Harvard To Top New 2013 FT Ranking

Harvard Business School students cheer during their graduation ceremonies in Boston

Harvard Business School students cheer during their graduation ceremonies in Boston

For the first time since 2005, The Financial Times is expected to name on Monday (Jan. 28) Harvard Business School’s full-time MBA experience the best in the world. This will only be the fourth time Harvard has topped The Financial Times list since it debuted in 1999. Harvard had captured the No. 1 spot in both the inaugural FT ranking in 1999 and again in 2000, but then waited until 2005 to regain its first place finish.

Harvard, which was ranked second last year, displaced Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business to assume top place. The FT ranked Stanford second, Wharton third, London Business School fourth, and Columbia Business School fifth.

Among other big changes in the ranking, according to sources who have seen the new list in advance of its publication, Cambridge University’s Judge Business School jumped 10 places to finish 16th this year, from a rank of 26th last year. ESADE, based in Spain, rose 11 places to rank 22nd this year, from 33rd in 2012.

The Financial Times ranks global MBA programs on the basis of 20 different metrics, but some 40% of the weight in its ranking is based on compensation. Sources told Poets&Quants that the big advances made by both Judge and ESADE were largely due to soaring compensation reported by the school’s alumni to the FT.

Though London Business School maintained its fourth place status to remain Europe’s top ranked business school by The FT, it failed to gain any ground against its top U.S. rivals. London had been ranked first by The Financial Times for three consecutive years from 2011 through 2009. INSEAD also held its position in the ranking, retaining last year’s sixth place honors.


Other schools in the FT’s top 20 which have made significant progress moving forward include No. 15 Ceibs in China, up nine places from 24th last year; No. 14 Yale University’s School of Management, up a half dozen spots from 20th, and No. 13 Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and No. 16th Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, both up three places from 15th and 19th, respectively.

The improvement at Ceibs, Yale and Kellogg is a sign that new leadership is having an impact. At Ceibs, Harvard Business School professor John Quelch had taken over the deanship of the Chinese school in February of 2011 and left this month. But during his two-year tenure, he made significant progress in advancing the school’s quality and agenda. At Kellogg and Yale, Deans Sally Blount and Edward Snyder have been aggressively working to improve their schools’ MBA programs. The Financial Times ranking is among the first to show a payoff from those efforts.

Other top 20 gainers, all up two places, include No. 7 Spain’s IESE at the University of Navarra, No. 8 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the No. 10 University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and No. 12 UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.


The new ranking was especially punishing to India’s two most famous business schools: the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, known as the world’s most selective business school due to an acceptance rate of below 1%, and the Indian School of Business. Last year, IIM-Ahmedabad was ranked 11th and ISB was ranked 20th by The Financial Times. This year both schools tumbled out of the British newspaper’s top 20 ranking, with IIM plummeting 10 places to finish 26th and ISB falling a dozen spots to rank 34th.

The International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland, known simply by its acronym IMD, fell six places to finish 19th this year, down from 13th in 2012. It was the worst showing by IMD in the history of The Financial Times’ ranking. Previously, the lowest rank achieved by the school in the FT was 15th in 2010.

IE Business School in Spain also slid three places to finish 11th, and Duke University’s Fuqua School dropped three spots as well to finish 18th.

In the 15 years that the FT has ranked full-time MBA programs, Wharton has been ranked first more than any other school, some ten times. This year’s Harvard win now places the Boston school second, with four wins, followed by London Business School with three and Stanford with one.

(See following page for the top 20 business schools in the new 2013 ranking by The Financial Times)

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