Business administration is one of the most popular college majors for undergraduates. Those that want to further their business education and maximize their earning potential go on to pursue a master's or doctoral degrees in the field. The brightest students strive for spots in the classrooms of the nation's top business schools which all offer impressive faculty, stellar career prospects and a network of prominent alumni.
For our information, we consulted the US News & World Report Best Business Schools of 2017, the Bloomberg Businessweek list (2015 was its most recent for graduate business schools) and looked at the multiple lists (no single rating) of The Princeton Review.
Harvard Business School
With a self-funded research budget of $123 million, it is no surprise that The Harvard Business School is one of the top business schools in America. The school was ranked first by both US News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek on the most recent lists we found. The undated online Best Business Schools List of Forbes magazine put it second.
Harvard Business School takes pride in being the first to use the case method, an interactive learning process that uses current, real-world business situations, to educate business students. In 2014, the school's faculty members authored or co-authored 18 books and 193 research articles. Only 11% of applicants for the class of 2017 were accepted into Harvard Business School; 94% of students from the class of 2015 received an offer; 91% accepted an offer, according to the school. Tuition for the full-time MBA program is $63,675.
Booth School of Business (University of Chicago)
Formerly the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, it was renamed following a $300 million gift from 1971 graduate David G. Booth. The donation was the largest in the school's history and the largest to any business school in the world. Booth credits his University of Chicago business education for the success of his investment firm, Dimensional Fund Advisors, which had $409 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2016.
Bloomberg Businessweek has ranked Booth School as the number one business school in America four times in a row, although it ranked second after Harvard on the 2015 list. US News & World Report put it in second place (tied with Stanford) for 2014 (in 2013 it ranked fourth, tied with Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management). Booth has the nation's oldest doctoral program in business as well as seven faculty members who have won Nobel Prizes since the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was founded in 1968. In addition to two Chicago campuses, the school also offers programs in London, Singapore and Hong Kong. By three months after graduation, nearly 98% of the class of 2015 had job offers and 95% had accepted them. Its acceptance rate is 23.5% and tuition is $66,540 for the full-time MBA program.
Stanford Graduate School of Business
This ultra-selective school only admits 7% of applicants. The Stanford Graduate School of Business was ranked number one in 2013 and 2014 by US News & World Report, a tie with Harvard Business School. In the most recent ranking, however it tied for second with the University of Chicago for the second year in a row. And it took the seventh-place spot in the most recent (2015) ranking by Bloomberg Businessweek.
The school offers master's, MBA, Ph.D. and executive education programs. Tuition is $66,540 per year for the full-time MBA program, but the degree's value gets strong support from its listing as number one for best career prospects in the The Princeton Review's "The Best in Business Schools: 2016 Edition."
Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)
Founded in 1881, by entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton, the University of Pennsylvania's business school has the distinction of being the world's first collegiate school of business. The school was ranked fifth best in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2015 and fourth on US News and World Report's 2017 list. Wharton School alumni number 94,000 and reside worldwide.
Those who get into this academic institution shell out $73,634 (including a $2,000 pre-term fee) annually for their education. Wharton offers undergraduate, MBA and doctoral degrees in addition to an executive education program.
Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University)
A global approach to business education is a top priority at this school, which was ranked among the top five best business schools in the nation by both US News and World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek (it's in a fifth-place tie with MIT's Sloan School of Management on U.S. News' 2017 list and is number three on the 2015 Bloomberg list and on the Forbes list).
Some 85% of Kellogg students participate in study abroad opportunities; the school has international campuses in Beijing, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Hong Kong and Vallendar, Germany (near Frankfurt). It also has a second U.S. campus in Miami. Tuition for the two-year MBA is $66,462 a year, and by three months after graduation, 95% of the class of 2015 had received a job offer and 92% had accepted a job. With a degree from Kellogg School of Management in hand, members of the class of '15 received a median base starting salary of $125,000. One notable alum is also its namesake. John L. Kellogg, past president of Kellogg's and the son of the company's founder, donated $10 million to the school in 1979, at which time it was renamed in his honor.
The Bottom Line
The top business schools in America have a few things in common, including low acceptance rates, high tuition and world-class academic programs. Graduates of these prestigious institutions of higher learning emerge with degrees that set them up for successful and financially rewarding futures in their chosen professions.
Also ranked fifth on the US News list (and fourth by Bloomberg) was MIT's Sloan School of Management, which should definitely be on your top contenders list. So should Columbia Business School and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, which ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, on the Forbes list.