New Winners Top Both 2023 Financial Times Executive Education Rankings

For the longest time, there was little to no change at the top of The Financial Times‘ pair of executive education rankings.

Those days are over.

For the second year in a row after putting its executive education rankings on hiatus in 2021, FT has crowned a new top program in both categories: IESE Business School of Spain in open-enrollment programs, and in the customized category, Duke Corporate Education, a U.S.-based education platform affiliated with Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

HEC Paris, last year’s top school in both the open and custom categories, was second in open programs this year and third in the ranking of customized programs. See pages 2 and 3 for both complete 75-school rankings.


Open-enrollment programs are open to executives and managers from different organizations and at different stages of their careers, covering all areas of business management. To earn a FT ranking they must be internationally accredited by the AACSB or Equis. IMD, the International Institute for Management Development based in Lausanne, Switzerland, boasted the leading open-enrollment exec ed program for nine straight years through 2020; but after The Financial Times bowed to pandemic pressures and put both its exec ed rankings on a one-year hiatus in 2021, IMD found itself knocked from its perch in 2022, when HEC Paris claimed the top spot.

In 2023, it was HEC Paris’ turn: Despite ranking No. 1 in Aims Achieved, it fell to second behind IESE. HEC was followed by Esade Business School of Spain, INSEAD, and Oxford Saïd Business School in fifth. IMD sank to seventh place. Business schools headquartered in Europe were named 11 of the 12 top-ranked open programs, with only Fundação Dom Cabral of Brazil (tied with IMD at seventh) standing out from the Euro crowd.

“Ranking once again among the top schools in the world for executive education shows our ability to consistently deliver an exceptional overall experience to the executives, entrepreneurs, and corporate clients who come to us for their training needs,” says Philip Moscoso, associate dean for executive education at IESE, one of just three top-10 programs with 50% or more women. “It’s particularly pleasing to note their high satisfaction levels with their time at IESE. This is thanks not only to the relevancy of our programs but also their ability to impart new ways of thinking and the opportunity to network with high-level peers and faculty.”


European schools dominated the customized exec ed ranking, as well, which lists the top programs tailored to the needs of organizations that call upon schools to meet their strategic requirements. Nine of the leading 12 custom courses were headquartered in Europe — but here again, change occurred at the top: After IESE was the top customized program from 2018 to 2020, it fell to third in 2022 as HEC Paris ascended, but in 2023 HEC Paris was toppled by Duke Corporate Education.

Duke CE, No. 2 in 2022, was named the top customized program for the first time, bucking the European slant of the London-based magazine’s annual list. It was followed by France’s INSEAD, HEC Paris, IESE, and ESMT in Germany. The University of Michigan Ross School of Business was sixth. ESMT was named No. 1 in both the Value for Money and Aims Achieved categories.

“In today’s rapidly changing landscape, where transformation has become the new norm, Duke CE understands the critical role of equipping leaders with the knowledge, behaviors, and mindsets to navigate these challenges effectively,” the school, which was founded in 2000, announced on its website in acknowledging the 2023 FT ranking. “CEO Sharmla Chetty emphasizes our focus on empowering leaders to create immediate and lasting change in their companies, recognizing that client needs are ever-evolving and unique.”


The data for both rankings is collected through two online surveys, conducted independently by The Financial Times, with companies and participants (80% of the result) and with schools (20% of the result). Among the biggest gainers in the custom category was EMlyon Business School of France, which has jumped 13 places since 2020; EMLyon also moved into a three-way tie for 21st in the open category, up from 29th in 2022.

“This result testifies to our collective commitment to train and support, throughout their lives, responsible executives and leaders who effectively transform their organizations for a more just, caring and planet-friendly society,” says Christine Baldy-Ngayo, associate dean for executive education at EMLyon.

“This ranking is a recognition of the strength of our Executive Education programs, as well as our talented participants, world-class faculty, outstanding alumni community and excellent teams.”

See The Financial Times‘ full executive education rankings here.

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