This year, U.S. News and World Report made room for two elite programs to share first place. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business now joins last year’s winner, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, in a tie for the top MBA program in the US News 2021 ranking of the best business schools.
The sharing trend continues for the next in line. Kellogg School of Management jumped from its three-way tie at 6th place last year to join the Chicago Booth School of Business in a two-way tie for third place.
MIT’s Sloan School of Management ranks 5th this time around, in a slight slip from its position tied at third last year. Meanwhile, in what might be one of the ranking’s biggest surprises, Harvard Business School slipped from third to 6th place this year—its lowest rank ever.
Here’s a look at the order line up in the new ranking:
US News Top Ten Best Business Schools
#1 Stanford Graduate School of Business (tie)
#1 Wharton School (tie)
#3 Kellogg School of Management (tie)
#3 Chicago Booth School of Business (tie)
#5 MIT Sloan School of Management
#6 Harvard Business School
#7 UC Berkeley Haas School of Business
#8 Columbia Business School
#9 Yale School of Management
#10 NYU Stern School of Business
Compared to last year, there was a lot of reshuffling of the top ten. The Fuqua School of Business and Michigan Ross School fell out of the top list and are now in a tie for 12th place. Meanwhile, NYU Stern bumped up two spots to snag no. 10 on this list.
At the same time, both MIT Sloan and Columbia Business School slipped two places to rank fifth and eighth, respectively. While the top ten’s players are all familiar, seven of this year’s top ten had a change in rank.
Methodology of the US News 2021 Ranking
Factors that go into rankings include test scores, starting salaries and employment rates after graduation. Rankings come from statistical surveys of the programs, as well as reputation surveys sent to 477 AACSB-accredited MBA programs between fall 2019 and early 2020.
A total of 364 responded to the US News 2021 ranking. Of those, US News ranked 131 because they provided enough of the required data on their full-time MBA program to calculate the full-time MBA rankings, based on a weighted average of the indicators described in detail here.
(For an analysis of this year’s rankings, check out this story by editor-in-chief John A. Byrne at Poets & Quants.)
MBA Rankings are a Tricky Subject
Most applicants put an enormous amount of credence in rankings when making their school selections, but the results aren’t always as clear-cut as they seem.
It’s important to remember that the various media outlets publishing this information each have a specific focal point, which often differs from their competitors. At times, it can feel more like an “apples and oranges” comparison.
We encourage prospective applicants to think hard about the data points that are important to your own career path when determining the value of a particular ranking. You don’t have to go to the best business school of all. Just figure out which MBA program is the best one for you.