Global MBA Ranking 2023: methodology update and entry criteria
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
This year’s Global full-time MBA Ranking includes some important changes. The aim is to retain a focus on outcomes, while placing more emphasis on tracking how the education offered reflects diversity and sustainability — and ultimately fosters greater societal impact by business.
Outcome measures still account for more than half of the total weighting. Salary levels, three years after completion, and wage increases, from before the MBA to now, remain central. But the weighting of salary criteria is reduced from 40 per cent to 32 per cent to give greater emphasis to other factors. Value for money — a proxy for social mobility, which takes into account study costs, financial aid and earnings post MBA — has been increased to a weighting of 5 per cent.
The ability to speak languages other than English at graduation has been dropped as a ranking criterion. So has alumni recommendations of other business schools, while their assessments of the value of school networks — a key aspect of an MBA — receives a 4 per cent weighting. Other outcome measures — employment at three months after completion, the quality of the career service, and alumni career progress — remain.
The weightings for gender parity and international diversity of students and faculty are equally weighted at 3 per cent — as is a new measure of the diversity of employment backgrounds of students. Since many choose to stay in the country where they studied, the weight for international mobility has been reduced.
New emphasis has been given to the environment. Fresh credit is given for schools providing a recent public carbon emissions report complying with international standards, and also for setting near-term zero emission targets. Only foreign study visits and placements lasting at least one month are counted towards the international course experience rank, to penalise shorter-term international travel.
The updated methodology
This FT MBA ranking features 100 of the world’s best full-time MBA programmes. A total of 142 schools took part in the ranking process for the 2023 edition. All participating schools meet the FT’s entry criteria and are accredited by Equis or the AACSB.
The FT surveys alumni three years after completing their MBA. For schools to enter the ranking calculations, the FT usually requires that a minimum of 20 per cent of alumni reply to the survey, with at least 20 fully completed surveys.
This year, because of disruption from Covid, the FT considered schools with a lower response rate. A total of 7,134 alumni from the class of 2019 completed our survey — an overall response rate of 36 per cent.
The ranking has 21 categories. Alumni responses inform eight criteria that together contribute 56 per cent of its weight. Twelve criteria are calculated from school data, accounting for 34 per cent of the ranking. KPMG audits a number of schools every year. The remaining criterion, the research rank, counts for 10 per cent.
Alumni-informed criteria are based on the data collected over three years. Responses from the 2023 ranking survey carry 50 per cent of total weight and those from 2022 and 2021, 25 per cent each. If only two years of data are available, the weighting is split 60:40 if data are from 2023 and 2022, or 70:30 if they are from 2023 and 2021. For salary figures, the weighting is 50:50 for two years’ data.
The first two alumni criteria are average income three years after completion and salary increase from before the MBA to now, each weighted at 16 per cent. For the latter, half of the weight applies to the absolute increase and half to the percentage rise (published). Current salaries are converted to US dollars using IMF international purchasing power parity rates.
The highest and lowest salaries are removed from each school, to calculate a normalised average. Finally, salaries are weighted to reflect differences between different sectors.
“Value for money” for each school is calculated by dividing its average alumni salary three years after completion by the MBA’s total cost, including tuition, lost salary, opportunity cost and other expenses. Any scholarship assistance given to alumni is subtracted from the total.
The FT also collects information from schools on their current faculty, newly enrolled students and the latest completing class. School criteria include the diversity of staff, board members and students by gender, citizenship and the MBA’s international reach. For gender criteria, schools with a 50:50 composition score highest.
The research rank is based on the number of articles by full-time faculty in 50 internationally recognised academic and practitioner journals. The rank combines the number of publications from January 2020 to July 2022, with the number weighted relative to faculty size.
For the 2023 ranking, we have made some changes in response to feedback from schools. For example, the total weighting for alumni salaries is now 32 per cent, not 40.
The environmental, social and governance rank is based on the proportion of teaching hours from core courses including ESG topics, but now includes time spent on instructing how organisations can reach net zero.
There are three new categories. One measures the quality of alumni networks. The second is student sector diversity, which looks at the range of employment sectors candidates have worked in before starting their MBA. Finally, we added a school carbon footprint rank.
We removed two categories: first, the number of languages required on graduation, excluding English; second, alumni recommendations of schools other than their own from which they would recruit MBA graduates.
The MBA ranking is a relative listing. Schools are ranked against each other by calculating a Z-score for each criterion. The Z-score is a statistic that shows where a score lies in relation to the mean. These scores are then weighted as outlined in the ranking key and added together for a final score.
After removing schools that did not meet the response rate threshold from the alumni survey, a first version is calculated. The school at the bottom is removed and a second version is calculated and so on until we reach the top 100. The top 100 schools are ranked accordingly to produce the final list.
