2010 Financial Times Executive MBA Ranking

For the second year in a row, Kellogg’s joint Executive MBA program with Hong Kong’s UST Business School came out on top of The Financial Times’ new 2010 global EMBA ranking released Oct. 26th. U.S./European partnership programs also claimed the number two and number three spots in the survey. Columbia Business School’s joint EMBA with London Business School was second, while New York University’s EMBA with HEC Paris and the London School of Economics was third.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School gets four places in the top 25 of the FT list. Besides the number one ranking of its partnership with Hong Kong’s UST, its EMBA program with WHU-Otto Beisheim School in Germany places 14th; it’s standalone EMBA program at home captures the 20th spot, while its joint program with York University’s Schulich School in Canada is ranked 23rd in the world.


The FT list, its tenth annual ranking of EMBA programs, was filled with many wild and unexplained changes in rankings. Some 20 schools, for example, sufferred double-digit declines in their year-over-year rankings, while eight schools registered double-digit increases. In the accompanying analysis published with the rankings, the newspaper does not explain any of these significant changes. Such volatility can generally be explained because the differences in a school’s given rank is often statistically meaningless. The Financial Times gives some hint of this in a tiny footnote to its survey.

“Although the headline ranking figures show changes in the data year to year, the pattern of clustering among the schools is equally significant,” admits the FT in the footnote. “Some 270 points separate Kellogg/Hong Kong UST Business School at the top, from the school ranked number 100. The first nine business schools, from Kellogg/UST to Duke University form the top group of schools. The second group is headed by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which would need to increase its score by 9 points in order to move up a group. Top of the third group is the Rice University: Jones which is 6 points behind Boston University School of Management. Some 45 points separate the top and bottom schools in this third group. The fourth group is more spread out, separated by 70 points.”

Translation: many of the schools are given a ranked number, even though in a good deal of cases there is no statistical basis for the difference between one EMBA program and another. The FT’s methodology makes this ranking as much about how politically correct or “international” a program is rather than the true quality of the program. Among other things, It uses such factors as a school’s diversity–in female faculty, staff and board members–to judge the “quality” of a program.

Major players in MBA education dominated the top ten with one surprise exception. After the top three EMBA programs that all are joint ventures of top U.S. schools, the EMBA programs at INSEAD, Chicago, London Business School, IE Business School, Wharton, Duke, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong round out the top ten. The biggest surprise in the group was Chinese University which moved up nine places to 10th place from 19th.

Some 17 of the 100 EMBA programs are joint programs with two or more schools or are programs offered in different countries. When the FT first began ranking EMBA programs in 2001, all 50 listed were single-school, single-location options.


A major component of the FT’s methodology is compensation, specifically the difference between an EMBA’s salary before and three years after graduation (for a fuller explanation of the newspaper’s methodology, see below). “In the 2001 ranking, 39 of the 50 graduating classes surveyed (78 per cent) reported average salary increases of 60 per cent or more,” the FT reported. “The median alumnus group salary increase was 76 per cent. Since 2001, the median increase has dropped, reaching 55 per cent this year. The graduating classes of 61 of the 100 programmes listed in 2010 reported an average salary increase of 60 per cent or less…The biggest salary increases were reported by those who changed employer but stayed in the same industry; they achieved an average increase of 61 per cent, reaching a salary of $174,300 three years after graduation.”

The newspaper also reported that the gap between the earnings of graduates of the top programs versus the bottom programs has widened considerably. The rise of the international EMBA has led to a widening gap between the top and bottom programmes in the ranking. In 2001, when the class of 1998 was surveyed, the top-earning alumnus group was from the Wharton School’s EMBA program at the University of Pennsylvania, reporting an average salary three years after graduation of just more than $200,000 (measured in purchasing power parity equivalents). This left these students better off by roughly $150,000, compared with the lowest-earning graduates, and contrasted with a median of $125,000.”

This year, in contrast, grades of the top-ranked Kellogg/UST program enjoyed the highest pay–on average, slightly more than $392,000, or roughly four times the average at the bottom of the scale. The FT said the median alumnus wage average is almost $151,000.

The newspaper also reported that nearly half of the responding alumni to its survey–48 percent–had changed employer since graduating in 2007. “Self-funding students were the most likely to move on after completing their degree, accounting for almost two-fifths of all those that did so,” the FT said. “More than a third of students had all their fees paid by their employer. While most opted to stay in the employment of their benefactor, more than a third of those whose fees were paid in full changed employer within three years of graduation.”

