Top 10 International 1-Year & 2-Year MBA Programs in 2013

We recently posted the Forbes’ top 20 American MBA programs – now it’s time to turn our attention to the global b-school scene. Below are Forbes’ top 10 international MBA programs for 1-year and 2-year programs in 2013.

1-Year MBA Programs:

1. IMD – Switzerland $196,300 $84,000 $211,000
2. INSEAD – France/Singapore $168,700 $71,000 $175,000
3. SDA Bocconi – Italy $155,800 $57,000 $165,000
4. IE Business School – Spain $114,700 $53,000 $144,000
5. Oxford Said – UK $102,500 $58,000 $135,000
6. Warwick – UK $102,800 $43,000 $124,000
7. Cambridge Judge – UK $99,000 $62,000 $146,000
8. Cranfield – UK $94,500 $59,000 $127,000
9. Lancaster – UK $86,700 $41,000 $159,000
10. City U. Cass – UK $76,800 $60,000 $116,000

2-Year MBA Programs:

1. London Business School – UK $120,700 $77,000 $214,000
2. NUS Business School – Singapore $95,900 $14,000 $92,000
3. Hong Kong UST – China $91,000 $31,000  $131,000
 4. Manchester – UK $84,500 $48,000 $141,000
 5. IESE – Spain $80,300 $56,000 $146,000
6. Ipade – Mexico $78,100 $20,000 $75,000
7. CEIBS – China $73,100 $27,000 $121,000
8. Esade – Spain $65,500 $55,000 $127,000
9. HEC-Paris – France $61,700 $54,000 $140,000
10. York Schulich – Canada $54,400 $39,000 $115,000

Financial Times’ 2013 Global MBA Rankings

B-School Rankings

Harvard Business School

Drum roll please…The Financial Times ranks the top 25 global b-schools as follows…

1. Harvard Business School
2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
3. University of Pennsylvania – Wharton
4. London Business School
5. Columbia Business School
7. IESE Business School
8. Hong Kong UST Business School
9. MIT Sloan
10. Chicago Booth
11. IE Business School
12. UC Berkeley Haas
13. Northwestern Kellogg
14. Yale School of Management
15. CEIBS – China
16. Dartmouth Tuck (tied)
16. Cambridge Judge (tied)
18. Duke Fuqua
19. Switzerland (tied)
19. NYU Stern (tied)
21. HEC Paris
22. ESADE Business School – Spain
23. UCLA Anderson
24. Oxford Saïd (tied)
24. Cornell Johnson (tied)

(You can read about the FT’s ranking methodology here.)

A few points of interest (from the FT’s lead article)

  • 51 of the top 100 schools are located in the U.S. including 6 schools in the top 10.
  • 26 of the top 100 schools are located in Europe. London Business School is the top school in that region.
  • 14 of the top 100 schools are located in Asia (up from 12 last year). Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is the top b-school in that region.
  • Since 1999 when the FT began publishing MBA rankings, only four schools have ranked in first place: HBS, Stanford GSB, Wharton, and London Business School.
  • The male-female salary gap this year has narrowed for the first time. Instead of the traditional $20,000 pay gap (three years post-graduation), the gap is down to $10,000 at $126,000 average salary for women and $136,000 average salary for men.

FYI: Poets & Quants published a critique of the 2013 FT ranking in “Stanford Alums Make the Most Dough.” In this article, John Byrne, rankings savant and designer of the original BW rankings, points out anomalies and weaknesses in the FT results.

MBA50 provides additional analysis in “The FT Full-Time MBA Ranking 2013 – Winners and Losers.” Its final line sums up all the hub-bub about rankings – any rankings – beautifully: “Only you can work out the best business school in the world…for you.” ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Current Student Interview – Daniel from ESADE

ESADE graduate - Daniel Helmhold

ESADE graduate – Daniel Helmhold

Here’s a talk with Daniel Helmhold who just graduated from ESADE Business School in Barcelona (with one semester at UC Berkeley Haas). Thank you Daniel for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!

This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from? What and where did you study as an undergraduate and when did you graduate? 

