Move over, Harvard. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School jumped three spots from last year to tie with Harvard Business School as the Best Business School in America, according to the 2018 Best Graduate Schools list published by U.S. News & World Report.
This year’s list saw some reshuffling among the top order. University of Chicago’s Booth Business School slipped from a joint second place last year to the third spot this year. Stanford Business School dropped a few spots from second place last year to ranking a joint fourth. MIT’s Sloan School of Business and Northwestern’s Kellogg Business School both moved up a rank to join Stanford as three-way holders of the fourth position.
U.S. News & World Report surveyed 471 master's programs in business administration. The rankings take into consideration parameters such as peer assessment, recruiter assessment and facts about admission, employment and tuition.
Here are the top five business schools and what makes them the best:
#1 Harvard Business School
The Harvard Business School boasts of founding the world’s first MBA program in 1908. In this edition of the rankings, the school was ranked highly by both its peers and recruiters. In 2016, 1,871 students enrolled in its programs full time with an acceptance rate of only 10.7% and an average GMAT score of 729. Average undergraduate GPA for students enrolled was 3.67.
Average out-of-state tuition* and fees add up to $75,353.
Among business school specialties, HBS ranked one for management studies, second in international and third for entrepreneurship in a poll of Deans and MBA Program Directors for the list.
Graduates of the full-time program in 2016 earned $153,830 as the average starting salary and bonus. A little over 79% of the graduates had a job at graduation and 90.6% were employed within three months of graduating.
The school pioneered the case method of instruction and takes enormous pride in it. In a recent blog post the Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid wrote - “The case method works because students bring different perspectives to the classroom every day – perspectives shaped by their individual experiences, upbringings, world views, and aspirations.
#1 The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania
The first business school at a university (established 1881) is also the newly top ranked school. Wharton ranks highest among all schools for its Finance program and its Executive MBA according to Deans and MBA program directors.
Wharton is also very selective, enrolling 1,708 students (fewer than Harvard) even though the acceptance rate is close to 20%. In 2016, it accepted students with an average GMAT score of 730 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.60.
In some ways, Wharton turned out to be a better bet for students than Harvard: The average out-of-state tuition was lower at $73,634 while the 2016 average starting salary and bonus was higher at $155,058. It fared better on the employment metric, as well, placing 85.8% of its students by graduation and 95.5% within three months of graduating.
In January 2016, the school announced a $10 million gift for its leadership program that has now been renamed the Anne and John McNulty Leadership Program after its benefactors.
#3 University of Chicago Booth School of Business
University of Chicago
Another school with over 100 years of history (founded 1898) evolved into its latest avatar when it was renamed the Booth School of Business in 2008 after a $300 million gift by alumnus David Booth.
The 2016 enrollment stood at 1,185 students, who averaged 726 on the GMAT and 3.58 on their GPA.
Average out-of-state tuition for Booth stood at $67,668 and the starting salary-plus-bonus figure for those graduating in 2016 was $147,475. Nearly 85% of the students found jobs in time for graduation and a little more than 95% were employed within three months after graduation.
In terms of specialties, the school ranks second for its finance and executive-MBA programs and fourth for accounting.
#4 MIT Sloan School of Management
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What started as Course XV, Engineering Management in 1914 grew into a full-fledged business school and home to many start-ups like ZipCar, E*Trade and Gartner that grew into successful businesses. The school is ranked third in entrepreneurship and sixth in the study of Finance, in terms of business school specialties.
MIT Sloan’s acceptance rate was 11.7% as it enrolled 809 students as of Fall 2016, according to the U.S. News and World Report study. The average GPA for students stood at 3.58 and the average GMAT score was 724.
The starting compensation for the 2016 graduate was $143,565 and nearly 81% of the class was placed before graduation. Another 11% got jobs in the next three months. The average out-of-state tuition for the school is $68,250.
#4 Kellogg School of Management
Almost 71 years after it was established, in 1979 the school was renamed Kellogg School of Management after a $10 million gift by the John L. and Helen Kellogg Foundation. Today the school tops the country in marketing and its Executive MBA and management programs rank third in a review by Deans and MBA program directors.
Over 1,300 students enrolled in the school as of Fall 2016, and they averaged 3.60 on their undergraduate GPA and 728 on the GMAT (both higher than Sloan & Booth).
The average out-of-state tuition added up to $67,792 (higher than Booth, while the beginning salary and bonus was $141,694. Nearly 83% of the class graduating in 2016 was employed at the time of graduation and that number rose to 95% three months later.
#4 Stanford Graduate School of Business
Last year, Stanford GSB was ranked the toughest school to get into by the Princeton Review’s annual business school rankings. That isn’t without good reason as only 833 students enrolled into the school, giving it an acceptance rate of just 6%. The average GPA at 3.73 and average GMAT at 737 for enrolled students is the highest among all schools.
If you can crack it, Stanford offers a great deal, too. The average out-of-state tuition and fees at $66,540 is the lowest among the top five schools on this list, and the average starting salary for its graduates at $153,553 is nearly in line with that for HBS.
Only 62.8% of its 2016 graduates were employed at the time of graduation, but that number rose to 82.4% within three months. Even though it slipped in rankings, Stanford GSB is highly ranked in specialty studies – second in entrepreneurship and management, third in marketing, fifth in finance and sixth in accounting.
For more information on choosing an MBA program, see Business Schools with the Highest ROI.
* Note that all the schools listed in this article are private and don't have different tuition for in-state and out-of-state students, but public universities in the study may have lower fees for in-state residents.