HEC Tops Economist Debut MIM Ranking

the economist masters in management ranking

The University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce had the highest ranked U.S. program in the new Economist rankings of master’s in management programs

HEC Paris’ School of Management topped The Economist’s debut ranking of masters in management programs. European schools, which have pioneered these one-year graduate degrees in business for students without significant work experience, took nine of the top ten spots.

In fact, of the 40 numerically ranked schools on the first list, only six U.S. schools managed a spot in the new ranking. The highest ranked U.S. school was the University of Virginia’s McIntire School whose one-year M.S. in Commerce placed second. Rounding out the top five were No. 3 WHU in Germany, No. 4 ESSEC Business School in France, and fifth-place University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. The HEC program has an annual intake of 64 students and a $28,954 price tag, while McIntire’s program bring in 116 students each year and costs $47,416.

Other U.S. business schools to make the list were No. 19 Notre Dame University, No. 21 Wake Forest University, No. 23 Babson College, No. 25 Southern Methodist University, and No. 32 University of Florida. Hult International Business School, which boasts campuses in several world capitals but also Cambridge, came in 13th.

A NEW RANKING TO COMPETE WITH THE 12-YEAR-OLD FINANCIAL TIMES LIST

This is the first attempt by The Economist to rank MIM programs which tend to be more popular than the MBA in Europe. The rival Financial Times has also done a Euro-centric ranking of these programs for the past 12 years. In the latest FT list, published last September, the University of St. Gallen has finished first on the FT list for six consecutive years, with HEC Paris and Essec Business School coming in second and third, respectively, for three years in a row.

Last year, when the FT ranked 90 programs, the first and only U.S. business school on the list was Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business at a rank of 82nd. having entered at 82. Generally, U.S. schools decline to cooperate in such rankings. There are dozens of U.S. institutions that currently offer the degree, including Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, among many others.

The most notable difference between the FT and Economist lists? The absence of London Business School on the new rival ranking, presumably because the school refused to complete a survey and give The Economist access to its students and graduates. The FT ranks LBS’ MIM program sixth best in the world. ESCP Europe Business School, whose MIM program placed fourth on the FT list, doesn’t appear at all in the Economist ranking.

THE ECONOMIST ISSUES ITS RANKING WITH A WARNING LABEL

There also are some wild variations between the ranks of programs on the lists. Most notably, Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management’s MIM program is ranked fifth by the FT, but dead last at 40th by The Economist, though Rotterdam’s placement rate of 68% placed it 38th in that category (see tables on following pages that compare program rankings). The FT, however, puts only a 5% weight on three-month placement, while The Economist puts slightly more than a 12% emphasis on that metric. Aston University, ranked 33rd by The Economist, had only placed 85th in the FT.

Those differences are a function of methodology, but also of the fact that the underlying scores that determine ranks are often so close as to be statistically meaningless. The Economist wisely issues its ranking with a warning: “Rankings,” the magazine states, “are little more than a snapshot of a particular moment. They reflect the prevailing conditions such as the job market, exchange rates and the situation at a business school at the time the survey was carried out. Results of rankings can be volatile, so they should be treated with caution.”

THE ECONOMIST IS USING 18 DIFFERENT METRICS TO RANK MIM PROGRAMS BUT PAY LOOMS LARGE

The Economist’s methodology takes into account 18 different metrics (vs. 16 by the FT) culled from surveys completed by the schools as well as current students and alumni. The magazine failed to disclose the response rates for its surveys or the schools that declined to cooperate with its ranking. The methodology places the greatest weight—23%—on salaries, though it also measures such things as the percentage of graduates employed three months after graduation and student and alumni opinion of career services, faculty and their classmates.

Besides the numerical ranks assigned to each school, The Economist also put schools in so-called “bands” with letter grades based on quintiles in which they fell according to their overall undisclosed scores. The only program receiving an “A” was HEC Paris. Some 10 schools were awarded “B” grades, 17 were given “Cs”, with ten given “Ds” and two “E” grades.

Given the amount of weight placed on compensation in both The Economist and FT rankings, with the FT putting a 20% emphasis on pay, it’s revealing to compare the salary numbers from both surveys. Graduates of the University of St. Gallen, for example, are deemed to make $77,037, according to The Economist, placing first in the pay sweepstakes. But the FT’s weighted salary for St. Gallen grads is considerably more: $101,502. Some of the 24% difference could be attributed to unspecified changes the FT makes in the data due to adjustments based on purchasing parity and industry salary variations.

SEVERAL PROGRAMS BOAST 100% PLACEMENT RATES FOR THEIR GRADUATES

After St. Gallen, the highest reported salaries in The Economist ranking were attributed to HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management ($67,659), No. 3 WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management ($66,550), No. 4 UVA McIntire ($65,225), and No. 5 Copenhagen Business School in Denmark ($63,984), though Copenhagen reported a low 64% placement rate for its graduates three months after commencement. While the lack of adjustments may fall in the rankings’ favor of schools whose graduates are in high salary regions of the world, The Economist’s numbers are far more reliable than the FT’s because they are not subject to unspecified adjustments. The Economist also checks the salary figures provided by each school against the reported numbers from alumni.

One surprise: Graduates of the MIM program at the University of Bath, ranked 18th, had annual salaries of only $26,163, which placed the school 35th in pay out of the 40 schools. That’s not much more than the $24,331 reported salary for Tsinghua University grads in Beijing, China. The lowest salaries were reported by grads of St. Petersburg University’s Graduate School of Management in Russia at $16,637. Yet, even Liverpool was in the ballpark with salaries of only $17,023. There are some scratch-your-head moments with the data, however. Britain’s Aston University in Birmingham reported salaries of $40,155, more than double those of Liverpool.

Several schools reported 100% placement rates for their MIM graduates three months after commencement, including HEC Paris, the University of St. Gallen, Tsinghua University in China, and Grenoble Ecole in France. The lowest placement rate for a top 25 program was 86% at both Hult International and the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Germany. The lowest placement rate for any of the 40 programs in the ranking? The University of Florida which reported that 38% of its graduates failed to have a job within three months of graduation.

MCINTIRE WASTED NO TIME IN PROMOTING ITS NO. 2 RANKING

UVA’s McIntire School was quick to trumpet its second place finish, issuing a news release on the day the rankings came out. “As an increasing number of global employers move toward hiring MiM grads, we are very pleased that our innovative M.S. in Commerce Program was recognized by The Economist for offering one of the world’s top programs, as well as earning the highest U.S. program ranking,” said McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml in a statement. “Our integrated core experience, specialty tracks, and GIE (global immersion experience) differentiate the program from our number of competitors, and we are dedicated to constant improvement and leadership in this program space.”

McIntire noted that in addition to its #2 overall ranking, the program garnered a #3 for open career opportunities, #4 for education experience, and #5 in the student/alumnus faculty rating. The program also placed #4 in salary, #6 in the student/alumni rating of facilities, #6 in the alumni rating of careers service, and #9 in the student/alumni rating of culture and classmates.

“With this recognition, the program will continue to attract top students from around the world and launch its graduates into promising and fulfilling careers.” Zeithaml added. “Since the inception of the program nearly 10 years ago, our great faculty and staff have provided consistent and visionary leadership, resulting in extraordinary student recruiting, teaching, and placement. Our alumni are already making their mark in the business profession and beyond.”

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

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.