Skip to content

U.S. News’s 2020 MBA Rankings Are Out

U.S. News has released their latest batch of business school rankings, and it turns out there are a lot of ties this year. According to U.S. News, the top ten MBA programs are:

1. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business

3. Harvard Business School

4. MIT Sloan School of Management

5. University of Chicago Booth School of Business

6. Columbia Business School

7. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management

8. University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business

9. Yale School of Management

10. Duke University Fuqua School of Business

11. University of Michigan Ross School of Business

And yes, in case you’re counting, one consequence of this year’s apparently closely contested MBA rankings are that the top ten schools are, in fact … eleven schools. All in all, there was a three-way tie for third place, a three-way tie for sixth, and a two-way tie for tenth.

Outside of the top ten, it doesn’t necessarily start to look any better. For example, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, New York University’s Stern School of Business, and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business all tied for twelfth.

To understand what exactly that means, it’s of course necessary to look at U.S. News’s methodology. The most heavily weighted factor in a given school’s ranking is its “quality assessment,” counting for 40 percent of the school’s score.

“Quality assessment” is basically a fancy way of saying “asking people what they think of a school’s reputation.” Specifically, 25 percent of the total score comes from asking B-school deans to rate different MBA programs, and 15 percent comes from asking corporate recruiters to do the same.

Next most important is a school’s “placement success.” This number, 35 percent of the total score, takes into account factors like graduate employment rates and starting salaries.

The third component, accounting for the remaining quarter of a school’s score, is “student selectivity.” This category looks at GMAT scores, undergrad GPAs and acceptance rate.

So why did this year’s U.S. News rankings come back with so many ties? Part of it could be that U.S. News’s methodology looks at relatively few data points, and the most important is simply a 1-5 ranking of how B-school deans and recruiters evaluate each school’s reputation. 

Even if it’s more exciting to be able to say that such-and-such school edged out such-and-such other school in the rankings horse race, having a methodology that gives lots of ties among top schools isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The big picture is that all of the top ten schools (all eleven of them!) have MBA programs whose graduates tend to go on to successful careers. For that reason, all these schools are also highly competitive.

We can help you figure out whether you have a profile that lines up with what these schools are looking for. Just as importantly, we can help you identify your individual strengths as an applicant that speak to the unique emphasis each school has that isn’t necessarily captured in MBA rankings.

If that sounds helpful, ask us for a free application assessment!