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What Are The Best MBA Programs in the USA?

AUG 17, 2020 • 19 min read

The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is one of the most highly sought after postgraduate degrees in the world, and naturally, there is fierce competition for places in the top MBA programs in the USA.

MBAs are a very special kind of postgraduate business degree.

Firstly, they give their graduates invaluable practical and theoretical knowledge about how to best manage and lead a business. They also allow graduates to specialise and further their knowledge on a wide range of topics and concentrations, such as finance, economics, technology and accounting.

But, some would argue that the real reason MBAs are so special is the prestige they give their graduates. They have the ability to transform careers, giving graduates the credentials and respect they need to reach the top of the corporate tree. Overall about half of Fortune 500 CEOs have an MBA, and to be competitive for a top management position they can give candidates the edge.

But it isn't just about getting an MBA - it is about getting the right MBA. Some MBA programs have a reputation for giving their graduates the most cutting edge education and networking opportunities. These are the kinds of MBA which will give their graduates a further advantage over other similarly qualified professionals. Some institutions, including those on Wall Street are notorious for hiring graduates from a select-few top business schools.

Check out US News’ list of the top 10 MBA programs in the USA below:

= 1. Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, was the U.S.’s first business school and remains one of the most prestigious in the world. It is perhaps best known for its finance programs, where it has a reputation of producing some of the world’s top traders, fund managers and bankers. The New York Times even suggested that Wharton was "the closest thing that exists to a Wall Street farm team". Wharton School MBA alumni include Elon Musk, Sundar Pichai and Peter Lynch.

Wharton offers concentrations in accounting, e-commerce, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, insurance, international business, marketing, production/operations management, public policy, real estate, and quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research.

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= 1. Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford Business School has a reputation for being one of the USA’s leading business schools, producing world-leading entrepreneurs and managers. Located in Silicon Valley, CA, Stanford Business School graduates have access to the world’s leading tech companies for work experience, as well as venture capitalists for help launching tech enterprises.

Stanford Business School is also statistically the most competitive business school in the USA. It has maintained the lowest acceptance rates of any business school, recording a rate of 5.68% in 2020-21. They also have the highest average Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score of any business school in the USA of 734.

Stanford Business School offers concentrations in accounting, e-commerce, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, leadership, manufacturing and technology management, marketing, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, organizational behavior, portfolio management, public administration, public policy, real estate, sports business, supply chain management/logistics, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, and technology.

= 3. Booth School of Business (University of Chicago)

Housed at UChicago, Booth is the second oldest business school in the USA. The school has a focus on business research, and is an academic leader in financial theory and analytics. As such, it is also associated with 9 Nobel laureates in the Economic Sciences, more than any other business school in the world. Further, amongst their alumni and faculty is Eugene Fama, the “the father of modern finance”.

Booth offers concentrations in accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, international business, marketing, management information systems, production/operations management, organizational behavior, public policy, and quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research.

= 3. Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University)

Kellogg is located at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and is also one of the USA’s oldest business schools. Kellogg’s strengths seem to be on the management side of business, and they are leaders in fields of study such as decision sciences and marketing. They are also known for their extensive global learning opportunities and exchange programs, including 37 exchange programs across 20 countries.

Kellogg offers concentrations in accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, health care administration, leadership, marketing, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, organizational behavior, portfolio management, public administration, public policy, real estate, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, and technology.

5. MIT Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Characteristic of all schools at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sloan has a strong academic and research focus. Like at Booth, many of finance’s most influential theories and discoveries originate from MIT Sloan, including the Black-Scholes and Solow-Swan models. The school tries to instill in its students an analytical and innovative approach to business, producing some of the leading minds in finance and economics.

Also, studying an MBA at MIT Sloan allows you to attend courses at Harvard Business School, and vice versa, allowing you to get the best of two of the USA’s leading MBA programs.

Sloan offers concentrations in accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, industrial management, international business, leadership, manufacturing and technology management, marketing, management information systems, production/operations management, organizational behavior, supply chain management/logistics, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, tax, and technology.

