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Exploring the Top 10 MBA Programs in the US

Ranking of the Top 10 MBA Schools in the US
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated October 29, 2022
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A Master of Business Administration, also known as an MBA, is a graduate degree that can help you develop leadership and management skills. Top MBA programs can accommodate full-time and part-time students. Some of the best MBA programs in the United States are located on the East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest.An MBA rankings guide can help you assess the strengths and weaknesses of any particular business school. Below we compare 10 prestigious U.S. business schools and highlight their pros and cons to help you determine which one may be right for you. 

1. University of Chicago Booth

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is a renowned business school with four top MBA programs, three global locations, and an award-winning faculty that includes at least nine Nobel Prize-winning professors as of October 2022.

What Makes It Exceptional

Booth’s faculty comprises more than 200 professors, including at least nine laureates of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences. Students can enroll in one of four top MBA programs, including the full-time, evening, weekend, or executive leadership programs. The Executive MBA program is offered in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong. 

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into Booth’s full-time MBA program:
  • Have an undergraduate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university or its equivalent in another country
  • Must submit your scores on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
  • You may have to take an English language test if English is not your native language and you wish to enroll as an international student

Application Deadline and Process

Chicago Booth has several rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 can submit an application by Jan. 5, 2023, or April 11, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application and any required mail-in materials
  • Provide your professional résumé
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your GMAT or GRE scores
  • Provide your responses to MBA-related essay questions
  • Pay the $250 application fee

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending Chicago Booth: 

2. University of Pennsylvania Wharton

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers one of the best MBA programs. It boasts top MBA rankings from various publications and offers a variety of two-year fellowship awards based on merit. Wharton students may receive executive coaching sessions as a perk and can access the school’s global network of more than 100,000 living alumni.

What Makes It Exceptional

The Wharton School can help boost your career: Most full-time students graduating from the Class of 2021 received job offers shortly after seeking employment. “It is extraordinary to see that 99% of our recent MBA graduates seeking employment received an offer, and that such success was achieved across an increasingly diverse set of industries,” Erika James, dean of the Wharton School, said in a data report. “I’m incredibly thankful to the entire Wharton community of employers, alumni, faculty and staff who played a crucial role in helping us reach this milestone.”

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into Wharton’s MBA program:
  • Have an undergraduate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university or its equivalent in another country
  • Must submit your valid GMAT or GRE scores that are no more than 5 years old
  • You may have to take an English language test and submit your results if English is not your native language and you wish to enroll as an international student

Application Deadline and Process

Wharton has several rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 can submit an application by Jan. 4, 2023, or March 29, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide your professional résumé
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your GMAT or GRE scores
  • Provide your responses to MBA-related essay questions
  • Pay the $275 nonrefundable application fee

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending the Wharton School:

3. Northwestern University Kellogg

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has top MBA program rankings. Kellogg touts a renowned career management center. It also has a rich history of developing future business leaders. Students can learn from distinguished faculty members who serve as researchers, educators, and mentors.

What Makes It Exceptional

The Kellogg School pioneered the one-year MBA program that places students on a fast track to earning a Master of Business Administration. The one-year MBA program gives students the ability to bypass core classes and jump straight into a rigorous curriculum of electives.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into Kellogg’s MBA program:
  • Have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university
  • Must submit your GMAT or GRE valid test results that are no more than 5 years old
  • You may have to take an English language test and submit your results if English is not your native language and you wish to enroll as an international student
  • Must complete pre-enrollment courses in statistics, economics, marketing, and operations before entering the one-year MBA program

Application Deadline and Process

The Kellogg School has several rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 for the full-time MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 10, 2023, or April 5, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide your professional résumé
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your GMAT or GRE scores
  • Provide your written and video responses to MBA-related essay questions
  • Pay the $250 nonrefundable application fee

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending the Kellogg School: 

4. Stanford University

The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers a two-year Master of Business Administration program that commands top MBA program rankings worldwide. The Stanford MBA Program is a general management program for full-time students that can help develop leadership skills. Anyone who applies for the Stanford MBA program can create a customized dashboard to track application progress, get tailored course recommendations, and learn more about the Stanford community.

What Makes It Exceptional

Stanford operates a student loan forgiveness program that may provide loan repayment assistance to MBA alumni who work in the nonprofit or public service sectors or in high impact businesses. The MBA program offers rigorous core courses taught by distinguished faculty members. Incoming MBA students or candidates can customize their admissions journey with a personalized dashboard online.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into Stanford’s MBA program:
  • Have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Must submit a valid GMAT or GRE score
  • You may have to take an English language test and submit your results if English is not your native language and you wish to enroll as an international student

Application Deadline and Process

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has several rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 for the MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 5, 2023, or April 11, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide a one-page business résumé
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your GMAT or GRE scores
  • Provide your written responses to Stanford essay questions
  • Pay the $275 nonrefundable application fee

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending Stanford Graduate School of Business, which offers one of the best MBA programs in U.S. academia:

5. Harvard University

Harvard Business School offers a two-year MBA program for full-time students who gain access to world-renowned research professors. The school helps MBA students develop general management and leadership skills. The MBA curriculum emphasizes environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting and teaches students how to make business decisions involving sustainability issues.

