HKUST/Kellogg University
Kellogg/HKUST’s joint programme heads the FT EMBA ranking for the 9th time

This is the 18th edition of the FT global executive MBA ranking of the best 100 programmes worldwide, based on data collected from business schools and their alumni who graduated in 2015. Find the full ranking here.

Executive MBA graduates are much more likely to work in industry and manufacturing than younger alumni from full-time MBAs and masters in management courses — and less likely to be employed in finance or consulting.

FT research shows that 17 per cent of graduates of EMBAs, courses for working senior managers, are employed in industry or manufacturing, almost three times as many as their MBA peers. Only 10 per cent of EMBA alumni work in consulting, less than half the proportion of their more junior counterparts from MiM pre-experience degrees.

The gap in average salaries between EMBA and MBA alumni ($220,000 vs $146,000) is similar to that between MBA and MiM graduates ($146,000 vs $67,000), three years after graduation. However MBA alumni have the largest salary boost, up 107 per cent on their generally lower pre-MBA salaries, compared with 59 per cent for EMBA alumni. The increase for MiM alumni is not comparable since it is calculated from their first salary after graduation.

This ranking considers corporate social responsibility (CSR) for the first time, with Iese Business School coming top in the new criterion.

This new criterion is based on the proportion of core courses dedicated to CSR, ethics, social and environmental issues. The category carries a ranking weighting of 3 per cent and replaces the number of PhD graduates per school, which had a weighting of 5 per cent. The remaining two points are shared between the proportions of female faculty and female students, their weight increasing to 4 per cent.

The Iese EMBA includes more than 150 case studies, which are discussed and debated, and solutions must include CSR principles.

“CSR is at the core of what we do,” says Julia Prats, associate dean for MBA programmes. “Participants understand that every business decision must include a consideration about what impact it will make on people, the environment and society.”

The joint programme delivered by Kellogg School of Management and HKUST Business School is top overall for the third consecutive year and a record ninth time overall. Its alumni have the highest average salary three years after graduation at $507,000, almost $140,000 greater than the second highest paid cohort, from Washington University’s Olin Business School. The EMBA is ranked fourth for work experience and more than half of its alumni are company leaders three years after graduation.

This is one of five joint programmes delivered by Kellogg, which offer good networking opportunities, according to graduates. “The different cohorts at different campuses connected with professionals from around the world,” noted one.

The ranking features four new or returning schools. HEC Paris is this year’s highest “new” entrant, in sixth place. The French school was already in the ranking as one third of Trium, a joint degree with London School of Economics and NYU: Stern, but this year also takes part with its solo programme. Its alumni have an average salary of $322,000, a 68 per cent increase on the pre-EMBA salary.

The Universidad de los Andes, in 95th place, is the first Colombian school to be ranked for a degree programme, as opposed to short executive education courses. It is one of four schools from Latin or South America, including FGV EAESP, one-fifth of the OneMBA joint-programme, ranked at 44.

Top school: Kellogg/HKUST

This is the ninth time in 12 years that Kellogg/HKUST’s joint programme heads the FT EMBA ranking. On the three occasions it did not secure the top spot, it came second. The programme is built around the quality of the faculty, its participants and the alumni network. “I learnt a lot from classrooms, interactions with classmates and networking with alumni,” said one graduate. More than half of graduates from the class of 2015 are company leaders three years after graduation.

Highest new entrant: HEC Paris

HEC Paris has featured continuously in the top five places in this ranking since 2006 as one third of the Trium joint programme with London School of Economics and NYU Stern School of Business. It now enters the ranking with its solo programme in joint sixth place. Alumni are ranked third for career progress and in the top 10 for salary. The EMBA also has a strong global element, with its modules available in 14 different locations helping it to reach 10th place for international experience.

Top for CSR: Iese

Iese Business School comes top for corporate social responsibility, a criterion introduced in this ranking for the first time and replacing the number of PhD graduates. One of Iese’s areas of focus is impact on society. The school says its courses are designed with a global scope and human and ethical values. The programme includes more than 150 case discussions. Students debating business problems must consider management and business principles but also environmental issues, ethics, and sustainability.

Joint highest riser: Rotman

BKRJP8 University of Toronto Rotman Business School Building

Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is one of three schools to rise by 20 places but is the highest ranked at 47. Rotman had been dropping places every year since 2011 but has reversed the trend. The school has also increased the proportion of international students from 26 to 41 per cent.

Joint highest riser: EMLyon

EMLyon Business School of France climbed 20 places, to 63. This is the school’s best performance since 2012, when it was ranked 60th. The school had dropped to 96 in 2015 but has been improving gradually every year. EMLyon moved up this year despite a small drop in alumni salary, but nearly doubled its proportion of female students to 26 per cent and is ranked fifth for career progress. It also improved on its research rank, moving up 10 places to 64.

Joint highest riser: Gibs

Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria is the third highest climber, also moving up 20 places, to 67. The school matched the ranking position it achieved on its first participation in 2011. It is also the only school from South Africa to have featured in this ranking.

Most female faculty: Koç

Koç University Graduate School of Business of Turkey has the highest proportion of female faculty at 53 per cent, compared with an average of 29 per cent. “Most of the lecturers were experts in their fields,’ said one graduate. Korea University Business School has the lowest proportion of female faculty at 7 per cent.

