Joint Programs Top Financial Times’ 2016 EMBA Ranking

Chicago's Gleacher Center downtown is the home of Booth's Executive MBA program.

Downtown Chicago’s Gleacher Center is the home of Booth’s executive MBA program


Indeed, money is king in the Financial Times’ EMBA ranking, a strange concoction of financials, demographic data, and student surveys from the 2011-2013 classes. With salary covering a fifth of the weight, strong brands carry extra sway. However, that is offset, to an extent, by “Salary Increase” accounting for an equal 20%. In other words, less-known schools can boost their rankings by developing lower-paid talent, giving the schools a shot against big-name programs that have an inherent recruiting advantage.

That said, salaries are calculated using a PPP (purchasing power parity) equivalent rather than a direct adjustment to U.S. dollars. As a result, earning power at American programs is generally devalued to the advantage of graduates working in less-developed countries, where their earnings go further.

Overall, 137 EMBA programs participated in FT‘s ranking, with 4,768 respondents completing the alumni survey. That’s roughly 47% of the 2013 EMBAs who graduated from the schools collectively. For a program to qualify, FT must receive responses from 20% of its 2013 class. In the end, 2013 graduate responses account for 50% of the weight on survey-driven outputs, while 2012 and 2011 alumni results are weighed at 25% each. Career progress, work experience, and aims achieved, all based on student surveys, are each given a 5% weight.


Beyond that, the ranking is a hodgepodge of inputs whose value is debatable. Exhibit A is the research rank, a 10% weight that’s based on the number of articles published by faculty in 45 leading academic and practitioner journals from 2013-2016. Alas, scholarship is not automatically an indicator of teaching quality, a variable not even considered by FT. Even more, this category measures all faculty scholarship, rather than segmenting only those who teach EMBAs, further diluting its value. Similarly, Ph.D. graduates are given a 5% weight, which is absurd considering the ranking serves working EMBAs with little interest in entering academia. The methodology also gives a 5% boost to schools with a higher percentage of faculty with doctorates, a measure that penalizes programs with high-level practitioners who can bring more real-world experience to their “Why does this matter to my job?” audience. Worse, the ranking gives credence to more anthropologic markers like female board members (1%) and international board members (2%).


Despite these flaws, the individual data provides several useful insights to evaluate EMBA programs. Want to double your income? Look no further than 22nd-ranked Kedge Business School’s Global Executive MBA, with campuses in Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Shanghai. Here, salaries rose 103% to $197,229. Hoping to increase your earning power? Head east, to China and Singapore, specifically. In China’s CEIBS Global EMBA, graduates make $319,126 within three years of graduation, nearly $14,000 more than the impressive totals notched by their Shanghai Jiao Tong University peers. Similarly, EMBAs from the Singapore Management University and the National University of Singapore make $311,387 and $272,989, respectively.

IE Business School produces the happiest grads, with 86% of alumni agreeing that they were able to achieve their aims through its EMBA program. Oxford and Cambridge grads were nearly as enthusiastic, coming in at 84% and 82%, respectively. For executives looking to mix with the best and brightest peers, IE Business School, IMD and the Singapore Management University ranked alongside Trium and Kellogg-HKUST for quality of classmates. If you’re itching to take classes outside your home country, Trium, Duke, ESCP Europe and IESE Business offer the most courses in this regard.

Students in Duke's Global Executive MBA travel to six different countries as part of the program, including New Delhi

Students in Duke’s global executive MBA travel to six different countries as part of the program, including India


Women are increasingly streaming to EMBA programs. Wondering which programs are friendliest to women? Check out the joint Norwegian Business School-Fundan University EMBA, which is comprised of 59% women. The University of Hong Kong and Grenoble Ecole de Management also boast female populations above 50%, while Kedge and China Togji University come close at 49%. In contrast, the smallest female population is found at the University of Maryland’s Smith EMBA at 9%.

Female EMBAs also rank behind men in several key categories, according to FT. Coming into EMBA programs, men earn more than their female classmates by a $128,000-to-$111,000 margin. After graduation, that disparity expands to $199,000-to-$170,000. In addition, men hold a decided advantage in the “department head and above” category by a 68%-to-59% margin within three years of graduation. However, men and women are relatively close in financial sponsorship. Men receive full sponsorship at a meager 29% versus 27% for women, with partial sponsorship nearly mirroring those percentages (32% to 30%).

When it comes to international student population, INSEAD’s EMBA program may not fully live up to its “Business school for the world” moniker. It actually trails behind its European peers at IE Business School (98%), IESE Business School (93%), and IMD (89%); elsewhere, it trails Nicaragua’s INCAE Business School (87%). Still, there were two EMBA programs — Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University and the University of Georgia — where there were no international students among the ranks. Nineteen other EMBA programs had 10% or fewer international students.

While financial considerations drove 40% of the FT ranking, they weren’t the highest priority for EMBAs. Instead, management development was the focus, with survey respondents giving it a 9.1 score on a 10-point sale. Networking followed at 8.3, with increasing earnings rounding out the top three at 8.0.


Go to next page to see the Financial Times ranking of the top 5o executive MBA programs. 

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