HEC Paris & Cambridge Score Ranking Gains

The HEC Paris campus

The HEC Paris campus

INSEAD and London Business School topped all of the other international MBA programs in the 2015 best business school ranking published yesterday by Forbes magazine. INSEAD delivered the best return-on-investment of any MBA in the world, even edging out Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, to take first place in its one-year MBA international category. London beat every other international two-year MBA program.

But the biggest surprises in the new biennial ranking by Forbes were scored by HEC Paris, the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, and IESE Business School in Spain. HEC jumped six places–more than any other international business school–to finish third on the two-year list, up from ninth in 2013.

IESE rose three spots to earn second place behind only London in offering the best ROI on a two-year international MBA degree. And Judge outdid its rival Oxford by climbing four places to rank third behind only INSEAD and IMD in the one-year MBA category. Two years ago, Judge was in seventh place, two spots behind Oxford. This year, Judge is four places ahead of Oxford, which fell two spots to rank seventh.


Unlike other MBA lists that often use a wide variety of metrics to rank schools, the Forbes methodology produces a ‘Show-Me-The-Money’ ranking based solely on return on investment. The magazine gathers all its rankings data from alumni, comparing graduates’ earnings in their first five years after graduation to their opportunity costs, including two years of lost income, tuition and fees, to calculate a five-year MBA gain. All the schools are ranked on the average five-year MBA gain for the Class of 2010, a tough year to enter what was a still troubled job market in the wake of the Great Recession.

So schools go up and down based on their five-year MBA gains. HEC Paris was among just a few schools in the Forbes ranking to report bigger gains than it had two years earlier. The average five-year gain for HEC rose to $77,800, up from $61,700. Total compensation for the 2010 class rose 10% annually since graduation and reached $152,000 last year. Meantime, several other schools that had been ahead of HEC reported significant declines in the return on investment of their degrees. The National University of Singapore, which had five-year gains of $95,900 two years ago, fell to just $62,700 in the latest report. The upshot: It fell from No. 2 to No. 7, a five place plummet. Manchester Business School, falling two places to sixth this year, saw its five-year MBA gain drop to $64,000 from $84,500.

Still, London Business School again emerged as the No. 1 two-year program outside the U.S. Students left jobs that paid a median $78,000 in salary in 2008 to enter the school’s MBA program. Five years after graduating in 2010, those students-turned-graduates were earning $210,000 in annual total compensation. Even more impressive, however, was the ROI calculation for London. It amounted to $102,100, or a payback period of 3.7 years, the highest five-year gain of any two-year MBA program in the world–beating every U.S. school, including Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton. That also compares with the average five-year MBA gain for the top 11 two-year programs at international schools of $67,500.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.