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Harvard Reclaims Top Spot in Financial Times 2020 Global MBA Rankings

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The Financial Times released their 2020 Global MBA rankings this week. Harvard Business School reclaimed the #1 position—after a four-year absence from the top spot. Wharton also surpassed last year’s top seed (Stanford GSB) to land in second place. Stanford GSB, which has held the top position for several years, fell to third in the Global MBA rankings. INSEAD maintained its position as the leading international school, landing fourth overall, while CEIBS rounds out the top five.

Here are the Top 10 of the Financial Times 2020 Global MBA rankings, (2019 positions in parentheses):

Ranking School
1 Harvard Business School (2)
5 CEIBS (5)
6 MIT Sloan (8)
7 London Business School (6)
8 Columbia Business School (9)
9 HEC Paris (19, tied)
10 Chicago Booth (7)

Other Ups & Downs in the MBA Rankings

As noted above, Harvard and Wharton both moved up in the rankings and surpassed last year’s leader, Stanford GSB.  A big mover in the top 10 was HEC Paris, landing at #9 after ranking #19 last year.  Northwestern / Kellogg nearly cracked the top 10 this year, moving up 3 spots to #11.  NYU Stern also advanced 3 spots, from #25 to #22.  UVA / Darden enjoyed a 5-slot bump from 23 to 18, and Cornell / Johnson gained some ground, moving 4 spots up to #23.  USC / Marshall also jumped 10 spots this year, from #46 to #36.

While Chicago Booth remains in the top 10, the program dropped 3 spots from #7 last year. Yale SOM and Cambridge Judge each fell 3 positions, landing at #14 and #19 (tie) respectively.  Oxford Saïd slipped 8 spots to #21, and the Indian School of Business fell 4 as well to #28.

A Closer Look at U.S. Schools

The Financial Times MBA ranking blends several markets in their ranking.  If you break out the U.S. schools only, the leading U.S. MBA programs land in this order:

  • HBS
  • Wharton
  • Stanford
  • MIT
  • CBS
  • Chicago Booth
  • Northwestern Kellogg
  • Berkeley Haas
  • Yale SOM
  • Dartmouth Tuck / Duke Fuqua (tie)

Following these 11 programs are UVA Darden, NYU Stern, Cornell Johnson, UCLA Anderson, Michigan Ross, Georgetown McDonough, and CMU Tepper.

Looking at this ordering of U.S. schools, Clear Admit’s Graham Richmond commented, “The M7 occupy the top seven positions, albeit perhaps not in the order some would expect. Then, we see Haas and Yale, which have both been doing well in recent years, followed by Tuck and Fuqua to round out the top 10. Outside of this list, Michigan /Ross’s placement at #30 overall is a bit surprising, given how many of that program’s peers are ranked more highly.”

European and Asian MBA Programs

To break out the top 10 non-U.S. programs in the Financial Times MBA ranking, the leading MBA programs in Europe and Asia would fall in this order:

  • LBS
  • HEC Paris
  • IESE
  • NUS (Singapore)
  • Cambridge Judge
  • Oxford Saïd

IMD, IIM Bangalore, SDA Bocconi, Fudan School of Management, and Nanyang NTU (Singapore) follow.

Clear Admit’s Graham Richmond observed, “This list, which pulls non-U.S. schools out of the overall Global MBA ranking, is more challenging in some respects as it blends two markets (Asia & Europe), and many would argue that some of the EU schools have a longer track record and stronger reputation than their peers in Asia. For example, is LBS truly behind CEIBS in the eyes of most candidates?  Are Oxford and Cambridge trailing NUS?”

“This is the challenge of a global ranking that mixes markets,” Richmond concluded. “For someone who wants to work in NYC post-MBA, attending Yale (ranked 14th overall) is likely a better move than getting an MBA from #5 ranked CEIBS in China.  Despite these challenges, a lot of what we see in this ranking mirrors applicant preferences expressed via DecisionWire and the FT ‘s ranking is highly regarded among the international community as the gold standard.”

Understanding the FT Ranking Methodology
The FT ranking is based on surveys of alumni three years out from graduation, school data, and faculty research productivity. Alumni responses inform eight criteria—including average income three years after graduation and salary increase compared with pre-MBA salary. Together, these eight criteria account for 61 percent of the overall ranking. School data inform another 11 criteria—including various measures of diversity such as percentages of female and international faculty, students, and board members. Together these criteria make up another 29 percent of the ranking. The remaining 10 percent of the ranking is based on research rank, calculated according to the number of articles by full-time faculty in 50 internationally recognized journals, weighted relative to faculty size.  See more about the methodology here.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.