Vive la France: FT’s New Finance Ranking Is Gallic-Centric

For the first time, EDHEC Business School in France was named the top Master of Finance program by the Financial Times. Just two years ago the EDHEC MSc in Financial Markets was ranked eighth

Want to get a great Master of Finance degree? Think continentally. That’s the clear takeaway from the Financial Timesnew rankings of pre-experience finance master’s degree programs, which placed five French programs in the top six, including a new No. 1, EDHEC Business School’s eponymous MSc in Financial Markets.

Except for a slump to eighth place in 2015, the Master of Finance at EDHEC, based in Roubaix in northern France outside Lille, has been around FT’s top five for most of the last five years. One of France’s Grande Ecoles, EDHEC is considered the nation’s top school for undergraduate business education and a national and international leader in Master in Management, MSc, Ph.D., and executive education programs. But its Master of Finance program was another matter. Being around FT’s top five and breaking through are different things, and EDHEC seemed destined to forever look up the rankings at HEC Paris, lodged firmly in first place since 2013.

That’s now changed — largely on the strength of a high-impact strategy entailing what EDHEC describes as “a disruptive policy in the international research field, executed in close proximity to businesses,” and by producing research “of true practical use for businesses.” Out of 60 ranked programs, FT judged EDHEC’s eighth for career progress and 19th for value, and the school further distinguished itself with its average graduate salary ($105,455,  one of only 13 programs in six figures), its 87% marker in “aims achieved,” and its whopping 79% salary increase, better than all but six ranked programs. In that metric, HEC Paris fell to the middle of the pack at just 48%.

“We are very proud to see EDHEC internationally recognized as the world’s top business school for finance,” Olivier Oger, EDHEC dean, said on the school’s website in response to the FT ranking. “Our original ‘EDHEC for Business’ growth model, founded on academic excellence and close ties with businesses, has proved popular with the market for years, and our graduates are now among the most highly sought-after by financial institutions operating in the world’s leading financial centers.”


EDHEC Dean Olivier Oger

With EDHEC and HEC Paris in the top two spots, Essec Business School, based in Cergy-Pontoise, France, made it a Gallic trifecta by climbing from No. 7 last year to No. 3, thanks in large part to being ranked 11th in value, 13th in career service, and ninth in career progress. Skema Business School, based in Lille, climbed from 10th place to sixth to join the French party atop the FT ranking, which included another school with a French campus, ESCP Europe, at No. 4.

While the French schools hogged the limelight, U.S. programs went largely overlooked in the new ranking, as they often do where the London-based Financial Times in concerned. Of 60 ranked schools, only 12 were U.S.-based, and only one made the top 20 — MIT Sloan School of Management’s Sloan Masters of Finance, ranked fifth. Meanwhile, once again, some of the best business schools in the U.S. that offer Master of Finance programs were overlooked entirely, 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. (In FT‘s separate ranking of post-experience Master of Finance programs, two of six ranked schools are U.S. schools. See below for more on that ranking.)

The only M7 school to make FT‘s ranking, MIT Sloan’s finance degree earned high marks for salary increase (78%, better than all but seven schools) and posted the highest average salary of any school, $143,654. In fact, the next closest salary was more than $20,000 less — Peking University’s Master of Finance ($122,310). MIT’s Sloan Master of Finance has both 12- and 18-month formats and graduates — 77% of whom find work within three months — go on to a broad range of careers: asset management, hedge funds, consulting firms, insurance companies, investment and corporate banks, venture capital, and treasury and finance departments in governments and major corporations, to name a few.

Other notable U.S. schools in the ranking: Brandeis University International Business School at No. 22, Boston College’s Carroll School of Management at No. 34, and the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business at No. 38. Neither Carroll nor Smith were ranked at all last year. (See Poets&QuantsSpecialized Master’s Directory for information on innovative new programs, both U.S.-based and international.)


Who moved up and who fell hard? The Master of Finance at China’s Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, in Beijing, landed at 18th after not being ranked at all last year; also unranked in 2016 and earning spots this year are Université Paris-Dauphine’s Master of Finance, at No. 25, and Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics’ MSc in Finance, at No. 26. The former is French, the latter Portuguese. The Master of Finance at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Saif climbed 14 spots, from 28th to 14th. Warwick Business School in the UK saw its MSc in Finance jump from 16th to ninth.

For other UK schools, though, it was a tough ranking. The University of Strathclyde Business School’s MSc in Finance fell 15 places, from 33rd to 48th, while the MSc in International Finance at the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School fell 11 places, from 48th to 59th, and the MSc in Finance at Durham University Business School slid from 40th to 51st. A pair of U.S. programs dropped far, too, 10 spots each to be precise: Ohio State Fisher’s Specialized Master in Finance fell from 45th to 55th, and Washington University’s Olin Business School’s MSc in Finance sank from 35th to 45th. The MSc in Finance and Investments at Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University fell 14 places from 22nd to 36th.

Financial Times ranks both pre-experience (in which students possess little to no background in finance) and post-experience (comprised of students who have already worked in the financial sector) programs. This year the latter was just six schools, with London Business School’s Masters in Finance taking the top spot for the third time in four years. LBS had slumped to second place last year, displaced by UK rival Cambridge Judge Business School’s Master of Finance, but the two schools swapped places again in 2017. LBS has by far the highest average salary on the short list at $167,154, nearly $30,000 higher than the next-closest, Cambridge. Of note: two U.S. programs made this ranking, the MSc in Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (No. 4) and Florida International University: Chapman (No. 6).

(See the Financial Times’ post-experience Master in Finance ranking below, and the pre-experience rankings on the following pages.)