2009 BusinessWeek Ranking of EMBA Programs

by John A. Byrne on

Another rather obvious flaw with the BusinessWeek methodology concerns its polling of EMBA directors. It can be argued that directors know little, if anything, about the EMBA programs at other schools. So their completion of the survey is little more than a reflection of general reputation and even BusinessWeek’s own ranking. That turns out to be less true in the EMBA field, though this flaw is a very real possibility. Nonetheless, if you knew the director of the Executive MBA program at Wharton and were interested in an EMBA outside either Philadelphia or San Francisco where Penn has programs, you would no doubt ask him for his opinion and it would likely carry considerable weight. What BusinessWeek is doing is making the views of as many of these EMBA leaders available to you.

It’s important to note that BusinessWeek excludes partnership programs from its EMBA ranking. As a result, some excellent Executive MBA programs such as Berkeley-Columbia, London Business School-Columbia, and Trium, the joint venture among New York University, the London School of Economics and HEC Paris get no exposure in this ranking. The reason: BW believes that assessing one school programs against those that have several parents is like comparing apples and oranges.

Nevertheless, the biggest differences in the BW ranking over the years have to do with the size and the composition of the best list. Only 20 schools were ranked in 1991 and none of them were outside the U.S. In 2009 (BW does this ranking every other year in early November), the magazine named a top 25 and then 25 other so-called “second-tier” schools with the best EMBA programs. Seven of the top 25 programs are outside the U.S., with Spain’s IE Business School scoring first in the graduate poll.

IE Business School was the biggest winner in the 2009 survey, jumping to a rank of sixth from 15 two years earlier, the largest increase of any school. Other winners were newcomers to the Top 25: No. 20 Notre Dame, No. 21 Case Western, No. 22 Texas-Dallas, and No. 23 Boston University. Other winners: New York’s Stern School rose five spots to 14th from 19th in 2007. IESE and ESADE both jumped four places, to 13th from 17th and to 17th from 21st, respectively.

The single biggest loser in 2009: Cornell’s Johnson School whose EMBA program fell from a rank of 13 in 2007 to second-tier status in 2009—a drop of at least 13 places. Other losers: Georgetown fell to 18th place from 12th in 2007, while Emory dropped five places to 12th from a rank of seventh. London Business School slipped four spots to 24th from 20th two years earlier.

How have these EMBA programs fared over the years in the BusinessWeek ranking? Have a look at the table on the next page. It provides every EMBA ranking BusinessWeek has done starting with the inaugural rating in 1991. The magazine failed to do another EMBA survey until ten years later in 2001. Since then, BusinessWeek has taken a look at these programs every other year. To see how the 2009 BusinessWeek ranking compares to our own 2011 list of the best programs as well as the latest ratings from The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and U.S. News & World Report, click here.

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