Wharton Tops Our 2012 Ranking of EMBA Programs

Despite the generally high costs of these programs, studies have consistently shown that EMBA graduates tend to be more than satisfied. A new study by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that alumni who graduated from an executive MBA program rated their decision to pursue their MBA the most favorably (98%), followed by full-time MBA alumni (95%), and  part-time MBA alumni (95%). Alumni of full-time and executive MBA programs also were more likely to view their degrees as a good-to-outstanding value (96% and 97%, respectively) than graduates of any other degree type.

Schools that moved forward in the new 2012 ranking tended to get better ratings in the past year from BusinessWeek, U.S. News and World Report, and The Financial Times. Those three rankings, along with the 2010 ranking of EMBA programs by The Wall Street Journal, were used by PoetsandQuantsforExecs to put together the composite ranking. The schools that had the most dramatic climbs or falls generally fell on or off one of these key lists of the world’s best programs.

Each ranking organization uses a different methodology to measure a school’s Executive MBA program. BusinessWeek, for example, excludes partnership EMBA programs among multiple schools. The Financial Times does not rank programs under five years of age, and BusinessWeek also uses the “age of a program” as a ranking hurdle. Three of the four listed sources rank these programs globally in a single list. U.S. News only ranks U.S. programs.

These differences obviously affect a composite ranking. As a result, some very good programs are excluded from our list or, in the case of some partnership programs, they are ranked lower than they might otherwise have been. MIT Sloan, for example, only entered its first class in a new $141,000 Executive MBA program in October of 2010. By most quality measures, the 20-month program would easily be among the world’s best. Some 40% of MIT’s Class of 2013 already have advanced degrees, and 83% boast titles that are director-level and above, with one in four already in the C-suite. The 70 executives in the class average 17 years of experience each, and 39% of them are of international origin. Perhaps most impressive is the program’s 25% acceptance rate which makes this the most selective EMBA program in the world. But when it comes to the ranking game, MIT is nowhere because the program is so new.

PoetsandQuantsforExecs also made some slight changes to improve the ranking. Instead of ranking North American and other programs separately, as we did last year, we combined all of them into one global ranking for the new 2012 list. The first non-U.S. school to show up on the list, IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, came in with a rank of 14. INSEAD in France and Singapore, and IESE Business School in Barcelona and Madrid were next with ranks of 23 and 24, respectively.

We also imposed a new rule on which programs would be eligible for the ranking: only schools whose EMBA programs are already recognized by at least two of the four most influential rankings of these programs. This latter change eliminates potential anomalies that often appear in a single ranking system due to its methodology. Some 55 programs met this requirement.

2012 Rank & SchoolIndex2011 RankBWU.S.FTWSJ
  1. Pennsylvania (Wharton) Philadelphia, PA & San Francisco, CA100.019171
  2. Chicago (Booth) Chicago, IL98.4212516
  3. Northwestern (Kellogg) Evanston, IL97.3333175
  4. Columbia Business School New York, NY94.0425259
  5. New York (Stern) New York, NY92.45136217
  6. UCLA (Anderson) Los Angeles, CA89.27563711
  7. Michigan (Ross) Ann Arbor, MI88.96683215
  8. Cornell (Johnson) Ithaca, NY86.382115268
  9. Texas (McCombs) Austin, TX79.0923184512
10. Duke (Fuqua) Durham, NC73.3111046NR
11. Southern California (Marshall) Los Angeles, CA72.510811NR4
12. Thunderbird Glendale, AZ70.7181620933
13. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) Chapel Hill, NC70.5121110NR10
14. IE Business School Madrid, Spain69.2NR4NR824
15. Washington University (Olin) St. Louis, MO68.4142017NR2
16. Berkeley (Haas)/Columbia Berkeley, CA & New York, NY64.513NR92223
17. Emory (Goizueta) Atlanta, GA60.515151341NR
18. Maryland (Smith) College Park, MD56.12516NR4822
19. Southern Methodist (Cox) Dallas, TX51.42072370NR
20. Vanderbilt (Owen) Nashville, TN51.03432NR4925
21. Ohio State (Fisher) Columbus, OH50.02114NR8017
22. Rice University (Jones) Houston, TX49.4192TNR4019
23. INSEAD Fontainebeau, France46.6NR18NR4NR
24. IESE Barcelona & Madrid, Spain45.9NR12NR13NR
25. Notre Dame (Mendoza) Notre Dame, IN43.82227NRNR6
25. Arizona State (Carey) Tempe, AZ43.824NRNR2013

Notes: The P&Q ranking equally weights the latest rankings by BusinessWeek (2011 ranking), The Wall Street Journal (2010), The Financial Times (2011), and U.S. News & World Report (2011). Three of these four rankings are global, mixing U.S. and non-U.S. schools. Only U.S. News’ ranking is based solely on U.S. programs. Only EMBA programs that won recognition from at least two of the four ranking systems are included in our ranking. That eliminates programs that are more likely to get on a single list as a result an anolmaly of flawed methodology. Some 55 EMBA programs met this criteria which is why we expanded the list beyond 50. NR — Not rated. ST — Second tier rank.

Methodology: The guidelines different organizations use to compile their rankings can affect which schools and programs get on their lists. The Financial Times, for example, will not include any program that has fewer than five graduating classes. That seems like a smart rule because a program that has been in existence for less than five years shouldn’t be ranked as one of the best in the world.

BusinessWeek, meanwhile, excludes all partnership programs on the basis that comparing a one school program with another that has multiple partners is like comparing apples and oranges. While that keeps some very good programs, such as Berkeley/Columbia’s EMBA and NYU/London School of Economics/HEC Paris’ TRIUM program, off the BW list, the biggest concern over such partnerships is quality control.

Such guidelines obviously put both newer and partnership programs at a disadvantage not only in those rankings but in this composite ranking as well. If the Berkeley and Columbia program were rated by BusinessWeek, for example, it would undoubtedly be ranked significantly higher than 16th on our list.

(See next page for the remaining part of the list of the top 55 EMBA programs in the world).

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.