IESE, IMD Once Again Top FT’s Exec Ed Rankings

The executive MBA program at IESE Business School at the University Navarra in Spain was once again named the best overall program in the world by The Financial Times. It was also named the top customized program. IESE photo

There were other notable achievements in The Financial Times‘ exec ed rankings. Renmin University of China School of Business joined the list of top customized programs at No. 13 after being unranked last year — and last ranked 49th in 2014. It is rated top for follow-up after the course and second for future use, and also had the highest growth in revenues over the past year.

Chicago Booth School of Business was lauded for rising 11 places to return to the top 10 after falling to 19th last year, its worst performance since 2010. The Booth School has improved on every metric rated by participants, FT says, and earned top marks for preparation and second-best in course design. One participant went so far as to say the program offers “an excellent opportunity for professionals to go back to the academic world and relate their experiences within an academic framework.”

And though it sits at 27th overall, Columbia Business School — whose MBA is ranked seventh by FT and its EMBA-Global Asia, run with LBS and the University of Hong Kong, was second in FT‘s ranking last year — earned special attention for a comeback of sorts. No. 1 in the customized ranking in 2001 and 2002, Columbia had fallen to its lowest rank of 61st in 2017 — but this year it reversed the trend and moved up 13 places to 48th.


A word about methodology. The Financial Times‘ customized ranking features the top 90 B-schools in the field of customized executive education; the second ranking includes the top 80 schools for open-enrollment programs; and the third combined ranking lists the top 50 schools for executive education, calculated from the customized and open tables. To be included, schools must be internationally accredited by either Equis or ACCSB and have garnered revenues of at least $2 million in 2017 from either of their programs. A total of 102 schools took part in either or both rankings this year.

In total, 1,100 clients participated, roughly the same number as the last two years, including 6,800 individual participants, a slight uptick over previous years. The 2018 survey achieved a 57% response rate from organizations, though the individual participation rate stood well below at just 41%.

In open enrollment, respondents evaluated executive programs on 16 criteria. The first 10, whose weight varies from 6.7% (Food) to 8.7% (Course Design, Faculty, and New Skills and Training) account for 80% of the weight and include the following: Class Preparation, Course Design, Teaching Methods and Materials, Faculty Quality, Participant Quality, New Skills and Training, Follow Up, Aims Achieved, Food and Accommodations, and Facilities. These areas are rated on a 10-point scale where a 10 represents the best performance. The remaining 20% of the weight covers school-supplied data like female and international participation, international location, overall revenue growth, partner schools, and faculty diversity.

The customized ranking follows a similar methodology, with aims achieved and facilities swapped out for value for money and future use. In both rankings, the 2018 data accounts for 55% of a ranking, with the remaining 45% stemming from 2017 performance.

See next page for the Financial Times’ separate rankings of open and customized programs.

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