Online MBA Programs

10 Business Schools To Watch In 2024

It’s potential. Raw energy. A glimpse of the future and a break from the past. Potential is being there at the beginning, never really knowing how long or how far it can go.

A new year is an extension of potential, especially in education. Schools start chasing big goals, always testing new ideas to better connect with learners. In the moment – when data is sparse and fears are stoked – educators don’t always fully grasp what matters and what works. Sometimes, that means stepping back before looking ahead.

In 2023, several MBA programs took risks or achieved milestones that reflected their potential. They invested in new programming, embraced new methods, entered new markets, and hired new leaders. They tapped into their expertise, capitalized on their advantages, and learned from their mistakes. At INSEAD, sustainability became the cornerstone of the programming. Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School continued to build synergies around their larger university’s prowess in medicine. Columbia Business School and Chicago Booth upended the status quo to reign as the top MBA programs in the world. And Duke Fuqua and Virginia Darden continued to achieve the most difficult outcomes of any business: happy customers.

The Business Schools To Watch come into 2024 with momentum. They invested their time and money wisely, producing the best experiences and biggest returns. What made them stand out compared to their peer schools? More important, how will they build on their successes? The greatest satisfaction often comes from witnessing growth and change – the realization of potential. Here are the 10 business schools that positioned themselves for the biggest steps forward in the coming year.

Charles M. Harper Center

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Happy 125th anniversary, Chicago Booth!

You sure made it a memorable year – and a historic one too!

Let’s start with the rankings, where Booth now owns the top spot in the US News MBA ranking. To make the honor sweeter, Booth beat out intracity rival Northwestern Kellogg for top honors thanks to higher pay and placement and better peer and recruiter survey scores. The school also topped P&Q’s Executive MBA ranking, while finishing 2nd in Bloomberg Businessweek’s MBA ranking.

In other words, Booth is elbowing its way into that elite circle featuring Stanford GSB, Harvard Business School and the Wharton School. Power of three? Slowly, but surely, American MBA rankings are turning into a four-way race – with Booth nosing into the inside track.

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The Class of 2025 made the year ever sweeter. Boasting its largest class in over eight years, the school doubled the size of its underrepresented minority population, while tying its class record for the highest percentage of women. On top of that, Booth set another record for starting pay with the spring class. For many schools, that would be a banner year. For Booth, this news is just a warm up. Many times, institutions celebrate anniversaries by rolling out something new. By this measure, Chicago Booth outdid itself in 2023.

Picture this: Booth hadn’t launched a new degree program since World War II. Last July, it announced that it would open up two new degrees in 2024. That starts with a 10-month master in management program beginning in the fall. In the process, Booth joined the likes of Northwestern Kellogg, MIT Sloan, and Stanford GSB in unveiling new degree options in MiM. The program opens with a two-week ‘Boothcamp’ before moving into its five-course core. From there, students can deepen their skills across five areas: Finance, Strategic Management, Analytics, Marketing, or Entrepreneurship.

“We have seen the power of the Booth MBA for catapulting mid- or later-career professionals,” explains Starr Marcello, deputy dean for MBA programs. “We have seen the power of the Booth MBA for catapulting mid- or later-career professionals. Now we are eager to provide access to those just starting out in the professional world. We believe completing the master in management program at Booth will enable young professionals to marry their passion — whether it be physics, computer science, art history, philosophy, or other areas of the liberal arts or STEM fields — with management skills that position them for high-impact careers.”

Classes for Chicago Booth’s new Master in Management program will be held in downtown Chicago, the third-largest city in the U.S.

And Booth didn’t stop at management. Come December, the school publicized its second new degree program, a Master of Finance, which also starts in the fall. Here, students can choose between 10-month and 15-month tracks. Following a model similar to the MiM program, Master of Finance students complete an orientation and five-course core, before choosing nine electives from four areas: Asset Management, Investment Banking, Fintech and Research in Finance. In the process, they’ll also dive into the fundamentals and issues surrounding areas like big data, blockchain technology, and artificial intelligence.

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In its announcement, Booth touted how the Master in Finance program would give a career edge to a new segment of potential students. “Chicago Booth’s finance faculty are the best in the world,” says Madhav Rajan, Booth’s dean. “They developed modern finance theory and have shaped the course of financial knowledge and markets for more than 100 years. We are excited to bring our transformative approach — and the latest innovations in finance — to talented, analytical college graduates.”

Booth even dug deeper into a growing field: Healthcare. That included launching an MBA-MS in Biomedical Sciences and an MBA concentration in Health Care. At the same time, the school offers a wide range of joint degrees, including partnerships with the schools of Law, Public Policy, Social Work, Computer Science, International Relations, Middle Eastern Studies, and Medicine. All of this comes on the heels of a spring $100 million gift from Ross Stevens, a ’96 Ph.D.

“Chicago Booth is the best academic business school in the world, Period,” Marcello emphasizes in a 2023 interview with P&Q. “It is a school with the power and potential to transform a student’s life, and with a global community and immense support systems in place to foster student success… Our renowned faculty, including several Nobel Prize winners, combine pathbreaking research and inspirational teaching to shape current and future leaders of the world.”

One of the defining features of Booth, Marcello adds, is flexibility – or choice – or customized – or tailor-made. At its core, Booth believes in student choice. Rather than a lockstep core curriculum, for example, students complete one required course – LEAD (Leadership Effectiveness and Development), which is actually organized by second-year MBA students. Instead, first-years choose from a menu of foundational courses more specific to the interests and gaps – giving them a leg up in transitioning their career path or preparing for their internship.

“I value the ability to create my own academic path,” says Rachel Cohen, a private equity associate before joining the Booth School’s Class of 2025. “Everyone enrolling at Booth is in a different stage of their career and has different skill sets that they want to develop. Booth allows us to take responsibility for what classes will lead to the greatest growth, both personally and professionally.”

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Another foundation of the Booth MBA is the Chicago Approach. Think of it as a data-driven, evidence-based methodology, and scientific in process. It starts with with an observation that is subjected to testing and analysis of data to reveal patterns and formulate projections. That means learning how to collect and interpret pertinent data, always asking questions and never accepting the pat answer.

“The Chicago Approach is rooted in fundamental scientific disciplines at the heart of business–economics, accounting, psychology, sociology, and statistics—taught by the world-renowned business school faculty,” adds Marcello in a 2022 interview.  “This provides individuals with an enduring framework; its portability makes it adaptable to any situation, in any industry, and at any time. Our students and alumni say that because of Booth’s unique curriculum–and its focus on analytics and empirical data–they are more prepared than their peers to tackle today’s constantly changing, data-driven business landscape. It has helped to inform their decision-making, launch their careers, and made them highly marketable in numerous competitive industries.”

And Boothies, as they are called, can channel The Chicago Approach in a variety of areas. In Sustainability, MBAs can participate in the Impact Investment Funds, Corporate Social Responsibility Practicum, or Rustandy Center consulting projects. Booth’s startup ecosystem is center around the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which provides everything imaginable – funding, expertise, space, coursework, expertise – to aspiring student entrepreneurs. MBAs can even join faculty at the Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence to immerse themselves in the most current and impactful AI research.

These experiences, says Starr Marcello, makes Booth grads al the more valuable to the world’s top companies. “Employers have indicated that they often seek out Booth students because of their ability to assume critical leadership roles across diverse teams and organizational structures, and to define and execute strategic plans. Booth’s emphasis on analytics and empirical data gives our students an edge by preparing them to take on any evolving business landscape. This, in turn, allows them to launch their careers, becoming highly marketable and impactful in numerous competitive industries, and speaks to the overall value of a Booth MBA.”

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