Daniel: I was born and raised in Cupertino, California, in the heart of the Silicon Valley. My first job in high school was as a computer salesman at CompUSA and ever since, I knew that my career would be within the technology industry. I went to the University of California at Davis and after spending a semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain I very happily changed my majors to Spanish and International Relations, in which I ultimately earned my BA.

Accepted: Why did you choose to study at ESADE? Why go so far from home?

Daniel: ESADE’s draw was very clear – an extremely diverse student body and a focus on learning the nuances of international business in a location where I could continue to grow my Spanish language skills.

Accepted: What was your favorite thing about living in Barcelona? Least favorite?

Daniel: My favorite thing about Barcelona was the constant opportunity to improve my Spanish. My least favorite part was probably the lack of high quality, diverse food options other than Spanish food.

Accepted: Since you’ve spent time at MBA programs in the U.S. and abroad, can you share some insight into the different approaches these two institutions took?

Daniel: Comparing the two programs, ESADE clearly had a more global focus. International case studies enhanced by astute discussions by an equally international student body led to a wealth of viewpoints and very engaging debates and discussions. Haas, on the other hand, had more of an emphasis on U.S. businesses, focusing on technology and business in the Silicon Valley in particular. I think both specializations were very valuable, but unique in their value proposition to potential students.

Accepted: How central to ESADE student life is club involvement? Which clubs or extracurricular activities were you involved in and what did you gain from the experience?

Daniel: Club involvement was very central to student life and a part of the MBA that I was very involved in. I was founder and President of the ESADE Technology Club, an activity that I took great pride in and poured a great deal of time and effort into. Being involved in the club scene at an officer level gave me the chance to mold the Club, maximizing the value for its members. I worked with school administration, 3rd party organizations, alumni and students to plan events and create a healthy forum for discussion around a shared passion of many students: technology.

Accepted: You worked at Google for many years before pursuing your MBA. Can you tell us about your experience?

Daniel: I was amazingly fortunate to spend 5 years at Google prior to attending ESADE. Starting right after undergrad, I joined the company just before it went public. At Google, I was able to observe just how successful a company can be when based on a great product and driven by intelligent, highly competent, extremely motivated young people. I learned a lot about online marketing, sales and how to succeed in a high tech company. Although I’ve moved on to new opportunities I am and always will be an unapologetic Google fan-boy.

Accepted: What role did ESADE play in helping you secure your current job at Kabam?

Daniel: ESADE helped me to secure my internship at IBM which gave me the experience I needed to successfully transition into Product Marketing from Sales. That combined with interview skills gained through various Career Services activities and the general business expertise acquired in class provided me with the knowledge needed to succeed in my interviews with Kabam.

For one-on-one guidance on the ESADE application, please see our ESADE Business School packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for UC Berkeley Haas, see Linda’s 2013 UC Berkeley Haas Business School MBA Essay Tips. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

2013 Virtual Panel European MBA Admissions Adcom Interview Available Online

International Experience

Some of the benefits of pursuing a European MBA.

Thank you so much to Marie-Laurence Lemaire, HEC Paris Senior Development Manager, Jeroen Verhoeven, ESADE MBA and Executive Masters and Associate Director of Admissions, and Lisa Piguet, IMD Assistant Director of MBA Admissions and Marketing for an outstanding panel discussion about the European b-school experience.

In the following excerpt, our panelists discussed some of the benefits of pursuing a European MBA.

Linda Abraham: Diego asks “Why choose a European MBA instead of a U.S. MBA? What is the main difference/advantages?”

Marie-Laurence Lemaire
: Yes, this is a tough one…Well, a simple question, what do you want to do after your MBA? If you want to work in the U.S. and be happy with your job…stay in the U.S. and you will be happy. You will get a great education, because you have great schools there, highly ranked and so on, so that’s fine. But if you want to have a really strong diversity, get mixed up with different cultures, people coming from all over the world to have a very rich sharing of experience from people coming from countries that are so remote, sometimes you don’t even know where they are on the map, an MBA in Europe is really the place. I’m sure in Spain, in Switzerland, as well, this is happening, but really the major difference between doing an MBA in Europe or doing an MBA in the U.S., [is] if you want to make that jump into becoming international and to have that experience, an MBA in Europe would be the big difference that it will make on your CV.

