Wharton dramatically dropped out of the ranking after failing to gather enough responses for the alumni survey which comprises the majority weight in the FT ranking.
Wharton has held the top spot more than any other business school in the list’s 25 year history, last year was the 11th time it was ranked first by the FT.
It’s the first time one of the world’s elite business schools has been dropped by the FT. Wharton was absent from the 2021 ranking after it boycotted industry rankings alongside several other big name US schools in response to the disruption to teaching and graduate job prospects caused by the Covid pandemic. Wharton was joined by fellow M7 business schools including Harvard, Stanford, and MIT Sloan.
So what does this year’s absence mean?
Some have speculated the school’s failure to acquire enough alumni responses is reflective of Wharton alumni’s resentment over how it handled the pandemic.
But Petia Whitmore, a former dean of admissions at Babson College now advising MBA candidates on how to land places at top schools such as Wharton, feels the news will not impact the school.
“I truly can’t imagine that anyone interested in Wharton will be dissuaded by them missing from this year’s FT ranking. Wharton has a tremendous reputation and is a dream school for candidates all over the world,” she says.
“We might see the occasional speculation about why they didn’t reach the threshold for responses to the alumni survey but that won’t affect the perceptions of the school overall.”
David White, founder of MBA coaching platform Menlo Coaching, feels a school's reputation has more impact than its ranking, and Wharton’s reputation as one of the elite M7 business schools means dropping from the ranking will have little effect.
“The newest FT ranking may annoy Wharton, but it is unlikely to change applicant behavior,” he says. “We have spoken to hundreds of applicants for the 2023-2024 cycle, and I am confident that Wharton will receive a large number of well-qualified applicants.
“Beyond Wharton, the FT ranking produces a number of counter-intuitive results. For example, in more than 10 years of advising MBA applicants, we have never seen applicants decline offers from HBS or Stanford GSB to enroll at the schools ranking higher in the current FT ranking [such as] Columbia, INSEAD, or IESE,” he adds.
While Wharton fell out of the ranking, Columbia Business School—another elite US institution—found itself in the top spot for the first time. Columbia led a number of US business schools who dominated the ranking, taking 14 of the top 20 spots.
However it was two European schools, INSEAD and IESE Business School, who took second and third place, respectively, in the FT ranking.
Wharton did not respond to a request for comment.