Wharton Tops Our 2012 Ranking of EMBA Programs

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School pricey Executive MBA program maintained its gold standard status in a new 2012 ranking by PoetsandQuantsforExecs.com. The prestige program–available at Wharton’s home campus in Philadelphia for $167,160 and the school’s West Coast campus in San Francisco for $173,940–again came in first among the best EMBA programs worldwide.

It’s not hard to see why Wharton has kept its lead. The school reports one of the lowest acceptance rates of any top EMBA program, accepting only four of every ten applicants. While half the top 20 EMBA programs don’t even require candidates to take the Graduate Management Admission Test, Wharton not only requires the exam–its enrolled EMBA students boast the highest GMAT score of any school–700 out of a maximum score of 800. Wharton’s students, moreover, already earn an average $186,988 per year in their jobs, while four out of ten (more than any other top EMBA program) already hold an advanced degree.

A familar cast of B-school characters are right behind Wharton: No. 2 Chicago Booth, No. 3 Northwestern Kellogg, No. 4 Columbia Business School, and No. 5 New York University Stern.

There were only relatively small changes among the top ten rated programs. No. 6 UCLA and No. 10 Duke gained one place each over last year, while No 7 Michigan and No. 11 USC lost one spot each. The bigger changes occurred elsewhere on the list. The Thunderbird School of Management’s EMBA program, for instance, rose six places to finish 12th, while the University of Maryland’s EMBA program had a seven-place gain so that its EMBA program came in at 18th.

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 Wall Street Journal, 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. The new ranking also takes into account a vast array 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 2012 survey of the best.

These executive versions of the MBA degree, of course, attract an older, more seasoned group of students. Typically, EMBA candidates bring more than a dozen years of work experience and more than eight years of management experience to a program. Executives in the top 20 programs, an analysis shows, already have median base salaries of  earn $142,000, ranging from a high of $197,465 for executives in the Kellogg School’s EMBA programs to a low of $107,409 for execs in Vanderbilt University’s EMBA program (see below). Usually, executives can bring challenges at work into the classrooms for help from faculty and fellow classmates.


SchoolSalaryGMATAcceptanceAdvanced DegreeC-SuiteWithin 45 milesInt’lFemale
  1. Wharton$186,98870044%40%NA43%31%24%
  2. ChicagoNANANA20%NA30%8%22%
  3. Kellogg$197,465NANA38%11%34%32%24%
  4. Columbia$118,351NANA28%2%86%21%37%
  5. NYUNANRNA35%NA76%27%27%
  6. UCLA$123,00066467%32%8%55%8%26%
  7. Michigan$160,381NRNA35%11%28%15%20%
  8. CornellNANRNA19%5%0%27%17%
  9. Texas-AustinNA63874%39%5%NA25%19%
10. Duke$142,203NRNA26%6%4%34%28%
11. USC$172,000NR73%24%8%75%14%16%
12. Thunderbird$130,000NR98%28%20%81%23%18%
13. UNC$110,09657788%26%9%43%15%17%
14. IE$145,000NR57%NA3%6%83%17%
15. Washington$140,000NRNA35%11%70%15%26%
16. Berkeley/Col$142,000NANA35%6%59%30%28%
17. Emory$141,16059990%28%14%91%16%25%
18. Maryland$125,508NR83%27%5%82%8%23%
19. SMU$172,017NR60%21%6%90%4%21%
20. Vanderbilt$107,40959073%25%0%75%7%29%

Source: Business schools reporting to Bllomberg BusinessWeek