The Economist’s 2009 MBA Ranking

This is The Economist’s eighth annual ranking of full-time MBA programs. The ranking, published in mid-October of every year, is based 20% on student and alumni surveys and 80% on data provided by the schools. There are some incredibly peculiar results in this ranking, which raise significant credibility issues. Pretty much no one in business education would agree that IESE is the best business school in the world or that Berkeley is better than Harvard, Dartmouth or Stanford. Or consider The Economist’s ranking for the University of California at Los Angeles. The Economist ranks this school 50th behind Boston University, University of Texas at Austin, and Georgetown University. Yet, BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report rank UCLA’s business school at 14th and the Financial Times puts it at 33.

The Economist ranks Spain’s IESE as the best business school in the world.

As peculiar as those results are, there are even six schools in The Economist’s top 50 that are not even ranked anywhere else. The highly-regarded Spanish business school, ESADE, is ranked below Belgium’s Vierick Leuven Gent, the Henley Business School in England, and Mannheim Business School in Germany even those these schools don’t even appear on the radar screens of The Financial Times, Forbes, or BusinessWeek. Bottom line: This is probably the most flawed, if not silly, of all the MBA rankings cranked out by a major media brand.

Pro: Takes a global perspective on business school education, ranking 100 business schools in all.

Con: The odd results of this ranking raise meaningful credibility issues with the methodology and the accuracy of the data some of these schools are providing to The Economist. Because 80% of the ranking is based on unaudited information from business schools, there’s a high likelihood that some data has been fudged. The Economist also throws into its ranking formula criteria that has little to do with the quality of education, such as the percentages of international and female students (giving these two questions alone nearly a 17% of the weight in the ranking), the range of overseas exchange programs (a 6.25% weight), and the number of languages offered (also given a 6.25% weight). That latter metric would be something more appropriate to an evaluation of undergraduate education. The former measurements are more “politically correct” than they are accurate indicators of quality.

How does the The Economist survey compare against the other major rankings? We show you below starting with a comparison to our own survey, then BusinessWeek, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and finally The Financial Times. Because Poets&Quants, BusinessWeek, and Forbes separately report the best non-U.S. schools, we show their rankings of these schools with an asterisk.

Economist Rank & SchoolP&QBWForbesU.S. NewsFT
1.  IESE (Spain)2*9*3**NA11
2.  IMD (Switzerland)3*7*2*NA15
3.  California-Berkeley (Haas)91012728
4.  Chicago (Booth)3*1457
5.  Harvard Business School12313
6.  Dartmouth College (Tuck)5122714
7.  Stanford University26114
8.  London Business School1*5*1**NA1
9.  Pennsylvania (Wharton)44552
10. Vierick Leuven (Belgium)NRNRNRNANR
11. Cambridge Univ. (Judge)6ST*4*NA21
12. York Univ. (Schulich)11ST*6**NA54
13. New York University (Stern)101317913
14. HEC Paris7ST*7*NA14
15. Northwestern (Kellogg)738422
16. IE Business School4*2*3*NA6
17. Univ. of MelbourneNRNRNRNA63
18. Cranfield9*ST*9*NA18
19. MIT (Sloan)891438
20. Columbia Business School67696
21. Henley Business SchoolNRNRNRNANR
22. Warwick Business School26*NRNRNA42
23. INSEAD5*3*1*NA5
24. Univ. of Virginia (Darden)13169*1331
25. Univ. of Michigan (Ross)125181228
26. Mannheim Business SchoolNRNRNRNANR
27. Yale School of Management1524101116
28. Duke Univ. (Fuqua)118131420
29. ESADE Business School8*6*8**NA19
30. Hong Kong – UST16*NRNRNA9
31. Univ. of Washington (Foster)2827403378
32. Cornell (Johnson)141171836
33. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)1719231634
34. Notre Dame (Mendoza)2520383171
35. AshridgeNRNRNRNANR
36. Southern Calif. (Marshall)2325322057
37. Dublin (Smurfit)NRNRNRNA98
38. Univ. of Hong KongNRNRNRNANR
39. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)1817152146
40. Boston University40ST613161
41. Rotterdam (Erasmus)27*NRNRNA36
42. Int’l University of MonacoNRNRNRNANR
43. Rice University (Jones)46NR473944
44. Hult Int’t Business SchoolNRNRNRNA97
45. Ohio State (Fisher)34ST392167
46. Indiana Univ. (Kelley)2015252357
47. Oxford University (Said)10*10*5*NA16
48. Georgetown (McDonough)24ST312438
49. Texas-Austin (McCombs)1921111652
50. UCLA (Anderson)1614191533


  • Indicates ranking on a separate non-U.S. list of best B-schools so the ranking may not be directly comparable to The Economist and The Financial Times’ lists.

** Forbes creates separate rankings for non-U.S. schools that offer one-year MBA programs versus two-year MBA programs. A double asterisk in the Forbes’ column signifies its two-year program rating; a single asterisk indicates its one-year ranking.

ST Indicates a school was named a “second-tier” school by BusinessWeek, a small set of schools the publication doesn’t rank but identifies due to its well-regarded reputation.

NR Indicates not-ranked by the publication.

Source: The Economist, 2009 full-time ranking