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Financial Times MBA 2023 Business School Rankings: Columbia is #1, while Wharton drops out!

The 25th-anniversary edition of the FT 2023 Rankings features an updated approach and a new top school. Columbia Business School gets the top spot, while there is no Wharton in this year's rankings! There are also certain interesting takeaways that we'll discuss in this article.


List of topics discussed below:


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Financial Times MBA Rankings 2023

Brief Overview

In its 25th year, US business schools dominate the top of the global MBA rankings, led for the first time by Columbia in New York.


Thirteen of the top 18 business schools out of the top 100 in 2023 are located in the US, including Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley. France is home to two elite universities: INSEAD, which came in second, and HEC Paris. Third-placed IESE is located in Spain, SDA Bocconi is in Italy, and London Business School is located in the UK.


The US leads in part because assessments are outcome-driven and heavily weighted towards income levels and salary increases three years after MBA graduation. With an average weighted alumni salary of $248,669, Stanford is the top-paying US business school for MBA graduates, accounting for Twelve of the top 14 salaries.


After accounting for financial aid, the University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg is rated as having the best value for money because wages three years after graduation are typically 188% more than earnings before studying. The University of Virginia: Darden School of Business received the top ranking for efforts to lessen its carbon footprint, followed by the equal second-place finishes of the SDA Bocconi School of Management and the IE Business School.


For the extent to which core courses included environmental, social, and governance issues, including examining climate solutions that can help organizations attain net zero, IE came in first, followed by IESE, both in Spain. For the variety of industries in which graduates worked prior to pursuing an MBA, AGSM at UNSW Business School in Australia came out on top, followed by ESSEC Business School in France.

Only 10 of the top 100 ranked institutions had more female students than male students; ESCP Business School, which has campuses in France, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Germany, achieved student-gender parity. Although IE in Spain attained 49% women on the faculty, no institution was able to achieve gender parity.


The International Institute for Management Development (IMD), located in Switzerland, had the greatest percentage of faculty members who were not natives of the country, at 98%, followed by Imperial College Business School, located in the United Kingdom, at 96%.

Another new category, the value of alumni networks, was won by Cornell University: Johnson, followed by the University of Florida: Warrington. Stanford Graduate School of Business and Michigan State University: Broad tied for first place in the category for alumni ratings of goals attained.


In terms of research, Harvard came in the first place, followed by Columbia Business School in New York, which was determined in part by the number of academic papers written by its professors and published in the FT50 list of top journals.



Financial Times MBA 2023 Rankings



Major Changes In The Methodology Of The Financial Times 2023 Mba Ranking


The Financial Times has made significant changes to how it calculates its yearly list, which has led to this year's rating. The FT altered the weights or added and subtracted from 15 of the 21 variables in its methodology for the 2023 MBA rating. The most significant adjustment was a reduction in the weighting of MBA remuneration from 40% to 32%. The FT now assigns a 16% weight, down from 20%, to alumni's average incomes three years after graduation. It now offers a 16% weight, down from 20%, to alumni's average pay increases over their pre-MBA base salaries.


The newspaper dropped two metrics: "extra languages," which recognized schools that required students to study a second language in addition to English by graduation, and "alumni recommend," which asked alumni to pick three schools from which they were most likely to hire MBA graduates. Three percentage points were awarded for the MBA alumni recruitment scores, while one point was deducted for the language requirement.


Three additional indicators were then added by The FT: alumni network (4%), industry diversity (3%), and carbon footprint (4%). The FT uses 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" to determine an institution's carbon footprint ranking. In terms of carbon footprint, The FT gave Virginia's Darden School of Business top honors. According to the publication, "sector diversity" refers to the variety of industries that students have worked in before enrolling in MBA programs. The top spot in this category went to AGSM.


The alumni network rank is a gauge of "the alumni network's performance, as judged by alumni, for job chances, establishing businesses, getting new ideas, hiring employees, and offering event information such presentations about careers." By this metric, Cornell easily took the top spot, followed by Florida and Stanford.



Top 10 MBA business schools over the past 25 years


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Nine Biggest Surprises in FT MBA 2023 Rankings


Poets & Quants have talked about Major talking points in Financial Times 2023 Rankings.


1) Columbia Business School Gets Its Due


In 25 years of FT MBA 2023 Rankings, Columbia Business School has never been No. 1. Columbia gained its FT victory without getting either the top scores or the highest rank in any of the 21 metrics in the methodology but instead performing well across the board. The school's ascent to No. 1 comes shortly after the start of a new, contemporary campus in Manhattanville and the addition of a fresh climate change focus to the curriculum.


2) Where In The World Is Wharton? Not On This MBA Ranking


FT has awarded Wharton 11 No. 1 rankings, compared to second-place Harvard Business School's seven, making it the school with the most of those honors. The Financial Times ranked Wharton's MBA program as the best in the world just a year ago. The school simply vanishes from the list, going unnoticed. The explanation for Wharton's absence is perplexing: not enough alumni filled out the FT's survey so Wharton was tossed off the list.


So, why did so few Wharton alumni respond? The school's perceived handling of the pandemic situation is the only reasonable justification. No school's MBA students reacted to COVID and Wharton's decision to move all in-person classes online with greater rage and aggravation than the students at Wharton. It should also be noted that no school's management botched the ball more than Wharton's administration. Several MBA students signed petitions calling for tuition refunds when classes moved online in 2020.


3) Cornell Johnson Is This Year’s “It” School


Every year, a school makes a statement in The Financial Times ranking. Over the years, CEIBS, Yale SOM, and New York University’s Stern School have made moves that caught applicants’ eyes. This year, it’s Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.


