Top MBA Programs of 2021

When you’re looking for the best MBA programs for you, your first instinct is likely to seek out lists of the top MBA programs. Read on to discover this year’s top MBA schools.

Top 25 MBA Programs in the US (2021)

The US News and World Report uses the same methodology each year to survey all 486 master’s in business programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. Of the 364 respondents this year, 143 supplied enough information to be ranked. All rankings were calculated in 2021.

1. Stanford University

  • The most selective business school worldwide, Stanford is renowned for its extensive and accomplished alumni network.
  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Average GMAT – 733
  • Average GPA – 3.8
  • Acceptance Rate – 8.9%

Learn more about the Stanford MBA program!


2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

  • UPenn is known for its intense finance program, among other tracks.
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Average GMAT – 733
  • Average GPA – Not given
  • Acceptance Rate – 23.1%


3. University of Chicago (Booth)

  • Booth boasts a top MBA program with a focus on finance and economics.
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Average GMAT – 724
  • Average GPA – 3.56
  • Acceptance Rate – 27.6%


4. Northwestern University (Kellogg)

  • With a top marketing program, Kellogg is also known for its top-notch part-time MBA.
  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Average GMAT – 727
  • Average GPA – 3.6
  • Acceptance Rate – 27.9%

Learn more about the Northwestern Kellogg MBA program!


5. Harvard University

  • One of the most prestigious MBA programs, Harvard is also the oldest programs, with large graduating classes.
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Average GMAT – 727
  • Average GPA – 3.7
  • Acceptance Rate – 9.2%


6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)

  • Widely recognized as a quantitative-based program, Sloan’s students often have strong STEM backgrounds.
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Median GMAT – 720
  • Average GPA – 3.54
  • Acceptance Rate – 14.6%


7. Columbia University

  • Columbia’s MBA program is known for its ties to the financial community.
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Average GMAT – 732
  • Average GPA – 3.6
  • Acceptance Rate – 13.6%

Learn more about the Columbia MBA program!


8. University of California—Berkeley (Haas)

  • Haas has a reputation for prioritizing social responsibility in its MBA program.
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Average GMAT – 727
  • Average GPA – 3.65
  • Acceptance Rate – 23.3%


9. Yale University

  • A leading program for students focusing on non-profits.
  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Average GMAT – 720
  • Average GPA – 3.62
  • Acceptance Rate – 29.7%

Learn more about the Yale MBA program!


10. Dartmouth College (Tuck)

  • Small, tight-knit cohorts
  • Location: Hanover, NH
  • Average GMAT – 720
  • Average GPA – 3.5
  • Acceptance Rate – 34.8%

Learn more about the Dartmouth Tuck MBA program!


11. New York University (Stern)

  • Flexible curriculum that allows students to take courses at other NYU schools.
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Average GMAT – 723)
  • Average GPA – 3.6
  • Acceptance Rate – 29%


12. Duke University (Fuqua)

  • Strong general management and marketing courses.
  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Average GMAT – 702
  • Average GPA – 3.5
  • Acceptance Rate – 24.9%

Learn more about the Duke Fuqua MBA program!


13. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor (Ross)

  • Real-world consulting experiences for MBA students
  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Average GMAT – 711
  • Average GPA – 3.45
  • Acceptance Rate – 37%


14. University of Virginia (Darden)

  • Using the case method, UVA’s MBA program teaches students through real-world examples.
  • Location: Charlottesville, VA
  • Average GMAT – 703
  • Average GPA – 3.5
  • Acceptance Rate – 35.1%

Learn more about the UVA Darden MBA program!


15. Cornell University (Johnson)

  • Excellent real-world connections, from internships to case studies.
  • Location: Ithaca, NY
  • Average GMAT – 691
  • Average GPA – 3.33
  • Acceptance Rate – 39.6%


16. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

  • Four mini-semesters per academic year, leading to an increase in courses taken
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Average GMAT – 680
  • Average GPA – 3.32
  • Acceptance Rate – 27.7%

Learn more about the Carnegie Mellon Tepper MBA program!


