The Economist/Which MBA? ranked executive MBA programs for the first time ever this year. The plan is continue ranking EMBA programs on an annual basis.
As you’ll see, Northwestern Kellogg emerges as the clear winner occupying four of the top ten slots.
You’ll also notice the popularity of joint programs, and how joint programs fare better than a school’s standalone program. For example, UCLA-NUS EMBA ranks in third place, while UCLA’s EMBA ranks in eleventh and NUS’s in forty-third.
Also noteworthy: Most schools in the top ten are based in the U.S., while Spain makes a considerable appearance with IE and IESE in second and fifth place respectively.
2013 EMBA Program Rankings (B-School Name followed by Program Name)
1. Northwestern Kellogg / Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA
2. IE / Global Executive MBA
3. UCLA Anderson-National University of Singapore / UCLA-NUS Executive MBA
4. Oxford Said / Executive MBA
5. IESE / Global Executive MBA
6. Northwestern Kellogg-Hong Kong UST / Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA
7. Northwestern Kellogg-WHU Otto Beisheim / Kellogg-WHO Executive MBA
8. Northwestern Kellogg / Executive MBA
9. Chicago Booth / Executive MBA
10. IMD / Executive MBA
The Economist examines two broad criteria when evaluating business programs: career development and personal development/educational experience. You can read about The Economist’s methodology here.
It may just be me, but I reviewed The Economist’s criteria, and they didn’t make much sense to me. While I didn’t feel as strongly as John Byrne of Poets and Quants for Execs, who provides a scathing critique of The Economist EMBA rankings in “Where in the World is Wharton.” He (along with a bunch of commenters on The Economist site) notes that Wharton is absent from these rankings entirely. And Wharton is joined in absentia by London Business School, INSEAD, Duke, NYU and USC, all highly regarded Executive MBA programs. Leaving out these heavy hitters compromises the credibility of the entire rankings. P&Q speculates that these programs simply didn’t want to take the time to participate in yet another ranking.
However the confusion is not just with the rankings methodology and what’s really being measured here. The results are more than a little surprising. The University of Bath’s EMBA program is ranked 11 while Columbia’s program is ranked 19 (in the C grouping), behind Bath (B), Florida Hough (B), ESSEC (C), and Cox (C). I have nothing against the latter programs, but I find it hard to believe that they are “better” than Columbia’s.
And that of course highlights one of the conundrums of rankings. If a specific ranking yields surprising results, most people doubt their validity. If they yield expected results, they are credible, but really add very little value to our comparisons or understanding of the options. They just confirm common notions of reputation and brand.
And that leads to the point I have made again and again: Determine what’s important to you in a school. Then rank the programs yourself.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.