10 Business Schools To Watch In 2021

These 10 business schools are set to make a positive impact in 2021, with exciting new programs, innovations, and MBA ranking success

Business schools in 2021 need to be more flexible, innovative, and ready to adapt to change than ever before.

Schools have re-evaluated the way they operate in recent months, responding to challenges posed by coronavirus, political change, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Meanwhile, campus closures and travel restrictions have forced the majority of schools to operate at least partly online, part of a wider shift to hybrid working.

In 2021, the schools ready to make their mark will lead coronavirus relief efforts, launch innovative new programs, and offer more affordable, high-quality, flexible learning experiences for MBA and master’s students.

Here are 10 business schools you need to watch in 2021:


1. Helping business through coronavirus: Cambridge Judge


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First on our list is Cambridge University’s Judge School of Business, for its work supporting companies impacted by coronavirus. In April 2020, Judge MBA students Srishti Warman and Matt Lisonbee set out to help SMEs turned upside down by the pandemic—while putting new skills they learned at Judge to good use.

The pair called their initiative Cambridge Judge against COVID-19 (CJAC), which offered free consulting services to almost 50 small companies, mostly based in the UK. These companies ranged in scope from edtech to finance and consumer goods, and from fledgling startups to long-established businesses.

In the end, almost 100 Judge MBAs volunteered for the project. In the new year, it will be exciting to see how students support their community in the long recovery ahead.


2. Championing women in business: ESSEC Business School


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As of 2020, just 38% of full-time MBA students were women—despite the many benefits that business school offers women, from improved confidence and leadership skills to significant salary growth.

Some schools are working to improve women’s representation, however, and ESSEC Business School in France is a great example. In 2020, the school recruited an MBA cohort that was 68% women—up 12% compared to 2019.

ESSEC’s gender diversity isn’t limited to the MBA classroom, either. 50% of board members and 35% of faculty are also female. To support the many women graduating from its MBA, new alumni can tap into the Women’s MBA Network, which offers a space for supportive relationships to form between female leaders.


3. Claiming the top spot: Harvard Business School


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In 2020, Harvard Business School claimed the number one spot on the Financial Times’ Global MBA Rankings for the first time since 2015, having been pipped at the post last year by rival Stanford.

This announcement also marks the sixth time Harvard has claimed the top spot in the rankings’ 21-year history, coming out on top thanks to rising graduate salaries and glowing alumni testimonials. 

Harvard is one to watch out for when it comes to diversity, too. The proportion of female students in its MBA cohort has been steadily increasing, and currently sits at 43%, while international student representation is holding steady at 37%. 

Harvard is equally notable for its efforts to highlight Black business leaders, through initiatives like professor John Rogers’ work to bring case studies featuring Black protagonists into the classroom. These efforts are especially crucial as coronavirus exacerbates inequality, and more people engage with movements like Black Lives Matter.


4. Rankings hopper: Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Antai


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Racing through last year’s MBA rankings is the Antai College of Economics and Management at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai.

Last year, the school ranked 51 in the FT’s Global MBA Rankings, but jumped 14 places to 37 in 2020. Antai saw an equally impressive rise in the QS Global MBA Rankings, shooting from the 111-120 category in 2019, to 61 in 2020. 

The rise can be traced back to a few factors, the most significant being graduate salaries. MBAs graduating from the program can expect a starting salary that is 201% higher than what they earned before starting the program—$130,736 on average. 

If this upward trend continues, 2021 will be an exciting year for Antai students and alumni. 


5. Making a social impact: IESE Business School


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Barcelona’s IESE Business School is one to watch for corporate social responsibility...

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