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U.S. News 2022 College Rankings – What It Means for MBA Applicants

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With the announcement of the 2022 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, MBA applicants may be wondering how their undergraduate records fit into MBA admissions. Within the MBA application itself, candidates supply their GPA, identify their undergraduate institution and provide unofficial transcripts. Clear Admit Co-founder Graham Richmond explains, “It’s really important to remember that MBA admissions officers are not just looking at your undergraduate GPA as a raw number.  They are looking at it through a number of different lenses.  For instance, how did your GPA evolve over the course of your four years in school? Was there an upward trend or downward trend?  Also, how did you perform in quantitatively rigorous classes?  What did you major in?  And, of course, what was the caliber of the undergraduate institution you attended?”

Here’s a look at some of the 2022 rankings from U.S. News Best Colleges.

Ranking U.S. News Best Undergraduate National Universities
1 Princeton University
2 (tie) Columbia University
2 (tie) Harvard University
2 (tie) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5 Yale University
Ranking U.S. News Best Undergraduate Business Programs
1 University of Pennsylvania
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3 University of California–Berkeley
4 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
5 (tie) New York University
5 (tie) University of Texas at Austin

The U.S. News rankings of American business schools are very well regarded; therefore, the undergraduate rankings would be a natural place for U.S. MBA adcoms to look when trying to best gauge the caliber of a given undergraduate program. Graham says, “The caliber of a school matters so much so that it can actively shape the interpretation of your GPA.  For instance, a 3.3 GPA in engineering from a top-10 undergraduate university (with a noted track record for engineering) may be viewed as just as strong (or even stronger) than a 3.7 in engineering from an undergraduate institution ranked #150 by US News & World Report.”

Of course, not every applicant will be expected to have attended a top caliber undergraduate institution, as the admissions process is always a multi-variable equation that requires the admissions reader to weigh a number of factors. The admissions reader is not blind to issues of socioeconomic challenges and access to top schools. Clear Admit’s Alex Brown adds, “For those who went to unranked programs, the adcom are aware that that choice is often dictated by circumstances beyond the candidate’s control. In this case, the adcom want to see candidates that fully embraced their opportunities that enabled their forward pathway.”

Ranking U.S. News Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (Doctorate)
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2 (tie) Stanford University
2 (tie) University of California–Berkeley
4 (tie) California Institute of Technology
4 (tie) Georgia Institute of Technology
Ranking U.S. News Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (No Doctorate)
1 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
2 Harvey Mudd College
3 Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
4 United States Military Academy
5 United States Naval Academy

Here are charts for the U.S. News’ top liberal arts colleges and public schools in the U.S.

Ranking U.S. News Best National Liberal Arts Colleges
1 Williams College (MA)
2 Amherst College (MA)
3 Swarthmore College (PA)
4 Pomona College (CA)
5 Wellesley College (MA)
Ranking U.S. News Top Public Schools
1 University of California–Los Angeles
2 University of California–Berkeley
3 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
4 University of Virginia
5 (tie) University of California–Santa Barbara
5 (tie) University of Florida
5 (tie) University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

In conclusion, Graham adds, “In short, as an MBA applicant puts together her profile and assesses her candidacy, the undergraduate rankings from U.S. News can be useful information to have to better understand the context in which a GPA may be interpreted.”

See the full announcement here.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.