Berkeley Haas Lands Atop Economist’s 2020 EMBA Ranking

Berkeley Haas EMBA

Berkeley Haas EMBA students enrolled in a Teams@Haas course. Photo: Noah Berger

For the first time ever, UC-Berkeley Haas’ Executive MBA program gained first place in The Economist‘s new 2020 ranking of EMBA programs. Haas moved up three places from 2018 in the biennial ranking by the British magazine. The Executive MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, meantime, rose seven spots to take second place.

Once again, however, several major players in the EMBA market refused to play, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, INSEAD and, for the first time, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business whose EMBA program had been ranked sixth-best in the world in 2018 and ninth in The Economist‘s two previous rankings. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, which never cooperated with this ranking, tossed its hat in the Economist‘s ring and ended up placing 51st.

All told, the magazine ranked 70 programs overall, many for the first time, as several schools disappeared from the list, including the University of Maryland, which had ranked 16th last time, and Imperial College Business School in London, which had placed 22nd in 2018. Nine programs that had been on the 2018 ranking did not make the current list. Some 15 programs either made their first appearance on the ranking or did a return trip after falling off in 2018. The unique joint EMBA program run by IE Business School in Spain and Brown University in Rhode Island was the highest-ranked new entrant, placing third behind only Berkeley and Northwestern. Haas displaced Yale School of Management to win top honors. Yale’s EMBA program slipped into fifth place this year.


Berkeley’s finish at the top of the list is something of a real triumph for the West Coast school. For many years, Berkeley had only a joint Executive MBA program with Columbia Business School that ended in 2012. The school launched its standalone EMBA in May of 2013 after graduating ten classes with some 600 alumni from the joint program with Columbia. In The Economist‘s first two attempts at ranking EMBA programs in 2015 and 2013, Berkeley didn’t make the list. The Economist noted that Haas ranked first “for career development for alumni, with strong salary progression and the highest rating for the fulfillment of pre-EMBA goals. Students rated the relevance of the program highly, as well as the helpfulness of the alumni network and the ease with which they could stay in touch with faculty and fellow students.”

As is typical of most business school rankings, there were some very topsy-turvy results that should give many users of the ranking pause. Mannheim Business School in Germany saw its EMBA program rise 41 places to finish 15th, up from 56th two years ago. Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business soared 28 spots to place 33rd compared to its previous rank of 61st. The EMBA program at UC-San Diego’s Rady School plunged 27 positions to place 63rd from 36th in 2018. In fact, 17 different programs experienced double-digit declines or gains.

The ranking is based on two surveys that were fielded in February and March of this year: A satisfaction survey sent to students and alumni from each school’s last three graduating classes, and a business school survey that sought program details and facts. The Economist said that roughly 8,500 of the questionnaires were completed. Alumni were asked to rate everything from their classmates to the faculty and a school’s facilities. They also were asked to report their pre-EMBA and current salaries, from which average increases could be calculated. Those pay increases are given the most weight in the ranking, 27.5%. To create more stability in the ranking, The Economist also uses data from its last ranking 2018, giving that data a 30% weight, with the remaining 70% given to the 2020 results.

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