Key (weights for ranking criteria are shown in brackets as a percentage)
Salary today**: average alumni salary three years after completion, US$ PPP equivalent. This figure is not used in the ranking. #
Weighted salary (16): average alumni salary three years after completion, US$ PPP equivalent (see methodology below), with adjustment for variations between sectors. #
Salary increase (16): average difference in alumni salary from before the MBA to now. Half of this figure is calculated according to the absolute salary increase and half according to the percentage increase relative to pre-MBA salary. #
Value for money (5): calculated using salary today, course length, tuition and other costs, including lost income during the MBA. #
Career progress (3): calculated according to changes in the level of seniority and the size of the organisation alumni work in now, compared with before their MBA. #
Aims achieved (4): the extent to which alumni fulfilled their stated goals or reasons for doing an MBA. #
Alumni network rank (4): effectiveness of the alumni network for career opportunities, starting companies, gaining new ideas, recruiting staff and giving event information (such as career-related talks), as rated by alumni.
Careers service (3): effectiveness of the school careers service for career counselling, personal development, networking events, internship search and recruitment, as rated by alumni. #
Employed at three months (2): percentage of the most recent completing class which found employment or accepted a job offer within three months of completing their studies. The figure in brackets is the percentage of the class for which the school was able to provide employment data and is used to calculate the school’s final score. §
Sector diversity rank (3): calculated according to the diversity of sectors the students worked in at the time of admission, before the MBA.
Female faculty (3): percentage of female faculty.
Female students (3): percentage of female students on the MBA.
Women on board (1): percentage of female members on the school’s advisory board.
International faculty (3): calculated according to the diversity of faculty by citizenship and the percentage whose citizenship differs from their location of employment — the figure published in the table.
International students (3): calculated according to the diversity of current MBA students by citizenship and the percentage whose citizenship differs from the location in which they study — the figure in the table.
International board (1): percentage of the board whose citizenship differs from the location in which the school is based.
International mobility (5): based on alumni citizenship and the locations where they worked before their MBA, on completion and three years after. #
International course experience (3): calculated according to whether the most recent completing class carried out exchanges and internships, lasting at least a month, in countries other than where the school is based. In-person, virtual and hybrid experiences are included. Due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, ranks for this category may not be a true reflection of the overseas opportunities that schools can offer. Prospective students should contact business schools to check if they offer study trips and internships abroad. §
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 current full-time faculty members in 50 selected academic and practitioner journals between January 2020 and July 2022. The FT50 rank combines the absolute number of publications with the number weighted relative to the faculty’s size.
Carbon footprint rank (4): calculated using the net zero target year for carbon emissions set by the university or school, and a publicly available carbon emissions audit report within the last three years.
ESG and net zero teaching rank (3): proportion of teaching hours from core courses including ethics, social, environmental issues and climate solutions that can enable organisations to reach net zero.
Overall satisfaction**: average evaluation by alumni of the course, scored out of 10. After alumni answered various questions about their MBA experience, they were asked to rate their overall satisfaction, on a 10-point scale. This figure is not used in the ranking.
Schools with a 50:50 (male/female) composition receive the highest possible score in the three gender-related criteria.
§ Alumni who completed MBA between July 2021 and June 2022.
# Includes data for the class of 2019 and one or two preceding classes where available.
** Category not used in the ranking.
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 the FT from the Web of Science, an abstract and citation database of research literature.
These weightings may still be revised in the future and others introduced. Feedback on the changes and suggestions from readers for new measures are welcome. Email email@example.com
Criteria for taking part in our ranking
Updated on Aug 1, 2023.
We are surveying graduates who completed your nominated full-time MBA three years ago. We require at least 30 alumni from the 2020 calendar year to be surveyed this year.
The FT full-time MBA ranking is based on two surveys: one for the business school and one sent to your alumni who completed their MBA 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 MBA ranking:
The school must be accredited by AACSB or Equis.
Your full-time MBA must have been in operation for the past four or five years and must have graduated its first class in the calendar year three years before the survey date.
The full-time MBA must be a generalist programme. We do not consider specialised programmes.
Your MBA must be a post-experience degree. The vast majority of students will have at least three years of work experience.
Students must matriculate and graduate in cohort(s).
At least 30 full-time students must have completed the programme, per calendar year, three years ago and in each subsequent year.
The business school must have a minimum of 20 full-time permanent faculty.
The MBA programme must be delivered in English. Graduates need to complete the survey in English.
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 eight weeks before the publication date. It is too late for schools to withdraw from the ranking after the eight-week mark.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org by the start of July if you have questions or wish to take part as the ranking process starts in early August. 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: August
Schools to confirm participation: August
Schools to upload alumni list: September
Schools to upload faculty list: October
Survey open: September
Survey close: October
Data checks with schools: October – January