Harvard To Top New 2013 FT Ranking

Harvard Business School students cheer during their graduation ceremonies in Boston

Harvard Business School students cheer during their graduation ceremonies in Boston

For the first time since 2005, The Financial Times is expected to name on Monday (Jan. 28) Harvard Business School’s full-time MBA experience the best in the world. This will only be the fourth time Harvard has topped The Financial Times list since it debuted in 1999. Harvard had captured the No. 1 spot in both the inaugural FT ranking in 1999 and again in 2000, but then waited until 2005 to regain its first place finish.

Harvard, which was ranked second last year, displaced Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business to assume top place. The FT ranked Stanford second, Wharton third, London Business School fourth, and Columbia Business School fifth.

Among other big changes in the ranking, according to sources who have seen the new list in advance of its publication, Cambridge University’s Judge Business School jumped 10 places to finish 16th this year, from a rank of 26th last year. ESADE, based in Spain, rose 11 places to rank 22nd this year, from 33rd in 2012.

The Financial Times ranks global MBA programs on the basis of 20 different metrics, but some 40% of the weight in its ranking is based on compensation. Sources told Poets&Quants that the big advances made by both Judge and ESADE were largely due to soaring compensation reported by the school’s alumni to the FT.

Though London Business School maintained its fourth place status to remain Europe’s top ranked business school by The FT, it failed to gain any ground against its top U.S. rivals. London had been ranked first by The Financial Times for three consecutive years from 2011 through 2009. INSEAD also held its position in the ranking, retaining last year’s sixth place honors.


Other schools in the FT’s top 20 which have made significant progress moving forward include No. 15 Ceibs in China, up nine places from 24th last year; No. 14 Yale University’s School of Management, up a half dozen spots from 20th, and No. 13 Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and No. 16th Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, both up three places from 15th and 19th, respectively.

The improvement at Ceibs, Yale and Kellogg is a sign that new leadership is having an impact. At Ceibs, Harvard Business School professor John Quelch had taken over the deanship of the Chinese school in February of 2011 and left this month. But during his two-year tenure, he made significant progress in advancing the school’s quality and agenda. At Kellogg and Yale, Deans Sally Blount and Edward Snyder have been aggressively working to improve their schools’ MBA programs. The Financial Times ranking is among the first to show a payoff from those efforts.

Other top 20 gainers, all up two places, include No. 7 Spain’s IESE at the University of Navarra, No. 8 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the No. 10 University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and No. 12 UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.


The new ranking was especially punishing to India’s two most famous business schools: the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, known as the world’s most selective business school due to an acceptance rate of below 1%, and the Indian School of Business. Last year, IIM-Ahmedabad was ranked 11th and ISB was ranked 20th by The Financial Times. This year both schools tumbled out of the British newspaper’s top 20 ranking, with IIM plummeting 10 places to finish 26th and ISB falling a dozen spots to rank 34th.

The International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, known simply by its acronym IMD, fell six places to finish 19th this year, down from 13th in 2012. It was the worst showing by IMD in the history of The Financial Times’ ranking. Previously, the lowest rank achieved by the school in the FT was 15th in 2010.

IE Business School in Spain also slid three places to finish 11th, and Duke University’s Fuqua School dropped three spots as well to finish 18th.

In the 15 years that the FT has ranked full-time MBA programs, Wharton has been ranked first more than any other school, some ten times. This year’s Harvard win now places the Boston school second, with four wins, followed by London Business School with three and Stanford with one.

(See following page for the top 20 business schools in the new 2013 ranking by The Financial Times)

  • Equivocation

    “The True Global Business School”, sounds like a nice marketing slogan….

    INSEAD is great, absolutely no question. It is probably the best school for starting a consulting career. However, you are mistaken that banks rush there to hire. Banks prefer 2 year programs because the summer internship is a low risk way of hiring top performers. Your internship is essentially a 3 month interview. This is particularly true after the crisis.

    INSEAD students that go into banking either had prior experience, or were willing to bend backwards and negotiate some form of adhoc internship. You don’t believe me? Check out their placement figures 40% Consulting, and 18% Finance (that includes internal corporate finance positions)

    As to being the go to place for international positions…hmmm…..72% of graduates were placed in Europe and Asia. Pretty much what you would expect from a top MBA with main campuses in Paris and Singapore. (Nothing wrong with that).

    And as per your statement, apparently US companies represent only 9% of the top banks and consulting firms, because that is the North American placement.

    Business schools have their industry and geographic niches. Students would be better served researching which one serves the niche they want to pursue rather than concentrating on rankings.

  • Equivocation


    It is strange you denigrate rankings, but then use them when you believe it furthers your point.

