Top 50 Non-U.S. MBA Programs of 2011

INSEAD claims first place in 2011 Poets&Quants’ ranking of best MBA programs outside the U.S.

INSEAD nudged aside London Business School to claim first place in Poets&Quants’ 2011 ranking of the world’s best MBA programs outside the U.S. INSEAD, the self-proclaimed “business school for the world,” switched places with London, moving up from a ranking of second last year.

INSEAD’s new standing is an early and welcome victory for Dipak Jain, the former dean of the Kellogg School of Management who took over the reins at INSEAD last March. Jain is no stranger to rankings success, having led Kellogg back to a number one ranking in the influential BusinessWeek survey during this eight-year stint as the school’s leader from 2001 to 2009.

For years, INSEAD–with its campuses in Fontainebleau, France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi–had long been considered the best business school in Europe. But rankings by The Financial Times and The Economist have helped to erode the school’s reputation for providing the best MBA experience outside of Harvard, Stanford and a handful of other U.S. programs.

Since 2004, when the Financial Times had INSEAD and London in a dead tie for fourth place in its influential global ranking, the Financial Times has ranked London ahead of INSEAD for seven consecutive years. Prior to the 2004 tie, INSEAD had been above London for three straight years. The Financial Times currently has London Business School’s MBA program in a dead tie for the best in the world with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. A year earlier, London was the British newspaper’s undisputed number one winner.


Spain, meantime, solidified itself as a country that has become something of a European hub for managment education. Three of the top six schools on the list are in Spain, including IE Business School in Madrid which rose two spots to finish in third place. Not far behind are IESE Business School and ESADE, respectively ranked fifth and sixth for having the best full-time MBA programs outside the U.S.

Four of the top programs are in the United Kingdom, while France can rightly claim a pair of the best MBA programs while Switzerland has one. Other schools whose MBA programs ranked in the top ten of the list are IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, which placed fourth, No. 7 University of Cambridge’s Judge School, No. 8. École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris, more popularly known as HEC Paris, No. 9 Oxford University’s Said School, and No. 10. Cranfield University.

There were few dramatic year-over-year changes in the top 30, although several new schools emerged on full list of the 50 best MBA programs outside the U.S. Among the schools making their debut on the list were the National University of Singapore with a rank of 16th, while the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad claimed a ranking of 27th.

This new P&Q list is a composite of four major MBA rankings published by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Economist, The Financial Times, and Forbes. 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 2011 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. In any case, the ranking measures the overall quality and reputation of the flagship full-time MBA programs at the schools, rather than the schools themselves.

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