When IE Business School first launched an Executive MBA program in the early 1980s, rival academics in Spain were aghast. They saw the program as an overtly commercial gesture that would possibly cheapen full-time MBA programs that were the norm. The dispute even spilled onto the cover of a prominent Spanish business magazine.
“Our colleagues from ohter schools criticized us because they said an Executive MBA was an improper program,” recalls Santiago Iniguez de Onzono, dean of IE Business School. “At that time, the thinking was a truly academic institution should only run full-time programs. We didn’t fear those criticisms because we have always been very disruptive and experimental.”
Good thing. Today, thanks to that early lead, IE Business School in Madrid is one of the European leaders in granting advanced degrees to executives and managers. Roughly half of its 30 master’s programs in business are for executives who are juggling their careers with study toward a graduate degee.
And now, in an inaugural ranking of the best Executive MBA programs outside North America by Poets&Quants, IE Business School is number one. The school roundly beat out such powerhouse European rivals as INSEAD, London Business School and IMD to claim the top spot.
The P&Q ranking is a composite of the three most influential global ratings of EMBA programs by BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. To compile this new list, all three rankings were given equal weight and combined. A program with a number one ranking scored 100 points, with number two scoring 99 points, and so forth. The scores were then toted up and converted into an index so users could see how far ahead or behind one school’s program is from another.
One of the biggest surprises is the distance separating IE’s Executive MBA programs versus any other school. With an index score of 100, it is nearly 33 points ahead of No. 2 INSEAD which has an index score of 67.3. In comparison, the Poets&Quants ranking of the best EMBA programs in North America, No. 1 Wharton and No. 2 Chicago are separated by only 3.3 index points.
Why? IE is given a significant advantage in our ranking because its EMBA programs are recognized by all three of the major ratings–the only school in the top five with that distinction. With a sixth place finish, the Spanish business school greatly outscored its European competition in the BusinessWeek ranking and more than held its own in The Financial Times ranking. The result: IE was able to rack up a much higher score than either INSEAD, IMD, or London Business School.
More than any other European player, moreover, IE has aggressively build out a wide variety of executive degree programs. In addition to its bi-weekly international Executive MBA, the schools has an international EMBA online and a new and highly creative Executive MBA partnership with Brown University. The school also offers master’s programs online in such specialized areas as finance, digital marketing, biotechnology, and sports management.