The fastest-rising school in the US according to the US News MBA Rankings 2023

The US News MBA Rankings 2023 is here! Check out this year’s list, as well as an insightful conversation with Alex McKelvie, Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Master’s Education at the Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University, which made an impressive leap from #84 in 2022 up to #57 this year!

In short

The US News MBA Rankings 2023: The top 10

This spring, the US News and World Report (USNWR) published their highly anticipated 2023 full-time MBA rankings.

Here are the top schools in the US News MBA Rankings 2023:

  1. University of Chicago (Booth)
  2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  3. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
  4. Stanford University
  5. Harvard University
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
  7. Yale University
  8. Columbia University
  9. University of California – Berkeley (Haas)
  10. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (Ross)

Significance of US News & World Report Rankings

While the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings seem to remain the gold standard around the world for candidates and industry professionals alike, the US News rankings hold very high prestige in the United States for MBA aspirants applying domestically and from abroad.

The MBA is essentially an American invention (now found worldwide) and the US represents roughly 50% of the global market share of the most prestigious MBA programs with global brand recognition. The impact of these annual rankings can be felt in terms of the number and quality of candidates who apply in a given year, which has a knock-off effect on admission rates and perhaps in the longer term, employment rate and even tuition fees. These things are not insignificant for institutions whose annual operating budgets tend to hover around half a billion dollars, give or take a few hundred million. 

This is why these competitive bastions of business education fight tooth and nail for the most coveted positions on the list. Most schools even have an office on campus that manages their data, which is reported annually to the various ranking entities (US News, FT, The Economist, QS, Fortune, Bloomberg, etc.) to ensure they’ve put their best foot forward. 

Methodology of the US News MBA Rankings

As is frequently noted, the methodologies applied by each organization that produces MBA rankings will vary greatly. The International Business Guide website produced a handy infographic that gives a visual overview of some of the key differences in methodology among some of the most highly regarded rankings, as mentioned above.

The USNWR ranking methodology relies on three main categories: Quality Assessment (40%), Placement Success (35%), and Student Selectivity (25%). Whitman School of Management saw increases in two out of three of those categories.

Whitman’s giant leap

Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management made an impressive leap from #84 in the 2022 MBA Rankings up to #57. We sat down with Alex McKelvie, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Master’s Education at Whitman, who shared with us some great insights that explain how Whitman attained this exciting achievement. “Our recent climb in the rankings suggests something that we’ve already known – that we’re a bit of a hidden gem,” Alex says. “The investments that we’ve made over the last couple of years in terms of recruiting, improving the education, innovation, and most importantly, career placement…along with the hard work of all the teams involved…culminating into entering that group [of the rankings] is really an area where we think we’ve belonged. We’re satisfied that we’re finally getting recognition of that.” (10:40)

Whitman is just over 100 years old and one of the first business schools to receive AACSB  accreditation. The school has long had a strong reputation in the areas of supply chain, entrepreneurship, and finance. Specifically, the MBA program was launched in 1948 and went through a number of innovations over time. “We’ve introduced innovations related to our proximity to New York City, where students can take week-long classes…where the courses are deliberately connected to our strong alumni base and our corporate partners,” Alex shares. (03:10

He continues, “Launching over 25 new courses into areas like analytics, innovation, entrepreneurship, machine learning, accounting advisory, and emerging industries such as the cannabis industry…allows you to customize your own program.” (03:48

The fastest-rising program in the country

The Whitman MBA is also STEM-designated, which is known for being a pipeline for grads seeking employment in the many industries fueled by the growing demand for graduates with expertise in technology in business. This is also a key factor for the many international students who choose Syracuse, since STEM provides a pathway for work visas for up to three years post-graduation. Additionally, Whitman has launched a new program in partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical University (a top public New York State medical school) whereby they train medical doctors in management studies. This means that starting in 2022, the MBA program will have future doctors in the cohort who will graduate with an MD-MBA.

Another attractive innovation to the program is known as WIRE (the Whitman Industry Readiness and Excellence Initiative) where students are paid to complete industry-recognized certifications and credentials. This kind of thing really pays off when a student gets a job in order to command a higher salary.

Speaking with Alex, you really get a sense of pride and fulfillment in what students and staff alike all around him are doing. I asked him what it means to be a “Syracuse Orange.” Alex says, “When you think of Syracuse grads, you think of grit, determination, the high-quality experience that they have, but also the hard work-ethic that people need to have to get ahead.” (08:52

No wonder Syracuse was ranked this year as the fastest-rising program in the country, which has obviously made the entire campus feel great about all the work they’ve been doing to grow and improve.

Going beyond the top 10

As a coach, I often find myself saying that rankings are a great place to start and a bad place to finish. At the same time, early summer is an ideal moment to dive into the details of the US News – and other – ranking reports to get a sense of the lay of the land, and to see just what schools are out there that will provide a great ROI for your career. On the other hand, it’s truly about finding the MBA program that is the right fit – in terms of your values, personality, learning style, and so much more. 

So, while attending a top-ranked school sounds really great on one’s resume, the deeper one goes into their researching and soul-searching process (as I like to call it), the less important rankings become. When you truly know yourself, know your career goals, and deeply know the schools that are out there, the MBA programs that are the best fit for you will surface to the top of your list, which is far more important than someone else’s. Choosing the wrong MBA program based on someone else’s opinion can have devastating consequences.

The Whitman School of Management seems to really embody its values of hard work and innovation, and we can see its efforts have paid off. So, as you dive into your own research and soul-searching process, it’s probably wise to keep an open mind beyond the top 10 of someone else’s list. For a school that’s had a long and rich history, a huge alumni network, yet with small classes and a customizable program, this gem won’t stay hidden for very long.

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