Most international students: Incae

Incae Business School of Costa Rica and Nicaragua has the most international cohort with 90 per cent foreign students. Most are from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. The school is 15th for international course experience, with three modules in China, Spain and the US. More than 90 per cent of faculty are also foreign. The school rises 13 places to 49, the first time it breaks into the top 50. LO

New entrant: Universidad de los Andes

B309G7 Courtyard of University de Los Andes, MERIDA, Venezuela, South America

Universidad de los Andes has featured in the FT rankings of Executive Education programmes since 2010 but this is the first time a Colombian institution appears in an FT ranking of degree programmes, entering in 95th place. It is one of five schools with no international students.


This is the 18th edition of the FT’s annual ranking of the world’s top 100 executive MBA programmes for senior working managers.

Participation in the ranking is voluntary and at the business schools’ request. EMBA programmes must meet certain criteria to be eligible. First the school must be accredited by either the US’s Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the European Equis. The EMBA must be cohort-based, with students enrolling and graduating together, with at least 30 graduates each year.

A record 139 programmes took part in the 2018 ranking process, including 16 joint programmes delivered by more than one school. Nine schools took part for the first time.

Data for the ranking are collected using two online surveys, the first completed by participating schools and the second by alumni who graduated from programmes in 2015. The FT requires a response rate of 20 per cent (or 20 fully completed responses, whichever is the greater) from the alumni survey for a school to be considered for the final ranking. A total of 4,680 alumni completed the survey — an overall response rate of 46 per cent.

Alumni responses inform five ranking criteria: salary today, salary increase, career progress, work experience and aims achieved. They account together for 55 per cent of the ranking’s weight. The first two criteria, about alumni salaries, each count for 20 per cent.

Salaries of non-profit and public sector workers, as well as full-time students, are removed. Remaining salaries are converted to US dollars using the latest purchasing power parity (PPP) rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund. The highest and lowest salaries are then removed and the mean average “current salary” is calculated for each school. Salary increase is calculated according to the difference in average salary before the EMBA to three years after graduation, typically four to five years. Half of the ranking weight is applied to the absolute increase and the other half to the percentage increase relative to pre-EMBA pay.

When available, alumni criteria are informed by the past three surveys. Responses from the 2018 survey carry 50 per cent of the total weight and those from 2017 and 2016 each account for 25 per cent. Excluding salary-related criteria, if only two years of data are available, the weighting is split 60:40 if data are from 2018 and 2017, or 70:30 if from 2018 and 2016. For salary figures, the weighting is 50:50 for two years’ data, to avoid inflation-related distortions.

Information provided by the business schools inform 10 criteria that collectively account for 35 per cent of the final ranking. The FT has dropped the number of PhD graduates from its criteria, which had a weight of five. In its place, the FT introduced a new criterion: Corporate Social Responsibility. It is based on the proportion of core courses dedicated to CSR, ethics, social and environmental issues. It carries a weight of three.

The weight of the faculty and student gender diversity both increased from three to four. For these gender diversity criteria, schools with a 50:50 (male:female) composition receive the highest score.

The international diversity calculation is based on the overall percentage of students and faculty from abroad as well as the spread of these individuals by citizenship based on the Herfindahl index, a measure of concentration.

The final criterion, the FT research rank, accounts for 10 per cent of the ranking. It is calculated according to the number of articles published by schools’ full-time faculty in 50 internationally recognised academic and practitioner journals. The rank combines the absolute number of publications from January 2015-July 2018 with the number of publications weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

The FT rankings are relative. Schools are ranked against each other rather than against set standards. The FT calculates the Z-scores for each criterion. Z-scores show how far a school’s data is from the mean. Z-scores are unitless, so allow the ranking to be based on very different criteria (salary, percentages, points). These scores are then weighted as outlined in the ranking key and added together for a final score.

After removing the schools that did not meet the minimum response rate from their alumni, a first version is calculated using all remaining schools. The school at the bottom is removed and a second version is calculated. This action is repeated to find the top 100.

Judith Pizer of Jeff Head Associates acted as the FT’s database consultant. The FT research rank was calculated using Scopus, an abstract and citation database of research literature.

Key (weights for ranking criteria are shown in brackets as a percentage of the overall ranking)

Salary today US$ (20): average salary three years after graduation, US$ PPP equivalent.†

Salary increase (20): average difference between before the EMBA and now. Half of this figure is calculated according to the absolute salary increase and half according to the percentage increase relative to pre-EMBA salary.

Career progress (5): calculated according to changes in the level of seniority and the size of company that alumni work in now, compared with before their EMBA.†

Work experience (5): a measure of pre-EMBA experience according to the seniority of positions held, number of years in each position, company size and overseas work experience.†

Aims achieved (5): extent to which alumni fulfilled their goals or reasons for doing an EMBA.†

Female faculty (4): percentage of female faculty.

Female students (4): percentage of female students on the programme.

Women on board (1): percentage of female members of the advisory board.

International faculty (5): calculated according to the diversity of faculty by citizenship and the percentage whose citizenship differs from their country of employment.

International students (5): the percentage of current EMBA students whose citizenship and country of residence differs from the country in which they study, as well as their diversity by citizenship.

International board (2): percentage of the board whose citizenship differs from the country in which the school is situated.

International course experience (5): percentage of classroom teaching hours that are conducted outside the country in which the business school is situated.

Languages (1): number of languages required upon graduation. *Programme not fully available in English.

Faculty with doctorates (5): percentage of full-time faculty with a doctoral degree.

FT research rank (10): calculated according to the number of articles published by a school’s current full-time faculty members in 50 academic and practitioner journals between January 2015 and July 2018. The rank combines the absolute number of publications with the number weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

Corporate Social Responsibility (3): proportion of core courses dedicated to CSR, ethics, social and environmental issues.

For all gender-related criteria, schools with a 50:50 (male/female) composition receive the highest score.

† Includes data for the current year and the one or two preceding years where available.

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