    “You can’t take in second tier students and achieve first tier results.” – There is great truth to this, but how do you define first tier students? Through a high GMAT score? Because they were analysts at McKinsey? You are obviously very young. As you mature you will find that well rounded individuals tend to be the more successful alumni.

  • Somine

    INSEAD is the true global business school. all employers including the top us banks and consultants do prefer INSEAD for global positions. No question about that.

  • Your entire arguement can be distilled to stating that “MBA ranking should equal brand perception”. If that is the case, why even have rankings? Let’s just poll your friends and arrive at a completely unbiased measure of the worth of MBA programs.

    Rankings are an attempt to objectively evaluate the quality of the program. You may not care, but some top ranked bschools are living off past glories. That works for a while, but eventually reputations start to get tarnished.

    I am a IESE grad. IESE has consistently gone up in the rankings because it follows a very disciplined approach with a famously intense study course, strong emphasis on selecting well rounded individuals (hence lower GMAT’s) and demanding teamwork.

    Those are qualities that many employers value highly. Over time, that is what builds a reputation

  • Actually you are poorly informed. European consulting offices hire Europeans studying in the US and from European B-schools for the most part. Why? They need the local element. Germans don’t really enjoy having Americans consulting for their firms.

    MBA’s are not passports for a global career. That is just marketing. Most MBA hiring has a deep set local element. With a few exceptions, American firms hire from American schools and European’s from European schools. American career paths are more global only because there are more globalized American firms.

  • Dude

    Hm, I am not sure what kind of comparison I was allegedly making. All I was saying is that for M/B/B Insead is the number one feeder school on a global level… Given that you more or less equated the quality of a university with its ability to “attract more of the best and brightest” and placing them at large consultancies I just wanted to restate that I think EU schools are absolutely comparable to their US counterparts given your definition…

  • Simone

    U S News ranking is not crediable after the tulane scandal. FT is the only audited ranking and then the most credible.

  • Good question. Seems like the HK schools in the FT ranking don’t use China PPP as a weight. In fact, they don’t seem to get any PPP adjustment at all since the “weighted salary” figures and the “salary today” figures are the same.

  • Wei

    As an Asian, Me and my friends will pick M7 -> LBS/INSEAD/IMD -> Tuck/Haas -> Remaining Top 15 US school -> IESE -> HKUST

  • Orange

    Yale SOM is already ahead of Duke and NYU in the US News Rankings AND the Forbes rankings, so it’s not like the FT rankings are breaking new ground here. Yale has a new dean who is known for his fundraising prowess, a new building opening soon, average student GMAT higher than all but 3-4 schools, and the Yale brand name, so I don’t see either Duke or NYU counteracting Yale’s momentum anytime soon. You may have a point with Tuck. I think Tuck is probably the school I would say is most on par with Yale in terms of rankings, so you could probably make an argument either way.

  • Randy

    I would imagine most people worldwide would pick Cambridge over IMD. But you are right about everything else.

  • Wei

    If Hong Kong counts as part of China by the FT standard, when HKUST student gets a job in Hong Kong, will their salary adjusted by China’s PPP as well? If this is the case, HKUST’s salary figure in FT will be inflated since HK’s GDP per capita is higher than U.S. and most European countries while China’s GDP per capita is only 1/5 of HK’s.

  • Wei

    IMD is regarded as good as LBS and INSEAD in Europe and Asia. You can try to ask friends in Europe or Asia, if they get an offer from IMD vs IESE/HKUST/IE/CEIBS/Cambridge, which one they will pick?

  • avivalasvegas

    I am. INSEAD and LBS are probably the only 2 European schools that most folks in high places consider on par with their US peers (INSEAD less so simply because its a one year program and only Kellogg has a comparable 1Y MBA). While it is romantic ( and somewhat naive) to use these posterchild EU institutions as the basis for your comparison, I wanted to restate that I do not disrespect EU schools or their students. Heck, I almost went to one of them. I just dont think they will attract more of the best and the brightest to them yet.

  • cookie09

    Plutus, small correction: Hong Kong counts as part of China by the FT standard, so for a school like HKUST all mainland Chinese count as local – which makes sense from my point of view

  • dude

    Graduate more consultants than any European school? You must not be aware of INSEAD’s placement figures…

  • avivalasvegas

    Let’s talk about a global career track shall we? Say Consulting? Schools like Tuck and Kellogg graduate more consultants at the top 3 firms than any other school in Europe. And that is by a significant margin. Infact, many US grads are allowed to chose a European office at the internship level. I haven’t heard the same vice versa.

    There are many exchange students from some of the top French and Spanish programs at my business school. Listening to their opinions and reasoning reinforces mine. Moreover, I was admitted to top schools in the US and the UK. I think I made the right choice.

  • VolskMBA

    The average employer hasn’t heard of almost any school. Go to the US, and you will find that your ‘average’ employer doesn’t know Tuck, Booth, Darden, etc. They may know the larger school but probably not. Same goes in Europe for the top schools.

