The Financial Times published its annual ranking of MBA programs today. And the top 10 are:
- Stanford (3 year average: #3; last year tied for #4)
- Harvard (3 year average: #3; last year’s #3)
- Wharton (3 year average: #2; last year tied for #1)
- London Business School (3 year average: #2; last year tied for #1)
- Columbia (3 year average: #6; last year’s #7)
- INSEAD (3 year average: #5; last year tied for #4)
- MIT Sloan (3 year average: #8; last year’s #tied for #9)
- IE (3 year average: #7; last year’s #8)
- IESE (3 year average #10: last year’s #9 )
- HKUST (3 year average: #8; last year’s #6)
The Financial Times rankings is based on two surveys: one of business schools and one of alumni who graduated in 2008. This ranking weighs salary growth for these alumni and attempts to adjust for purchasing power differences and even possible distortions caused by the size of the school. FT describes its methodology, and anyone who gives these numbers any credibility needs to understand what is being ranked and measured here.
One of the valuable aspects of this ranking is its global nature. US News and Businessweek do not rank U.S. schools with non-U.S. schools. The FT ranking compares both U.S. and international programs on several criteria, including increase in salary three years after graduation, the relative number of articles published by faculty at different institutions, diversity of teaching staff, and more. Again, for details, please see FT’s methodology.
How much should you pay attention to this ranking? Should you be combing it for schools that have gone up and abandon schools that have declined? If your criteria for a graduate MBA education match the survey elements exactly, pay a lot of attention to it. However, for most of you, while increase in salary is certainly important, it also has to be considered in the context of cost — something FT doesn’t consider. And FT uses salary across the board, not for the field you want to go into. That’s the figure that should matter to you. Then there are criteria that may or may not translate into a better educational experience for you — number of articles published by full-time faculty, for example. Is that really an important reflection of a quality educational experience? Or simply institutional bragging rights. Or could practitioner teachers also bring valuable insight and experience to the classroom without publishing a page, anywhere?
Use the results for the data, not for the ranking. If the data are important to you, then go into them more thoroughly, but don’t obsess about the ranking and changes in ranking, especially small ones. The Financial Times ranking is particularly known for its volatility. You don’t see it in the top 10, but fluctuations become more pronounced outside the top 10.
To learn more about the different MBA rankings, please see “MBA Rankings: Which Business Schools are the Best?”
For additional perspective and insight into this ranking, please see:
- “That Time of the Year Again,” by Conrad Chua, Head MBA Admissions and Recruitment at Judge Business School
- “MBA Rankings” by mba50
- “Stanford Rises to Top of New FT Ranking.”
By Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com and co-author of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.