Lisa Piguet: Sure. I’m American, I actually can relate to the person who asked that question….The one thing about the U.S. is that you have a different kind of…education process there. But [regarding the] international focus of Europe, the programs here, it’s very different…for example, I would be sitting in a class of 90…but everybody spoke like me. They might have considered themselves Mexican, for example, or Argentinean, but in fact, they were born and raised in the U.S. just like I was. But in the European schools…you’ll actually see the true international diversity that is represented worldwide. So in our program this year, we have 46 nationalities with 90 MBAs, and they’re true…we have one Swiss….There are still a lot of multinational headquarters here and a lot of people want to work in those companies, with the hopes of going elsewhere. I think Europe is one of those places you can do that. Like Marie said, if you really want to stay in the U.S., you’re probably going to attend a 2-year program and you probably will end up staying in the U.S., more likely than not….If you want a global career, my advice is to go to Europe.

Jeroen Verhoeven: I’m completely in line with Lisa and Marie…but I would also link that somehow to back home in the United States, [you] somehow have a differentiating factor. There are a lot of top, top schools in the U.S., but there’s also a lot of different people who go to those schools. If you can present yourself in front of a group to having said, “Okay, I’ve done my MBA in Switzerland, in France, in Spain,” it is definitely something different. It will make you stand out. Standing out, I think, is very important when you’re looking for a job….Competition comes from anywhere, anytime.” So in order to be successful in that fast-changing, interconnected world, having that cultural savviness, hopefully with some additional languages, as well, that can really give you the added advantage to land a job also back home, not even including all the interesting options that we might offer in Europe…I think there are a lot of additional advantages, apart from the cultural richness that you can have, studying here in Europe…from a business perspective, there’s also a clear added value to considering European options.

For the complete discussion, please see the 2013 European Virtual Panel transcript and mp3 audio file.

Still not sure where you should apply, or even if you should apply at all? Check out our B-School Zones for detailed info on individual MBA programs (in Europe or anywhere else) and our Why MBA special report for tips on answering the big “Why MBA?” essay question.

To automatically receive notices about these MBA admissions chats and other MBA admissions events, please subscribe to our MBA event list. To listen to the Q&A recordings on-the-go, please subscribe to the Accepted Admissions Podcast. ~ Helping You Write Your Best


ESADE 2012 Application Questions, Deadlines, and Tips



Barcelona Skyline

Tips for the ESADE 2012 MBA Application are in blue below.

What makes you YOU?

Today there is a growing need for outstanding business leaders who excel in their field and adapt quickly to the changing needs of the market.

Companies look to us for future leaders – people whose expertise and entrepreneurial abilities are flexible and suit a variety of leadership roles. Your drive and motivation and the individual qualities that you bring to the table are your best selling points and are what will enrich your team members most.

It is this individuality, together with the diversity at ESADE and our commitment to leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship that make us what we are: a talent pool for the business leaders of tomorrow.

The following questions are designed to help us get a more complete picture of who you are and the impact that you will have both here at ESADE and on society after completing your MBA.

Please respond openly, explaining what makes you the person that you are and who you will become.

Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Flexibility, Internationalism… these are the main qualities of Spanish business school ESADE, which strives to form business leaders with a deep sense of ethics and responsibility to society.

Strong in GM, Green Tech and Social Enterprise, the program’s main strengths are its flexibility (the option to do the program in 12, 15 or 18 months), its global focus (exchanges and internships with over 100 universities worldwide; a 70-75% international student body), and its highly collaborative atmosphere (small class size, close interaction with professors, flexible curriculum.)

Each question is limited to 2000 characters, which is roughly 1 page, double-spaced

Essay 1. Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this? (*)

Bam! Opening with a “self-improvement” essay sets the bar for the rest of the application. Only highly self-aware individuals can aspire to that special combination of flexibility/adaptability and solidity that makes the kind of future leader ESADE seeks.

Why did you choose your studies? What weaknesses or aspects did you choose to improve at school? Why? How? Why and how did you choose your job(s)? What have you improved through them? How?

If there is room, you can extrapolate to what, how and why you will do in a similar vein during the MBA program.