    But you shouldn’t care what the average employer thinks, you should care what the recruiters think. Most MBAs go into consulting, finance, and a handful of other sectors. I guarantee you that they know about these top schools – my employer does.

  • VolksMBA

    You guys are nuts believing that IESE or IIM are even on par with the top US schools. Nothing stops these schools from competing with the top schools. But one thing that gets in the way is where the top students will choose to go if they get the chance. You can’t take in second tier students and achieve first tier results. Also, where did you get Booth being tier two 20 years ago? This website has good historical rankings on all schools, Booth included.

    Businessweek last 25 years:lowest rank 11

    FT last 12 years: lowest rank 12

    US News last 12 years: lowest rank 9

    There aren’t many rankings 20 years ago, which makes me believe that you have no idea what you are talking about. So how was Booth tier 2 or 3 20 years ago? I did not choose to go to Booth even though I had the chance, but I still believe that it is a good school.

    About perceptions, yours are obviously based on fallacy. Read over what Plutus wrote again, and you will realize that his is mostly correct. However, I disagree with him and think the international dimension of the FT rankings are useful. Still, I have to agree that some of the international schools get too highly ranked.

  • VolksMBA

    As a European I can tell you that you must be out of touch. There is no way either I or any of my consulting friends would take IESE or HKUST over Booth or MIT. INSEAD or LBS are different and they are much better regarded here in Europe. And what consensus are you talking about? It must be from students and alumni from IESE, because no one I know considers it on par with even a school like Kellogg or Tuck.

    Plutus probably doesn’t need to reform his thinking, but you should consider it. His apples to oranges stuff is about 80-90% correct.

  • Basically the rating are pretty meaningless as they are more or less just driven by starting salary considerations (look at http://www.academia.edu/286339/The_Financial_Times_Business_Schools_Rankings_What_Quality_is_this_Signal_of_Quality) for an article we published showing that within bands the ratings are basically random.

  • YLSdude

    Yale SOM is already ahead of NYU and Duke in US News rankings, and only one spot behind Tuck, which it will likely leapfrog next year as well. Not sure why it’s so groundbreaking for it to be ahead of those three schools here in the FT ranking. SOM’s stock is definitely rising.

  • haters gonna hate

    It’s nice to see Yale rising in FT’s ranking and surprising to see how many commenters are posting in disbelief. SOM is a really good school, with a dean who is improving the faculty, career services, international orientation, network, etc. I think a few commenters on this article had it right in that some people have a dogmatic, semi-religious perception of top 10 US schools so rigid that any school that moves into those ranks (and/or displaces schools with a longer top 10 history) is regarded as an interloper to be derided, as is the entire ranking itself.

  • GLon

    Sorry, but the average European employer has probably not even heard of Darden, UCLA Anderson, USC, let alone place them in front of IESE, IE and Cambridge…

  • GLon

    See the reply from “ch3345” to “plutus” above. What exactly makes Kellogg, Sloan, Booth better than UST or IESE? It’s all about perception in your local environment. You’re probably from the US and most of what you hear about are US schools. A European will likely have a much better perception of IESE, ESADE, HEC, etc. than Sloan, Booth or Kellog. Just because you don’t know much about these schools it doesn’t mean that they worse than the ones you know.

  • avivalasvegas

    This is precisely why the Financial Time ranking are irrelevant. First, they have the audacity to rank schools like UST and IESE above globally renowed top 5 schools like Kellogg? Then, they raise top 20 schools like Yale to levels comparable to a top 5 and above a top 10 school like Tuck?

    While the European schools are definitely worth a solid mention, there’s no way you can tell me that they trump the M7 schools.


    Plutus, you sound pretty biased about the whole US schools versus non-US Schools issue. It makes me wonder if you applied and got rejected! On a serious note though I’m not sure why you think that IESE, or other international schools for that matter, can’t possibly be as good as MIT or Chicago. Having spoken to many students from the US who have exchanged at IESE (from top US Schools) the consensus seems that academically and in terms of the students preparation and participation IESE is at least as good or better than many highly regarded (top 10 or 15) US BSchools. Further, you are passing a pretty sweeping judgement on the US students who chose to enroll in these international programs – most passing up opportunities with very well regarded US schools to do so.

    I will agree with you on one point which is job placement. IESE and other European schools continue to have difficulty with placement for non-EU citizens but that said the top international schools do have impressive placement statistics. Unless you can provide other statistics or insight that I haven’t seen I would be as inclined to believe these as I would be to believe the statistics published by other top institutions.

    I know it’s difficult to reform you thinking and that US B schools do a much better job of marketing themselves, but I hope that someone who follows MBA rankings as closely as you do would have the ability to be flexible in their thinking and perceptions and allow these perceptions to change in light of new evidence.