The biggest losers in this 2010 ranking? Rutgers University’s EMBA program in New Jersey plummeted 27 places, to 73rd from 46th a year earlier, while Georgia State University’s EMBA offering fell 23 spots, to 78th from 65th in 2009. Villanova dropped 20 places to 75th, from 55 in 2009. Some 13 of the schools which fell in the rankings by double digits were U.S. schools.


School Difference in Ranking 2010 Rank 2009 Rank
Rutgers B-School -27 73 46
Georgia State Univ. -23 78 65
Villanova -20 75 55
Baylor -18 91 73
Singapore -16 27 11
Pepperdine -14 86 72
St. Gallen (Switzerland) -13 59 46
Georgia State Univ. -13 78 65
Alberta/Calgary -12 48 36
Tulane -11 75 64
Cranfield -11 44 33
Mannheim -11 32 21
Strathclyde -11 89 78
Michigan -11 31 20
Utah -11 88 77
IESE -10 26 16
UCLA -10 38 28
Thunderbird -10 55 45
Miami -10 81 71
Denver -10 95 85


The biggest winners? The University of Maryland jumped 14 places to 36th this year, from 50th last year. Arizona State University rose 13 places to 28th, from 41st in 2009. Cass University in the U.K. gained 11 spots to earn a tie with Chinese University, moving from 21st place in 2009.


School Difference in Ranking 2010 Rank 2009 Rank
Maryland +14 36 50
Arizona State +13 28 41
Cass +11 10 21
Copenhagen +11 47 58
ESCP Europe +10 15 25
Kozminski (Poland) +10 81 91
Bradford/TiasNimbas +10 69 79
Drexel +10 58 68


Ultimately, of course, the biggest winners this year are schools that failed to make the top 100 list of the best EMBA programs in 2009. There were 15 schools that fell into that category. The highest ranked of them all was Cornell University whose EMBA program landed 24th on the FT list, followed by Oxford at 32, Boston University at 40th, and Melbourne University at 48th. The University of Buffalo’s EMBA program in the U.S. and Singapore made the list for the first time, ranking 51st.

The methodology of the FT survey is based on two surveys–one from 121 participating schools and the other from 3,771 responding alumni from the Class of 2007. No response rate was given for the latest alumni survey. The FT combines two previous years of alumni surveys in calculating its ranking. The alumni surveys measures salary pre-MBA and post-MBA salary increases, “aims achieved,” “career progress,” and “work experience.” Alumni responses account for half the weight of the ranking.

The school data used for the ranking by the FT measures such several factors that have little, if anything, to do with the actual quality of the education received by graduates. For example, the newspaper measures such things as the diversity of the faculty, staff, board members, and students at each school, “languages,” the “international reach of the EMBA,” as well as the amount of research published by professors from each school.

The FT list differs dramatically from other prominent EMBA rankings. The Wall Street Journal’s most recent top 25 list is largely U.S.-centric with only non-U.S. schools. It ranked Wharton’s EMBA program first, followed by the EMBA offerings at Washington University’s Olin School and Thunderbird. BusinessWeek, whose top 25 list also is largely U.S. based, ranks Kellogg’s EMBA program first, followed by Chicago, Wharton, Duke, and the University of North Carolina.



FT 2010 School & Rank WSJ Rank BW Rank U.S. News Rank FT 2009 Rank
1. Kellogg/UST NR NR NR 1
2. Columbia/London NR NR NR 3
5. Chicago 16 2 3 5
6. London Business NR 24 NR 8
7. IE Business School 24 7 NR 6
8. Wharton 1 3 1 6
9. Duke NR 4 4 12
10. Chinese Univ. H.K. NT NR NR 13
10. City Univ., Cass NR NR NR 15
12. IMD NR 6 NR 13
13. Berkeley 23 NR 7 14
14. Kellogg/WHU-Otto NR NR NR 15
15. Columbia 9 4 5 11
16. ESCP Europe NR NR NR 20
17. New York Univ. 7 14 6 17
18. Washington Univ. 2 ST NR 13
20. Kellogg 5 1 2 19
21. Purdue/Tias/CEU NR NR NR 20
23. Kellogg/York NR NR NR 22
24. Cornell 8 ST NR NR
24. Rotterdam NR NR NR 27


Source: The Financial Times

ST: The school’s program was named in the “second tier” by BusinessWeek in its latest 2010 ranking of Executive MBA programs.

NR: The schools program was not ranked.

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