Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.2
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Senior Research Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.58
Stanford GSB | Mr. Doctor Who
GRE 322, GPA 4.0
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Data Savvy Engineer
GRE 316, GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9

The Financial Times Historical MBA Rankings

The Financial Times, for example, ranks global MBA programs on the basis of 20 different metrics. Some 40% of the weight in its ranking is based on compensation. With the pay gap for freshly minted grads so massive between Chicago and IIM, how could IIM outperform Booth? The first problem is that the FT doesn’t use the official salary statistics. Instead, it uses its own surveys of alumni three years out to estimate what those alums make and how much more they earn compared to the year before they received their degrees. Small sample sizes and the honesty of the respondents can play havoc with these estimates. Then, the newspaper adjusts all the figures to account for what it calls “purchasing power parity.”

HOW THE FT INFLATES ALUMNI COMPENSATION FOR ASIAN SCHOOLS INCLUDING IIM

Regardless of the actual numbers that show a massive gap between starting salaries of IIM and Booth grads, The Financial Times reports that the “weighted salary” of an IIM grad three years after graduation is $175,076, more than the $152,585 it claims for the typical Booth alum. And the FT claims that the typical IIM alum posted a 140% increase in pay from pre-MBA days, while the Booth alum managed only a 109% rise. These highly inflated numbers for IIM easily account for its higher rank over Booth.

An analysis by Poets&Quants of The Financial Times’ historical rankings over the past 12 years shows that Chicago has plenty of company, particularly among other prestige business schools in the U.S. In the last dozen years, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management fell to 16th from ninth; New York University’s Stern School to17th from tenth; Dartmouth’s Tuck School to 19th from 13th, Cornell University’s Johnson School to 24th from 15th.

Many other highly prominent U.S. schools, whose student quality has improved over the 12-year span, showed even more dramatic declines. The University of Michigan’s Ross School, for example, plummeted 13 places to a rank of 29 from 16th; UCLA’s Anderson School fell 20 places to 32nd from 12th in 2001; Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School dropped 18 spots to 35th from 17th, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School slid 16 places to a rank of 38th from 22nd.

MANY PRESTIGE U.S. SCHOOLS HAVE FALLEN ON THE FT’S LISTS DESPITE SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS IN QUALITY 

Yet, at all these schools, the quality of the students, judged by average GPA and GMAT scores, have significantly improved over the timeframe. At Kellogg, the average GMAT score of the entering class is now 712, up from 700 in 2001; at Dartmouth, the average GMAT is 718, up from 695; at NYU Stern, the average GMAT is 719, up from 700.

If you think those declines seem arbitrary or unwarranted, you’re likely to think even worse when looking at another set of schools that plunged even further during the 12-year period. The University of Southern California’s Marshall School, for example. lost 29 places, falling to a rank of 61st this year from 32 in 2001. Vanderbilt University’s Owen School dropped 36 places to a rank of 61 from 25 in 2001. The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flager Business School plunged 35 spots to a rank of 56th from 21st. The University of Western Ontario’s B-School fell 49 places to 68th from 19th.

As U.S. business schools have fallen, European and Asian schools have done much better in The Financial Times. IIM is just one highly visible example, but there are many more. Hong Kong University of Science & Technology was ranked tenth in the world last year from 48th in 2001. The National University of Singapore’s business school zoomed to 23rd in the world from 89th just 12 years ago. HEC Paris climbed to 18th from 52nd in 2001. China Europe International Business School (Ceibs) in Shanghai, China, jumped to 24th this year from 92nd in 2002 (it was not ranked at all in 2001 by The Financial Times).

WHARTON TOPS THE FT RANKINGS WHEN THEY ARE COMBINED OVER 12 YEARS

When you combine 12 years worth of Financial Times’ rankings, a process that helps smooth out some but not all of the anomalies in a given year’s list, it turns out that Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and London come out on top as the FT’s best global MBA programs. Chicago Booth slides into seventh place, just behind INSEAD.

(See next page for table of the top 25 schools when The Financial Times’ rankings are combined over the past 12 years)

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.