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Stanford, Wharton Tie for First in 2021 US News MBA Rankings

First place in the US News MBA rankings is one of the biggest B-school rankings prizes there is, but this year two schools will have to share that honor. 

That’s because first place in the 2021 US News MBA rankings is down to a two-way tie between Stanford Graduate School of Business and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Altogether, the top ten schools in 2021’s rankings are:

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  2. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
  3. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
  4. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  5. MIT Sloan School of Management
  6. Harvard Business School
  7. University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business
  8. Columbia Business School
  9. Yale School of Management
  10. New York University Stern School of Business

Wharton and Stanford GSB’s dominance of the 2021 rankings doesn’t come as too much of a surprise since those schools finished first and second respectively in last year’s US News rankings.

More surprising, perhaps, is Kellogg’s ascent from seventh into a tie with Booth for third this year. Meanwhile, Kellogg’s gain was Harvard’s loss, with HBS falling from third to sixth.

Overall, the cast of top ten schools is mostly the same as before. However, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business slipped from tenth to a tie for twelfth while NYU Stern edged its way into this year’s number ten spot. 

Of course, small differences in how schools stack up should be taken with a grain of salt. As with any rankings, the particular methodology used is what determines the outcome.

In this case, US News’s methodology gives a high weight to how B-school deans and recruiters rate MBA programs’ reputations.

Specifically, a full 25 percent of a given school’s score comes from how other business school deans rate that program’s reputation on a scale from one to five. A further 15 percent comes from asking corporate recruiters to do the same. 

Other important factors include average standardized test scores, which account for 16.25 percent of a school’s rank, and mean starting salaries reported by graduates. 

What rankings don’t tell you, of course, is which schools are a good fit to your profile and goals. Understanding that requires a more nuanced and qualitative assessment.

We’re happy to use our extensive experience with the MBA admissions process to help you figure out which schools should be on your list, as well as how you can put together an application that emphasizes the unique contribution you’ll bring to the schools you’re interested in.

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