Sneak Peek: P&Q’s Best Business Schools Of 2021

For the fifth time, Poets&Quants will publish its ranking of Best Undergraduate Business Schools. This year’s ranking, which will be published in its entirety on Monday, January 11, will include 93 schools. That’s down four schools from last year’s 97, but is still the second-most schools we’ve ranked. This year’s ranking has been delayed a few weeks due to our decision to remain as flexible as possible with schools as they contend with limited staff and resources amid the Coronavirus pandemic’s impact on higher education.

As with previous years, in addition to the rankings, in-depth school profiles will be published. Also, reported articles breaking down all new data gathered during the rankings project will be published the same day of the ranking and the following days after the rankings. A wealth of proprietary data based on the school and alumni surveys — including average SAT scores, employment data, acceptance rates, and average high school GPAs — will also be published.

As always, P&Q will make available all the data used in its ranking as well as additional information such as the schools enrolling the most U.S. minorities, international students, and first-generation college students. After the rankings go live, a series of stories will also explore which schools leave students in the most debt and which ones offer the most generous scholarship grants.


Over the past five years, the methodology has gone virtually unchanged. So it makes sense that most of the top schools have remained in the top positions over the years. Of the 10 schools in this year’s top-10, six have been there each of the past three years. And there is just one new school in this year’s top-10 compared to last year.

Speaking of last year, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania placed first for the third year in a row, making it three out of the first four years of the ranking. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of business followed in second and the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce placed third. New York University’s Stern School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School rounded out the top-five, respectively.

The top-10’s lone newcomer? Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business. Georgia Tech has consistently been rising up our rankings the past few years, placing 18th in 2019, 14th last year, and into the top-10 this year. That means one school had to leave the top-10. And for the first time in the short history of our rankings, Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School fell out of the top-10. Ironically, Olin is the only school besides Wharton to take the top spot in our ranking, earning No. 1 in the very first year of the ranking.


As a reminder, Poets&Quants’ Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking is based on three key categories — admissions standards, the college experience, and career outcomes. Each category is weighted equally in the methodology (see How We Crunched The Numbers). This year, just as we did in the previous two years, admissions standards are broken down by business school acceptance rates (30%), average SATs (35%), and percentage of students graduating in the top 10% of their high school class (35%).

The college and business school experience is based entirely on responses to our extensive alumni survey, which includes thousands of responses from alumni graduating between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. The final third of the ranking is determined by career outcomes. The percentage of students with full-time employment within three months of graduation is given a 50% weight, while annual salary and signing bonus average are given a 30% weight, and the percentage of students completing a business-related internship before graduation is weighted 20%.

Of course, no ranking is perfect and a college decision should not be made on a ranking alone. P&Q publishes a wealth of data-based insights on the schools and in-depth school profiles so readers may use this information as a launching place to explore and target their best choices for a quality business education. When the rankings are published next week, take the time to go through the stories and data to begin or aid the college search.


  • Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
  • Cornell University (Dyson)
  • Georgetown University (McDonough)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Scheller)
  • New York University (Stern)
  • University of Michigan (Ross)
  • University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
  • University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  • University of Virginia (McIntire)

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