Our 2014 Ranking Of The World’s Best Executive MBA Programs

by John A. Byrne on

Gleacher_1

Sometimes, the new model is just better than the old one.

After a significant overhaul to its Executive MBA program last year, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business emerged as having the best EMBA in the world, according to the new 2014 composite ranking by Poets&Quants.

Chicago, which was second last year, nosed out the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School for first place honors. Wharton had held a tight grip on first since Poets&Quants began ranking EMBA programs four years ago.

KELLOGG, IE BUSINESS SCHOOL & DUKE UNIVERSITY’S FUQUA SCHOOL ROUND OUT THE TOP FIVE

Rounding out the top five are No. 3 Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, No. 4 IE Business School, the highest rank ever achieved by a non-U.S. school in the ranking, and No. 5 Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Though there were many changes up and down the list of the 49 ranked programs, the biggest surprise was Chicago’s emergence at the top. At a time when many institutions are lightening the workloads of their Executive MBA programs and awarding the degree for less work, Chicago continues to have one of the most rigorous and academically challenging programs in the world.

Despite predictions by some that EMBA programs may suffer due to fast growth in online MBA degree programs, applications this past year at Booth are up, says Patty Keegan, associate dean of the EMBA program. She attributes the rise to a recent program refresh and a decision to move its Singapore cohort this year to Hong Kong so the school will have a closer presence to China. “Applicants say they love the changes,” adds Keegan. “It’s clear from the beginning that this is a global program.”

The school last year increased the international exchange portion of the program to five weeks from four, doubled the number of required electives so that students can specialize in a discipline track, and tossed into the program a full menu of leadership exercises that had long been an entry hallmark of its full-time MBA experience.

FOR BOOTH: NO PARTNERS AND IT FLIES ITS PROFESSORS FROM CHICAGO TO TEACH IN LONDON & HONG KONG

Booth also added a three-month-long capstone course that will provide the opportunity for students to integrate concepts and tools from much of the curriculum in a multi-round simulation culminating in presentations to a panel of investor-judges. The simulation requires competing teams of students to maximize revenue for a fictitious company.

Booth’s 21-month program is taught at campuses in Chicago, London and Hong Kong. The school has more than 500 students studying in its Executive MBA program on campuses in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Still, Chicago maintains unusually tight control of the program’s quality. Booth doesn’t partner with other schools, preferring instead to fly its professors from Chicago to London and Hong Kong to teach. Though costly and hard to scale, the practice allows Booth to parade its most seasoned faculty before its most experienced students.

At the beginning of the program, all students take a course in analytical methods to refresh their understanding of quantitative methods and statistics so that they have the right foundation. Each course has one or two PhD students who are teaching assistants for the professors. They, too are flown to London and Hong Kong, so that they are available to students during class weeks. Both faculty and teaching assistants are evaluated by students, and the feedback is regularly used to improve the courses.

THE HIGHLY RANKED EMBA PROGRAMS ARE AMONG THE MOST EXPENSIVE MBA DEGREES IN THE WORLD

None of this comes cheap. For the U.S. class that starts in June, the tuition and fees come to $168,000, up $14,000 from just two years ago. The cost includes hotel accommodations for three weeks in Chicago, a week in London and a week in Hong Kong, but not airfare.

Though fewer corporations are footing the bills for these programs, the cost of them continues to rise. For students in the cohort that started in Kellogg’s EMBA program in January, the tuition bill will be roughly $176,600. For the latest EMBA classes at Wharton, students entering the program this month at the school’s home campus in Philadelphia will pay a whopping $181,500 in tuition and fees, up from $171,360 only a year ago. Self-sponsored students must pay the tuition—the highest of any MBA program in the world—in six equal installments at the beginning of each semester.

Rank tends to influence the price of an EMBA. The highly ranked schools often have the highest price points. Last year, for example, the average cost of an Executive MBA program was $73,400—much lower than the price tags at either Wharton, Kellogg or Booth, which sit at the top of the market. While most of these schools hand out considerable scholarship money to full-time MBAs, there’s no money available to discount the cost of these EMBA programs. In fact, for the very first time ever, Chicago’s graduating cohort in London asked that a portion of  their graduation gift to the school be set aside for token scholarships to incoming EMBA students.

1 2 3 4
  • Guest

    Tortured, pseudo-analytical composite rankings aside, nobody believes that Chicago/Booth has a better EMBA program than Wharton.

    • Guest 2

      I call bu11shit on your claim of “nobody”. Obviously someone (P&Q, BW, Econ, FT, and many other people) believe it.

