FT Executive MBA Ranking 2021: methodology and key
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
This is the 21st 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 school’s 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 Europe’s Equis. The EMBA must be cohort-based, with students enrolling and graduating together, and with at least 30 graduates each year.
A total of 136 programmes took part in the 2021 ranking process, including 14 joint programmes delivered by more than one school. Two new schools feature in our table — Moscow’s Skolkovo at 58 and Zhejiang at 65.
Data for the ranking are collected using two online surveys, the first completed by participating schools and the second by alumni who completed programmes in 2018. For a school to be eligible for the rankings, at least 20 per cent of its alumni must respond to the FT survey, with a minimum of 20 responses. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, this year, the FT considered schools with a lower response rate. About 4,770 alumni completed the survey — an overall response rate of around 47 per cent.
FT Executive MBA ranking 2021 — top 100
Find out which schools are in our ranking of EMBA degrees.
Alumni responses inform five ranking criteria: salary today, salary increase, career progress, work experience and aims achieved. Together they account 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 completion. 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 2021 survey carry 50 per cent of the total weight and those from 2020 and 2019 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 2021 and 2020, or 70:30 if from 2021 and 2019. For salary figures, the weighting is 50:50 for two years’ data, to avoid inflation-related distortions.
Information provided by the business schools informs 10 criteria that collectively account for 35 per cent of the final ranking. The ESG category is based on the proportion of core courses dedicated to environmental, social and governance issues. It carries a weight of 3 per cent.
The weight of the faculty and student gender diversity is 4 per cent each. 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 2018 and around May 2021 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 and are unitless, so they allow the ranking to be based on very different criteria — salary, percentages and 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 Pizer-MacMillan acted as the FT’s database consultant.
The FT research rank was calculated using Clarivate data covering 50 journals selected by FT from the Web of Science, an abstract and citation database of research literature.
Weights for ranking criteria are shown in brackets as a percentage.
Salary today US$ (20): average alumnus salary three years after completion, US$ PPP equivalent.†
Salary increase (20): average difference in alumni salaries 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 the pre-EMBA salary – the figure published in the table. †
Careers progress (5): calculated according to changes in the level of seniority and the size of company alumni work in now, versus before their EMBA.†
Work experience (5): a measure of the pre-EMBA experience of alumni according to the seniority of positions held, number of years in each position, organisation size and overseas work experience.†
Aims achieved (5): the 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 location of employment – the published figure.
International students (5): the percentage of current EMBA students whose citizenship differs from the location in which they study, or where the school’s main campus is located, as well as their diversity by citizenship.
International board (2): percentage of the board whose citizenship differs from the location in which the business school is situated.
International course experience (5): percentage of classroom teaching hours that were conducted outside the location in which the business school is situated for the completing EMBA classes from 2018 to 2021 if available. An average calculation was taken from the 2021 survey, if data were available for required overseas teaching sessions, plus the past two years’ international course experience data (from the 2020 and 2019 surveys). Virtual experiences were not included. Due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, some schools were unable to provide recent data for this category. If you are a prospective student, please contact the school to check if they are able to offer classes overseas. †
Extra languages (1): the number of languages required on graduation, excluding English. * 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 2018 and around May 2021. The rank combines the absolute number of publications with the number weighted relative to the faculty’s size.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) rank (3): proportion of core courses dedicated to ethical, social and environmental issues for the current and recent completing class. Due to the pandemic, some schools do not have a current class, therefore data was taken from their recent completing class only.
Overall satisfaction: average evaluation by alumni of the course, scored out of 10. After alumni answered various questions about their EMBA experience, they were asked to rate their overall satisfaction, on a 10-point scale.
FT ranking tier: schools are divided into four groups. Schools at the top are in tier one and those at the end are in tier four.
† Includes data for the current year and the one or two preceding years where available.
†† For the three gender-related criteria, schools that have 50:50 (male:female) composition receive the highest possible score.
Criteria for taking part in our ranking
NOTE: We review the criteria on a regular basis. The pandemic has affected business schools and our ranking process, but we have done our best to accommodate feedback from schools. Please note, we are unable to include requests from every school.
The FT EMBA ranking is based on two surveys: one for the business school and one sent to your alumni who completed their EMBA three years ago.
Each school can only submit one standalone programme. However, more than one programme can be submitted if the additional programme is a joint degree. Joint programmes can be separately entered, on condition they are structured so that participating students take classes from all partner institutions in the programme.
The following are the criteria schools must meet in order to participate in the annual EMBA ranking:
The business school must be accredited by AACSB or Equis.
Your programme must have been running continuously for the past four years and the first class should have graduated in the calendar year at least three years prior to the survey date.
Executive MBAs are part-time degrees designed for senior working managers. It is assumed most participants have at least 10 years of work experience and hold managing positions.
The course of study should last no longer than three years. This is the default length. If your EMBA graduates took more than 3 years of study then they cannot take part in the survey, therefore they should be removed from the list of alumni to be surveyed.
Students must matriculate and graduate in cohort(s).
At least 30 students must have completed the programme, per year, three years ago and in each subsequent year.
No more than 20 per cent of the class must be from one company.
The business school must have a minimum of 20 full-time permanent faculty.
Graduates need to complete the survey in English.
If your school was unable to run its nominated programme (for this year’s ranking) due to the pandemic, we understand that your school may not meet the above criterion number 6. In this case, we ask for at least 20 students to complete the programme per year for 2020 and 2021. Your school can take part in this year’s ranking as long as your school meets the rest of the criteria. This year we are surveying graduates who completed your nominated programme 3 years ago, but we still require at least 30 alumni to be surveyed this year.
We need a response rate of at least 20 per cent from alumni with a minimum of 20 completed surveys from any school wishing to be considered for the ranking. E.g., a class size of 100 graduates will require 20 completed surveys and a class size of 200 alumni will require 40 completed surveys. This response rate is based on the total size of the cohort we are surveying, not the number graduate emails you will be able to supply, as we are aware that some alumni will opt out of the survey.
Meeting these criteria does not guarantee automatic participation in the ranking. The final decision rests with the Financial Times.
Please note, the table is finalised about five weeks before the publication date. It is too late for schools to withdraw from the ranking after the five-week mark.
Email email@example.com by the start of March if you have questions or wish to take part as the ranking process starts in mid-April. By this time, the onus is on schools to get in contact with us if they wish to take part in the ranking, as we are unable to email every single school to check if they wish to be considered.
Invitation to participate: April/May
Schools to confirm participation: May
Schools to upload alumni list: June
Schools to upload faculty list: July
Survey open: June
Survey close: July
Data checks with schools: July – September