Chicago Booth and Harvard Ranked Joint First in US News MBA Rankings

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Chicago’s Booth School of Business has edged out Wharton to be ranked the joint-best full-time MBA program by US News, alongside Harvard Business School.


Booth was ranked only third last year, a place now occupied by last year’s joint-first school Wharton. Stanford is ranked fourth and MIT fifth, with Northwestern (Kellogg) dropping two places to sixth.

The annual ranking of US business schools surveys all 480 MBA programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). They had a total of 387 respondents.

Booth’s climb was achieved by it receiving slightly better scores in the ranking’s survey of MBA recruiters (Booth achieved a score of 4.5 to Wharton’s 4.4). Also, Booth had more students employed at graduation (88 percent) than Wharton (82.3 percent).

Similarly, 3 months after graduation, 95.3 percent of Booth students were employed, compared to 92.6 percent at Wharton.

Stanford’s fourth place finish seems disappointing, but the reason behind this lower than expected position is an example of how numbers never fully tell the true story. Only 63.9 percent of Stanford MBAs had jobs at graduation last year, which is the lowest level of employment for any Top 30 business school (similarly, only 87.6 percent of Stanford graduates were employed 3 months after graduation, lower than any other Top 25 school).

These numbers are interpreted negatively by US News as Stanford graduates struggling to get jobs, but the reality is more likely that they are so confident with the value offered by their degree, that they’re happy to wait longer to search for the perfect post-MBA job. Start-ups, in particular, are highly coveted places to work but offer fewer employment opportunities.

The US News ranking follows hot on the heels of last year’s QS Global MBA Rankings 2018. Aside from the fact the QS ranking covered full-time MBA programs around the world, there are also notable differences in how US schools were ranked.

For instance, Chicago Booth is only ranked seventh in the US by our ranking, although the other schools within the top five remain largely the same.

This is largely due to differences in methodology between the two rankings. US News ranks schools on three key areas: quality assessment (40 percent of the ranking), including the opinions of academic staff and recruiters; placement success (35 percent), which looks at the mean starting salaries and bonuses of graduates from each school, as well as employment rates; and student selectivity (25 percent), which includes the mean GMAT and GRE scores of a course, the mean undergraduate GPA of students, and the acceptance rate of the course.

While employability is still a key metric in the TopMBA ranking (making up 40 percent of criteria), the other assessment factors are very different. Return on investment (ROI) accounts for 20 percent, with entrepreneurship and alumni outcomes worth 15 percent, thought leadership also worth 15 percent, and class and faculty diversity making up the last 10 percent of the rankings (you can find out more about QS’s methodology here).


Both rankings, therefore, have something different and unique to offer MBA candidates, depending on each individual’s needs. Explore the TopMBA rankings here.

Written by Julia Gilmore

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