  • Alex

    FT rankings are less of a joke they used to be. The general dynamic is right: H/S/W and INSEAD/LBS at the top, although other EU & Asian schools bar IMD should be nowhere near top 20 (not because they are much “worse”, but because they are too “local” in terms of job opportunities) . Darden, UCLA Anderson, USC and maybe even UNC/Texas to replace them. Those schools are more likely to lead to a better-paid job even in Europe than the likes of IESE, IE and Cambridge, let alone the States.

  • I don’t know about these schools in other countries but it’s crazy to put Yale above Tuck. And why is Darden not even in the top 20?

  • Last year I wrote an analysis on the pros and cons from a student’s perspective of the MBA rankings. My school, ESADE, appears to have regained the territory it lost last year but my comments stand. http://www.economist.com/whichmba/mba-diary-impact-study

  • ch3345

    I think the problem is that it is very difficult to change perceptions. just like religions, you born and grown with the idea that mit and chicago are the best and hence, you got surprized when something called iese came ahead of them in the news?!! I understand you, but, lets be honest and unbiased, what prevents or stops any schools like iese or iim to compete against mit or harvard for the best place? it is their rights to do so, regardless the perceptions of the streets people. btw, chicago was tier 2 or 3 some 20 years ago 😉

  • plutus

    I understand what you are saying, but it is like comparing apples to oranges. The reason most people have such a hard time taking this ranking seriously is because schools like IESE are ranked higher than schools like Chicago or MIT. The vast majority of applicants would NOT take IESE over Booth or Sloan. It is just ridiculous. So my whole point is that to give this ranking any real credibility, you have to separate the US and non-US schools. Otherwise, the ranking just isn’t credible.

    To your point on the global nature of the rankings: including things like international faculty or international students in the ranking will skew disproportionately toward non-US schools. For example, a huge portion of European b-school faculties are trained in the US, so of course they are international. But the same proportion of US faculty are trained in the US. This is an inherent disadvantage for US schools, but it doesn’t add any value to a school. Also, for schools in Europe, an ‘international student’ could be from 100 KM away in the country next door. Not much value added here either.

    I spent five years working internationally. The international criteria that the FT puts in its rankings add little value other then to increase the rankings of non-US bschools.

    All of this is a long way of saying that looking at the composite FT ranking does not serve the best interests of either MBA applicants or employers.

  • bayareabob

    Totally agree, this is garbage.

  • Biden

    although the Financial Times ranking considered the most crediable so far, I really beileve that their biggest flaw is putting Yale MBA ahead of Dartouth, Duke, and NYU. this is a joke..Yale at best is in 20s places..

  • Bouli

    Yes, it is still in 6th place. I believe they will rise up next year because FT ranking is based on the last 3 years compensation, and INSEAD graduates salaries in 2009 which affected this year ranking weren’t that good. but on 2010 INSEAD graduates recorded a very good starting salaries, thus I guess next year the school’s ranking will move up..just guessing..

  • Bouli

    they give much weight to “internationalism” BECAUSE their ranking called GLOBAL ranking not just a ranking. so that weight is completely understandable and legitimate … u seem to mix with the LOCAL american rankings 😉

  • Ftblows

    If anyone actually puts any faith in the methodology of these rankings, they should really rethink this MBA thing.

  • plutus

    I agree that the most user-friendly way to look at the FT rankings is to parse out the US and non-US schools. The international weight the FT uses is quite a lot at 18% – International Students (5%), international faculty (5%), international course experience (5%), international board (2%), and languages (1%). This will usually give the international programs an advantage over US ones since international at a school like HKUST is anything outside of Hong Kong. So the best way to account for it is to create two separate rankings from the one – US and non-US. If you account for this discrepancy, then I agree that their rankings seems to have gotten better the past couple years.

    As a sidenote, this issue is amplified when looking at the FT’s rankings of EMBA programs. 6 of the top 10 of the EMBA programs are joint programs with international alliances (CBS/LBS, Trium, Kellogg/HKUST, etc). Therefore, parsing out these joint programs gives a much better indication of real ranking.

  • Peter

    IESE and UST ahead of MIT, Booth, Haas & Kellogg? Gimme a break…

  • Markus

    what about INSEAD? is it still in 6th place?

  • Rankings Afficiandado

    Really glad to see the ranking this year. It looks like FT is continuing to become a more reputable ranking after having some really odd and non-credible rankings a few years ago. If you look at just the US, the ranking would be H/S/W/CBS/MIT/Booth/Haas/Kellogg/Yale/Tuck/Duke/NYU. A couple of these positions could be argued, but generally speaking, this is about in line with general perceptions. I am hoping they continue to increase their reputability…good job FT.