MBA Rankings for the Top Business Programs: 2021-2022

Businesswoman drawing 5 stars to show MBA rankings

Choosing an MBA program to attend is no easy feat, with so many factors to consider. One factor that plays an important role for many applicants is the ranking of the business school itself, known as the MBA ranking.

Rankings are important but don’t make the mistake of following rankings blindly or considering rankings alone. They need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Firstly, it helps to understand the methodology of different rankings so you can think about what is important to you. Secondly, the best school for different people will be different. The reality is that factors such as your career goals, your location after the MBA, and your learning style can be just as important. When you take into account how each ranking is determined, you’ll see that measuring the best Business Schools is a subjective exercise.

MBA Rankings for 2021-2022

As you look through these rankings, keep in mind that many top Business Schools have opted out of rankings in the wake of the Coronavirus epidemic. Some of the metrics used to determine rankings – like GMAT scores – could not be objectively compared as some schools opted for test-optional admissions. In this unusual time, it makes sense to take earlier rankings into account.

Which MBA rankings should I trust?

The most widely used rankings are The Financial Times, US News and World Report, The Economist, Forbes, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Financial Times

Metrics: 40% Compensation, 20% Internationalization, 15% Faculty quality, 8% Employment outcomes.

Used by 43% of Business School candidates

Top Business Schools in 2019:

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  2.  Harvard Business School
  3.  Insead
  4. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  5.  Ceibs

U.S. News & World Report (2022)

Metrics: 25% Business School leaders, 25% Student selectivity, Employment outcomes 21%

Used by 37% of Business School candidates

Top Business Schools in 2021:

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  2. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  3. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  4. Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
  5.  Harvard Business School

The Economist 

Metrics: 23.3% Employment outcomes, 20% Compensation, 11.7% Career services rating

Top Business Schools in 2019:

  1.  University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  2. Harvard Business School
  3.  HEC Paris Business School
  4.  Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
  5.  University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School

Forbes

Metrics: 100% of the ranking is determined by Return on Investment after five years.

Used by 34% of Business School candidates

Top Business Schools in 2019:

  1. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  3. Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
  4. Harvard Business School
  5. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Metrics: 38.5% Compensation  27.9% Network, 23.1% learning, 10.5% Entreprenuership

Used by 26% of Business School candidates

Top Business Schools in 2019:

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  2. Dartmouth (Tuck)
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  5. Virginia (Darden)

You can find out more about these rankings in the MBA.com Rankings Guide (PDF)

How are MBA programs ranked?

There are many different rankings that different factors into account. As a rule of thumb, if you see a Business School at the top of multiple rankings, it should be on your radar. You should also be able to make informed decisions based on how each of the top rankings is calculated. That way you can decide which factors are most important to you, and which rankings carry more weight in your decision.

How important are MBA rankings?

The most important factor in choosing the right MBA program is finding an environment where you can thrive. That is different for everyone. But as much as you should consider fit, the rankings are based on important metrics such as Return on investment, employment outcomes, and compensation.

These rankings are important since prospective employers care about them, meaning you are more likely to be hired after your degree if you’ve attended a well-ranked business school. Your salary is likely to be higher as well. A smart MBA applicant calculates their potential return on investment on each MBA program before applying, and a better-ranked school will often turn out to be a better investment than attending a similar program at a lower-ranked or lesser-known school.

You should also pay close attention to a school that ranks well for a specific specialization, such as marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, supply chain management, etc. This is usually a sign that the school makes an effort to lead in that field and has been focusing on the subject in question for a long period of time. Employers watch these specialization rankings too and are likely to seek new employees from schools that specialize in the relevant fields.

Business school rankings should just be one factor to take into account when deciding which school to apply to and attend. As an applicant, you need to do your own research of the schools to determine which will fit your needs. Good luck!

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