      • Guest

        Not even the author of this article believes that Chicago/Booth has a better EMBA program than Wharton. John Byrne has repeatedly called Wharton’s program the “gold standard” of executive MBA programs. He imperils his credibility to rank Chicago/Booth #1, especially because his analysis contradicts his published opinions.

        • Berkma

          Wharton may have stricter entry criteria but booth now has equal or more of a rigorous program. Booth also has the advantage of mixing international cohorts for 5 full weeks of classes across 3 different campuses thus yielding deep network across multiple continents(network is an important aspect of the program).

        • Guest 2

          Calling BS again on your opinion. Wharton indeed was the best last year and the prior years. Booth is the best now. Nothing hypocritical or illogical about the fact that the torch has been passed.

        • JohnAByrne

          Obviously, both programs are world class. There’s no doubt about it. And Chicago has done a lot to improve its program in the past year. Unlike Wharton, it’s far more global in scope and in participants. I still think Wharton is the gold standard, but there are at least two gold standards in this game.

      • Yash

        I think the point is more that no one *should* believe/take at face value these “tortured, pseudo-analytical” rankings.
        Especially for EMBA candidates, the “best” program is the one that is best-suited to their needs. For instance, for an NYC-based finance professional who intends to remain in the tri-state area for the long-term, the choice will most likely be between Wharton and Columbia, and it is by no means a given that his/her choice would or should definitely be Wharton.

  • 123.com

    Hard to believe 30 and 40 year olds are actually arguing about whose school is better???? Kind of sad is it not? Any program on this list is quite good, and with brands like Wharton and Booth, you should not need an EMBA ranking to validate what is already plainly clear…

    • Jonaz

      Rankings = Money.

      • 123.com

        That point is certainly not in dispute on my end. I doubt many would disagree with you. Cheers

  • ramson

    INSEAD should easily be # 1 on the list. Much more prestigious than Booth and at par with Wharton in prestige.

    • Jonaz

      Not in the US.

      • ramson

        Easily in US. Also, the rankings is global not only US. Very surprised to see its ranking so low. It deserves top 1/2

    • Smiles

      Fully agree with Jonaz. Not in US…maybe elsewhere but not in States. It is still very good in perception but more in the 15 to 25 rank range IMHO. Cheers

      • basron

        INSEAD is top 1/2 hands down

        • Smiles

          We disagree but appreciate that. In Europe and maybe in Asia, yes – but not in US

  • Michael Cohan

    Normally, and unlike for full-time MBA applicants, EMBA applicants are usually only comparing schools regionally. So, an EMBA applicant might compare Booth to Kellogg and Wharton to Columbia and even Haas to Anderson but rarely will an EMBA applicant compare Booth to Wharton (although this does happen as the distance between Philadelphia and Chicago is doable). So, #1 versus #2 is largely symbolic.

    Even so, the analysis underlying the data is useful. Thus, an applicant comparing the EMBA
    programs of Booth to Kellogg would now weigh the academic rigor of the respective programs.

    Everybody have a nice weekend,

    Michael Cohan

    MBAPrepAdvantage

    • chandram

      I would like to disagree with respect to programs like booth, wharton and Kellogg. These 3 programs have substantial number of students in the class traveling from across the US (in case of booth, we have many students flying in from bay area, LA, Seattle etc). Booth has the advantage of being able to transfer to international locations for 1 or many quarters, to network more as desired with the international cohort.

      • Michael Cohan

        Thank you for contributing your perspective.

        Although a substantial number of EMBA students might travel
        across the country, that does not mean a substantial number of EMBA applicants apply to many different programs located in different regions as do their full-time MBA applicant counterparts. A working professional normally chooses to travel when his or her city does not have a top EMBA program. For example, I have worked with many Seattle clients who apply to both Wharton San Francisco (previously Wharton West) and Haas. But a working professional in Chicago would normally apply to either Kellogg or Booth or both, but not to Wharton. If you look at Wharton Philadelphia’s published geographic distribution – http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mbaexecutive/program-details/philadelphia-class-profile.cfm – not a single student travels from Illinois, but many students travel from states like Texas, Arkansas and Georgia that do not have top EMBA programs.

        Anecdotally, I have worked with many EMBA applicants who have applied to the grouping of Wharton (San Francisco)/Haas/UCLA or to Kellogg/Booth or to Wharton (Philadelphia)/Columbia/NYU Stern but the ture outlier would be someone applying to both Booth and Wharton.

        • cking6178

          I think UT Austin & SMU would like to disagree with your assessment that “states like Texas….” do not have top EMBA programs…

          • tanmu

            For a true international cohort, brand UT and SMU don’t measure up, sorry to say the fact.

