Winners & Losers In The Financial Times 2016 MBA Ranking

Purdue's Krannert School of Management is ranked 38th among the top 100 U.S. business schools by Poets&Quants.

Purdue’s Krannert School of Management

That sound you hear in Beijing this morning is the sound of champagne corks popping off the bottles being opened at the business school of Renmin University of China. While INSEAD has plenty to celebrate at being named No. 1 by the Financial Times for the first time in its history, Renmin has even more at stake.

The school only graduated its first MBA class in 1993, one of the first schools in China to have its own MBA program. It was only accredited by the AACSB less than four years ago in 2012. And Renmin had never been ranked before by the Financial Times. Making its debut at a rank as high as 43 means that the school would have had to jump a minimum of 59 places to gain its coveted spot on the FT list.

And while there will be celebration in Bejing, there may very well be mourning in West Lafayette, Indiana. That’s because Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, ranked 48th last year by the Financial Times, completely disappeared from the list of the top 101 schools this year. To pull its disappearing act meant that Krannert had to fall at least 54 places in a single year.


Of course, it’s not entirely clear why Renmin did so well or Purdue did so badly. Sometimes a school’s MBA program disappears because it failed to meet a response rate for the British newspaper’s alumni survey or it failed one of the FT’s random audits. Regardless, Renmin and Purdue are among the biggest winners and losers in the 2016 ranking published today (Jan. 25) by the Financial Times. There was no shortage of victors or the defeated on the new list.

All told, 17 different schools posted double-digit increases in the ranking this year. Among the other big winners are Brigham Young’s Marriott School of Management, advancing at least 22 spots to rank 80th after not appearing on the ranking at all a year ago, and Boston College’s Carroll School of Management rose 21 places to finish 69th from 90th in 2015.

The losers? An equal number of 17 schools dropped by double digits. Besides Purdue, the single biggest fall for a school that was on the list last year was experienced by the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Business. Tippie, despite posting record pay and placement results for its latest graduating class of MBAs in 2015, was in a near free fall, plunging 31 places to rank 94th this year from 63rd in 2015.


But at least Tippie avoided the fate that befell Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. In common with Purdue, the full-time MBA programs at those two schools completely disappeared off the FT ranking this year, each falling a minimum of 26 places to lose their FT rankings. Both Cox and Carey were ranked 76th best in the world in 2015 by the FT.

What can cause a school to rise or fall so dramatically in 12 months when it is rare for an MBA program to change all that much from year-to-year? The Financial Times‘ ranking is based on 20 different metrics, ranging from the self-reported salaries of alumni three years out to which three schools an alum would recruit from if he or she were involved in MBA recruiting. While it’s possible to track some changes over these metrics from one year to the next, the list is dynamic so each school rises or falls based on how its rivals perform as well as its own metrics.

One thing is certain, especially for this year’s big losers. The deans of schools that fall will be trying to decipher what caused their rankings decline and will be doing everything they can to make sure they reverse their losses next year.

(See following pages for the schools that experienced double-digit increases or declines in the new ranking)

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