US News has just released its ranking for the top MBA programs of 2022. Before we delve deeper into an analysis, let’s take a quick look at this year’s highest set:

Top 10

1. Stanford University Graduate School of Business

2. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

3. University of Chicago Booth School of Business

4. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management

5. Harvard Business School

5. MIT Sloan School of Management

7. Columbia Business School

7. University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business

9. Yale School of Management

10. Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business

10. New York University Stern School of Business

2022 vs. 2021

Changes to this year’s ranking have been rather slight on the whole, however there have been some clear winners and losers. In terms of gains in the top 10, HBS has found itself slowly edging up from 6th to 5th. CBS has also improved its placement, moving one spot up to 7th. Rounding out the gains, Tuck has moved once again into the top 10, having jumping to 10th from 12th place.

The losses were largely moderate this year in the group as well. Wharton lost its crown, falling one position to 2nd, while Kellogg followed suit, dropping from 3rd to 4th. UVA Darden was the only school that had the misfortune to completely drop out of the top 10, landing in 12th.

The stability in rankings probably has come from both a lighter touch on the ranking analysis this year and the overall amazing program performance in salaries and bonuses (they went up across all the MBAs!). Overall, a solid showing for the MBA industry.

What do these rankings mean?

For those of you who are not familiar with U.S. News, they publish the most popular ranking for US MBA applicants. While the ranking does not include any European schools, it does happen to be one of the most influential—many in the industry would argue, the most influential—rankings of MBA programs.

As you might expect, there are some glaring drawbacks to the methodology used by U.S. News, just as there are in every other major ranking. One of the most glaring is the above-mentioned absence of non-US universities. However, as U.S. News does not use purchasing power parity adjustments—unlike, for instance, The Financial Times—the salary and bonus figures it incorporates would cause Eurasian MBAs to be largely outranked by their American counterparts (you can see this problem play out in the strongly US-dominated global 2018 MBA ranking of Bloomberg Businessweek, an approach Bloomberg has avoided for all of its following rankings).

So what does U.S. News consider to establish this ranking? 25% of the weight is attributed to a peer assessment score, which is established by a survey of accredited-MBA deans and directors who rate competing MBA programs. A recruiter assessment score is given 15% of the weight. Placement success, which includes key factors such as salary and bonus figures, and employment rates, account for 35%. Finally, student exclusivity, which is measured by GMAT scores, GPAs and acceptance rates, makes up the remaining 25%.

With so many different, constantly fluctuating rankings, how can you clearly choose an MBA program? Instead of looking to rankings for broad solutions, we strongly recommend individuals to use them in two concrete ways: firstly, to understand the universe of your MBA options, and, secondly, to get the raw data on different universities that may be relevant in your case. Ultimately, your choice could be swayed by a nearly unlimited amount of elements, such as the class size of a program, its location, its class structure, its culture, the makeup of its student body, the industries it places its students in, the regions its network is built up in, its access to start-up capital, and so on. All of those very personal elements necessitate a personal ranking. So, if you’re looking to identify the best MBA programs for you, don’t neglect to look deeper behind and beyond the rankings.

If you’d like help in identifying the MBAs that will help realize your future personal and career objectives, be sure to connect with our experts.