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6. Harvard Business School

In addition to perhaps Wharton, Harvard Business School is the most recognisable and prestigious Business School brand in the world. It was the school that created the modern MBA program, and many consider them still to be the leaders in the field. It is also the richest business school in the world, with an endowment worth about $3.5 billion USD.

HBS has a strong practical focus, running its MBA program through case-study methods and presenting students with real-life problems to solve. This school pioneered this approach, from which other business schools have modelled their own programs. In-turn, HBS has a reputation for producing some of the world’s leading fund managers and business strategists. HBS MBA alumni include Michael Bloomberg, Jamie Dimon, Abigail Johnson, Bill Ackerman, Ray Dalio and George Bush.

As mentioned above, MIT Sloan and HBS’ partnership may allow you cross-enrol at both schools and attend a mix of courses at both.

HBS offers concentrations in accounting, consulting, e-commerce, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, international business, leadership, manufacturing and technology management, marketing, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, organizational behavior, portfolio management, public administration, public policy, real estate, sports business, supply chain management/logistics, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, tax, and technology.

7. Haas Business School (UC Berkeley)

Located in the San Francisco Bay area, California, Haas at the University of California - Berkeley has a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Much alike nearby Stanford, Haas’ program is a strong feeder for Silicon Valley technology companies, and has produced some of the world’s technology leaders such as Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and former CEO/President of Intel Paul Otellini.

Of special mention is the fact that Haas is the only Business School on our list housed inside a public university, and was the first of this kind in the USA. Because of this, one of its key advantages is its lower cost, which in-turn produces one of the highest returns on investment out of any MBA program in the USA.

Haas offers concentrations in accounting, consulting, e-commerce, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, international business, leadership, manufacturing and technology management, marketing, management information systems, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, organizational behavior, portfolio management, public administration, public policy, real estate, supply chain management/logistics, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, and technology.

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8. Columbia Business School

In addition to being a top program, Columbia Business School’s MBA provides unique work experience and networking opportunities for students hoping to climb the ranks of business in New York City. A focus of the school is its executive MBA program for current business executives, which is perhaps the strongest of its kind in the world. The school is also proud of having one of the largest collection of exchange opportunities and most diverse student bodies of any MBA program in the USA.

Columbia Business School offers concentrations in accounting, consulting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, health care administration, international business, leadership, marketing, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, portfolio management, real estate, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, and technology.

9. Yale University School of Management

The fourth Ivy League business school on our list, Yale's School of Management is housed at the main campus in New Haven, CT. True to the university’s progressive culture, Yale’s MBA takes a broader approach to other, more business-oriented schools. They have designed the program to especially give their students a deep understanding of global challenges like climate change, financial stability, and inequality, as well as the leadership skills needed to better the world and the economy. Many of the Yale MBA alumni are leaders in non-profit organisations, the public sector and politics.

Yale School of Management offers concentrations in accounting, consulting, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, general management, health care administration, human resources management, international business, leadership, marketing, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, organizational behavior, portfolio management, public administration, supply chain management/logistics, and quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research.

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10. Stern School of Business (New York University)

Rounding out our list is the Stern School of Business, located at NYU’s New York City campus. Like Columbia, NYU’s location is perfect for those wanting the work experience and networking opportunities available in the heart of New York City. There are also strong offerings for international exchange opportunities and programs. Many students pursue a finance and banking focus as part of their MBA, with the school being amongst the leading universities in terms of Wall Street hires.

Stern offers concentrations in accounting, arts administration, consulting, e-commerce, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, health care administration, international business, leadership, manufacturing and technology management, marketing, management information systems, not-for-profit management, production/operations management, organizational behavior, real estate, supply chain management/logistics, quantitative analysis/statistics and operations research, and technology.

Did you know that Crimson can help you with your MBA application?

At Crimson, we’re dedicated to helping students throughout the entirety of their education journey. That’s why our comprehensive support for applicants seeking admission to some of the world’s best postgraduate programs is an integral part of our mission. Feel free to check out our postgraduate admissions service to see how we can help you on your MBA journey.

Want to be a top MBA applicant?

Crimson has recently helped students gain admission to MBA programs at Haas, Johns Hopkins, NYU Stern and Kellogg, and more!