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Harvard Business School Tops Bloomberg Businessweek Ranking for Third Consecutive Year

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For the third straight year, Harvard Business School reigned supreme in the annual Bloomberg BusinessweekBest Business Schools” ranking, topping the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and MIT Sloan School of Management. In joining HBS on the medals podium this year, those schools both saw significant gains over last year, climbing from sixth and seventh respectively.

Rounding out the top five this year is the University of Chicago Booth School of Business —holding steady year over year at fourth—and Stanford Graduate School of Business, which fell from second place in 2016 to fifth this year.

The methodology Bloomberg Businessweek uses to arrive at its annual MBA ranking involves weighting each of five principle factors. Employer surveys account for 35 percent of a school’s score. Alumni surveys account for another 30 percent. And a combination of current student surveys, salary rankings, and job placement together account for the remaining 35 percent of the final score.

High Risers

Ten out of the top 20 ranked schools in the 2017 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking advanced at least one spot over last year. Wharton and Sloan each managed to leap four spots, boosted by high praise from employers and hefty salary benefits for recent graduates. The University of Washington Foster School of Business also managed to jump from 19th to 15th overall this year, thanks largely to its top ranking as the nation’s best business school for job placement.

The Cornell S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management and the UCLA Anderson School of Management both saw a rankings jump of three spots, with Johnson moving up to 13th and Anderson coming in at 19th.

The year’s biggest winner, however, may be the Penn State Smeal College of Business, which jumped a whopping 12 spots from last year’s 37th to come in at 25th in 2017. It wins the award for the year’s biggest overall rankings increase. The USC Marshall School of Business also saw a momentous climb this year, sidling up eight spots from 38th last year to 30th this year.

Once Mighty, Now Fallen

Stanford GSB, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, and Jones School of Business at Rice University may all be feeling a wee bit dizzy. Last year Stanford shot up to second from seventh the year before, but this year it finds itself demoted to fifth. Duke’s Fuqua School, which last year celebrated a momentous jump from eighth to third, this year fell back down to seventh. Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, which had one of last year’s biggest gains, rocketing up nine spots to break into the top five from a mere 14th place finish the year before, this year finds itself at seventh. Similarly, Rice Business, as the Jones School likes to be called, which last year catapulted 11 spots to number eight, this year slipped to tenth. But at least all maintained their footing within the top 10.

Emory’s Goizueta Business School and the Texas A&M Mays Business School, for their part, slipped out of the top 20 altogether. Goizueta slipped just slightly, from 20th to 21st, and Mays slid from 18th to 22nd. The University of Virginia Darden School of Business also stumbled, slipping from 12th last year to 17th this year. But the Charlottesville school at least managed to remain in the top 20, thanks in part to strong scores in the student survey and salary categories.

No school, however, lost more ground than the George Washington University School of Business, which fell an eye-popping 14 spots from last year, losing its place among the top 50 business schools in the United States.

Bloomberg BW has made multiple changes to its methodology in recent years, resulting in significant volatility in terms of where schools fall on the list even when not much has changed year over year at the individual schools themselves. This has led many to question the credibility of the ranking overall. That said, Clear Admit’s Alex Brown found this year’s results easier to swallow than some in recent years. “This ranking seems more reasonable to me this year,” he says. “Each of the M7 programs are in the top 10, and the schools I would consider in the top 16 are all in the top 20.”

Together Brown and Clear Admit Co-Founder Graham Richmond hosted a chat here on the site just as the rankings were released in real time, giving prospective applicants an opportunity to discuss some of the results with experts who’ve been watching the rankings go up and down for decades. We were pleased to draw a good crowd of folks armed with smart questions. In case you missed it, you can view the chat transcript here. Richmond did draw attention to the fact that schools like Wharton and MIT Sloan have been gaining in recent rankings—not only Bloomberg BW, but also others—which might be viewed as concerning by Chicago Booth, which over the past eight to 10 years has been making pretty significant gains of its own.

But perhaps the most sage advice Richmond offered in the course of today’s chat echoes advice we offer each and every time we report on rankings here at Clear Admit. “Keep in mind folks that the rankings are just one metric you should consider, since at the end of the day many (or really most) of these top-20 programs can lead to great outcomes, and a lot of your choice should be based on fit/likelihood of the program helping you to reach your specific career goals,” he wrote. We agree.

At a glance, here’s this year’s top 20 as ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek:

2.Pennsylvania (Wharton)
3.MIT (Sloan)
4.Chicago (Booth)
6.Duke (Fuqua)
7.Dartmouth (Tuck)
8.Northwestern (Kellogg)
10.Rice (Jones)
11.UC at Berkeley (Haas)
12.Michigan (Ross)
13.Cornell (Johnson)
14.Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
15.Washington (Foster)
17.Virginia (Darden)
18.NYU (Stern)
19.UCLA (Anderson)
20.Texas at Austin (McCombs)

You can view the complete 2017 Bloomberg Businessweek rankings here.

Matthew Korman
Matthew Korman is a contributing author and editor for Clear Admit. Since graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism and political science, Matthew has worked with numerous academic institutions, in addition to roles as a music industry writer, promoter, and data analyst. His works have appeared in publications such as NPR and Sports Illustrated.