What Are Business School Tiers?

First Tier, Second Tier, and Third Tier Business Schools

Some of the organizations that rank business schools use what is known as a "tier" concept. The concept was originally used in conjunction with U.S. News rankings to differentiate top business schools from other business schools. It has since been used by other organizations, such as BusinessWeek.

Most business schools dislike the term "tier," and in recent years, a number of organizations have retired the term for one reason or another.

However, it is still used in certain circles.

First Tier Business School
The term "top business school" is another way of saying first tier business school. A first tier business school is "above" second tier and third tier business schools. Although every organization is different, most consider a first tier business school to be any school that is in a top 30 or top 50 ranking. Read more about first tier business schools.

Second Tier Business School
Second tier business schools fall below first tier business schools and above third tier business schools. Most people label business schools that are below the top 50 but above the third tier as "second tier business schools." Read more about second tier business schools.

Third Tier Business School
A third tier business school is a school that falls below the first tier and second tier of business schools. The term third tier often applies to business schools that are not ranked among the top 100 business schools.

Read more about third tier business schools.