The Best MBA Programs In The US – And How To Find The Right Fit

In November, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Harvard Business School’s MBA program the best in the United States for the third consecutive year.

Wharton and MIT Sloan took the second and third spots respectively, with Chicago Booth and Stanford making up the top five.

The same names are filling out the top tiers of MBA rankings tables year after year—nine out of Bloomberg’s 10 best graduate business schools of 2017 featured in 2016’s top 10.

But there are hundreds of MBA programs in the US, and thousands of MBA candidates are taking the GMAT® exam and the GRE® General Test to apply to business schools each year.

How can you make the most out of the MBA rankings?

Delve a little deeper

First, be assured that the top-10-ranked business schools (listed below) are not the be-all and end-all.

Bloomberg’s b-school ranking is based on surveys of recruiters, students, and alumni, as well as data on post-MBA job placement and starting salaries. These are all weighted in different ways—from the employer survey contributing 35% of the school’s overall score, to salary and job placement data, both at 10%.

When considering the top-ranked MBA programs, it’s important to look deeper into the rankings—into the methodologies and the data beneath—to find the right fit.

Based on Bloomberg’s research, the top three most popular US MBA programs among students are found outside the top 10—at UCLA Anderson, William & Mary’s Mason School of Business, and Johnson at Cornell.

But, at the same time, the Virginia-based Mason School of Business ranks outside Bloomberg’s top-50 for its reputation amongst employers, its job placement rate, and post-MBA salaries.

Similarly, the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business ranked number one for its job placement rate and 24th for post-MBA salaries—pretty good career prospects for Foster MBAs.

Rutgers Business School, New Jersey, has Bloomberg’s second-highest job placement rate, but its 51st position for post-MBA salaries means Rutgers MBA grads earn lower salaries than many of their counterparts.

It’s all relative of course. Rutgers’ full-time MBA grads can expect to earn up to $125,000 post-MBA. 2016’s average was just under $90,000.

MBA grads from Stanford—ranked first by Bloomberg for post-MBA pay—earn an average of $140,000 after graduation.

By delving deeper into MBA rankings data, applicants can discover more about the strengths and specialties of different b-schools.

For example, more MBAs from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business in Utah go into tech than California-based Stanford or Berkeley Haas—the breeding grounds for Silicon Valley execs.

Columbia Business School produces the biggest share of MBAs that land jobs in finance. While, at the University of California at San Diego’s Rady School of Management, two in every five recent MBA grads have taken up jobs in Asia...

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