The average increase in alumni salary over pre-MBA pay is one of two metrics that carry the biggest weight with The Financial Times: 16%. In this area, Cornell Johnson has shown steady importance. In 2021, graduates saw a 128% jump over pre-MBA income. The weight given to faculty research is 10%, which is the second-highest in the ranking. Johnson may be seen rapping on the door at Third, right behind Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School.


Long-term success is a result of satisfied alumni, effective career services, and rising salaries. Can Cornell move forward? that is the question. A better question might be whether Cornell should take into account the crucial areas in which they already excel.


4) "Alumni Satisfaction" is a worthy metric for rankings?


Financial Times editors appear clueless with this metric: overall alumni satisfaction. FT has been reporting this metric since 2021 but has never included it in the methodology to rank MBA programs.


Certainly, whether alumni feel satisfied with the education they received is far more important to the quality of an MBA program than a school's carbon footprint, its academic research, or the proportion of women or foreigners on its board of advisers.


5) Big Gains vs Big Losses


The University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and the University of Rochester Simon Business School are unbeatable when it comes to the big momentum plays in MBA programs. These two full-time MBA programs have advanced an amazing 38 spots in the last five years. Only eleven colleges in total have risen 20 spots or more in the Financial Times list. All of them are not in the United Kingdom or Asia.


Now the bad news: The Australian Graduate School of Management's ranking in the Financial Times has declined more than any other MBA program. Only one rank less than AGSM, Sungkyunkwan University's Graduate School of Management in South Korea has dropped 31 places. The Cranfield School of Management in the UK and the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology both experienced significant drops, dropping 28 and 27 spots, respectively.


6) IESE AND SDA BOCCONI: New Business School Royalty


INSEAD, London Business School, and HEC Paris are the names most associated with the very best European MBA programs. Diverse histories, a wide range of students, outstanding abilities, and close proximity to important cities and employers.


But now other two programs have stepped into the spotlight as Europe’s new business education royalty. The ranking for 2021 marked the beginning of the changing of the guard as the top American programs withdrew from the list, IESE Business School in Barcelona placed fourth and SDA Bocconi achieved position #12. Both schools accomplished a lot this year. IESE shot up to the third place, surpassing even Harvard Business School, the program that gave the school its unique case study method of instruction. Ahead of American M7 programs like Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, and Northwestern Kellogg, SDA Bocconi seized sixth place at the same time.


7) Ranking MBA Programs by A School’s Carbon Footprint. Seriously?


No matter how admirable and well-liked by environmentalists, a business school's carbon footprint has nothing to do with the caliber of an MBA experience.


The Financial Times fails to explain why a data item on carbon footprints should be given twice as much weight (4% weight vs. 2%) than a data point on graduates' employment three months after completing a program. In fact, they give this new, probably inaccurate metric a higher weight than either gender parity (with a 4% weight) or taking courses abroad (with a 3% weight).


8) California Dreaming: The Golden State Is the Golden Ticket


Where is the center of the MBA universe?


Some might argue Boston, courtesy of Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan (with added heft from Babson, Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern). With the troika of Columbia, NYU Stern, Fordham, and not to add Baruch Zicklin, you can argue in favor of New York City. Of course, traveling via I-41 will only take you 40 minutes to reach Northwestern Kellogg from Chicago Booth.


However, based on the Financial Times 2023 MBA ranking, you may want to give the award to California – the whole state. Six MBA programs from California are now included in the list, which is the same number as there are in India as a whole: Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA Anderson, USC Marshall, UC-Irvine, and the newest addition, UC-Davis, are among the top universities. Not to mention UC-San Diego, Santa Clara, Pepperdine, the University of San Diego, and more.


9) Show Me the Money — and the Pay Boost After Graduation


Overall, China and India achieved strong results in salary increases. Three of the top 11 percentage gains are from MBA programs in China: CEIBS, Fudan University School of Management, and Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. At the same time, the Indian School of Business, IIM Bangalore, and IIM Indore are three of the Top 10 institutions in India. The National University of Singapore ranks 10th with a 158% increase in this metric, solidifying Asia's dominance in salary increases.


Yet, there are a number of well-known American universities with striking enrollment figures. The Isenberg School at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst not only made its debut in the FT ranking this year, but it also placed third in salary Growth with a 188% increase. With rankings of 185% and 169%, the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University and the Simon School at the University of Rochester, respectively, came in fourth and sixth, with the Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School coming in eighth (161%).


Except for three institutions, all of the worst 25 programs for wage growth are located in Europe. Their wage increase ranged from 46% to 92% in the same period. In other words, China and America are the best countries to go to if you want to increase your current wage.



About Financial Times MBA Rankings

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The Financial Times MBA Rankings are an annual ranking of the top MBA programs in the world. The ranking is compiled by the Financial Times, a respected business newspaper based in London, UK. The FT MBA Rankings are based on a variety of factors, including the salaries of graduates, the career progression of alumni, the international reach of the program, the research output of the faculty, and the diversity of the student body.


The ranking enjoys a high level of respect in the business world and is recognized as one of the most respectable MBA rankings worldwide. The ranking is a significant consideration for many prospective MBA students when choosing which MBA program to enroll in. The rankings are revised every year and are based on information gathered from the business schools themselves, as well as polls of former students and hiring managers.


The Financial Times MBA Rankings are a helpful tool for comparing various MBA schools, but they should not be the only thing you take into account when selecting an MBA program. When choosing which MBA school to enroll in, prospective students should also take into account aspects like location, program size, curriculum, and culture.


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