Yale School of Management maintained its status as the 15th top business school in the nation, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s 2007 ranking of graduate schools.

SOM also retained its specialty ranking from last year as the top school in the nation for non-profit training. The school’s ranking in management improved from 17th in 2005 and 15th in 2006 to 11th this year. Its ranking in finance rose from 21st in 2005 and 16th in 2006 to 14th this year. Several students and administrators said they are proud of SOM’s improved ranking in U.S. News and World Report, but feel that Business Week magazine’s rankings — which are published every other year and are expected this fall — are more influential among potential applicants.

SOM spokesman Tabitha Wilde said the rankings serve an important informational purpose and help administrators better understand the perceptions widely held about the school.

“While it’s important to evaluate the results of the rankings, they’re not what we focus on,” Wilde said in an e-mail. “Our focus is always on the excellence of the program, the mission of the school, and — right now — on building the new curriculum.”

Yale President Richard Levin said he is enthusiastic about SOM’s development.

“I think there’s actually been great progress in [SOM], and I think we will see substantial new increases which have been adopted by the faculty,” he said.

SOM Student Body President Spencer Hutchins SOM ’07 said the school’s new core curriculum — which emphasizes practical and interdisciplinary aspects of business management — has been developed with the school’s mission in mind, not rankings.

“The curriculum is being designed with the sole purpose of doing the best job to prepare future leaders for business and society,” Hutchins said. “The rankings will move where they’ll move, but that’s not our focus. We don’t really see leadership being defined by how U.S. News ranks us. We’re looking for something deeper.”

As for whether the new curriculum will boost SOM’s rankings in the future, Wilde said it was impossible to speculate.

“We’ve received enthusiastic feedback on the new curriculum from students, recruiters and alumni,” Wilde said. “If that enthusiasm translates into an improvement in the rankings down the road, we would obviously be pleased, but it’s not our goal.”

Wilde said she found U.S. News and World Report’s specialty rankings — which are based on the opinions of deans and directors at SOM’s competitor schools — to be particularly rewarding.

SOM Dean of Students Prish Pierce said U.S. News and World Report’s graduate school rankings are generally not as important to business schools as the rankings released by Business Week magazine.

“[U.S. News and World Report] is probably not the most important ranking, since prospective students tend to look at the Business Week rankings — that’s what our admissions office tells us,” Pierce said. “But I think it’s great we went up in finance and management, and it’s always nice to be number one in non-profit.”

SOM placed 22nd in the 2004 edition of Business Week’s rankings and 14th in the 2002 rankings.

Student Body Representative Josh Fried ’07 said he agreed that prospective graduate students are more attentive to Business Week rankings than to those generated by U.S. News and World Report.

“Business Week’s rankings are generally more fluid and very visible, so when you’re applying to business school everyone pays attention to them, whereas U.S. News and World Report’s are some of the most stable,” Fried said. “They don’t really shift that much from year to year.”

Fried said the student body’s general response to the rankings was very positive.

“I think the general consensus is that people are generally happy with our jumps up in management and finance,” Fried said. “We think both of those are accurate jumps and that those rankings can go even higher, especially because our accounting faculty in particular is very strong and other people are starting to reaalize it too.”

Melanie Bates SOM ’07, student government career and alumni representative, said that while she thinks the SOM’s rankings will continue to improve, she also thinks the school’s small size may hinder higher placement.

“Our alumni group is smaller than other schools’,” Bates said. “Harvard Business graduates 1,800 a year, whereas we only graduate 180. We’re also such a new school with a young alumni group, so we only have MBA alumni going back about 30 years. Many of those alumni have yet to establish themselves and become big CEOs and managers of corporations.”

According to the U.S. News and World Report Web site, the publication’s rankings are derived using a combination of expert assessment data and statistical data reflecting a number of variables, ranging from the quality of faculty and students to the average size of graduates’ starting salaries.