Stanford Falls Out Of New EMBA Ranking

StanfordexecedFor the first time in at least five years, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business fell off U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the best Executive MBA programs in the U.S.

Why that development is especially surprising is because Stanford does not have an EMBA program. Yet, U.S. News last year ranked the prestige West Coast school No.13th. Stanford does have a one-year, full-time program for experienced managers that was called the Sloan program, but that is not considered an EMBA program. The school’s inclusion has long been a strong reminder to users of the ranking not to take it too seriously.

Unlike U.S. News’ full-time MBA rankings, which take into account such factors as GMAT scores, grade point averages, starting salaries and job placement rates, the EMBA ranking is based entirely upon a poll of deans and MBA directors. Those business school officials The are asked to name and rank EMBA programs, though they generally have no direct knowledge of these programs at other schools. Not surprisingly, they largely select schools on their overall reputations–which is how Stanford always ended up on the list. Obviously, someone at U.S. News is finally paying attention and took the school off the list this year. The magazine said that about 42% of those surveyed responded, though it failed to note how many deans and directors received its survey. (One other note: As a marketing ploy, U.S. News claims this is a 2015 ranking to give it greater shelf life. It is based on 2013 data and released in 2014 which is why we label it a 2014 ranking.)


For at least the fifth consecutive year, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School topped the list of the best, followed by No. 2 University of Chicago’s Booth School and No. 3 Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Otherwise, all Top ten EMBA programs were exactly the same as they were last year with just a few tiny and rather inconsequential movements. Michigan and Berkeley gained a place this year to respectively move into a rank of seventh and ninth. Columbia Business School, one of the major players in the EMBA market, and UCLA’s Anderson School both slipped one notch, respectively falling to fifth and eighth.

This year’s biggest winner was Cornell University’s Executive MBA program which rose six places to finish 13th, up from 19th in 2013. The University of Texas at Austin also rose four places, as did Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s Haub School of Business. Texas is now 13th, while St. Joseph’s is now ranked 15th.

The U.S. News ranking, published earlier this week on March 11, assigned numerical ranks to just 18 schools this year, down from 25 last year. So several schools fell off the list, including the University of Virginia’s Darden School, which had been ranked 12th last year, and MIT Sloan, which was ranked 17th last year by U.S. News. Other disappearing EMBA programs were Seattle University, Xavier University in Cincinnati, Marquette University, and UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business, which was ranked 25th last year.

Unlike other rankings by such publications as The Financial Times, U.S. News does not rank schools outside the U.S. nor does it rank joint partnership programs run by two or more business schools.

U.S. News’ 2014 Ranking of EMBA Programs in the U.S.

2014 Rank & SchoolYOY Change2013201220112010
   1. UPenn (Wharton)——–1111
   2. Chicago (Booth)——–2223
   3. Northwestern (Kellogg)——–3332
   4. Duke (Fuqua)——–4444
   5. Columbia Business School-14555
   6. New York (Stern)——–6766
   7. Michigan (Ross)+18888
   8. UCLA (Anderson)-17669
   9. UC-Berkeley (Haas)+110997
   9. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)——–9111010
 11. Southern California (Marshall)——–11101112
 12. Washington Univ. (Olin)+21419NANA
 13. Cornell (Johnson)+619131520
 13. Texas-Austin (McCombs)+417151814
 15. St. Joseph’s (Haub)+419NANANA
 16. Southern Methodist (Cox)-115212314
 17. Emory (Goizueta)-215151311
 18. Santa Clara (Leavey)+119151518

Source: U.S. News & World Report 2014 EMBA ranking (called the 2015 ranking by U.S. News)


  • EMBA-OneDay

    Hooray USN dropped Stanford from their EMBA ranking. This is a positive sign, but also a sad one, in that they were including a school without an EMBA for so many years. Cornell’s move up is another step in the right direction, however it is still misplaced and should be higher. As strong as UNC, Washington U, and UNC are, Cornell is a better global brand IMO and would be ahead of those respective BSchools in the minds of a majority of employers and applicants IMO. Full Time rankings reflect such sentiment already…

    • rosus

      There has to be a separate ranking for Stanford MSx, Harvard PLD, Sloan Fellows, etc. Why don’t you place that ranking for us as well? It would be very interesting for candidates who want to apply for world class programs but do not carry the EMBA tag.

