Our 2013 Ranking Of The Best EMBA Programs

The new Wharton San Francisco campus near the base of the Bay Bridge

The new Wharton San Francisco campus near the base of the Bay Bridge

For the third year in a row. the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School tops the PoetsandQuants’ ranking of the world’s best executive MBA programs. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management came in second and third, respectively, in the 2013 composite ranking, just as they had in the previous two years.

Also making the top ten are No. 4 Columbia Business School, No. 5 New York University’s Stern School, No. 6 UCLA’s Anderson School, No. 7 the University of Michigan’s Ross School, No. 8 Cornell University, No. 9 the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, and No. 10 the University of Southern California’s Marshall School.

In all, some 52 EMBA programs made the cut this year, ranging from No. 1 Wharton to No. 52 the University of Denver’s Daniels School.

Most of the significant changes in the list occurred outside the top ten. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s EMBA program rose nine places to finish 24th from 33rd last year. The University of Texas at Dallas and Boston University both had impressive seven-place jumps, moving to 38th from 45th and to 47th and 29th, respectively. Rochester University’s Simon School also improved six places to 47th from 53rd. Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business gained five places to rank 16th from 21st last year.

Among the schools losing ground were the Thunderbird School of Global Management and Villanova University’s business school both fell six places.

The highest ranked non-U.S. school to show up on the PoetsandQuants’ list is IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, which maintained its rank of 14 from last year. INSEAD in France and Singapore, and IESE Business School in Barcelona and Madrid were next with ranks of 23 and 24, respectively.


The new ranking by Poets&Quants measures the overall reputation of these programs by combining the four latest ratings on EMBA programs from BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and U.S. News & World Report. By blending these rankings into a composite list, the methodology tends to diminish anomalies that often show up in any one rating system. None of these rankings are without their flaws so a composite ranking tends to get a user closer to the true brand value of these programs, especially because of the absence of Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business from this market.

The new ranking also takes into account a blizzard of metrics to measure the quality of the programs, from surveys of student satisfaction to rises in income attributed to the degree. Each of the four major rankings are equally weighted in this 2013 survey of the best.


Wharton topped our list for the third consecutive year due to the caliber of students in its two programs in Philadelphia and San Francisco. Both cohorts boast median GMAT scores of 700 out of a total score of 800 at a time when many EMBA programs no longer require the exam.  Even beyond the impressive GMATs, the highest reported scores for any EMBA program in the world, Wharton’s executive students have other stats that easily make them among the best participants in any Executive MBA program.

The home campus cohort in Philadelphia, which numbers 118 in the Class of 2014, already earns on average $166,000 in salary and bonus, average 10 years of work experience, and 39% came to the program with advanced degrees. Only 43% of the class are employed by companies which are paying 50% or more of the program’s cost.

The San Francisco cohort of 102 students in the Class of 2014 have an even higher average salary and bonus: $170,000. They average 11 years of work experience and 36% already hold advanced degrees. Only 27% of the class work for companies that are paying 50% or more of the cost of the program.


Current students heap plenty of praise on the Wharton experience and the value of its brand. As Lindsay Stewart, an EMBA student in Wharton’s San Francisco program puts it, ““I’ve taken only six hours of marketing but, I know enough to understand that brand matters. Plain and simple.” It’s why, she says, she only applied to one EMBA program: Wharton.

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