2012 Businessweek MBA Rankings

Bloomberg Businessweek has just released its business school rankings for 2012. Businessweek’s rankings aren’t the only game in town — the U.S. News business school rankings are also very influential, and others such as The Financial Times carry more clout in Europe — but the fact that Businessweek’s rankings only come out every two years always creates a little more buildup for this moment.

A word of caution before we proceed: When you look at any ranking system, remember that there’s no single “right” way to rank the schools. Each of the popular business school ranking systems below rely on a different set of criteria, including acceptance rates, average GMAT scores, and post-graduation salaries. Some also use more subjective criteria, such as peer ratings by administrators at other business schools, and how each school is rated by its current and former students. It’s therefore no surprise that no two ranking systems will completely agree with one another.

Without further ado, here are the top 25 U.S. business schools, according to Bloomberg Businessweek:

1. University of Chicago (Booth)
2. Harvard Business School
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4. Stanford Graduate School of Business
5. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
6. Duke University (Fuqua)
7. Cornell University (Johnson)
8. University of Michigan (Ross)
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
10. University of Virginia (Darden)
11. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
12. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
13. University of California at Berkeley (Haas)
14. Columbia Business School
15. University of Indiana (Kelley)
16. New York University (Stern)
17. University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
18. UCLA (Anderson)
19. University of Texas at Austin (McCombs)
20. University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)
21. Yale School of Management
22. Emory University (Goizueta)
23. Georgia Tech (Scheller)
24. University of Maryland (Smith)
25. Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Major Moves This Year
The very top of the list didn’t change dramatically this year, but the top 25 did include a few significant movers. Cornell’s Johnson School jumped six spots, from 13th in 2010 to 7th this year. Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School jumped four spots, from 15th to 11th. Indiana’s Kelley School also jumped four spots, from 19th to 15th. Haas and Columbia suffered two of the largest drops, falling from 8th and 9th to 13th and 14th this year, respectively.

While each of these moves is nothing to get too excited about, it’s interesting to think about the underlying drivers. It’s not hard to imagine that, in Columbia’s case, continued softness in hiring by banks contributed to its own students only ranking Columbia 20th best among all schools. That’s just one example of knowing he “why” behind the rankings — and not just the rankings themselves — is critical as you research MBA programs

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By Scott Shrum