What Makes It Exceptional

Any ranking of MBA schools almost always includes Harvard Business School in a top position. Required and elective courses within Harvard’s MBA program help prepare students for modern-day challenges involving environmental and sustainability issues. Such popular courses in 2021 included an elective on entrepreneurial solutions to world problems.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into Harvard’s MBA program:
  • Generally must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its international equivalent
  • Must submit a valid GMAT or GRE score
  • You may have to take an English language test and submit your results if English is not your native language and you wish to enroll as an international student

Application Deadline and Process

Harvard Business School may offer one or more rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 for the MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 4, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Other applicants applying for Harvard’s deferred admission 2+2 Program may submit an application by April 27, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision on or about July 6, 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide a current business résumé
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your GMAT or GRE scores
  • Provide your written response to any essay questions
  • Submit your signed acceptance of Harvard Business School’s admissions policies
  • Pay the $250 nonrefundable application fee ($100 if you’re applying to the 2+2 Program)

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending Harvard Business School:

6. MIT Sloan

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management offers a two-year MBA program for full-time students. The school can promote leadership skills and career advancement. For example, 95.9% of the MBA Class of 2021’s jobseekers received job offers within three months of graduation, school data show. Students can also receive one-on-one career coaching or career advising from the school’s Career Development Office.

What Makes It Exceptional

Students can pursue one of three tracks within MIT Sloan’s MBA program: The finance track, the entrepreneurship and innovation track, or the enterprise management track. Students who complete the program can receive an MIT Sloan MBA degree and an academic track certificate. The curriculum and instruction can help students advance in their careers — 95.9% of the MBA Class of 2021’s jobseekers received job offers within three months of graduation.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into MIT Sloan’s MBA program:
  • Must have a four-year undergraduate degree or its equivalent
  • Generally must submit a valid GMAT or GRE score unless granted a waiver

Application Deadline and Process

MIT Sloan may offer multiple rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 for the MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 18, 2023, or April 11, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide a one-page résumé
  • Provide one letter of recommendation
  • Provide contact information for two additional references
  • Provide an organizational chart highlighting the hierarchy of your business or workplace
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your GMAT or GRE scores unless granted a waiver
  • Provide a brief cover letter (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation)
  • Submit a brief video statement introducing yourself on camera (60 seconds or less)
  • Pay the $250 nonrefundable application fee

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending MIT Sloan:

7. Yale University

The Yale School of Management, also known as Yale SOM, offers a two-year MBA program for full-time students. The first year introduces students to the world of management and how organizations work in a global and competitive environment. The second year of the program gives students a chance to pursue wide-ranging electives while further developing expertise in the areas of business, management, and leadership.

What Makes It Exceptional

Students may have the opportunity to travel as part of their curriculum to help enhance their global awareness. After completing the MBA program, graduates who work for an eligible government organization or nonprofit and meet certain income eligibility guidelines may receive some amount of student loan repayment assistance for up to 10 years. Hundreds of graduates have benefited from the Yale School of Management Loan Forgiveness Program since its inception in 1986.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into Yale’s MBA program:
  • Generally must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent
  • Must submit a valid GMAT or GRE score

Application Deadline and Process

Yale SOM may offer multiple rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 for the MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 5, 2023, or April 11, 2023. These applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide a one-page résumé
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Complete the online behavioral assessment
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your valid GMAT or GRE scores
  • Provide your written response to any essay questions
  • Complete the video questions
  • You may have to pay an application fee (ranges from $125 to $250 depending on your annual income)

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending Yale SOM:

8. Columbia University

The Columbia Business School MBA program can help students explore internships and externships for career advancement. Students have access to Columbia’s Career Management Center and can take advantage of one-on-one sessions with advisors when searching for internships or full-time job opportunities. The core curriculum of the MBA program promotes collaborative learning models aimed at developing a student’s analytical and leadership skills.

What Makes It Exceptional

Columbia Business School has more than 150 full-time faculty members who educate and conduct research on best business practices. As mentioned above, the core curriculum of the MBA program promotes collaborative learning models aimed at developing a student’s analytical and leadership skills. Students can take advantage of one-on-one sessions with advisors when searching for internships or employment opportunities.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into Columbia’s MBA program:
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution 
  • Must submit a valid GMAT, Executive Assessment, or GRE score

Application Deadline and Process

Columbia Business School may offer one or more rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in August 2023 for the MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 11, 2023, or April 5, 2023. The January application deadline applies to applicants who wish to receive priority consideration for merit-based fellowships.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide a professional résumé spanning one or two pages
  • Provide one letter of recommendation
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your valid GMAT, Executive Assessment, or GRE score 
  • Provide your written response to any essay questions
  • Pay the $250 nonrefundable application fee, unless a waiver is granted

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons of attending Columbia’s MBA program:

9. University of California Berkeley Haas

The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley offers three top MBA programs, including a full-time program, evening and weekend program, and an executive program. All three programs operate on different class schedules, but each one gives you the opportunity to study on campus and earn a prestigious Berkeley MBA degree. The Haas School of Business promotes experiential learning — a form of education that provides students with hands-on learning.

