The Financial Times’ EMBA Rankings Get Ranked

While there is never a shortage of MBA rankings, The Financial Times recently released its EMBA rankings for 2011. At first glance the rankings seem pretty uneventful, as there were no major shifts in the top ten spots in comparison with last year’s rankings.

For the third year in a row, Kellogg’s joint Executive MBA program with Hong Kong’s UST Business School claimed the number one spot. Meanwhile the Trium Program, a three-way partnership between HEC Paris, the London School of Economics and New York University jumped from third to second place. Columbia Business School and London Business School’s joint EMBA program fell one spot from second to third this year.  And the number four spot was taken by INSEAD’s EMBA program, and the fifth by the University of Chicago’s Booth School.

While the rankings seem pretty predictable, Poets and Quants (“Another Wacky Ranking From The FT”) felt that, once again, there is something a little fishy with the Financial Times rankings. The FT rankings are known for their “roller-coaster results,” yet P&Q questions how:

  • The average grad of Kellogg’s program is getting paid $419,416 a year within three years of graduation, while Trium grads make $307, 808 and Columbia/London EMBA grads earn $259,833.
  • A school in the top 100 can rise or drop in double-digits within a single year. 42 schools in the top 100 ranking experienced double-digit gains or losses. And City University’s Cass School of Business in London was ranked tenth last year and fell to the 29th spot this year.
  • Korea University Business School’s EMBA program ranked above Columbia, Cornell and Oxford partially because of its PhD program.  What could a doctorate program possibly have to do with an EMBA program?

It all comes down to the fact that P&Q believes the FT is using the wrong methodology to measure educational value.  For example, P&Q questions whether a school’s diversity in female faculty, staff and board members should affect the program’s rankings. Moreover, by clustering their numbers too close together the FT rankings make it appear as though there is a big gap between higher and lower ranked schools when in fact there may not be any statistically significant difference.

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