  • CP

    Georgia Tech > Georgia
    By a long shot……

  • Frank Gentile

    Despite the fact that I avoided top schools in my career I firmly believe that during the late 90s and early 2000s a top school MBA was a sure way to get ahead and cement a career in private sector, I just didn’t have the disposable income to make that happen.

    I think that these days you need sponsorship first from a top organization before mortgaging your future for one of these programs. If you lack that you are better off looking at affordable part-time MBAs from tier 2 schools and looking at organizations that will move you ahead with an average MBA. Why? Because organizations are going to look at their hand picked few to send through the top programs and will then give them first dibs on the best jobs. I also think that MBAs are for the late 20 to 30 something crowd.. once your past 40 more education will only help if your a management consultant.. sad but from what I see true. Basing this on former co-workers and their experiences.

    As for myself I left private sector over a decade ago and have no intention of ever going back.

  • Norbert Weiner

    Where, pray tell, is Yale? They offer EMBA concentrations in asset management and healthcare.

    • Tipico

      Yale just started offering a traditional “general management” style EMBA in the last year. Prior to that, they only offered an EMBA for health care industry executives. It typically takes several years (up to 5 years) for rankings to pick up on a new program entrant. Given the Yale brand, they will no doubt be a top 20 player. EMBA or MBA leads to same equivalent MBA degree – Executive is just the format it is delivered. Accordingly, Yale will likely rank approximately where it does now in the full-time rankings – a top 10 to 20 player that competes with Duke, Michigan, Virginia, NYU Stern, Cornell, and UCLA level schools, and that trails behind MIT, Columbia, Chicago, Wharton, Dartmouth, and Columbia in most rankings. Should be a great competitor in a growing and important MBA segment.

      • Norbert Weiner

        Judging from the caliber (and small number) of people in its EMBA program, I expect it to be top 5.

        • Tipico

          I agree that they should be a top player, but top 5 I think will be a tall order in the short run, as it will be hard to so quickly bump off some of the more established names in this space: Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, Kellogg, NYU Stern, Michigan, MIT Sloan, Cornell, U CAL – Berkeley Haas, and Duke. Yale’s premium brand will serve it well – very well in my opinion. It could be a top five program, but likely will be somewhere north of position # 10, at least over the next 5 years, as it begins to enter the rankings for EMBAs. Hopefully, in time it can knock off some other competitors and move-up. Yale’s impressive stats for applicants will help, but maybe less than you think, as so many top programs attract such highly talented people, it is hard to distinguish at this level IMO. Any EMBA candidate at any of the top programs I listed above would do just as well academically in any of the other listed programs – the candidates at this level are this good. The question is logistics for many candidates. What campus and travel logistics will work best with their on-going professional responsibilities and family/kids obligations. Will Yale in New Haven trump Chicago or New York or Boston or Philly for logistics to get the very best? Maybe or Maybe not – time will tell. But I am fan and am willing to make that bet…
          Cheers

  • Dutch Ducre

    SMU again…LOL

  • Mikey

    Sorry you need better due diligence: one of the ads linked to one of your articles is shady – Men’s “Life” & Heath: Controversay… feeds into a big ad offer that does not hold up well to scrutiny. Please do your home work if you are going to be a consultant.

  • Squareone

    For those considering a one-year full-time MBA, I would strongly urge you to consider the Sloan Fellow programs at Stanford and MIT. The Stanford program is exceptionally elite and they give you access to all of Stanford, not just the GSB; it awards a Masters in Management. The MIT program tends to cater to a slightly older crowd with a number of executives in the program. MIT gives you the option of an MBA or Masters in Management. The Masters in Management requires a thesis whereas the MBA does not. I believe most go for the MBA designation.

    • Pick&Roll

      No doubt that the Sloan programs at MIT and Stanford are world-class, however, I would recommend that people more experienced potential candidates strongly consider a world-class eMBA program. In a high quality eMBA program, you are awarded an MBA degree, and do not lose momentum in your existing career/job, which makes the ROI powerful. Additionally, you have the capability of applying newly learned tools at work right away and of developing a very high quality network of experienced managers.

    • JohnAByrne
  • Sue Grinius Hill

    I think the quality and value of the CQEMBA is extremely high due to the diverse regional engagement. Because it’s new and different it misses out in these rankings. Academia is changing an CQEMBA leads the way in maintaining extremely high quality while innovating.

Partner Sites: C-Change Media | Poets & Quants | Tipping the Scales | Poets & Quants for Undergrads