What Makes It Exceptional

As mentioned above, Berkeley Haas offers three top MBA programs, including a full-time program, evening and weekend program, and an executive program. Each program features a rigorous curriculum and instruction that champions leadership development. These MBA programs by design can help students advance in their careers.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into a Berkeley Haas MBA program:
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution 
  • Must submit a valid GMAT or GRE score 
  • Must take an English language test and submit your results if your postsecondary education comes from a country where English isn’t the primary language

Application Deadline and Process

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business may offer one or more rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in July or August 2023 for the MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 5, 2023, or April 6, 2023. Applicants may be notified of an admissions decision in spring 2023.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide a professional résumé
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your valid GMAT or GRE score 
  • Provide your written response to any essay questions
  • Pay the $200 nonrefundable application fee, unless a waiver is granted

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons concerning the Berkeley Haas MBA programs:

10. University of Michigan Ann Arbor Ross

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan offers five MBA programs, including a full-time program, online program, weekend program, executive program, and global program. You can take executive-level classes once a month in Michigan or Los Angeles to earn your MBA in 21 months. Or you may consider the full-time, two-year program that offers action-based learning that can spark career advancement.

What Makes It Exceptional

As mentioned above, Michigan Ross offers five MBA programs, including a full-time program, online program, weekend program, executive program, and global program. Any ranking of MBA schools may recognize programs that offer a rigorous curriculum and action-based learning. The full-time program at Michigan Ross, in particular, may provide students with hands-on opportunities to start, advise, lead, and invest in businesses.

Eligibility Criteria

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to be considered for admission into a Michigan Ross MBA program:
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution 
  • Demonstrate your academic readiness by submitting a standardized test score from the GMAT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, PCAT, or DAT
  • International applicants may have to take a standardized English language test and submit the valid results

Application Deadline and Process

Michigan Ross may offer one or more rounds of applications. Anyone interested in applying and matriculating in fall 2023 for the full-time MBA program can submit an application by Jan. 9, 2023, or April 3, 2023. Applicants may be notified of an admissions decision about two months after the application deadline passes.Here’s the application process:
  • Submit an online application
  • Provide a one-page professional résumé
  • Choose a recommender who can discuss your professional background
  • Provide college transcripts from all postsecondary educational institutions you’ve attended
  • Provide your valid GMAT or GRE score (you may also submit your MCAT, LSAT, PCAT, or DAT score if you have one)
  • Provide your written response to any essay questions
  • Pay the $200 nonrefundable application fee, unless a waiver is granted

Pros and Cons of Attending

The below table highlights some pros and cons concerning the Michigan Ross MBA programs:

Paying for an MBA

Top MBA programs can cost tens of thousands of dollars in annual tuition alone. Here are some ways you may pay for MBA program costs:

Student Loans for Grad School

Graduate students can borrow federal or private student loans to help pay for the cost of an MBA program. The difference between private and federal student loans is that federal student loans are provided exclusively by the U.S. Department of Education, whereas banks, credit unions, online lenders, and select state-based or state-affiliated organizations may offer private student loans.Borrowers are generally expected to repay their education loans over time. The typical student loan debt across the United States is tens of thousands of dollars per borrower, according to the Education Data Initiative. Researchers from that group found the average federal student loan debt in 2021 stood at $36,510 per borrower, while private student loan debt averaged $54,921 per borrower.One option you may consider is paying off a student loan early. There’s no prepayment penalty if you pay your student loans off early, and doing so may minimize your interest costs.Here are some additional factors to consider:

Scholarships for Graduate Students

Scholarships are among the financial aid options that can help students pay for the cost of attending an MBA program.Students may apply for financial assistance under the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA® form. Business schools may encourage students to complete and submit a FAFSA to be considered for need-based scholarships offered by the school.The FAFSA for grad school is generally more simplified than FAFSA for undergraduate students. That’s because grad school students are generally independent students who don’t have to provide their parents’ information when submitting FAFSA graduate school documents.

Refinancing Undergraduate Student Loans

If you’re a college graduate who wants to pursue an MBA, you may consider refinancing some or all of your undergraduate student loans. You can refinance a portion of your student loans if you qualify for student loan refinancing.How student loan refinancing works is that borrowers submit an application with a private lender requesting a new loan agreement for refinancing student loan debt. Refinancing student debt can allow borrowers to replace their existing education loans with the terms and conditions of a private loan agreement. There are some potential advantages and disadvantages of refinancing a student loan. One of the advantages of refinancing student loans is it may provide you with a lower interest rate.You can refinance federal student loans and private student loans, but the portion of your federal student debt that you refinance loses its eligibility for federal debt relief, including military student loan forgiveness for members of the U.S. armed forces.Here are additional factors you may want to consider:

Student Loan Refinancing Rates From Lantern

If you want to refinance student loans, Lantern by SoFi can help you find and compare different student loan refinancing lenders. Refinancing might be right for you if you can lock in a lower interest rate.Compare student loan refinance rates without impacting your credit score.
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About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and currently serves as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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