Best Business Schools in the U.S.

MBA degrees are expensive. Yet for a degree from a top program, they are well worth the cost in the long run due to increased earning potential and the power of a lifetime network. To that end, we’ve created a list of the best business schools in the U.S. This is an overall ranking – we have a separate ranking for the top MBA programs that will best position you to break into consulting.

These rankings take into account our unique vantage point in the industry, as well as various external sources including the Financial Times and U.S. News Week. Of course, there will always be disagreements, but we feel pretty confident that you can’t go wrong with this list!


best business schools, Top MBA Programs

Best Business School / MBA Programs:

1. Harvard Business School

  • 2020 class size: 1,873
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $205,486

Harvard has widely been considered the top business school/MBA program for the past several decades, and for good reason: it’s got the best track record of churning out future leaders of industry, government, and culture. What has traditionally set Harvard Business School apart is its case method. This classroom method allows students to learn from real business problems, as well as the failed and successful strategies used to try and combat them. There’s nothing like learning about how business concepts play out in the real world. In addition, HBS students work heavily within teams during these simulated experiences.

Student life consists of opportunities to join a wide range of clubs, immersion trips, and study abroad programs. At HBS, you play just as hard as you work. There are also several opportunities to enter dual degree programs for law, medicine, and government.

Notable Alumni:

  • Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan
  • Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE
  • Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business

  • 2020 class size: 855
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $228,074

If HBS is old school, Stanford GSB is new school. Not that the GSB is a new player on the MBA scene – the program has been around for decades, and even counted John F. Kennedy as a student in the early 1940s. But Stanford GSB is the major feeder out of top MBA programs into Silicon Valley (whether tech firms, venture capital, or private equity firms). On top of location, the quality of professors and rigorous curriculum is a major draw for candidates.

While Stanford GSB admits a wide range of students, the school particularly looks favorably upon candidates with demonstrated interest in technology or entrepreneurship.

Notable Alumni:

  • Phil Knight, CEO of Nike
  • Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
  • Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft

3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

  • 2020 class size: 1,742
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $197,267

The first business school in the U.S., Wharton enjoys the largest alumni network in the country. On top of a world-class business education, students have the opportunity to attain join degrees in law, international studies, and government (Harvard Kennedy School of Government).

Wharton is known for its unique “Ventures” – outdoor trips where students learn how to handle challenging situations and develop crucial leadership skills. In addition, there are about 150 on-campus organizations students can join during their program.

Notable Alumni:

  • Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn
  • John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi and Apple
  • Julian A. Brodsky, founder, chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation

4. MIT (Sloan)

  • 2020 class size: 813
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $188,173

Sloan provides a truly global experience, with dozens of opportunities for candidates to study abroad. The school’s Action Labs give students a chance to tackle real problems for existing companies in the United States, China, and India. Even student organizations have a global slant, with clubs focused on global sports and case competitions.

Nearly a quarter of Sloan graduates have become top level executives as Presidents and CEOs. (You read that correctly – a quarter!). For these reasons and more, MIT Sloan is high on our list of the best business schools in the U.S.

Notable Alumni:

  • Carly Florina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
  • John Reed, former Chairman of Citi
  • Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

5. University of Chicago (Booth)

  • 2020 class size: 1,179
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $185,861

University of Chicago (Booth) is the second oldest business school in the United States. Booth has produced more Nobel laureates in the Economic Sciences than any other business school. Booth was the first to offer an Executive MBA program and boasts the third-largest endowment of any business school. It’s also a national feeder school into McKinsey, Bain, and BCG.

Notable Alumni:

  • Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
  • Philip Purcell, former CEO of Morgan Stanley
  • Susan Wagner, COO of Blackrock

6. Columbia Business School

  • 2020 class size: 1,297
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $184,099

Columbia Business School is known for its diverse student body, with students from over 60 countries. The first year of the program is dedicated to completing core business classes, while the second year provides more freedom in selecting electives from over 130 courses.

One of the school’s main draws is its proximity to Wall Street, which is why the school has always been known as a great place to break into finance. However, tech and consulting are hot on the heels of finance for top employment options post-MBA.

Notable Alumni:

  • Warren Buffett
  • Henry Kravis, founder of KRR
  • Vikram Pandit, former CEO of Citi
  • Jenny Rae Le Roux, our very own Managing Director!

7. Northwestern University (Kellogg)

  • 2020 class size: 1,304
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $170,830

Kellogg focuses its MBA program on teamwork and experiential learning. Kellogg students can simultaneously pursue a master’s degree in design innovation, a J.D., or a Ph.D. Like many of the other best business schools, Kellogg also provides plenty of travel abroad programs in addition to several research centers. Overall, the firm has a great reputation for students looking to specialize in Marketing and/or Consulting.

Notable Alumni:

  • James L. Allen, founder of Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Arthur E. Andersen, founder of Arthur Andersen
  • Gregg Steinhafel, President, CEO, Chairman of the Board, Target Corporation

8. University of California, Berkeley (Haas School of Business)

  • 2020 class size: 590
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $188,746

Like its rival Stanford, Haas enjoys the benefits of close proximity to Silicon Valley. The school offers the Haas@Work program, providing students with opportunities to work on projects both nearby and around the world. More than half of the curriculum involves electives across a variety of topics.

Notable Alumni:

  • John Riccitiello, former CEO of Electronic Arts
  • Walter Haas, former President of Levi
  • Cathie Lesjak, CFO of Hewlett-Packard

9. Yale School of Management

  • 2020 class size: 723
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $172,547

At Yale, students focus heavily on quantitative analysis. In addition, all students go through Yale’s Leadership Development Program to ensure a well-rounded experience. Students also participate in a trip overseas to provide a global experience. One of the biggest draws of this top 10 MBA program is the opportunity to take courses or receive joint degrees at Yale’s prestigious colleges, such as its law school. This is a real advantage to some that are looking at the best business schools, but are looking to diversify with additional degrees as well.

Notable Alumni:

  • Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
  • Gail Harrity, COO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Laszlo Bock, former Vice President, People Operations, Google

10. Dartmouth College (Tuck)

  • 2020 class size: 576
  • Average salary 3 years after graduation: $173,636

With a small class size, Tuck offers students an intimate experience and rounds out our list of the best business schools. Students are grouped into small cohorts immediately and are given hands-on project experience. On top of rigorous academic and project experience, Tuck MBAs can take advantage of the nearby ski slope on campus. When it comes to consulting recruiting, the school punches above its weight, with ~35% of the class every year entering into consulting.

Notable Alumni:

  • Christopher Sinclair, former CEO of PepsiCo
  • Peter Dolan, former CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • C. Michael Armstrong, CEO and chairman of AT&T

Concluding Thoughts

You really can’t go wrong with any of these best business schools in the U.S. Classes are taught by outstanding professors and offer global experiences that few others offer. One of the biggest distinguishing factors of the best business schools is the network you build. For example, ff you want a primarily East Coast network in the finance world, perhaps Columbia Business School is the right fit for you. If you’d like your network to be centered in Silicon Valley, perhaps Stanford GSB or Berkeley Haas should be near the top of your list. If you are applying to one of these top business schools this year, we can help! Learn more about our resume and leadership essay editing services.

Related Content:

Filed Under: Consulting MBA