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

by John A. Byrne on

A class at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business

A class at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

FOUR OUT OF EVERY TEN EMBA STUDENTS NOW PAY THEIR OWN WAY

“Full financial sponsorship has been going downward, but the number of students who are partially funded by their employers has stayed reasonably stable,” says Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council. “In terms of partial funding, some corporations have a cap and others will only reimburse the tax credit amount, so it really varies.” The group’s surveys show that 24% of EMBA students receive full financial sponsorship, 41% are fully self-funded, and 35% are partially funded.

At Chicago Booth, fully half of all the students are entirely self-funded, insuring that EMBA graduates come out with student loans in their 30s and 40s. “Unless the credential becomes less important, I don’t see the popularity of the degree declining,” says Keegan. “The networking and credential appeal of the degree are still pretty compelling reasons to come.”

The new ranking by Poets&Quants measures the overall reputation of these programs by combining the four latest ratings on EMBA programs from BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, and U.S. News & World Report. By blending these rankings into a composite list, the methodology tends to diminish anomalies that often show up in any one rating system.

A school must be ranked on at least two of the four lists to be included. The reason? Generally, the more widely recognized an EMBA program is, the more one can be assured of its quality and brand value. Programs that eke out only a single ranking are less likely to have the cache and prestige of those that are ranked by all four or three of the most influential rankings (For a more detailed explanation of our methodology, see our guide here).

OTHER EMBAS TO CONSIDER: BERKELEY, MIT, YALE & NOTRE DAME

There are some notable and obvious exceptions. Executive MBA offerings by UC-Berkeley, MIT Sloan, and the Yale School of Management, immediately come to mind. UC-Berkeley’s EMBA was ranked ninth by U.S. News & World Report this year, but the school’s 19-month program was only launched in May of 2013 and has yet to graduate a single class.

Berkeley’s new standalone program replaced its long-time partnership EMBA with Columbia Business School. MIT didn’t graduate its first EMBA class until 2012, a reason why the program doesn’t crop up on any lists. Until only recently, Yale’s Executive MBA admit students exclusively from the healthcare sector so it was not open to all prospective students. This year, the school added asset management and sustainability in its EMBA portfolio, a move that will significantly broaden the appeal of its MBA for working professionals.

Of course, none of these rankings are without their flaws so a composite ranking tends to get a user closer to the true brand value of these programs, especially because of the absence of Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business from the EMBA market.

A CHANGE IN THE METHODOLOGY RESULTED IN FAR MORE NON-U.S. SCHOOLS ON THE LIST

This year Poets&Quants changed its methodology to incorporate the findings of The Economist’s debut ranking of executive MBA programs last year. The Economist list replaces the now out-of-date ranking of The Wall Street Journal which last ranked business schools in 2010.

That change alone caused significant reverberations on our list for two major reasons: The Economist ranked more than twice as many programs as the Journal, 68 vs. 25, and The Economist’s list is much more global. Four years ago, only one non-U.S. school was on The Wall Street Journal’s list, IE Business School in Spain. In contrast, there are 25 standalone EMBA programs outside the U.S. ranked by The Economist.

The upshot: International programs fare much better on this year’s list. Last year, only three non-U.S. EMBA programs made our top 25. This year, there are eight, ranging from No. 4 IE Business School to No. 25 National University of Singapore. Of the 48 EMBA programs that are ranked by Poets&Quants, 15 are outside the U.S. So in many cases, the slippage of some of the best U.S. programs this year is due largely from the addition of The Economist and the subtraction of the more U.S.-centric Wall Street Journal ranking.

As always, the new ranking takes into account a blizzard of metrics to measure the quality of the programs, from surveys of student satisfaction to rises in income attributed to the degree. Each of the four major rankings are equally weighted in this 2014 survey of the best.

For the first time ever, Poets&Quants also published a separate ranking of joint EMBA programs (see Our 2014 Ranking Of The World’s Best Joint-EMBA Programs). The Kellogg School’s partnership with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology came in first among the joint programs. In fact, Kellogg partnerships with other schools in Germany and Canada were in the top five.

(See following page for our full 2014 ranking)

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  • 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

    • Saleem

      Chicago Booth, Wharton, Kellog, Harvard etc. are worldwide top schools. I have done extensive search and read a lot before going with US top tier school instead of Europen top schools. LBS and INSEAD were in my list but I reached to conculsion that US schools are the best…expensive but worthable.

  • 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.

  • Max

    OLIN!!!

  • Gitrdone

    The discussion here is a laughing stock (mostly). It is unfortunate that it’d at large misguide the hopefuls.

    Being enrolled in the top-3 ranked school for Exec MBA, I can assure you that there is no “ranking” per say – it is all a myth when it comes to top-10 institutions. IMHO – they are all at the same level, but do have specialities. So one should judge the school based on the background as well as career choices.

    To give you an example, say you are in investment banking and work at Morgan Stanley (or any such firm). If you wish to use your MBA for career advancement – then you’d better stick to east coast schools that have proximity to the financial hubs and banks. NYU Stern, Columbia, Wharton – they’re all equally good. You can add Chicago in if you want..

    If you are an entrepreneur, have an idea, and want to do your next gig – don’t go beyond Stanford and Berkeley. Even Sloan-MIT is a non-contender being on east coast. There is simply no substitute to attending a school where 95% of the VC community is located. If you want to be a maverick and make a name as a turnaround/private equity change agent – go to Berkeley or Wharton. For marketing, look no further than Kellogg.

    • Gitrdone

      (..continuing)

      The key is – know what you want out of your MBA and what you want to do (have some generic idea such as – “advance my career”, or “start a business”, etc.

      If you do not know your basic expectation out of your MBA program – then you are wasting your time reading comments on this wonderful website.

  • Jane

    I would be interested to know a list of companies that have paid for their employees’ EMBA tuition.

  • Jane

    I would be interested to know which companies pay for their employees’ EMBA tuition. I think I’d better start there first before the EMBA.

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