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HEC Paris Tops Finance Program Ranking

HEC Paris

HEC Paris

MIT’s Sloan School of Management is the only U.S. school to break the Top 10 European hold on a new Financial Times ranking of master’s of finance programs for pre-experience students. Though MIT grads posted the highest alumni salaries, the school only managed a fifth-place standing, with HEC Paris repeating its first-place finish last year.

ESCP Europe finished second, while IE Business School in Spain captured third place and Edhec Business School in France was fourth among the 55 finance programs that received numerical ranks on the FT‘s pre-experience list.

A separate ranking of master’s in finance programs for students with experience saw Cambridge University’s Judge Business School displace London Business School after LBS had cornered the top spot for five consecutive years. This list ranked only five schools, with No. 2 LBS, No. 3 Singapore Management University, No. 4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and No. 5 Florida International University.

A EUROPE-CENTRIC RANKING OF MASTER’S PROGRAMS

U.S. schools grabbed only eight of the 55 ranks in the FT‘s pre-experience ranking. They included No. 27 Brandeis University, No. 35 Washington University and Illinois Institute of Technology, No. 39 University of Rochester, No. 43 Tulane University, No. 45 Ohio State University, and No. 54 University of Utah.

The FT‘s Europe-centric ranking excluded some of the best business schools in the U.S. that offer master’s of finance programs, including Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. However, many of the U.S. schools best known for finance, including Wharton, Columbia, and Chicago Booth, do not offer specialized master’s programs in the subject (see The P&Q Directory of Specialized Master’s Programs).

In what is the sixth year of the ranking of the programs, the British newspaper bases its lists on surveys to the business schools and to program alumni. The FT excludes programs that have not existed for a minimum of four consecutive years, are not full-time, or have fewer than 30 graduates each year. The requirement that a program be in existence for four years has kept more U.S. schools off the list because many of the U.S. players have been late to the specialized master’s party.

THE METHODOLOGY INCLUDES METRICS THAT HAVE LITTLE TO DO WITH PROGRAM QUALITY

This year the FT said it surveyed 5,210 graduates from pre-experience programs and 438 graduates from post-experiences programs. The two surveys achieved a response rate of 36% and 32%, respectively. For the pre-experience ranking, alumni responses are based on six measured metrics, including adjusted salary according to purchasing power parity, placement success, and international mobility that account for 55% of the methodology.

The remaining 45% of the ranking is based on school-provided data, ranging from the diversity of teaching staff, board members and finance students, according to gender and nationality, and the international reach of the program — even though those factors have little to do with the overall quality of a program.

Seven of the pre-experience programs reported 100% placement rates for their graduates three months after commencement. They were the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, Bocconi in Italy, Skema Business School in France, Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Lingnan College in China, and the University of Glasgow in the UK. The placement rate for several U.S. programs, according to the FT, were among the lowest for schools on the list, including a rate of just 26% for Tulane University.

SOME DATA IS DATED BECAUSE THE SURVEY MEASURES ALUMNI THREE YEARS OUT

Because the FT surveys alumni three years out of a program to better measure career progress, some of the data is quite old. Placement rates, for example, are three years old. For MIT Sloan, the FT said that 84% of its graduating class had jobs three months out. Yet the school’s latest placement report — for 2014 — shows that 96% of the cohort had job offers three months after commencement. The median starting pay for those grads was $72,000, with a high salary of $115,000 and a low salary of $35,000, presumably for a graduate who returned to a home country. Some 86% of the class, which numbered 127 graduates, were non-U.S. citizens.

As with just about all rankings, there can be wild roller-coaster ups and downs that often defy explanation. The University of Hong Kong, for example, jumped 16 places in a single year to rank 29th. The FT said that rise could be attributed to a significant increase in the salary of its alumni, from $60,000 to $75,000, and to a 17-place increase in the school’s career rank to 31st from 48th a year earlier.

Lancaster University Management School rose 10 places to 30. “It did better thanks to a higher salary, from $43,000 to $55,000, and an improved career rank,” according to the FT. “It is the only school whose intake is entirely made up of international students.”