Stanford GSB Comes Out on Top in Businessweek 2018 US MBA Ranking

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For the first time in Bloomberg Businessweek’s 30-year history, Stanford crowns the 2018 US MBA rankings. This year the rankings have undergone a considerable change in methodology, leading to a dramatic change in the Top 10. Let’s take a closer look:


Top 10


  1. Stanford University Graduate School of Business

  2. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

  3. Harvard Business School

  4. MIT Sloan School of Management

  5. University of Chicago Booth School of Business

  6. University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business

  7. Columbia Business School

  8. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management

  9. University of Virginia Darden School of Business

  10. Cornell University Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management


2018 vs 2017


In terms of winners, Stanford has profited from the major changes in methodology, moving up from 5th place to first. Columbia moved slightly up from 9th to 7th. More interestingly, there are three newcomers in the top 10: Berkeley Haas jumped from 11th to 5th, Virgian Darden from 17th to 9th, and Cornell Johnson from 13th to 3rd.

On the other hand, six universities experienced a drop in their ranking. HBS fell modestly from 1st to 3rd. MIT Sloan and Chicago Booth both dropped only one rank, from 3rd and 4th place, respectively.

More shockingly, three universities experienced significant loses that pushed them completely out of the top 10. Duke Fuqua fell 9 places, from 6th to 15th. Even worse, Dartmouth Tuck dropped from 7th to 19th. And Rice Jones tumbled a shocking 16 places, changing from 10th to 26th!


What do these rankings mean?


As the ranking above shows, Businessweek’s recent methodology restructuring has led to an unusually high level of volatility in the rankings. Unfortunately, this is an all too common problem in the education ranking field (see our recent post on The Economist’s 2018 Ranking).

In the case of Businessweek, it’s significantly increased reliance on student surveys is being blamed by some not only for an increase in volatility but also for a decrease in accuracy. In an article on Poets & Quants, Editor-in-Chief John Byrne posits, “Either a few schools have learned how to game the system or there is so much self-interested cheerleading in the surveys by students and alumni, who afterall have a vested interest in seeing their alma maters ranked highly, that the surveys are no longer capable of delivering valuable insights.”

So, what does this mean for you? It means you need to take any rankings with a grain of salt, analyzing the details that are valuable to you and leaving out the editorialized fluff. In fact, the best approach calls for creating your own ranking of MBA programs from only the relevant data.

If you need help figuring out which business schools are right for your profile and goals, feel free to contact us.