What's the best MBA in the US?

Prodigy finance Logo

Prodigy Finance - June, 09 2021

10 min read

About author

If you’re just beginning your business school search, you’ll likely start with one of the MBA rankings. But with all the MBA rankings available, there’s always a question of which one best addresses the concerns of prospective applicants.

You could turn to:

  • The Economist
  • Financial Times
  • U.S. News & World Report
  • Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Forbes

Of that group, only the first two rank schools on a global level, rather than dividing them into US and non-US schools. Indeed, U.S. News and World Report only cover American programmes.

It’s worth noting that all of these rankings are linked to leading news agencies. While there can be little dispute of the data provided by each of these organisations, there are vast differences in the data collected and methods of analysing it.

What do the MBA rankings consider?

Most of the principal lists include MBA employment in some form, ranging from starting salaries to the length of time it takes students to accept a position post graduation.

Forbes

  • The Forbes MBA rankings is a straight return on investment (ROI) calculation for alumni five years out of business school.

Bloomberg Businessweek

The components of the score come from:

  • 45% - recent grad survey responses to questions about career services, teaching quality, critical thinking, leadership skills and the caliber of classmates.
  • 45% - corporate recruiter responses to the 20 MBA most targeted schools along with their perceptions on MBA quality and their experiences with MBA alumni from each school.
  • 10% - an "intellectual capital rating" based on professor publications with adjustment for faculty size.

US News & World Report

The magazine uses a slightly more complicated algorithm weighting:

  • 25% - survey of deans and MBA directors (for proprietary school-supplied data)
  • 16% - student GMAT scores
  • 15% - survey of corporate recruiters
  • 14% - alumni starting salaries (and bonuses)
  • 8% - undergrad GPAs
  • 7% - alumni employment at graduation
  • 7% - alumni employment at 3 months after graduation
  • 1% - school acceptance rates

What are the best schools on the MBA rankings?

There are remarkably few differences in school rankings based on the different lists. In general, the best of the best business schools will always make the top 10, shifting one or two positions depending on the publication, and the methodology used for ranking.

School

US News & World Report

Business-week

Forbes

School

US News & World Report

1

Business-week

2

Forbes

1

School

US News & World Report

2

Business-week

1

Forbes

2

School

US News & World Report

3

Business-week

3

Forbes

3

School

US News & World Report

3

Business-week

4

Forbes

8

School

US News & World Report

3

Business-week

5

Forbes

7

School

US News & World Report

7

Business-week

6

Forbes

6

School

US News & World Report

6

Business-week

8

Forbes

4

School

US News & World Report

6

Business-week

6

Forbes

9

School

Yale University - School of Management

New Haven, CT

Tuition: $69,500

US News & World Report

9

Business-week

11

Forbes

13

School

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Durham, NC

Tuition: $68,200

US News & World Report

10

Business-week

15

Forbes

14

School

US News & World Report

10

Business-week

18

Forbes

12

School

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business

Hanover, NH

Tuition: $72,150

US News & World Report

12

Business-week

19

Forbes

5

School

US News & World Report

12

Business-week

13

Forbes

21

School

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Charlottesville, VA

Tuition: $64,782

US News & World Report

12

Business-week

9

Forbes

11

School

US News & World Report

15

Business-week

10

Forbes

10

School

US News & World Report

16

Business-week

17

Forbes

15

School

US News & World Report

17

Business-week

12

Forbes

18

School

US News & World Report

17

Business-week

13

Forbes

33

School

US News & World Report

19

Business-week

23

Forbes

16

School

US News & World Report

19

Business-week

22

Forbes

17

School

US News & World Report

21

Business-week

16

Forbes

30

School

US News & World Report

24

Business-week

20

Forbes

35

School

US News & World Report

32

Business-week

25

Forbes

19

School

Texas A&M University College Station - Mays Business School

College Station, TX

Tuition: $76,606 (total programme)

US News & World Report

40

Business-week

49

Forbes

20

Can you use MBA rankings to choose MBA programmes?

