2013 The Economist’s MBA Ranking

Chicago's Booth School of Business

Chicago’s Booth School of Business

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business has topped the The Economist’s full-time MBA ranking for the second consecutive year. The new global ranking out today (Oct. 10) by the British magazine follows yesterday’s publication of Forbes’ biennial MBA ranking.

Dartmouth College’s Tuck School took second place again, while UC-Berkeley’s Haas School jumped into third from sixth place last year. Rounding out the top five were No. 4 University of Virginia Darden School and No. 5  IESE Business School in Spain, which rose four spots from ninth last year.

The big three–Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton–all suffered declines in the 12th MBA ranking published by The Economist (though the magazine incorrectly stated that it was the 11th survey). Harvard fell to sixth place from fourth. Stanford, declared the best business school in the U.S. by Forbes yesterday, slipped to ninth from eighth. And Wharton, which was ranked 13th in the world by The Economist last year, fell further behind–to 15th behind such schools as the University of Queensland in Australia, New York University’s Stern School, and HEC Paris.


Among the Top 25 schools providing the biggest boost in salaries are HEC Paris, which graduating MBAs saw their pre-MBA salary jump 149% to $123,964, IESE Business School, where pay rose 153% to $117,260, Hong Kong University, where pay jumped 154% to $94,371, and York University, where starting MBA salaries were 157% higher to $89,200, according to The Economist.

Only MBAs from two U.S. schools in the Top 25 delivered increases above 100% of pre-MBA pay: Emory University’s Goizueta School, where starting MBA salaries of $103,453 this year were 103% above pre-MBA pay, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, where starting MBA pay was 114% higher at $107,700.

 The Economist, however, may have made some errors in its calculations. According to the magazine, graduating Wharton MBAs experienced only a 21% increase over their pre-MBA salaries. Given the $120,702 average starting salary at Wharton, that is just not possible. It would mean that MBAs at Wharton quit jobs that already paid them an average above $90,000 a year to attend the school’s MBA program. Only yesterday, Forbes pegged the pre-MBA salary of a Wharton student at $80K.


Eight of the top ten spots on this year’s list belong to American universities. North America and Europe accounted for most of the schools in the top 25. The highest placed school from outside North America or Europe is the University of Queensland, which is ranked 14th. The University of Hong Kong tops the list of Asian schools, climbing from the 41st spot in 2012, to 24th in this year’s ranking.

The Economist’s methodology arguably produces the most peculiar results of the five most influential rankings of business schools. It takes into account new career opportunities (35%); personal development/educational experience (35%); increasing salary (20%); and the potential to network (10%). The figures are a mixture of hard data and the subjective marks given by the school’s students who are surveyed by the magazine.

Measuring MBA programs on those dimensions should insure that Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and London Business School do well. Yet surprisingly, year after year they tend to lag in The Economist ranking. In fact, Harvard, Stanford and Wharton have never topped this ranking even though it has been published every year since 2002. London Business School, ranked by Forbes yesterday as having the best two-year MBA program outside the U.S., was ranked 11th in the world this year by The Economist. Yale University’s School of Management, ranked 26th last year by The Economist, again failed to make the magazine’s top 25 list. It slipped to 28th place.


A further complication is that even among the top 25 schools this year, there are some massive–and unexplained–jumps in the rankings. For example, the University of Queensland rose 13 places in a single year to gain its 14th place finish. The University of Hong Kong jumped 17 spots to get to a rank of 24 on the list. On the other hand, IE Business School in Spain plunged 28 places to finish 50th from a rank of 22 only a year ago, and Hult International Business School also fell 28 positions to finish 59th (See The Topsy-Turvy Economist Ranking).

Columbia Business School and MIT Sloan both slid five places to rank 10th and 12th, respectively. York University’s Schulich School in Canada fell six spots to finish 22nd from 16th last year. Among the gainers were UCLA’s Anderson School, up five places to 18th, and New York University’s Stern School, up four spots to eighth.

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.