There’s a new (old) sheriff in part-time MBA land. For the first time in five years, a new business school sits atop U.S. News & World Report‘s ranking of part-time MBA programs in the United States — the same B-school that was No. 1 five years ago.
Following some last-minute scrambling in response to “unprecedented” outcry among the ranked schools, U.S. News released its new full- and part-time lists one week late on Tuesday (April 25). While the main ranking contains plenty of eyebrow-raisers, the part-time ranking boasts more noteworthy changes among the top tier of programs than it has in years — including a change at the top for the first time since 2018.
That was the last year that UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business claimed No. 1 before it was unseated by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Haas’ 2018 rank marked the sixth straight year the California public B-school reigned supreme in the part-time rankings; Booth then took over and held the title of top part-time MBA for four years from 2019 through 2022. Now Haas has returned the favor and bumped Booth off its perch.
PT MBAS THAT WENT UP & PT MBAS THAT WENT DOWN
"We are delighted to be ranked No. 1 in part-time programs by U.S. News once again," Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA programs at UC-Berkeley Haas, tells Poets&Quants. "We're so proud of all of our students, including our new online Flex cohort, which has allowed us to increase the overall size of our class. We are looking forward to continuing to strengthen and grow our program."
Even as Haas and Booth swapped places in the new U.S. News ranking, the rest of the top five part-time programs remained the same — exactly as they have for six years now: Northwestern Kellogg School of Management third, NYU Stern School of Business fourth, and UCLA Anderson School of Management fifth. But there was some movement in the upper tier of programs: Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business rose to sixth from eighth, and both Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business and another Texas school, the University of Texas-Dallas Jindal School of Management, rose to a tie for 11th place, Scheller from 16th and Jindal from 19th. The biggest gain was claimed by Georgetown McDonough School of Business, which jumped from 17th place to a spot in the top 10 at ninth.
Some schools, of course, went the other way. Washington Foster School of Business in Seattle, last year's big gainer that went to 10th from 14th, this year slipped a spot to a three-way tie for 11th with Scheller and Jindal. Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh dropped to a tie with Georgetown at ninth from sixth, Emory Goizueta Business School in Atlanta dropped from 11th to 19th, and four schools that had been ranked together at 11th — Indiana Kelley School of Business, Ohio State Fisher College of Business, Rice Jones Graduate School of Business in Houston, and Minnesota Carlson School of Management — each saw drop-offs, the latter to 14th place and the others to 15th.
METHODOLOGY CHANGES IN THIS YEAR'S RANKING
U.S. News' part-time MBA ranking (officially the 2024 ranking, though it is based on 2022 data and was released in 2023) is based on six factors, up from five in previous years. By far the most important, accounting for 50% of each school's rank, is a peer assessment score based on surveys of B-school deans and MBA program directors, asking them to rate other programs on a 1-5 scale. Crucially, that makes the ranking very much a popularity contest, one that the same schools dominate year after year. Berkeley Haas' peer assessment score this year was 4.5; Chicago Booth also scored a 4.5, as did Northwestern Kellogg, but Haas was able to rise above its peers partly by having a higher average Graduate Management Admission Test score — 700 (down from 705 last year) to Kellogg's 690 (up from 680).
GMAT scores, along with Graduate Record Exam scores, account for 10% of a school's overall score, down from 15% in previous years as B-schools de-emphasize the GMAT and other entrance exams (and as fewer people take them). U.S. News reports that the percentage of applicants submitting test scores for admission to part-time MBA programs has declined for three straight years; data released by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the test, indicate long-term erosion of test-taking volume dating back to 2018. Meanwhile, scores continue to climb; the average GMAT score for one of the top 10 part-time programs this year is 673, up from 671 last year.
GMAC notes that most professional MBA programs (including part-time programs) in the U.S. reported receiving fewer applications this year, including 76% of online MBA programs, 75% of part-time MBA programs, and 67% of executive MBA programs. (See table above.) These undulations in the market no doubt contributed to U.S. News making changes to its ranking methodology, including reducing the importance of GMAT and GRE scores.
The other key measures of a school's score: average undergraduate GPA (10%, down from 12.5%); number of years of work experience of part-time MBA students entering in fall 2021 (5%, down from 10%); percentage of the business school's fall 2021 total full-time and part-time MBA enrollment that is in the part-time MBA program (12.5%); and a new measure, total part-time enrollment, accounting for 12.5% of a school's score.
"A higher total part-time enrollment scores higher in the ranking," U.S. News states in its methodology. "This was introduced to counterbalance the part-time student ratio indicator; namely that having a high part-time student ratio is more impressive if achieved at a larger scale versus a reliance on few full-time students. Each school’s part-time enrollment was first converted to a 1-100 percentile distribution relative to other programs before normalization to account for the skewed nature of the data in which a handful of programs have much larger enrollments than the others."
Overall, Berkeley Haas scored 100 to top the ranking, while Chicago scored 98, Kellogg 97, Stern 96, and Anderson 90.
See the next pages for the top 100-plus part-time MBA programs in the United States according to U.S. News, including acceptance rates, undergraduate GPAs & more.
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