Scott Edinburgh
July 22, 2021

Personal MBA Coach’s Take on the Fortune MBA Rankings


Fortune magazine recently released its full-time MBA rankings for the Best MBA Programs of 2021. While sources like the Financial Times and US News and World Report have been sharing MBA rankings for years now (check out Personal MBA Coach’s take on the Financial Times and US News and World Report rankings), this is Fortune’s first time sharing a list of its own.

Although business school rankings are only one part of the MBA decision-making process, they provide a great overview of the business school landscape, as well as some valuable benchmarking information.

When evaluating business school rankings, it is key to remember that rankings vary from source to source and across industries and should not be the be-all and end-all.

So, how do the top US business schools stack up in the Fortune MBA rankings? Personal MBA Coach shares an overview, as well as some of our main takeaways, below.


Fortune’s Best MBA Programs of 2021

Unsurprisingly, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton have secured the top three spots, in that order. Following close behind are Chicago Booth (#4), Kellogg (#5), and Columbia Business School (#6).

NYU Stern secured the #7 spot in the Fortune MBA Rankings, followed by MIT Sloan (#8). Yale School of Management (#9) and Dartmouth Tuck (#10) closed out the top 10. Interestingly enough, Berkeley Haas is not in Fortune’s top 10, instead taking the #13 place. This is unusual, as Haas is often found in the top 10 within the traditional MBA ranking sources.

While Fortune’s top 10 list was quite predictable overall, the Fortune MBA rankings get more interesting as you look at the top 25 business schools. Perhaps the most noteworthy surprise is that Michigan Ross, UCLA Anderson, USC Marshall, and Emory Goizueta are not on Fortune’s list, as they opted not to complete Fortune’s questionnaire. Given that these schools are typically found in the top 25 rankings, their absence certainly does not go unnoticed.

Fortune’s ranking methodology has faced some criticism. Starting salaries and placement stats account for 65% of the ranking. As Poets&Quants notes, this is almost twice the weight that US News and World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek place on salary and placement.

Fortune’s ranking place a lower weight on the quality of the MBA experience, a key component in the decision-making process.


Poets&Quants also points out that Fortune’s list favors the more elite business schools with larger graduating classes. While some of the other top sources for MBA rankings reflect the growing number of high-quality MBA options, the Fortune MBA rankings prioritize the M7s.

Keep in mind that these days, many applicants are looking at a broader list of target business schools. In fact, Personal MBA Coach’s clients apply to 5 to 8 schools on average, and some of the smaller programs have been receiving a lot more attention in recent years.

Again, business school rankings are only part of the school selection process. Be sure to also pay close attention to curriculum and specific areas of excellence at the programs you are considering. Specifically, think carefully about your post-MBA goals and whose offerings are the best fit for you.

Are you looking for more guidance on school and program selection? Download Personal MBA Coach’s free Decision Making eBook today!

You may also like Personal MBA Coach’s most recent feature in Fortune Education, 6 MBA admissions trends during the pandemic. Stay tuned for another feature of ours in the magazine later this summer!

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