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Key Takeaways from The Economist 2022 Best Full-time MBA Ranking

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Harvard Business School tops The Economist’s 2022 full-time MBA ranking, as more business schools elected to participate again. As many may recall, most of the top U.S. MBA programs abstained from last year’s Economist ranking due to the pandemic. This resulted in a top-10 that was half European MBA programs and half American MBA programs. Last year, IESE and HEC landed in the #1 and #2 spots, respectively. Meanwhile, the highest ranking U.S. programs taking part last year were Michigan Ross (#3), NYU Stern (#4), U. Washington Foster (#8), CMU Tepper (#9), U. Minnesota Carlson (#11), U. Florida (#12), Indiana Kelley (13), U. Georgia Terry (#14), and UNC Kenan-Flagler (#16).

This year, Harvard is followed by The Wharton School, Northwestern Kellogg, Columbia Business School and MIT Sloan to round out the top five. Here’s a quick look at the top ten for 2022:

Do you agree with the Economist’s ranking? You can share your own Top 10 right here in Clear Admit’s MBA RankingsWire.

Key Takeaways from The Economist 2022 Full-time MBA Ranking

Clear Admit’s co-founder, Graham Richmond, weighed in on the refreshed ranking with some key takeaways.

1. Big Shake-Up

With the return of the US MBA programs to the mix, there are just two schools that held on to a place in the top-10; HEC Paris (down 5 spots to #7) and Michigan Ross (down 7 spots to #10). This has created space for the likes of Harvard Business School, Wharton, Kellogg and Columbia, MIT Sloan, Duke Fuqua (#6), Stanford (#8), and Chicago (#9).

2. Notable in Their Absence

London Business School, INSEAD, Cambridge Judge, and Oxford Said continue to take a pass on the Economist rankings, and since many regard these as some of the very best offerings in Europe, it’s unfortunate to not have them included. Also seemingly absent is Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business – made all the more strange in light of their #9 showing last time out.

3. Anarchy in the UK?

For a British publication, the Economist‘s MBA ranking is decidedly light on UK-based schools. As mentioned above, LBS, Cambridge, and Oxford aren’t here…but neither is Manchester….and the first UK MBA program on the list (Durham) slots in at #67! It would seem that there is no home-field advantage for UK schools.

4. Ranking The Economist Ranking

The Economist has long been criticized for a somewhat inconsistent and at times incoherent ranking of MBA programs, but over the past few years (excluding last year’s pandemic-impacted ranking) they have been pulling closer to the norms seen in US News and the Financial Times. Looking at the first 16 American programs from this year’s list, there are 15 programs that overlap with what we see in US News top-16. The only absence here is Cornell Johnson, sitting at #18 for American programs and #22 overall.

5. A Closer Look at Positioning

Despite getting most of the top-16 U.S. programs into the mix, one could very reasonably question the positioning within the group, specifically the placement of Stanford and Chicago Booth at the back end of the top-10. Similarly, the top-5 EU programs here – HEC, Bocconi, IESE, EDHEC, University of Mannheim – fail to include some programs we’d expect to see, either due to abstention or lower-than-expected rankings (IMD, ESADE).

6. Winners & Top Ten Celebrations

The top U.S. schools returning to the ranking after a pandemic-induced hiatus have grabbed 8 of the top-10 slots in the ranking, so it’s clearly a win for American MBAs in general. Specifically, Harvard Business School and the Wharton School should be in celebratory moods over their results. It’s also worth noting the arrival of Duke in the top 10, landing ahead of Chicago Booth and Stanford. And finally, kudos to the likes of HEC Paris and Michigan Ross for hanging onto spots in the top-10 despite the return of so many top schools.

7. Non-Winners

On the downside, we see IESE losing 15 spots to fall from the #1 spot to outside the top-10, Georgia Tech and Washington Foster dropped 18 spots each, and Minnesota Carlson fell 20 places. Other notable declines include UNC Kenan-Flagler (-23) and IMD (-32).

8. Ranking The Economist Ranking, Part II

Our view is that rankings from US News, the Financial Times, BusinessWeek, and Forbes are more useful than the ranking from the Economist, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note an improvement here from past years. All the same, we encourage readers to check out this piece on how rankings should be constructed in tiers rather than in an ordinal fashion.

A Note on Methodology
The Economist surveyed thousands of MBA students to determine the ranking criteria and their respective weight for the 2022 MBA ranking. “Open new career opportunities” and “personal development and educational experience” are each weighted 35%. Salary gets 20% and potential to network carries 10% weight.

During the spring and summer of 2022, The Economist conducted two surveys for the ranking. First, eligible schools completed a survey on graduates’ salaries, students’ average GMAT scores and the number of registered alumni. Then, current MBA students and a school’s most recent graduates completed a qualitative survey on topics such as the quality of the faculty, facilities and career services. This group also provided details about their salary to verify the data provided by the schools. The latter group accounted for 20% of the ranking.

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.