Winners & Losers in FT’s 2013 Ranking

The University of Texas-Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management

The University of Texas-Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management

What goes up must come down?

When it comes to rankings, that’s certainly true–and it couldn’t be truer when it comes to yesterday’s Financial Times’ ranking of the world’s best Executive MBA programs.

Of schools on the global list of the top 100, seven programs fell by double digits (more fell in double digits if you include the programs that are no longer on the list this year). No school that stayed on the list dropped further than the University of Texas at Dallas. Its EMBA program plunged 21 places in a single year to 87 from a rank of 66th last year. Five of the programs that fell in double digits, moreover, were U.S. based. Besides the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School EMBA fell 17 places to a rank of 97th from 80th in 2012. The University of Rochester’s Simon School dropped 16 spots to 96th from 80th, while Boston University’s School of Management fell 15 places to rank 81st from 66th.

VAGUE CHANGES IN THE METHODOLOGY MAY HAVE CAUSED SOME SCHOOLS TO FALL OR RISE IN RANK

Oddly enough, of the seven schools that rose in double digits, only one was based in the U.S. Georgia State University’s EMBA program moved up 12 places to a rank of 51 from 63rd last year. The EMBA program that gained the most ground this year? A joint program between the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. This Canadian partnership placed 81st, up18 spots from a rank of 99 last year.

It’s not immediately clear why these changes occurred, though the FT said there were “minor changes to the calculation of international diversity measures for 2013. In addition to the percentage of schools’ students and faculty that are international – the figures published – the composition of these groups by individual citizenship informs a diversity-measuring score that feeds into the calculation.”

How quirky is all this? Consider that the University of Minnesota’s joint EMBA with Vienna University of Economics and Business, which is 50% taught by Carlson professors and grants a University of Minnesota diploma, is ranked 57 places higher on the same FT ranking than its main EMBA program in Minneapolis. The Vienna partnership rose five places this year to a rank of 46th, while the school’s core program is at the lowly rank of 97th, having nearly fallen off The Financial Times’ list after its 17-place plummet. A third EMBA program that Carlson puts on in China at Lingnan College of Sun Yat-sen University was not ranked at all.

‘RANKINGS ARE LIKE RESTAURANT REVIEWS’

Asked about the discrepancies, Carlson Dean Sri Zaheer shrugs her shoulders and rolls her eyes. “Rankings are like restaurant reviews,” she says. “Your favorite restaurant may not be in a ranking because the critics might not have visited. I have faculty members who say they wouldn’t work at some of these higher ranked schools if their pay was doubled or tripled.” She pointed out that Carlson’s core EMBA program which dropped more than any other school with one exception is “packed to the gills with managers and executives from many Fortune 500 companies and we put through an 8% tuition increase this year.”

The FT’s methodology uses 16 separate metrics to rank the school’s EMBA programs. Five of these measures are taken from a survey of alumni, ten of them are school reported, and the remaining metric is a count of articles in 45 journals by the newspaper. The FT said that 136 programs participated in its ranking this year including 17 offered jointly by more than one school.Some 5,550 graduates completed its alumni survey this year, a response rate of 54%.

The alumni surveys account for the most heavily weighted portion of the methodology, some 55% of the ranking. Despite the use of 16 metrics, salary–current and the increase from pre-EMBA pay to three year out grads–accounts for a whopping 40% of the ranking. Current salary alone–adjusted by the FT to weed out grads in non-profit and public sector and converted into U.S. dollars using purchasing parity rates–makes up a full 20% of this ranking. Programs in emerging economies tend to do better when the adjustment is made because of the level of poverty in those countries. Another factor in this ranking is that many of the joint programs at the top tend to enroll a larger number of sponsored executives who are being selected by their companies as up-and-comers who most likely will experience more rapid salary increases.

All told, The Financial Times ranked 100 EMBA programs, with two schools tied for 99th place: the University of Houston’s Bauer School and Stockholm School of Economics. A dozen of the EMBA programs that were not on the list last year made it onto the 2013 list, including No. 13 Nanyang Business School in Singapore, No. 31 Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, and No. 58 the University of Strathclyde Business School. Other newcomers on this year’s list include No. 54 Bi Norwegian Business School and Fudan University in China, No. 61 Renmin University of China School of Business, No. 68 National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan, No. 69 HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management in Germany, No. 77 Incae Business School / Universidad Adolfo Ibañez in Peru, No. 89 Michigan State University Broad School of Business, No. 91 Incae Business School in Nicaragua, and both schools tied for No. 99, the Stockholm School of Economics and the University of Houston’s Bauer School.

About The Author

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.