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The Financial Times 2023 Global MBA Ranking: CBS Takes Top Spot for the First Time

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The Financial Times (FT) released its rankings of the 100 best Global MBA programs for 2023. Changes to the ranking’s methodology and the glaring absence of a familiar name have really shaken things up.

“The weighting for salary-related metrics has been cut from 40% of the ranking to less than 33% this time around, and that has clearly made a difference.  The ‘extra’ 7% has been shifted into new categories such as carbon footprint (4%) and ESG coursework offerings (3%)” says Graham Richmond, co-founder of Clear Admit.

Top Ten Overall

Here are the top 10 MBA programs of The Financial Times 2023 Global MBA rankings (2022 positions are in parentheses):

For the first time in the ranking’s 25-year history, Columbia Business School has taken the top spot thanks in part to alumni’s salaries and seniority. What’s curious is that last year’s #1 program, Wharton, does not even appear on the list. When reached for comment, the official statement from Wharton was: “On Tuesday, February 7th, 2023, the Financial Times (FT) informed Wharton that we would not be included in their 2023 Global Full-Time MBA ranking due to not reaching the threshold for alumni survey respondents for inclusion. To confirm, Wharton provided the requested School-level survey data, as well as alumni contact information for the specified years, in accordance with our data and privacy policies. We also continued our practice of allowing the FT to conduct all alumni outreach related to their ranking.”  It seems strange that 142 schools participated and met the criteria, yet Wharton did not, so one would be right to wonder if perhaps there is more to this story…

Turning our attention back to the schools in the ranking, INSEAD, IESE and Stanford improved their standing over last year amid some other major shuffling. IESE leapt seven spots to occupy third while HBS and Stanford share the fourth spot. SDA Bocconi, Berkeley Haas and Cornell Johnson crack the top ten as Chicago Booth and London Business School fall out of the top ten this year to 11 and 16, respectively. Northwestern Kellogg fell four spots to ninth while Yale SOM held on to a top-ten position.

FT Global MBA Ranking 2023: Top U.S. MBA Programs

The Financial Times MBA ranking looks at business schools worldwide, but this can be a challenging task in light of the vast differences from market to market.  As such, we like to break out the regions to look at each on individually. In the U.S. market, the top 16 schools in 2023 are as follows:

  • Columbia Business School
  • Harvard Business School
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • UC Berkeley: Haas
  • Cornell University: Johnson
  • Northwestern University: Kellogg School of Management
  • Yale School of Management
  • Duke University Fuqua School of Business
  • MIT: Sloan School of Management
  • University of Chicago: Booth
  • UCLA Anderson School of Management
  • Dartmouth College: Tuck
  • University of Virginia: Darden
  • New York University: Stern
  • USC: Marshall
  • University of Michigan: Ross

“If we ignore the omission of Wharton,” Richmond says, “the first 16 schools in the US are indeed the schools generally accepted to be the top-16 (with USC jumping into the group as Wharton leaves). Of course, the order of these schools finds Haas and Cornell sitting ahead of M7 schools like Kellogg and Chicago Booth and MIT. Yale and Duke also find themselves ahead of Booth and MIT. Finally, Michigan sits at the back of the top 16 in the USA and at #26 overall in this ranking, which feels a bit inconsistent with other rankings and historical performance for their program.”

Richmond continues, “One other notable ranking is CMU Tepper at #49 overall.  They fell 26 spots (previously ranking #23 overall). Even within the US schools featured, CMU landed only at #27, which feels very much out of line with their usual place in the top 20 US programs.”

FT Global MBA Ranking 2023: Top European and Asian MBA Programs

Looking at Europe, the top 10 programs are as follows:

  • IESE Business School
  • SDA Bocconi School of Management
  • London Business School
  • HEC Paris
  • IE Business School
  • University of Cambridge: Judge
  • ESCP Business School
  • University of Oxford: Saïd
  • Esade

Richmond expands on the European rankings, noting, “We see many of the schools one would expect to make the top 10 for Europe. Though IMD is absent, it is not by much (they are actually the 11th European school ranked). Surprises here include ESCP, leaping into 27th place overall after being #52 last year, and LBS’s landing behind Bocconi and IESE after falling from 8th to 16th overall. ”

For Asia, the business schools line up in this order:

  • Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
  • National University of Singapore
  • Nanyang Business School
  • Indian School of Business

There are many familiar names in the top five Asian business schools, but only one program (CEIBS) cracked the top 20 overall.

25 Years of Rankings

Based on the adjacent image (click to enlarge) of 25 years of FT rankings data, the M7 rise right to the top, along with INSEAD, LBS and IESE, which are arguably the best three MBA programs in Europe.

But, at the same time, Richmond observes, “Since the surveys that drive a large portion of the FT‘s ranking are focused on those who graduated in 2019, there is also the matter of timeliness and relevance. To say that the world (and leading MBA programs) have changed a bit since the spring of 2019 would be a massive understatement. The alumni surveyed for this ranking graduated before COVID, before war in Ukraine, and before much of the global economic instability that has dominated headlines ever since. It is also worth noting that the Class of 2019 also may have experienced some challenges as the world ground to a halt just months after they would have begun their first post-MBA roles. In short, one of the risks of the FT‘s reliance on the viewpoints of alumni who are more than three years out of school is that the data may not reflect the very latest trends on campus.”

Ranking Methodology

While 151 schools participated in the 2022 edition, 142 met the participation criteria this year. FT ranks the top 100 MBA programs in the world using 20 different criteria. Eight of these are alumni-based, requiring at least a 20 percent response rate and a minimum of 20 responses total for inclusion, making up 61 percent of the ranking. Because of disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic, Financial Times considered schools with a lower response rate.

See here for more details on the ranking methodology.

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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.