Essay 2. How will your background, values and non work-related activities enhance the experience of other ESADE MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at ESADE? (Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have accomplished) (*)

Why would someone want to sit next to you in class for one or two years? What would they get from your presence? What makes you tick? Where did it come from? Those are the questions you should ask yourself when writing this essay. A chronological approach usually works best here. Discuss some salient points about growing up that illustrate your environment, the values you inculcated, the things you discovered; and mention the inflection points that inform who you are today. Continue up until today. Describe the personal choices you made and why you made them. And how will all of this enhance the experience for your classmates?

Essay 3. What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about ESADE you think will help you reach your goals? (*)

The classic goal question with a twist: it doesn’t start with your short-term –immediate post-MBA— goals. Are you applying to ESADE in hopes of going into consulting immediately after graduation? What if that doesn’t happen? Step away from your immediate goals and show where you hope to be in 5 years, and then in 10 or 15 years. How will you get there? How will ESADE specifically help? Think in broad terms: the school’s strengths and values; but also in more focused terms such as particular classes, professors and initiatives.

Essay 4.    Complete two of the following four questions or statements (*)

Multiple choice questions are a great way to either drill down into an aspect of your personality or career that summarizes what you are made of, or to discuss an issue that is dear to you. It’s all a question of balance. If you feel that you’ve said enough about your professional profile in the previous questions, use this to balance things out with a more personal story. If you feel that you’ve only given a superficial view of your career so far, use this to get more detailed. If you have a particular hobby or activity or quality or value that you were unable to discuss in detail elsewhere, discuss it here. (Please see “MBA Essay Questions: The Jokers)

Finally, look at the values of the school: International, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Leadership…if these qualities don’t stand out in the other essays, use this space to illustrate one or several of them.

a) I am most proud of…

What is the single event or issue that defines who you are today and where you have ended up? It doesn’t have to be “big” but it does have to be meaningful. Don’t forget to add why it is important to you. If possible, extrapolate to your longer-term vision.

b) People may be surprised to learn that I…

Ditto the advice for option A, but this can also be a great opportunity to discuss something unique about you, like a hobby, an activity, a risk you’ve taken, a decision you’ve made. Again, it doesn’t have to be big, but it should be meaningful and give more insight into your personality. What did you learn? And how did that learning affect you?

c) What has your biggest challenge been and what did it help you learn about yourself?

“Challenge” is an open-ended term in this experiential question. Discussing a failure would work well here. Or, you can discuss a turning point in your life or career that brought you to the proverbial fork in the road. This could also be about managing the unknown, or about your toughest professional experience. Whatever you choose to discuss, make sure that you describe the experience itself, what you learnt from it and how it has impacted you (or those around you.)

d) Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?

Which past figure incarnates your values and aspirations? Which historical figure inspires you? This demands both knowledge of the personality and his/her life, but also of yourself: why does this person’s life resonate with yours? How can you align the two of you without sounding arrogant? Choose wisely and avoid the “usual suspects” unless you have something personal or unique to add to the conversation. Saying that Ayn Rand inspired you to enter finance is, in my mind, an automatic ding. Discussing your admiration for Gandhi if you’ve never been involved in similar activities could be suspect. And let Steve Jobs rest in peace a little while longer.

Essay 5. Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT or any other relevant information. (*)

Again, an open-ended question from a school that is clearly interested in hearing about you-the-person. However, mind the word “relevant” and stay away from fluff. This may be about your stats, a gap year, why you did not get a letter from your immediate supervisor, and so on. It could also be about how your teenage fascination with X sets the stage for your involvement with the school’s Y initiative. 

Staged Application Deadlines for 2012 Intake:

Application Completed            Decisions Awarded    
October 21 November 18
December 2 January 13
January 27 February 24
February 24 March 16
April 13 May 4
June 1 June 22
July 6 July 20


If you would like professional guidance with your ESADE application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our ESADE School MBA Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the ESADE MBA application.

Tanis Kmetyk By Paris-based editor , who has well over a decade of experience advising applicants to top MBA programs. She’d be happy to share her expertise with you when you apply too.

Be sure to check out the rest of our 2012 MBA application essay tips.

Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn