INSEAD Captures First In New Businessweek Ranking

INSEAD bills itself as “the business school for the world”

INSEAD is on a roll.

After two consecutive No. 1 rankings from the Financial Times, INSEAD nudged aside long-time rival London Business School to take the top spot today (Dec. 11) in Bloomberg Businessweek’s international MBA ranking.

INSEAD toppled LBS by finishing first in Businessweek’s surveys of employers and alumni—which account for 65% of the ranking—but also received a boost from a third place showing in the magazine’s survey of MBA students—which represents 15% of the ranking.


London Business School fell to second place, placing second in the employer portion of the ranking, and sixth in both the alumni and student surveys. Rounding out the top five international programs are No. 3 IESE Business School in Spain, up two places from its fifth place finish last year, No. 4 University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in the United Kingdom, and No. 5 IMD in Switzerland. To notch its fifth place finish, IMD climbed over Cambridge University’s Judge Business School which fell two places to rank sixth.

European business schools completely dominated the Top Ten this year, with Italy’s SDA Bocconi in seventh place, Spain’s IE Business School in eighth, down two spots from last year’s ranking, ESADE in ninth, rising three places from 12th a year earlier, and HEC Paris gained a place to rank tenth. That is unusual in part because only two years ago, Bloomberg Businessweek proclaimed that the best MBA program outside the U.S. was in Canada at Western University’s Ivey Business. On this year’s list, Ivey placed 11th, down one place from tenth last year.

The most notable difference in this year’s new list of international schools is how little ranks changed year over year in what generally has been a highly volatile ranking, perhaps by including data in previous surveys. The most dramatic changes amount to only a six place improvement or decline in only two schools: Mannheim rose six spots to rank 14th from 20th, while Cranfield School of Management fell six places to 20th from 14th. Otherwise, most changes—up or down—were relatively minor.


Only one school is new to the list: The Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada. The international ranking follows the magazine’s U.S. list published on Nov. 16th.

Businessweek found that INSEAD students left jobs that paid them an average of $66,000 a year, graduated into jobs paying $120,000, and in six to eight years pulled down compenation of $239,000 a year. The magazine reported an 82.3% placement rate three months after graduation for INSEAD grads, a rate that was slightly below average for the 31 international MBA programs ranked by the magazine and 18th overall.

The magazine also noted that recent graduates of Germany-based Mannheim Business School are the most likely to get hired quickly, with a 97.4% placement rate three months after graduation. MBA graduates of IMD who tend to be older with more work experience than graduates of other MBA programs were found to be the highest-paid. While IMD students left jobs paying an average $80,000 a year, they graduated into jobs paying $157,000. Within six to eight years, IMD grads were making $240,000, according to Businessweek.


The international ranking is based on the same methodology as Businessweek’s U.S. list (see Wharton and MIT Score Big In Businessweek MBA Ranking). This way of ranking full-time MBA programs, adopted two  years ago, puts a 35% weight on a survey of MBA employers who are asked to identify just ten schools and assess the track record of graduates in their companies. After INSEAD, the top schools in the employer category this year were London, Oxford, IESE, and ESMT (European School of Management and Technology) in Berlin, Germany.

A survey completed by school alumni accounts for 30% of the ranking and is based on the increase in their median compensation over their pre-MBA pay, job satisfaction, and their opinions of the MBA experience. The top alumni survey winners after INSEAD were IE Business School, Oxford, ESADE, and Cambridge Judge.

Businessweek then adds in a separate student survey of recent graduates that is weighted 15%. That survey includes 27 questions that contribute to a school’s rank. IESE moved into the top spot, pushing aside last year’s No. 1 IMD in the student survey, followed by Melbourne Business School in Australia, INSEAD, SDA Bocconi, and IMD.


Finally, Businessweek tosses in two metrics from school reports: the job placement rate three months after graduation and starting salaries, each counting for 10% of the methodology. In MBA employment, Melbourne Business School followed Mannheim with a 96.3% rate. The National University of Singapore was third, with an employment rate of 95.5%, with IESE fourth (95.3%) and London fifth (93.6%).

When it came to starting base salary, adjusted for variation across industries and regions, IMD’s $157,000 was unexplainably followed by the University of St. Gallen at $130,00, then Ryerson at $90,000, and finally London and ESIC at $133,500. Obviously, the salary portion of the ranking fails to make sense. So Businessweek inevitably made an error in its calculations.

(See following page for all ranking of all 31 international schools)

  • Mika

    John, when do you expect to publish the non-us p&q mba ranking?

  • OG

    I wouldn’t rank Queens above Rotman. That doesn’t make sense.

  • avivalasvegas

    Glad to hear it!

    My humble advice – accept Wharton. Please know that I have no love for the program and have posted about my contempt for the type of student who graduates from Wharton in the past. I’ve attacked the institution for the emphasis (or lack thereof) on academic rigor and I’ve even labelled the program as a backup option for HBS and GSB at best (and not an alternative to those two programs, like some believe Wharton is).

    And that’s just it. . .Wharton is the next best option to two top MBA programs in the world. You could argue that Kellogg/ MIT are better-for-your-soul US alternatives but I’m assuming your only US admit is Wharton? If so, the only edge LBS has over Wharton is the London location, assuming you really want to live and work in the EU. Even there, Wharton’s international brand recognition has nearly as much strength as LBS across the pond and all you’ll need to do is sign up for an career trip or two and perhaps study abroad. Sadly, the reverse isn’t the case for LBS in the US.

  • D

    Hmm you’ve prompted me to think more deeply on this. I think my perceptions are skewed as the LBS and Wharton students I’ve interacted with are for the most part changing careers into MBB, as that’s my short-term reason for targeting MBA, so I’ve mostly interacted with those who perhaps fall into a certain range of personality types. Your generalization makes sense as LBS values multi-national exposure a bit more than Wharton, which tends to make one a little more humble, or at least that’s how it played out for me. Now that I’ve been offered admission to Wharton as well, I need to weigh all these considerations and others to figure which program to commit to.

    Re your point on LBS’ relatively reduced emphasis on GMAT, my reasoning is simple, but I’m open to hearing a different one. Imagine you’re a professional who spends her entire day exposed to and using mostly a language other than English, in meetings and emails and so on. And then you come home and spend a couple hours studying GMAT Verbal. This exact same applies to me, except for only one point of difference: I’m solely exposed to and use English. So my speed of thought is significantly faster when answering the Verbal questions. I got a 42 in Verbal, whereas my (“smarter” than me) friends local to and working in China struggled to hit 40. Keeping Quant constant at my score of 50, that takes the overall GMAT score down from 750 to 720. By my reckoning, half of LBS students use mostly a language other than English in their professional lives.

    So yes, I agree that LBS has reduced emphasis on GMAT. However, I don’t think it’s in favor of quality of work experience, as the students I met at the US MBA programs I visited have equally high quality work experience as the LBS students I’ve spoken with, but where that work experience occurred was very different. The LBS students I spoke to were based in all corners of the globe pre-MBA, whereas off the US MBA students I met, I would guess 20% were based outside US pre-MBA.

    Sorry for the long post. Let me know your thoughts if you have the time to read it. This is turning out to be a more value-adding discussion than I had hoped.

  • avivalasvegas

    I have a few LBS grads on my team and find them to be relatively humble, another similarity with INSEAD, so I’m not sure if the Wharton parallel would fit appropriately. Again, this is a generalization and there are exceptions at all programs.

    What’s really interesting is the school’s relatively reduced emphasis on the GMAT score in favor of overall quality of work experience. Would you agree this to be the case in your experience as well? I will say that I respect your decision not to apply to the 1Y program. Most of the INSEAD and Kellogg 1Y alumni I talk to at industry events share that they felt like they graduated just when they had finally acclimatized to the B school environment pace, and many wish they had more time.

  • D

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. As an LBS MBA Class of 2020 admit and having spoken with a few INSEAD grads when deciding where to apply (I didn’t apply to INSEAD after understanding the 1 year format would not suit me), I agree that it’s much of a muchness between the grads of the two.

    Very interesting parallel you make between INSEAD and Kellogg grads. Perhaps a similar could be made between LBS and Wharton. Although I haven’t visited LBS, when being interviewed etc at Wharton the intensity and ambition of the current students was palpable yet very healthy.

  • avivalasvegas

    Surprisingly accurate ranking of the European schools. Based on my own experience as a hiring manager at my fortune 30 company, INSEAD and LBS grads are very similar with the latter skewing towards more experienced (and more intense) candidates. INSEAD grads are usually younger and come across as very “Kellogg- like” in client facing roles. Conscious that I’m splitting hairs.

    I would probably rank IMD above Oxford or Cambridge but the difference in rankings is negligible as well.