Top MBA programs

Harvard B-school lands on top once again

December 8, 2011: 11:28 AM ET

This year's Poets&Quants B-school rankings are in and, you guessed it, Harvard takes top honors. A look at this year's winners and losers.

By John A. Byrne, contributor

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Harvard Business School takes the top spot in this year's Poets&Quants ranking of the best MBA programs in the U.S.

(Poets&Quants) -- Dimming employment prospects on Wall Street may be causing some jitters on campus, but the mood at Harvard Business School is decidedly upbeat. Many students came back from their summer internships with lucrative job offers in hand, and for the first time in the school's history, the entire first year class of some 900-plus MBA students is about to embark next month on an eight-day global immersion experience.

"We are feeling the pressure of final exams and projects," says Jehan deFonseka, a second-year student who is also editor of The Harbus, the B-school's student newspaper. "One of my professors, Joe Lassiter, gave us the advice, 'Die exhausted, not bored.' So far, this year has lived up to that belief."

And now the school is about to get a pre-holiday present of sorts. For the second consecutive year, Harvard bested all other business schools for the distinction of best MBA program in the U.S., according to a new ranking by PoetsandQuants.

This new P&Q list is a composite of the five major MBA rankings published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report. The ranking takes into account a massive wealth of quantitative and qualitative data captured in the five major lists, from surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, deans and faculty publication records to median GPA and GMAT scores of entering students as well as the salary and employment statistics of the latest graduating class.

Top 10 MBA programs in the U.S.

By blending these rankings using a system that takes into account each of their strengths as well as their flaws, we've come up with what is arguably the most authoritative ranking of MBA programs published. The list, which includes the recently released 2011 rankings by The Economist, tends to eliminate anomalies and other statistical distortions that often occur in a single ranking. In any case, the ranking measures the overall quality and reputation of the flagship full-time MBA programs at the schools, rather than the schools themselves.

Right behind Harvard is a familiar group of world-renowned schools whose graduates have long represented the best and brightest in business. Stanford Graduate School of Business is second, the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business is third, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School is fourth, and New York's Columbia Business School rounds out the top five.

Among the top 10, eight schools retained their rankings from last year. The two exceptions: MIT Sloan moved up to a fifth place tie with Columbia Business School, up from eighth place last year, largely due to a significantly improved ranking from Forbes. Dartmouth College's Tuck School, despite receiving a No. 1 rank from The Economist this year, slipped two places to No. 8 from sixth place this previous year, primarily because the school fell several places in the rival Forbes ranking. More

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