Narrowing down the best business schools is proving trickier for MBA aspirants, as the diversity on display in Bloomberg Businessweek’s latest MBA ranking proves. The global market may be in decline, but in contrast to the US, demand is on the rise in Europe, Canada, and the Asia Pacific.
Bloomberg’s 2019-20 list is broken down into four regions: Europe, Asia Pacific, Canada and the US. The results are based on 26,804 survey responses from MBA students, alumni and recruiters on their experiences and career success.
The ranking is based on factors such as compensation, networking, learning and entrepreneurship, but is often criticized because it does not include admissions standards.
Best business schools in the US
In the US, Stanford GSB in California came up trumps in the ranking, maintaining a position it held in the last list. It came top for compensation, which was as high as $158,000 in the financial sector, and also for entrepreneurship, which reflects its close links to Silicon Valley’s startup and investor community.
US schools performed strongly across the board when it came to salary, which reflects their record-breaking year for employment outcomes. A throng of top institutions, among them Chicago Booth and Darden at Virginia, reported record employment rates and starting salaries for their most recent graduating class, amid the strong US economy and tight labor market.
The big surprise in the US list was Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business rising 17 places to second on the back of improved scores for networking and learning. This shocked some in the industry because Tuck suffered a steep drop in MBA applications last year and a resulting rise in acceptance rates.
The rise in rank being attributed in part to the school’s network is unsurprising, however, given that Tuck has a strong reputation for its tight-knit community. Harvard retained its third-place finish, the same as Bloomberg's 2018 Best Business Schools Ranking.
Best European business schools
In Europe, IMD topped the ranking for the second year on the bounce, also scoring highly on compensation, networking, and learning. INSEAD was ranked second, beating London Business School, which fell to third.
IMD graduates’ highest salaries were in the consumer goods industries, where students made a whopping $196,000. IMD also came top for networking in Europe, which reflects its small class sizes, and top for learning, due in no small part to the diversity of the cohort, which enriches the learning experience through group discussion.
European schools have long boasted far more international student bodies than their peers in the US, and this has helped some to perform well in the Bloomberg ranking. It’s also one reason why they are bucking a global downturn in MBA demand, with many European schools reporting strong increases in MBA applications, especially from overseas students.
Best Asian business schools
The Asia Pacific region is another rising force in business education, with applications growing strongly there. CEIBS in Shanghai is the top school in the region for the second year. Bloomberg ranked HKUST in Hong Kong second for the second consecutive year, while NUS in Singapore moved up one place to third.
CEIBS came up trumps because it performed strongly across all the key metrics, coming second for compensation, learning and networking, for instance. However, the salaries achieved were far lower in US dollar terms than peer schools in the US and Europe. This is because Bloomberg does not adjust salaries for purchasing power parity, which can inflate the salaries of students in countries with a low cost of living, like many emerging markets. In other rankings, PPP sometimes penalizes US schools whose students tend to stay in the US to work.
The Indian School of Business was a new entrant to the ranking in fourth place, and it scored first for learning and networking, which helped its students achieve a record year for employment outcomes.
Top MBAs in Canada
Canada got its own ranking this year, which reflects its growing strength as a standalone MBA provider. Applications have been growing in Canada, which has picked up some of the overseas students who are put off the US by its anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Canada’s strength is its more open immigration policy and strong jobs market, with overseas students able to find jobs and settle in the country relatively easily, if they wish.
The Ivey school came top, boosted by its top scores for compensation, learning, and networking. It also came fifth for entrepreneurship, which Bloomberg recently introduced as a metric in response to schools’ concerns that they were being penalized for their students launching companies, and earning relatively modest salaries in the process.
Queen’s Smith business school climbed one place to second, while Toronto’s Rotman school, a new entrant, was ranked third.