a woman walks in front of a university building
Columbia Business School’s new campus. The New York school tops the ranking for the first time © Iwan Baan

US business schools, led for the first time by Columbia in New York, dominate the top of the FT Global MBA Ranking in its 25th year.

Of the leading tier of 18 of the 100 business schools ranked in 2023, 13 are in the US, including Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley. Two top-tier schools are in France: Insead, placed second, and HEC Paris. One school — third-placed Iese — is in Spain; one, SDA Bocconi, is in Italy; and another, London Business School, is in the UK.

The US dominates in part because the assessment focuses on outcomes, giving significant weight to salary levels and rises three years after completion of the MBA. Twelve of the 14 highest paying MBAs are from US business schools, led by Stanford, with an average weighted alumni salary of $248,669.

However, in this year’s ranking — which includes changes to the methodology following extensive consultations — the weighting for salaries has been cut from two-fifths to less than one-third, while more credit is given to diversity and sustainability. The MBA ranking was first published in 1999, as former business education editor Della Bradshaw recalls here.

Global MBA Ranking 2023

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University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg is ranked top for value for money, in part a proxy for social mobility after taking into account financial aid, with salaries three years after completion on average 188 per cent higher than earnings before studying.

The University of Virginia: Darden was ranked highest for efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, judged by a new assessment based on the target set to reach net zero carbon emissions and the existence of a publicly available carbon emissions audit report produced within the past three years. SDA Bocconi School of Management and IE Business School were joint second in the category.

IE, followed by Iese, both in Spain, ranked highest for the extent to which core courses incorporated environmental, social and governance issues, including studying climate solutions that can help organisations reach net zero.

In a new measure of diversity in the rankings, AGSM at UNSW Business School in Australia came top for the range of sectors in which alumni worked before studying for an MBA, followed by Essec Business School in France.

Only ESCP Business School, which has campuses in France, Italy, Spain, the UK and Germany, achieved student gender parity, with just 10 schools among the 100 ranked having more women than men. No school achieved gender parity among faculty, although IE in Spain reached 49 per cent women.

Top 10 MBA business schools over the past 25 years
Business schoolAverage rankTop rankYears of highest rank
University of Pennsylvania: Wharton2.0912001-2004, 2006-2009, 2011, 2022
Harvard Business School2.2911999-2000, 2005, 2013-2015, 2020
Stanford Graduate School of Business3.4212012,2018-2019
Columbia Business School4.6312023
Insead4.9612016-2017, 2021
London Business School5.1612009-2011
University of Chicago: Booth7.6032002, 2021
MIT: Sloan8.7142000
Iese Business School12.9242021
Northwestern University: Kellogg13.0452022

The International Institute for Management Development (IMD), in Switzerland, had the highest share of faculty drawn from outside its home country, at 98 per cent, followed by Imperial College Business School in the UK, at 96 per cent.

Cornell University: Johnson was ranked top for the value of its alumni networks — another new category — followed by the University of Florida: Warrington, while Stanford Graduate School of Business came joint top with Michigan State University: Broad for alumni assessments of aims achieved.

Harvard topped the rank for research, measured partly by the greatest number of academic papers by its faculty published in the FT50 list of leading journals, followed by Columbia Business School in New York. 

Letter in response to this article:

Your reweighting of MBA rankings should go further / From Anthony Carey, London HA2, UK

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