17. University of Southern California (Marshall)

  • International programs and study opportunities.
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Average GMAT – 707
  • Average GPA – 3.6
  • Acceptance Rate – 24.3%


18. University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)

  • Places students in top consulting and investment bank positions; known for its early specialization tracks
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Median GMAT or Average GMAT (whichever stat is more widely available)
  • Average GPA – 3.49
  • Acceptance Rate – 34.4%

Learn more about the UCLA Anderson MBA program!


19. University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)

  • Known for its highly rated accounting and information systems programs.
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Average GMAT – 704
  • Average GPA – 3.44
  • Acceptance Rate – 36.9%


20. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)

  • A top research program, UNC’s MBA program also has highly-raked accounting and real estate tracks.
  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Average GMAT – 694
  • Average GPA – 3.34
  • Acceptance Rate – 52.5%


21. Georgetown University (McDonough)

  • Known for its international and governmental connections.
  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Average GMAT – 691
  • Average GPA – 3.34
  • Acceptance Rate – 56.9%


22. University of Washington (Foster)

  • Known for collaborative learning, including core study teams
  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Average GMAT – 692
  • Average GPA – 3.38
  • Acceptance Rate – 41.3%


23. Indiana University (Kelley)

  • Building team leadership skills among students and faculty
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Average GMAT- 652
  • Average GPA – 3.32
  • Acceptance Rate – 42.7%


24. Vanderbilt University (Owen)

  • Hands-on, experiential learning and leadership experiences.
  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Average GMAT – 676
  • Average GPA -3.37
  • Acceptance Rate – 46.3%


25. Rice University (Jones)

  • Entrepreneurship and energy industry connections.
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Average GMAT – 690
  • Average GPA – 3.42
  • Acceptance Rate – 39.5%

Note: This report’s rankings take into account such criteria as program assessments by peers and recruiters, graduate employment rates and placement successes, mean starting salaries for graduates, student selectivity, the mean GRE and GMAT scores of accepted applicants, and the program’s acceptance rate.

In terms of tests, the schools above accept the GMAT or GRE. However, check with each individual program before applying, as they are quickly becoming more open to different tests. This includes the Executive Assessment (EA), or even, in some cases, the LSAT or MCAT! This varies significantly by school and program, though, so it is worth doing a bit of research before deciding on which test you will take.

MBA written over series of ladders

Getting Into Top MBA Programs

So you’ve decided that an MBA is worth it for you—what next? If you’re applying to the top MBA schools, you’ll need to work on polishing the parts of your application that you can still control.

GPA, Scores, and Other Factors

Because most students applying to MBA programs have full-time work experience, it’s likely that your college days are behind you (if you’ve been in the business world for more than a few years, you might want to check out an executive MBA instead!).

For the top MBA programs in the USA, the factors within your control include getting a top GMAT score or GRE score, getting letters of recommendation from references you trust, and writing outstanding essays. However, there’s another aspect of MBA admissions that you should pay attention to if you’re applying to the best MBA schools: curating your list of which schools you’ll apply to. In other words, choosing your MBA programs.

To some extent, the schools you apply to will depend on your application stats, as GPA and test scores are two of the most important factors in admissions. But if your GMAT score isn’t in the range of the top 10 MBA programs’ averages, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t apply! However, it might mean that you need a high GPA to compensate for this—and/or that you want to explore other options, such as online MBAs with no GMAT requirement. Just remember: if any single part of your application is weaker than average for that school, try to counterbalance this by strengthening other areas of your portfolio.

In the end, finding the MBA program that’s a good fit for you is no easy feat. You are going to need to take into account the specifics of each program — things like location, cost, size, student body, reputation, and program fit. Plus, you’ll want to factor in your personal goals, and where you’d like to see yourself, career-wise, in five and ten years. But with some research and self-reflection, you’ll be able to do it. Good luck!

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

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  • Rachel Kapelke-Dale

    Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her novel, THE BALLERINAS, is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin's Press, while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND, co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. Join her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

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