FT Ranking Knocks Top U.S. Schools

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

Several high-profile U.S. business schools took a beating in the latest Financial Times ranking of non-degree executive education programs. And for a couple of them, the bump down in the rankings continues a multi-year slide.

In the FT’s “open” category of exec ed programs open to all managers, Wharton plunged to No. 23 from 2013’s No. 11 and last year’s No. 19. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, at No. 8 in 2013 and 2014, fell to 15th. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management dropped 11 places, to 31, over last year.

For the third year in a row, IMD in Switzerland was named the FT’s No. 1 exec ed program. HEC Paris, IESE, Harvard Business School, and the University of Chicago Booth School, in that order, made up the rest of the top five.

Harvard Business School turned upward after its drop to 6th-place from 4th last year, and ended up back at the fourth spot for 2015. Booth lost three places over 2014 to finish at No. 5, its place in 2013. The University of Virginia Darden School fell to No. 11 over 2014’s No. 3, putting itself slightly ahead of its No. 14 in 2013.


Columbia moved up five spots to No. 20, tied with Canada’s Western University Ivey School, and placed just below another Canadian school, Rotman at the University of Toronto.

Although Stanford was ranked tops for food and accommodation, it suffered in a number of other areas: 32nd for faculty diversity; 33rd for teaching methods and materials; 34th for follow-up with graduates; 35th for international location (programs outside a school’s base location); 36th for partnerships with other schools, and a dismal 59th for repeat business and revenue growth.

Wharton took severe blows from those surveyed by the FT, in the areas of international location (53rd), partner schools (50th), and repeat business and growth (50). UCLA was ranked 70th for repeat business and revenue growth, 50th for international location, and 47th for partner schools.

The FT rankings are based on survey responses over three years from course graduates and schools. The most heavily weighted survey areas are:

• Schools’ preparation of students for the course

• Course design

• Teaching methods and materials

• Quality of teaching

• Quality of participants

• New skills and learning

• Follow-up with participants

• Aims achieved by participants

• Food and accommodation

• Learning environment

• Percentage of international participants

• Repeat business and revenue growth

• Extent of out of region programs

• Partnerships with other schools

• Faculty diversity according to nationality and gender


The FT ranking for customized executive education – short courses – saw IESE at No.1, followed by HEC Paris, Duke Corporate Education, London Business School, and Mannheim Business School. IESE knocked Duke out of the No. 1 spot it had enjoyed for the 12 years previous.

Rounding out the U.S. schools in the FT’s top 25 for customized exec ed were the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, at No. 9; Booth at No. 13; Harvard and MIT Sloan tied at No. 18; the Thunderbird School of Global Management at No. 20; the Georgetown University McDonough School at No. 21; and Babson at No. 24.

The chart on the following page shows the FT “open” executive education ranking, and the FT “customized” exec ed ranking, and for reference, the Poets&Quants and Economist rankings of the schools’ executive MBA programs.

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