Getting an MBA these days can feel like digging a giant hole full of debt.

If it's going to take you decades to crawl out from it, you want to make sure the education and connections are worthwhile. So to determine which schools are most worthy of the investment, Bloomberg Businessweek surveyed recruiters, recent graduates, and alumni of 87 business schools in the U.S. to determine the best programs out there.

When all the numbers had been crunched, a familiar name emerged at the top of the list: Harvard. The august business school has been a mainstay in the rankings, which Businessweek has published since 1988. Here's how the list was complied, the factors that propelled Harvard to the top spot, and other highlights sure to stir debate.


Two-thirds of each school's score was based on responses from recruiters and alumni of the programs. More than 1,000 recruiters answered questions about how well-prepared graduates were to perform tasks expected of workers with an MBA. A survey of 15,000 alumni yielded feedback on the program, job satisfaction, and compensation following graduation.

Additional data came from a survey of 9,000 MBAs who graduated in 2016, which focused on campus culture, as well as the effectiveness of campus resources like career services, faculty, and administration. Job placement rate and starting salary metrics each counted for 10 percent of the rankings.

The Payout

Harvard retained its No. 1 ranking from 2015. Employers ranked it first for graduate preparedness, and its alumni had the second-highest salaries. Interestingly, the school came in at number 35 when it comes to placing graduates in good jobs.

The MBA program whose graduates earn the most money after graduation was Stanford--which also ranked first in the alumni survey, but came in second overall. It was neck-and-neck in the overall rankings with Duke's Fuqua School of Business and the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business rounded out the top five.

Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, which came in at number 26, ranked first on the student survey. Rutgers came in first on job placement, followed by the University of Iowa​'s Tippie College of Business and Washington University in St. Louis's Olin Business School.