      • EMBA-OneDay

        Agreed on a separate ranking for non-mba programs! However, ranking non-degree (certificate) programs, like PLD will be tough to get broad buy-in…
        Such a solid program but tough for people to grasp the non-degree certificate nature of it as a true alternative…

        • mastique

          What are you talking about? PLD is the best program out there and HBS believes its even better than EMBA. They receive 700+ applications for 150 max positions making it much more selective than typical EMBA programs…

          • EMBA-OneDay

            Wow! Great job. Attack and make it personal. Always the classic strategy of someone who feels secure. BTW, I praised the program as solid, and raised one potential fact/issue with ranking it: that it is a “non-degree” program. It is a certificate and is 100% not the same as an MBA degree. For some that is fine and no issue and for others it is a an issue. It is not the same as eMBA program – where graduates earn a degree. It is also not the same as the Sloan programs at Stanford or MIT where actual Masters Degrees are earned.
            This has been well-argued about 3 or 4 times on this website over the past 3 years and it is not worth repeating all over.
            Try not to attack people’s personal choices when others are not attacking yours – absolutely not what Harvard would deem being a positive ambassador to such a great program. Lastly, and for once and for all, please post the PLD admissions stats that you and some others have referenced. I have never seen them despite numerous claims and requests from many to share. Harvard does not post them nor does anyone else. So please understand that when they are claimed they are FULLY DISCOUNTED by the reader. Also, why don’t you also share your source for Cornell’s stats since they also do not provide them either. Again, it smacks of being self-serving and likely inaccurate…

          • ralph

            Everyone is aware of EMBA admission stats for business schools. As far as I remember even P&Q has posted them at some point but they are pretty high starting at 50%+ for top tier business schools and but higher for second or third tier like Cornell.

          • mastique

            Precisely its not an EMBA but its a better alternative: 1) HBS; 2) Much harder to get into compared to EMBA programs; 3) Friendly for top level and busy executives; 4) Highly recognized in the market; 5) The best alumni network that you can find…Do you need more evidence?

          • oh please!

            Yes please. More evidence is absolutely needed. This is laugable to say that a Certificate from any school, including Holy Harvard is more esteemed than MBA Degree in any format from a top Business school or one much lower ranked! Do you also own shares in a famous bridge in NYC? How can you buy that??
            I have completed a top tier eMBA program and one of my colleagues in that eMBA program actually completed the PLD program prior to our eMBA. In fairness, this individual fully praised the PLD for its excellence, but importantly they also said that their was no comparison between the rigor and depth of our eMBA program as compared with the PLD. They said that the PLD was nowhere near the caliber or rigor and offered far less depth than the full eMBA program. They said that it is great if you already took an MBA earlier in life and wanted to brush-up on current best practices/thinking, than why repeat MBA courses and earn a second MBA, but for those without a prior MBA, the PLD is not comparable with a strong eMBA. No mystery, and others have mentioned, Harvard makes no bones about it by not making it a degree conferring program. MIT and Stanford and soon Dartmouth Tuck, all offer (or will offer) degree generating programs, even if they are not MBAs. A certificate is just not the same.
            I agree with the other poster, please show “official” “alleged” admissions stats for PLD program and any eMBA program that is dissed, since the “because I said so” argument is not believed…

          • mastique


            Stop this non sense accusing HBS and PLD. PLD is a world class program from the best business school in the world. Cornell is in another league competing with Tepper or Emory needless to say about Cornell+Queens combo.. please… 70% admission vs 20% how about that?

          • oh please!

            BTW, I am not Birchtree, but thanks for the compliment I think…as I have read past threads on this exact topic in which he/she argued persuasively…
            BTW are you Ramon, or Roger, or bara, or Keen1 or one of the people from those threads – or simply the same one person?
            Since you are unable to support any claims or answer any direct questions with actual facts and instead only use your opinion/conjecture than this is a pointless conversation and it is clear to anyone that you have no basis but only a massive chip on your shoulder.
            BTW, my eMBA program was not at Cornell, it was taken at Columbia. Though, I am not sure why you seem to fixate on such an excellent/top school as Cornell with such hostility?
            Lastly, understand that no one from what I have read has said that the PLD is anything but excellent. What has been said and that I agree with, is that it is not comparable to an MBA degree granting program, whether full time, part-time, or executive in its format. Therefore It should not be ranked or truly compared with eMBA programs or Masters degree conferring programs. Compare it to other Certificate granting programs. It is far and away the best in all likelihood and only competes with other Harvard certificate programs…
            As EMBA-OneDay noted in a just read post – you cannot compare a program that does not require any academic credentials for admission, and thus grants a Certificate to degree conferring programs/schools…it is silly.
            Now please let’s end this and agree that PLD is one option amongst many for accomplished executives to consider.

