Top 25 2015 Global MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)
1. Harvard Business School, USA (1)
2. London Business School, UK (3)
3. UPenn Wharton, USA (4)
4. Stanford GSB, USA (2)
5. INSEAD, France/Singapore (5)
6. Columbia Business School, USA (5)
7. IESE, Spain (7)
8. MIT Sloan, USA (8)
9. Chicago Booth, USA (9)
10. UC Berkeley Haas, USA (11)
11. CEIBS, China (17)
12. IE Business School, Spain (13)
13. Cambridge Judge, UK (16)
14. HKUST, China (14)
15. Northwestern Kellogg, USA (15)
16. HEC Paris, France (21)
17. Yale SOM, USA (10)
18. NYU Stern, USA (17)
19. ESADE Business School, Spain (22)
20. IMD, Switzerland (12)
21. Duke Fuqua, USA (17)
22. Oxford Saïd, UK (23)
23. Dartmouth Tuck, USA (20)
24. Michigan Ross, USA (23)
25. UCLA Anderson, USA (26)
The big news is how little the top 10 changed. More significant movement occurred outside the top 10, as is typical of most rankings. Here are some highlights:
• New to the top 10 in 2015 is UC Berkeley Haas which climbed one spot from 11th place last year to 10th place this year.
• Yale SOM, on the other hand, lost its top-10 berth and fell 7 places from 10th place last year to 17th place this year.
• Big jumpers in the top 25 include HEC Paris which moved from 21st place in 2014 to 16th place in 2015, and CEIBS which jumped from 17th place last year to 11th this year.
• IMD fell 8 slots this year from 12th place to 20th place. For possible reasons behind the drop, please see “5 Key IMD Officials Resign.”
• 7 of the top 10 business schools in 2015 are programs in the USA, which is the same number as last year.
• This is the third year in a row that Harvard Business School snagged the first place position.
• Further down the rankings (top 50), we see more big jumpers, including Imperial College Business School (UK) which jumped from 49th place in 2014 to 34th place this year; Manchester Business School (UK) which went from 43rd to 35th place; The Lisbon MBA (Portugal) which jumped from 52nd to 36th place; and Lancaster University Management School (UK) which jumped from 77th place to 50th place.
• The school that fell the most in the top 50 was Warwick Business School (UK) which fell from 25th place in 2014 to 38th place in 2015.
• Overall the FT rankings reflect the growing strength of Asian and European business schools.
The Financial Times rankings measure average salaries of alumni along with several other factors. Its lead article on the rankings notes that “the financial returns from completing a full-time MBA have fallen over the past three years and while a graduate can still expect to nearly double their salary, the average boost to earnings is down by almost a third from the qualification’s heyday.” It continues to explain that this is particularly true among b-schools in the U.S. (which account for 50 of the top 100 global programs). For an excellent critique of the FT methodology, please see P&Q’s analysis.
Here are some additional highlights from that article:
• In 2015, MBAs who were three years post-MBA reported salary increases of 92%. This is compared to 110% in 2012 and 153% in 2002 and 2003.
• In 2003, b-school alumni from 82% of programs ranked saw salary increases of more than 120% over 4-5 years post-MBA. This year, only 7% saw the equivalent increase.
• A factor contributing to this trend is the drop in MBAs heading into finance and banking (25% in 2015 compared to 29% in 2005). Survey respondents from the finance sector reported an average salary of $152,000 compared to the overall average salary of respondents of $133,000.
In terms of the flaws in the FT rankings, I suggest you see Poets & Quants excellent critique.
I also suggest you read “Boost to earning from MBAs falls.” The article reflects on the decline in earnings increase from the MBA as well as the weakness in the graduate business education market outside the top tier.
The two are related. Grads from the top business schools by definition snag the highest salaries and sometimes the biggest increase in salaries. The lower ranked schools are struggling to compete, keep themselves affordable, and provide an ROI. Consequently several traditional two-year programs have closed – notably Thunderbird and Wake Forest. One-year programs and specialized masters are increasingly popular and experiencing increasing recruiter demand along with ROI.
For you as a prospective student, you need to focus not on the overall trend in salary increase for MBAs, and not even your ROI today vs what it maybe could have been 13 years ago when you were middle school, but your anticipated return on investment today and which degree is most likely to maximize it.
Frankly 92% increase in salary can be a phenomenal increase depending on where you start at and what you paid for it. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving since the increased salary continues and usually climbs annually for the rest of your career.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.