What are the Top MBA Programs and Why?

The vast majority of our inquiries are particular on MBA brand, insistent on only the top MBA programs because that’s where the strong value can be easily seen. “Applicants see an MBA as a long-term investment in their future,” says Beth, a former Kellogg School MBA Admissions Officer, now on the Stacy Blackman Consulting team. What makes an MBA program “top” and the factors that contribute to that brand perception are explored here.  Three critical influencers for which MBA program is considered top include

  1. Rankings: Patterns over Time
  2. Selectivity, Stats and Demand
  3. Career Potential

Rankings: Patterns Over Time

We have a love and hate relationship with MBA rankings.  For the most recent US News 2022 ranking summaries, check out their full time and part time MBA program lists here. Below you can see the hierarchy over time of MBA rankings by top programs

Poets & Quants2020US News 2022US News 2021US News 2020US News 2019
Poets & Quants 2020US News 2022US News 2021US News 2020


Poets & QuantsUS News 2022US News 2021US News 2020US News 2019
Northwestern Kellogg54366
Chicago Booth23331
Poets & Quants 2020US News 2022US News 2021US News 2020US News 2019
MIT Sloan65545
Berkeley Haas87767
Poets & Quants 2020US News 2022US News 2021US News 2020
Virginia Darden11131112
Duke Fuqua14121210

Selectivity, Stats and Demand

The higher the rank of the MBA program, the higher the test score, GPA— they are all correllated.  Similarly, selectivity for the top programs is inversely correlated where low selectivity predicts top program program.

Class of 2022 Admissions StatsHarvardStanford
Average GMAT728733
GMAT Range620-790600-790
Average GPA3.73.8
Estimated selectivity10.02%7.00%
Class of 2022 Admission StatsWhartonColumbia
Average GMAT722726
GMAT Range620-790*580–780
Average GPA3.63.6
Class of 2022 Admission StatsKelloggBooth
Average GMAT727724
GMAT Range640-770600-800
Average GPA3.63.6
Acceptance Rate26%*25%*
Class of 2022 Admission StatsMIT SloanBerkeley
Median GMAT722730
GMAT Range*600-780690-760
Average GPA3.53.65
Class of 2022 Admission StatsDukeDarden
Average GMAT702703
GMAT Range660-740660-750
Average GPA3.53.5
Enrolled MBA Students798733
Women MBA Students46%39%
International MBA Students*38%24%
* Estimated, Under-Represented Minority – U.S. domestic or permanent residents students who identify as African American or Black, Hispanic American or Latinx, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and those who are multiracial or multiethnic. URM does not include Asian Americans.
*International MBA students may include dual citizens; data reporting varies.

Career Potential

The most underestimated influencer of how to define a top MBA program is employment recruiting.  The MBA is an investment into your career path and your future employer, possible employment location, an salary will vary based on which business program you choose.

Below is a snapshot of how career recruiting varies and there are more comparisons here.

Jobs & Pay DataHarvardStanford
MBAs employed 3 months after commencement95%91%
Consulting Industry24%15%
Finance Industry34%34%
Tech Industry19%28%
Health Care7%4%
Northeast Location41%20%
West Coast Location25%60%
Southwest Location6%4%
Mid Atlantic3%1%

I recently offered my insights on how to find a top MBA program here:


You can read additional insights on how to evaluate top MBA programs here:

Which MBA: School Comparisons

Career Recruiting by MBA Program

MBA Program Deadlines & Average Test Scores

MBA Program Rankings

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