          • mastique


            We all know how passionate you are about Cornell-Queen EMBA but lets face it. If people had to chose between HBS PLD/Executive MBA versus the Cornell Queen Executive MBA, it really is no brainer that one would chose the HBS excellent and highly selective program. I would only compare the Harvard PLD/Executive MBA with Sloan Fellows at MIT or Stanford MSx.

          • oh please!


          • mastique

            You cannot hide anymore behind your multiple characters Birtchtree. Your passion for Cornell is so prominent…but its admirable. I just hope it pays off.

          • Jimmy Joseph

            I rather get an executive MBA from Wharton, Booth, Columbia or Ross than a PLD from Harvard.

            Can you get any consulting or investment banking jobs with a PLD?

            Most people have never heard of it regardless of where it comes from. It isn’t even a degree.

        • mastique

          You must have probably been amongst the 80% of PLD rejects. Cornell is certainly a better proposition for you given their 70+% acceptance rate for their EMBA program…how marketable….

      • oilersinthere

        I agree that it would be great to see rankings of non MBA/EMBA tag programs such as those you mentioned and others.
        any source out there that does such rankings?

  • EMBA-OneDay

    @ mastique and ralph
    Appreciate the dialogue, but you do realize how ridiculous it sounds to tout the admissions prowess of a Certificate program that DOES NOT EVEN REQUIRE ANY ACADEMIC TRANSCRIPTS/CREDENTIALS for Admission over MBA Degree granting programs from top branded or lower branded executive MBA Programs that require transcripts, potentially GMATs or GREs and relevant work experience- Right? Just checking because arguing otherwise will comes across as ludicrous to most/many readers IMO…

    • mastique


      The application process is extremely rigorous and requires a lot of credentials. In addition and just FYI to stop this attack as a possible reject, you have to take exams before progressing to further modules – you have no clue of how the program is…

  • PLDgraduate

    As a HBS PLD graduate, I must confess that I was rather disappointed to read posts that state PLD is above other executive business education programs. I find this type of dialogue very dishonoring of other programs and those who choose to attend them. Such discourse in no way represents the PLDers I know nor the faculty and staff of PLD.

    There are many great programs available if ones wants to complete an EMBA, a MS in Management (e.g., Standford, MIT), or a comprehensive executive education course. The most important question to ask yourself before applying to one of these programs is which one best suits your needs.

    In my case, I was working close to Philadelphia and seriously considering the EMBA offered by Wharton. The primary reason I did not choose this program was my family. Wharton’s EMBA program is very time intensive and, with a wife and young children, I did not want to sacrifice a considerable amount of time away from them that I would be unable to get back later. A secondary reason I did not attend the program were the costs. Fortunately for me, I found out about HBS’s PLD offering, and it fit my needs quite nicely.

    To be clear to all those considering PLD, it is neither an EMBA nor a degree conferring program (e.g., MS) by design. HBS is very specific about this on its website. The main architect of the program, Earl Sasser, spoke to my class about the birthing of PLD. As many people who have researched MBA programs know, by and large, the top two-year full-time MBA programs are geared toward students in their mid to late twenties with some students in their early thirties. HBS saw the need to offer a program to individuals who had been successful in their careers but, for one reason or another, had not taken time off from their careers to pursue a MBA. In their mid-30s or early 40s, many of these individuals were in mid-level management positions, on the verge of greater responsibilities and senior positions in their companies, and thus required a new set of leadership skills.

    Consideration was given to making the program degree conferring. Here I should mention that my class was not told if the degree would have been an EMBA or a MS. In the end, however, it was decided that HBS would offer PLD graduates the option to earn HBS alumni status but not a degree. The main reason for this decision is the value of the HBS MBA degree. HBS did not believe it could offer the same content and experience in an EMBA format. That said, I personally believe that PLD could be a springboard into a HBS MS degree in “Management” or “Leadership and Strategy” sometime down the road. Other schools have already taken this approach such as IMD in Switzerland with its EMBA program. From Stanford’s website, it appears that MSx candidates participate in its Executive Leadership Development executive education program.

    Lastly, I would like to mention that I do know of people who were not accepted to PLD. But I am fairly certain that HBS does not release information on the PLD acceptance rate. It should also be noted that the majority of the students in my class already had post graduate degrees (e.g., PhD, MD, JD, MS/MA). Many of these degrees were earned at schools such as Northwestern, Cornell, and MIT. Thus, the caliber of many PLDers is quite high.

    I believe PLD is more about obtaining the soft skills of management and leadership as well as becoming part of an extensive network. If you have a need for hard skills in areas such as accounting or organizational behavior, I would recommend an EMBA or a MS program.

    I hope this information about PLD proves useful!

    • Frustrated Reader

      Reading this thread is painful. Thanks for your candid and honest sentiments.