U.S. News Business School Rankings for 2012

U.S. NewsEarlier this week U.S. News & Word Report released its annual business school rankings for 2012. As we write every year, it’s easy for applicants to get too caught up in the rankings and obsess over details such as a school “plunging” from 8th to 11th in the rankings. Ignoring the rankings as you research business schools would be silly, but using them as any more than a useful starting point can only lead to trouble.

Still, it’s human nature: When someone ranks something — anything — we can’t help but take notice and pick apart the rankings at least a little. Without further ado, here’s a look at the top 20 U.S. programs as defined by U.S. News. Each school’s previous rankings follows in parentheses:

2012 U.S. News MBA Rankings

1. Stanford (1)
2. Harvard (1)
3. MIT (Sloan) (3)
3. U. of Pennsylvania (Wharton) (5)
5. Northwestern (Kellogg) (4)
5. U. of Chicago (Booth) (5)
7. Dartmouth (Tuck) (7)
7. UC Berkeley (Haas) (7)
9. Columbia (9)
10. NYU (Stern) (9)
10. Yale (11)
12. Duke (Fuqua) (14)
13. U. of Virginia (Darden) (13)
14. UCLA (Anderson) (15)
14. U. of Michigan (Ross) (12)
16. Cornell (Johnson) (18)
17. U. of Texas (McCombs) (16)
18. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) (16)
19. U. of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) (21)
20. Washington U. in St. Louis (Olin) (19)

Notable Changes in This Year’s U.S. News Rankings
The headline is that Stanford edged out HBS to take sole possession of the top spot this year, gaining an advantage in most of the categories that U.S. News measures, including acceptance rate, average GMAT score, recruiter assessment scores, and undergraduate GPAs. All of these differences are quite small, however. After that, Wharton jumped two spots from #5 to #3, pushing down Kellogg to a tie with fellow Chicago-based school Booth. Yale crept into the top ten, Fuqua made a nice jump from #14 to #12 (trading places with Ross), and Johnson also rose two spots, to #16. Rounding out the list, Kenan-Flagler administrators must be very happy, as that school climbed back into the top 20, and Olin managed to just hang on to “Top 20 status” (for whatever that’s worth), while Marshall just fell out, landing at #21.

GMAT Scores Continue to Rise
One trend we can’t help but notice is the ever-increasing average GMAT scores among the top schools. While only several schools boasted average GMAT scores at or above 710 just a few years ago, now the top 11 schools (and 12 of the top 15 programs) boast average scores of 710 or higher. We’ll use this opportunity to once again issue the advice that we always give to business school applicants: A great GMAT score won’t get you into business school, but a bad one will indeed keep you out. Keep that in mind, especially at this time of year, when you have months before you need to start working on your applications in earnest. If you have doubts about your score, we recommend taking the GMAT again, while you still have time.

You can read about the world’ top business school in Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, 15 in-depth guides to the world’s most competitive MBA programs, available for free on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

(Thanks to everyone who pointed out that we accidentally left Haas off the list! Those responsible have been sacked. — Ed.)