The Financial Times has once again crowned INSEAD—with campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi—as the world’s best business school. This year’s Global MBA Ranking saw strong performances from many European schools, and a surprising dip from elite US MBA programs.
Harvard Business School did not crack the top-three for the first time in nine years, and MIT Sloan School of Management fell out of the top ten for the first time in a decade. Perennial favorite London Business School fell three places to sixth—its lowest position in 14 years—giving Judge Business School in 5th place the title of top-ranked UK school for the first time ever.
This year the United States is home to five of the world’s top 10 business schools, but when the Financial Times introduced the global MBA ranking in 1999, only one non-US university, London Business School, made it into the top tier.
The Top Ten in FT’s 2017 Global MBA Ranking
- Stanford Graduate School of Business
- University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
- Harvard Business School
- Cambridge University Judge Business School
- London Business School
- Columbia Business School
- IE Business School
- Chicago Booth School of Business
- IESE Business School
The FT’s ranking is based on surveys of business schools and their 2013 graduates. MBA programs are assessed according to the career progression of their alumni, the school’s idea generation, and the diversity of students and faculty.
A likely explanation for the surge of European schools’ popularity has to do with the growing appeal of one-year degree programs which are more common outside of the United States. Since the FT ranking is based in part on career progression, shorter programs and lower tuition get graduates back in the workplace sooner and can be viewed as a better value for the money.
Top-ranked INSEAD receives high marks for its strong international culture and extensive and diverse alumni; about 95% of its faculty and students are international. “Insead enormously boosted our intercultural experience,” said one alumni survey respondent from Switzerland. “It is a place to learn global culture better than anywhere else.”
The wealth and depth of knowledge from around the world adds tremendous value to the course, wrote another graduate from the US, adding that “with so many cultures and experiences represented, a classroom ethics discussion about bribery is not your typical boring USA version.”
One-year MBA programs are still a growing option in the United States, but already a few top schools—Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business, Emory’s Goizueta Business School—have introduced the format to attract candidates put off by the two-year time commitment and forgone salary.
Meanwhile, this year’s ranking reveals that graduates of second-place Stanford Graduate School of Business have the highest salary on average at $195,000, as well as the best career progression. Roughly 42% of alumni hold positions at director level or above three years after graduation, compared with 22% on average for ranked programs, the FT has found.
“Stanford GSB is both a long-term investment and a personal self-investment,” said one graduate from the class of 2013. “The results put me on a path to achieve full career satisfaction.”
While we don’t like to encourage clients to focus too heavily on rankings when they’re making their MBA program selections, we also know those headed for b-school really can’t help themselves. But placing too heavy an emphasis on rankings can actually become a distraction for some applicants, so be sure to consider multiple factors when making your final school selection.
Conrad Chua, MBA admissions director at the 5th place Judge Business School, had this to say when the 2017 Global MBA Rankings results came in. “We know that rankings are naturally volatile, as you can see from the number of schools that have double digit changes in their rankings every year.
“It is impossible to reduce an MBA experience in whatever school to just a number. Don’t ignore the rankings but make your own judgement of a school from speaking to its staff, its alums and students and make your own decision whether that is the right school for you,” Chua writes.
So remember, keep things in perspective and make sure you’re looking at the data points that are important to your own career path when determining the value of a particular ranking.