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)

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