The Best Non-U.S. MBA Programs Of 2013

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

LondonfullpixFor the third time in four years, London Business School won top prize in Poets&Quants ranking of the 50 best MBA programs outside the U.S. INSEAD again came in second, while Switzerland’s IMD claimed third place. Two schools in Spain rounded out this year’s top five, with IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Barcelona fourth and IE Business School in Madrid fifth.

Europe dominates the top ten schools, with two from the United Kingdom, two from France, three from Spain, as well as one each from Switzerland and Italy. The only exception: No. 9 Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, proving once again that after the U.S. the best place to study business and management is in Europe.

London’s dominance at the top–with INSEAD nudging it aside only once in 2011–is testament to a school that continues to prove that MBA students do not have to go to the U.S. for a world-class business education. The latest entering class of 409 students were chosen from more than 2,000 applicants. Nine out of every ten of them is from outside the United Kingdom, with 69 nationalities represented in the class. Each brings an average 5.5 years of work experience to the classroom, along with an average GMAT score of 695.


London’s graduating MBAs boast true global mobility. Some 53% of the Class of 2012 found work abroad, yet 92% of the class secured employment within three months of graduation at salaries that were every bit as impressive as the MBAs at Harvard, Stanford or any premier U.S. business school. Among the class’ major employers were McKinsey (hiring 36 LBS grads), Boston Consulting Group (31), Citicorp (12), Deutsche Bank (11), Bain & Co. (11), Amazon (5), and Google (4).

This year London Business School boldly announced its first comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise £100 million over the next five years to support a major expansion of the school. The money will be used to develop an iconic London building, Old Marylebone Town Hall, for the school, double scholarship aid, and recruit world class faculty, among other things. The Marylebone plans include the construction of an additional new three story building with six new lecture theaters, a library, 35 seminar rooms, offices, staff and faculty suites, student lounge, broadcast facilities and a new alumni center.


Outside of the top five schools, all of which were in the top five last year,  there were some notable gains made by several business schools. The University of Bath’s School of Management jumped 15 places to a rank of 28th, the single biggest leap of all the MBA programs outside the U.S. Hong Kong University of Science & Technology rose eight places to finish ninth, and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management also gained a half dozen spots to achieve its highest rank ever in the Poets&Quants survey, at 21st.

There also were a few setbacks suffered by several highly prominent international schools. McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management School had the biggest dive, plunging 20 places to rank 31st. Durham Business School fell off the top 50 list entirely from a position of 38 last year. Double-digit drops also impacted EMLyon, Ipade, British Columbia’s Sauder School, and Manchester Business School.

This new P&Q list is a composite of four major MBA rankings published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, and Forbes, all equally weighted. The ranking takes into account a massive wealth of quantitative and qualitative data captured in these major lists, from surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, deans and faculty publication records to median GPA and GMAT scores of entering students as well as the latest salary and employment statistics of alumni.

By blending these rankings using a system that takes into account each of their strengths as well as their flaws, we’ve come up with what is arguably the most authoritative ranking of MBA programs ever published. The list, which includes the recently released 2013 rankings by Forbes, The Financial Times, and The Economist, tends to eliminate anomalies and other statistical distortions that often occur in one ranking or another.

BusinessWeek, for example, ranks Queen’s University the fourth best MBA program outside the U.S. But the school is completely snubbed by Forbes, The FT and The Economist, which don’t even include the school in their rankings. The school’s exclusion from three of the four rankings doesn’t completely eliminate it from the Poets&Quants list, but rather than fourth, it’s more appropriately rated 39th due to its failure to get on any other major radar screen. In any case, the P&Q ranking measures the overall quality and reputation of the flagship full-time MBA programs at the schools, rather than the schools themselves.

The schools in Poets&Quants ranking are among the very best in the world. INSEAD’s latest entering class of 1,024 students in its superb one-year MBA program are no less impressive. With an average GMAT score of 702, the students represent 84 nationalities and each boasts five years of work experience. McKinsey & Co. routinely hires more than 100 MBAs out of INSEAD’s class every year, many of them sponsored by the prestigious firm to attend the school.

(See following page for Poets&Quants Top 50 MBA Programs Outside the U.S.)

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  • LP

    Junzi, you may be on to something. Even though all four rankings are equally weighted, in general, John is biased towards BW since he worked there before. Strangely, Oxford Said gets a lot more air time in P&Q, BW and any articles written by John Byrne even though many would agree that Cambridge is equal to or better than Oxford by most measures (don’t listen to me, look at the data!). It would almost seem like Judge did something to annoy his highness and is therefore paying for it with a pound of business school flesh.

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