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

by John A. Byrne on

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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  • HBSstudent

    That article is about undergrad

  • A random guy

    It’s because IIM C,B or L may not have participated in the rankings. If you scroll down the rankings, the top ranked schools have participated in all of BW, FT, Forbes, Econ and the lowest ranked schools have participated in only one of these.. The frequency of ‘NR’ increases in the 3rd page…

  • nicole

    The school you are talking about is the Mumbai based S P Jain (SPJIMR). The school ranked here is SPJain School of global management based out of Dubai,Sydney and Singapore . I just checked it out. Its ranked #19 by Forbes too…

  • Manohar

    Did you do similar research for Indian B-Schools…I’m sure it would be significantly better than US scores

  • Truth

    P&Q is better than to simply combine multiple rankings into one index. York University (Schulich) is ranked 8 and 28; University of Toronto (Rotman) is 11 and 46; IE Business School is 3 and 20. Perhaps, lack of education on part of the writer that he couldn’t elaborate?

    I’ve presented at a conference on the ‘gaming of rankings,’ and these rankings are truly a joke! If anyone is vaguely familiar with MBA Education, York and Rotman are both Top-20 North American rankings.

    I am educated in both Canada and U.S (Ivey League)

  • lbs13

    I second that! I had Oxbridge and Ivy grads in my study group at LBS. But there were also grads from these places at INSEAD and other schools (Finance lovers from Columbia on exchange looking for jobs in London). Also this year numerous companies sponsored for visas in Western Europe including UK and continetal Europe. There are however a few companies who did say that they do not support for visas

  • Dagger

    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. And S P Jain School of Global Management is ranked #19 by Forbes as Nicole mentioned.

  • French_Incopetence

    All you are doing is confusing prospective candidates (mostly international) with such meaningless rankings. The Economist does the same on a regular basis. There cannot be a raking for non-US MBA programs. There can only be a global top 100 MBA ranking to show relative standing and a ranking of schools & countries, which are international students friendly. There are huge differences between MBA programs in US, Canada & Europe, where MBA as a degree doesn’t have much relevance even today. Beyond the MBA experience, the biggest problem is Europe is the support system (Career & Placement Services). Most European schools represented in these rankings fare disastrously on this parameter. Take the example of Em Lyon Business School in France, an elite school in France/Western Europe but with the worst possible career support for its MBA students. On an average it takes more than 24 months for its 32 participants to find a job. A nightmare for international students who pay for their choice heavily. Some schools on your list fare even worse but many international students will get fooled by the school’s presence on such worthless rankings and will freeze their chances of a better career.

  • Tt

    Couldn’t agree more with sjean. It’s well known by those of us who work in Business Schools that many of our peers ‘play the rankings game’ and those at the top have the most resources to do so, ensuring they stay there. Rankings are killing competition in the sector, encouraging all programmes to act and look alike. All this is bad for the consumer and websites like this propagate them. On the other hand I have no sympathy for students who pick their MBA school largely based on its ranking – they don’t understand the methodology or the fact that a good School for one students is not necessarily a good School for another one

  • ramipami

    Given your information that “aringo is famous for placing THE low gmat into the top school” I understand better why you are so familiar with them…

  • Vijendra Agarwal

    I don’t follow the MBA programs that closely nor I believe in the rankings being the only indicator of successful and good programs. However, I am surprised that India’s other IIMs have not made to the list of top 50.

  • ReedD

    Does anyone have the 3 month post-MBA employment stats for these schools ? Not so much as a detailed chart but a mere percentage number as to the number of students who were able to secure employments within months of their graduation ?

  • JohnAByrne

    We published this data for the top 30 programs in the U.S. in early December. Here’s the table for our story on the Best & Worst MBA Job Placement of 2013:

    For non-U.S. schools, this data can be much harder to come by because many schools don’t publish it. We’ll try to get it for you over the next couple of weeks.

  • quickbuck

    Are you really from HBS? haha

  • quickbuck

    I still don’t get it how these nations with high GMAT or whatever scores can’t invent or discover anything. Almost every theory, discovery, medicine, electronics, etc was created or discovered by europeans or americans of european heritage. Now you can check those GMAT scores!

  • KayTee

    Please check the number of scientists working in NASA, computer engineers working in Intel, Google and other tech companies, doctors, professors and deans of the top US colleges who are from India.

    And to answer your question why we have less invention, discovery in modern times – it’s because we don’t have enough money to spend on research and development… You see, our countries (non European or American) were robbed and looted for 200 years by the smart and intelligent thugs who came with guns (the Europeans), so I find it funny that robbers and thugs are talking about why we don’t have money for spending on r&d and why we don’t invent something.

    Your ignorance is obvious When you say that everything is invented by the Europeans.

    Indians were doing eyes and brain surgery when the Britishers were painting their faces with blood using the cut off tails of foxes.

  • John

    Wonder why Laurie’s and your MOOC is not ranked here?
    or are they, and you refuse to tell us what rank it got? It is a free, or under $1k, elite MBA degree as you wrote in your article. So why is it not ranked here?

  • John


    You wrote:
    “if The Economist did not rank McGill this year and had ranked it in the
    past, that general tells you something. And if a school falls 18 places
    just because of that one issue, it also tells you that whatever place it
    previously held in a ranking was fairly tenuous, anyway, for one
    ranking to matter so much”

    You are conflating two issues as one. You are in error to say that just because a school did not participate in a ranking therefore the previous place it held was fairy tenuous. That is absurd to even think so, and ridiculous that you can write this, try to pass this logical falalcy as a fact. You are false making up presuppositions and trying to pass that as objective non false premises. That is scary JohnAByrne. Even user scottino pointed this out to you as well.

    Your ranking system is flawed due to your methodology errors, statistical ignorance and biased towards unscientific economical systems.

    This is now the second article that I read where your inductive reasoning has been found to be fallacious. Now I KNOW not to read any more of your articles.

  • FC

    If you attended an Ivy League School you would know that IVY is not spelled IVEY.

    Please don’t try to fool anyone.

  • FC

    Insead is a good school, but clearly not the best. Companies for OBVIOUS financial reasons prefer sponsoring people to a 1-year MBA program which is WAY cheaper than a typical 2-year program.

    I am sure INSEAD will give you a good education, but it won’t be as good as the education offered by a top 10 in the US mainly because of time constraints.

  • larry

    I am U S student looking at the full-time international MBA program at EMLYON, among others, like EDHEC in Nice and IE in Madrid. Are most European schools going to have weak career support? Where does your information come from on EMLYON grads needing on average more than 2 years to find jobs?

  • Jas

    we are still waiting for that data John..

  • scot

    CIEE vs IESE/IE how are they dfferent

  • SR

    Thats because nearly 50% of the students enter via Reservation. The minimum an admitted applicant scored in IIM-A was somewhere between 30-35 percentile which translates to a NEGATIVE CAT SCORE!!! The remaining open category students via CAT and a handful(or probably even lesser) via GMAT, which obviously results in a unrealistically HIGH GMAT score.

  • LP

    Spot on. The real test would be to measure selectivity of a program without counting Indian and Chinese applicants. All of a sudden, these schools will seem far less selective.

  • 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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