As long as you’re not fussing over the actual placement on a list (there is often little difference between #6 and #11 on any list), reviewing the rankings are a terrific starting point for your school research and short listing.

School selection: more to consider

A school’s ranking on any list shouldn’t supersede your unique reasons for pursuing an MBA. You’ll need to do your own research – even if it starts with the MBA rank that measures the facets of business education which matter most to you.

Using MBA ROI for school selection

Given the cost of a top MBA, you may also want to consider your Return on Investment (ROI) while narrowing your school choices.

A basic ROI equation looks something like this:

[Opportunity Cost] divided by [Amount of Salary Increase] = [Return on Investment]

Looks simple enough, but it’s impossible to work with absolute figures, so you’ll need to content yourself with estimates. oth opportunity cost and salary increases are rather difficult to gauge beforehand, but while working it out, you should factor in the following:

  • Opportunity cost: cost of tuition, cost of materials (tech, books, stationary), cost of living during this time and the cost of not working for a year or two.
  • Amount of salary increase: This is what you’ll expect to earn annually, less what you currently earn. And, all you can really do is take the median figures reported by your shortlisted business schools.

Given the work involved in calculating ROI, you might want to turn to MBA ROI ranking lists until you’ve really narrowed your list.

But, you’ll want to be careful here. That’s because schools top schools often have a terrible time on ROI scales. The higher a business school lands in the traditional rankings, the more likely it is to accept students that already have a higher salary. Take Harvard Business School as an example; its grads receive some of the highest salary offers, but given the reputation of the school, it attracts higher earners to begin with.

Using MBA specialisations to shortlist business schools

Keep in mind that highly-ranked schools and ROI are useful numbers, but if a programme doesn’t focus on an applicant’s career specialisation, there’s little point in considering that school.

Luckily, there are MBA ranking lists for that too.

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Accounting

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

19

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

47

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

1

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

32

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

17

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

12

Specialty rank

10

University

US News Rank

31

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Entrepreneurship

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

63

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

1

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

21

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

17

Specialty rank

10

University

US News Rank

19

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Finance

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

1

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

12

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

10

University

US News Rank

16

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Information Systems

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

17

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

52

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

19

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

1

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

35

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

29

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

40

Specialty rank

10

University

US News Rank

12

Top 10 US MBA programmes for International

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

74

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

12

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

1

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

24

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

9

University

Saint Louis University - Chaifetz School of Business

US News Rank

n/a

Specialty rank

10

University

US News Rank

10

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Management

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

12

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

12

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

1

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

10

University

US News Rank

6

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Nonprofit

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

9

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

26

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

24

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

6

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Production and Operations

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

17

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

74

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

10

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

1

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

29

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

6

Specialty rank

10

University

US News Rank

31

Top 10 US MBA programmes for Chain and Logistics

Specialty rank

University

US News Rank

Specialty rank

1

University

US News Rank

38

Specialty rank

2

University

US News Rank

3

Specialty rank

3

University

US News Rank

33

Specialty rank

4

University

US News Rank

33

Specialty rank

5

University

US News Rank

54

Specialty rank

6

University

US News Rank

31

Specialty rank

7

University

US News Rank

17

Specialty rank

8

University

US News Rank

74

Specialty rank

9

University

US News Rank

2

Specialty rank

10

University

University of Michigan Ann Arbor - Ross School of Business [Check out our school spotlight]

(https://prodigyfinance.com/resources/blog/spotlight-michigan-ross)

US News Rank

10

Above all, MBA applicants should remember that while the research may be helpful in narrowing choices, career goals and the programmes that make these a reality are more salient criteria for selecting potential business schools.

Already found your dream MBA?

Once you've figured out where you're going, it's time to figure out how you'll pay for your studies. Prodigy Finance can help with that.

LEARN MORE ABOUT INTERNATIONAL STUDENT LOANS NOW