The Economist has just released its 2018 MBA rankings. Before we dive into analysis, let’s take a look at the top 10:

The Top 10

1. University of Chicago Booth School of Business

2. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management

3. Harvard Business School

4. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

5. Stanford University Graduate School of Business


7. University of Michigan Ross School of Business

8. UCLA Anderson School of Management

9. University of Virginia Darden School of Business

10. Columbia Business School

2018 vs 2017

For those who follow The Economist’s rankings, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see Chicago reclaim its place at the head from Northwestern: Booth has been at the top of the rankings for 6 out of the past 7 years. However, dethroned Kellogg has only experienced a small drop, having fallen to 2nd place.

The largest gain in the top 10 has been made by Spain’s IESE, which has jumped 11 places to reach 6th. Michigan Ross has also impressively risen from 12th to 7th. The final winner is Virginia Darden, which has moved from 10th to 9th.

On the negative side, Berkeley Haas and Dartmouth Tuck have both fallen out of the top 10, dropping 4 places each and settling at 11th and 12th, respectively. UCLA Anderson experienced a more minor loss, sliding from 6th to 8th. Rounding out the changes to the top 10, Columbia has experienced a small drop, falling from 9th to 10th.

Rankings and Instability

Among major MBA rankings, The Economist’s has developed a reputation for volatility. This year 19 programs rose and 13 fell ten or more places. These large fluctuations account for nearly a third of the entire ranking. Additionally, ten MBAs entered and ten exited the list entirely.

Another peculiarity within this list is the relative positioning of many of the universities. Looking at the top 10 programs, it’s natural to wonder where certain world-renowned MBAs are, such as INSEAD and London Business School. You’ll find INSEAD in 19th place and LBS in 27th.

What’s happening? In a recent article on Poets & Quants, John Byrne explains, “The reason for such roller-coaster results can largely be attributed to the fact that the underlying index scores that determine numerical rankings are often so close [a]s to be statistically meaningless.” In other words, it seems that the metrics that determine The Economist’s rankings are too sensitive to relative changes.

How to Utilize Rankings

Rankings, despite seeming otherwise, are not universal absolutes. They are simply lists of items that are established based on the subjective viewpoints and metrical weights of a ranker. What they are excellent for is establishing an understanding of the universe of available options and digging into the unique data points that make up the rankings.

Simply picking the number one program and saying that it would work best for you is taking a chance. To make a truly wise decision, you need to understand what you want out of the MBA and what you want to accomplish after the MBA.

If you’re looking for help with identifying the ideal MBA, contact us to speak with one of our admissions experts.

Published On: November 6th, 2018 / Categories: Chicago Booth, MBA News, Rankings / Tags: , , , /