MBA News: U.S. News & World Report Rankings Released

This week, U.S. News & World Report released its 2009 rankings of MBA programs. We always advise our candidates to take rankings with more than a grain of salt—a bucket of salt, perhaps? Why? We do so because we recognize that rankings simplify and quantify something that is truly unquantifiable and because rankings emphasize the short-term rewards of an MBA program rather then the long-term rewards. Ask an MBA grad who is ten years out of school whether his/her school’s ranking is relevant in his/her life and overwhelmingly the answer will be “no.” Nonetheless, everyone loves a ranking, and U.S. News has its own…

1. Harvard University
2. Stanford University
3. [tie] Northwestern University (Kellogg) 
3. [tie] University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 
5. [tie] Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) 
5. [tie] University of Chicago (Booth) 
7. University of California – Berkeley (Haas)
8. Dartmouth College (Tuck) 
9. Columbia University 
10. Yale University
11. New York University (Stern)
12. Duke University (Fuqua)
13. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross) 
14. University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
15. [tie] Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
15. [tie] University of Virginia (Darden)
17. Cornell University (Johnson)

If you compare last year’s rankings and this year’s rankings, you will notice that very little has changed. Yale has gone from 13 last year to 10 this year. Carnegie Mellon has entered the top 15, while Cornell has exited the top 15. Is a ranking worth much if it is entrenched and very little changes? We ask rhetorically, what value is there in maintaining the status quo?

So, do rankings serve a purpose? Yes. Applicants should consult the rankings, with some skepticism, as an introduction to the different schools and to develop some perceptions of them. Thereafter, though, applicants should perform their own research to determine which schools are most appropriate for them, based on their academic/professional needs and how the schools fit their personalities—a recipe for a long-term relationship.

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