Harvard Business School (HBS) reclaimed the number one spot in this year’s U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation’s best MBA programs after a two-year stint in second place. Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), which has passed the crown back and forth with HBS for more than a decade, took second this year, tying with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
In addition to the subtle movements of programs rising or losing a rank, there were quite a few surprises in this year’s list. The Clear Admit team of admissions experts has sifted through the data and compiled a summary of seven key things to note this year:
1. NYU Stern Backslides to 20, Gets Scolded by U.S. News
The most shocking adjustment from 2016 in terms of rank for an individual school was without a doubt NYU Stern, which fell from the number 11 spot to number 20 this year. At first glance, it’s hard to even imagine how this might happen. Luckily, Bob Morse of U.S. News was kind enough to publish a post explaining what caused this traditionally top-15 school to slide so precipitously.
Morse explained that the reason for NYU Stern’s sharp decline was due to the fact that it did not submit its GMAT/GRE scores on time. “[NYU] did not submit its data for the number of new entrants to both its full-time and part-time MBA programs who provided GMAT scores,” he wrote. As a result, U.S. News could not compute the school’s average standardized test scores.
Morse also states that while Stern did provide the “omitted data points” later on, U.S. News would not consider recalculating the scores, because… late is late.
While Morse’s blog post certainly possesses a whiff of passive aggression making one wonder if the drop in rankings wasn’t more of a wrist slap, Stern’s inability to provide information by a deadline that every other school managed to meet does potentially raise questions about its administrative competence.
That said, the drop of nine spots on the list does seem harsh and, more importantly, incorrect. Stay tuned to see whether or not this will damage the reputation of either U.S. News or NYU Stern (or both).
2. Booth Leapfrogs Wharton
While a single position adjustment is no cause for alarm or debate about the difference in a program’s worth, it marks the first time Booth has ever outranked Wharton (although the two did tie in 2011 for fifth) and is also the first time the Chicago school has secured a top-three spot in the history of the U.S. News rankings.
As to the rationale behind the program’s movements on the list, Chicago Booth’s climbing GMAT average (726) and high employment numbers certainly played a part. Furthermore, over the past few years Wharton has been experiencing a mild slump on several rankings lists (most notably, Financial Times and BusinessWeek).
Part of the problem may be rooted in Wharton’s Admissions Office and process — which can have a profound impact on a school’s brand. In recent years, the school has experienced a high turnover of admissions directors. Also, its reputation of having one of the most applicant-friendly admissions processes has waned among potential students as well as alumni who are no longer called upon to interview applicants.
3. Yale SOM: Is Dean Snyder the ‘Rankings Whisperer?’
For the first time since 2013, Yale School of Management (SOM) has ranked in the top ten, taking the number eight spot — its highest rank ever. The jump to number eight from last year’s 13 spot is substantial, though not all that surprising upon inspection.
Yale has been making improvements on several fronts. In 2011, the school hired Dean Edward Snyder — the very same dean who sat at the helm of Chicago Booth during its meteoric rise in the rankings in the early 2000s. In addition, Yale has been poaching high-profile faculty from other schools over the last decade; notably: Andrew Metrick, professor of finance and Anjani Jain, current assistant dean. Both were previously at Wharton.
Yale has also achieved major progress with its facilities, completing the new Edwards P. Evans Hall in 2014.
One more possible factor in Yale’s rise is its traditional strength and reputation as a leader in the non-profit and corporate responsibility areas, which are in vogue with millennials.