3, and Duke Fuqua with one. Harvard has done much better when looking at the schools that have reached a Top 3 rank over all those years. HBS achieved a Top 3 listing 15 out of the 22 rankings, closely followed by Chicago Booth (13), and Wharton and Kellogg (12 each).

Schools With The Most #1 & Top 3 Ranks in Businessweek’s MBA Rankings

MBA Program #1 Ranks Top 3 Ranks #1 Years
Stanford 5 6 2023, 2022, 2021, 2019,, 2018,
Northwestern (Kellogg) 5 12 2004, 2002, 1992, 1990, 1988
Pennsylvania (Wharton) 4 12 2000, 1998, 1996, 1994
Chicago (Booth) 4 13 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006
Harvard 3 15 2017, 2016, 2015
Duke (Fuqua) 1 2 2014
Dartmouth (Tuck) 0 5 ——–
Michigan (Ross) 0 1 ——–
Virginia (Darden) 0 1 ——–

Source: Poets&Quants analysis of Bloomberg Businessweek MBA rankings from 1988 to 2023
* Bloomberg Businessweek began ranking annually in 2015, skipping 2020 due to the pandemic

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