2014 Financial Times’s Global MBA Ranking

A case study professor in action at Harvard Business School

A case study professor in action at Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School topped The Financial Times2014 global MBA ranking for the second year in a row and for the fifth time since the FT began ranking full-time MBA programs in 1999. Stanford Graduate School of Business held on to its second place finish of last year, but Wharton slipped from its third-place perch to fourth, replaced by London Business School. Columbia Business School and INSEAD shared fifth place.

The bigger news in the new ranking, published today (Jan. 26), had to do with other prominent U.S. schools. Yale University’s School of Management jumped four places to tenth in the world, its first appearance among the top 10 in seven years. Only two years ago, The Financial Times had ranked Yale 20th in the world. Yet, curiously, the school’s weighted salaries for alumni fell to $150,880 from $159,370 a year earlier and the average increase over pre-MBA pay also dropped to 114% from 118% in 2013.

The University of Michigan’s Ross School rose seven places to finish 23rd. The University of Virginia’s Darden School rose eight places to finish 27th, while the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina soared a dozen places to finish 32nd.


The FT said that the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School, removed from its ranking last year when the school declined to share data on students due to state privacy laws, was back in the ranking, finishing 54th. When Carlson was last included in 2012, the school ranked 72nd. The newspaper added that the highest new entrant on the list is the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore at a rank of 68. IMD also gained seven places to finish 12th from 19th a year earlier.

In general, U.S. schools seem to do especially well this year on the global list. Many U.S. full-time MBA programs gained two or three places, with the University of Washington’s Foster School and Boston University’s leaping 20 places each–the largest single gains among the Top 100 ranked schools (see Winners & Losers in the 2014 Financial Times MBA Ranking). On the other hand, many U.K. schools seemed to suffer setbacks. Manchester Business School plunged 14 places to a rank of 43, while Cranfield fell eight places to 46 and Imperial slipped seven spots to 49th.

All five Canadian business schools on the FT list fared less well, declining on average ten places each from their previous perches in the ranking. York University’s Schulich School plunged 14 places to a rank of 66th, while the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School fell 15 spots to finish 72nd. The University of Alberta School of Business, in 100th place last year, fell completely out of the list this year. The highest ranked Canadian school, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School, finished just outside the Top 50 with a rank of 51, down five places, effectively outperforming all its Canadian rivals. A statistician for the newspaper attributed the decline to comparatively lower salaries reported by alumni.


The world’s highest alumni salaries–three years after graduation and calculated by the FT based on alumni surveys–belonged to Stanford MBAs: $184,566. Harvard Business School and Wharton grads followed with $178,300 and $170,472, respectively. Two other U.S. schools, Columbia and Kellogg, rounded out the top five, with Columbia alumni three years out earning an average $164,180 and Kellogg MBAs at $157,719.

But it was the MBA programs in Asia that delivered the largest increases over pre-MBA salary levels. China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s three-year-out alumni reported chart-topping increases that averaged 166% over what they had earned before getting their degrees. They were followed by Fudan University (163%), CEIBs (156%), and Peking University (151%).

The U.S. school delivering the biggest salary boost? The University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School where alums said they received a 132% rise. Stanford alumni doubled their pre-MBA pay (100%), while Harvard alumni did slightly better at 113%. Still, the surveyed alumni began and ended their MBA studies during one of the worst recessions in history. Yet, as a whole they were able to double their pre-MBA salaries within three years of graduation and at many schools do even better than 100%. Roughly 85% of the respondents left annual salaries averaging $64,000 when they entered an MBA program five years ago. Three years after graduation, the FT said, the average alumnus is a 33-year-old senior manager or higher on a salary of $127,000.

The Financial Times ranking is arguably the most consulted global list of full-time MBA programs, largely because U.S. News does not rank schools outside the U.S. and BusinessWeek separates U.S. and non-U.S. schools in different rankings. But there are significant flaws in the methodology the FT uses to rank programs, including the use of far too many metrics–20 in all–that include measures that have nothing to do with the quality of a school’s MBA offering. It’s also widely acknowledged to favor non-U.S. business schools.

  • Observer

    It is totally a joke….the most absurd part of the criteria is the journal list which is a collection of management journals which are all duplicates of one another.

  • RB

    Why would you live in Chicago over London?

  • Equivocation

    You do realize that most of your statements have a tremendous cultural bias?

    What calibre of students are you refering to? I will grant you that US MBA alums are generally regarded as having higher IQ’s as approximated by GMAT’s. But they are also generally seen as having much lower emotional intelligence.

    In Europe, Asia and even Latin America, some US alums have severe problems because they clash with the local culture. These are major issues for business success (if you have not figured out that in business EQ is more important than IQ you learned precious little in your MBA).

    LBS, IESE and INSEAD are all very respected schools within their area of geographic coverage. There is a reason for that; they reflect the best of the local business culture. I would hope that such a smart top 5 US MBA alum would understand this nuance and show a bit of self-awareness.

  • Equivocation

    I find it curious how the “best and brightest” on this board all seem to put the buggy before the horse. The value of the MBA is in how it can further your career goals in a cost effective way over your entire career.

    Rankings, GMAT’s and even current salaries are indicators of current brand perception and competition for entry. But brand perception is a backwards looking indicator of the success of alumni. Over the long-run, schools advance by selecting good students (not necessarily the highest GMAT’s), forming them and then projecting them into the business world (hopefully over the long-run). If a school does this successfully and consistently over time it will rise and dominate the rankings.

    If you really wanted to rank schools correctly you will have to look at how they are positioning themselves for the long-run. But understandably, most of the young-uns on this board are only concerned about their career prospects directly after completing the MBA. That is another matter altogether…

  • jojo

    Where you operate from also colors the view of alumns of these schools. On the East Coast (Northeast, mid-Atlantic, etc), Duke is a powerhouse name. Berkeley is seen as a UC system school. On West Coast, Berkeley is powerhouse, and Duke maybe not so much (gets lumped in with all the schools from east coast). HSW bucks all regional notions.

  • Junzi Wei

    Poline, I like your style.

    Assuming that you are right, 349 MBB sponsored students filled the 1st to 49th percentile part.

    Let me do another quick maths, associates most likely make 120k, BCG and Bain pays slightly more. Then how can you explain the mean average for INSEAD is matching with M7 schools?

    Don’t tell me that actually there is only 348 MBB sponsored students returned to MBB and actually the highest earner joined a PE, getting 7 digit pay, so that it raise INSEAD’s mean average salary to M7 school level. I will be disappointed for this answer. I am looking for more innovation answers from you. 🙂

  • Schmidt

    Nope. I am not the same person as whoever you were responding to. I think you are actually one of the nitwits.