INSEAD is the world’s best business school for the second year on the trot, according to the 2017 Financial Times Global MBA Ranking that saw several heavyweights lose ground, and US and Spanish schools triumph.
Stanford Graduate School of Business in California rose from fifth place in 2016 to second — a spot it hasn’t held since 2014. The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania is in third.
Prestigious schools lost ground. Harvard Business School, London Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management — all top dogs in business education — were usurped by competitors. Harvard fell two places to fourth, the first time in nine years that it has been outside of the top-three. LBS fall three places to sixth, it’s poorest showing in 14 years. MIT Sloan meanwhile fell to No. 13 — the first time in a decade that it has been outside of the top-10.
Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge jumped five places to No. 5, claiming the title of the UK’s top business school.
The FT’s ranking is based on surveys of business schools and their graduates of 2013. MBA programs are assessed according to the career progression of their alumni, the school’s idea generation and the diversity of students and faculty.
Stanford’s MBAs have the fattest salaries on average — $195,000 — but the top-15 MBA programs are closely matched in terms of income, career progress and satisfaction. All but one of the top MBA courses have alumni salaries over $150,000 — a salary increase of at least 100% on pre-MBA pay.
INSEAD is recognized for a one-year program, a strong international culture, owing to its two campuses in France and Singapore, and an extensive alumni network. The FT ranked INSEAD third for international mobility and sixth for international course experience.
US business schools have a strong showing. Their number in the FT’s ranking of the 100 best programs hit 51, after falling to 47 in 2016. Six of the eight new or returning schools are from the US.
Among those, Rutgers Business School in New Jersey is the highest new entrant at No. 70. W.P Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is the highest returner to the rankings at No 57. Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina comes in at No. 77. Moore is top overall for international course experience.
The rankings come at a tough time for US business schools, with applications to MBA programs falling in most US institutions in 2016, and the immigration rhetoric of Donald Trump putting off foreign students studying there.
Spanish business schools did well. The nation’s three representatives have risen in the ranking. IE Business School shot up four places to No. 8, the first time since 2012 that the Madrid school is back in the top-10. IESE Business School rose four places to No. 10.
As did Australian schools. Sydney’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management is the country’s top-placed institution at No. 49.
Canadian business schools continued to fall. Only three remain in the FT’s global top-100 compared with five last year — and all of them fell roughly six places. Roman School of Management at University of Toronto is the highest ranked at No. 65.
Annual MBA rankings are a key tool, which business schools use to market their MBA programs.
They provide a comparative tool for prospective MBA candidates, who often evaluate business schools on how prestigious they are.
However, rankings have been critiqued for the fact that subtle changes in data can lead to big swings in schools’ fortunes, and the reality that there is little to distinguish the top schools.
In any case, prospective business school candidates should consider other factors in choosing which MBA programs to apply for, including cost of tuition, program duration, and location.