For the second consecutive time and just the third in 21 years of rankings, the Financial Times named Stanford Graduate School of Business the best full-time MBA in the world. Stanford’s arch-rival, Harvard Business School, captured second place on the 2019 list, gaining three places from its year-earlier rank of fifth, as it jumped over INSEAD, Wharton and London Business School.
After the two U.S. giants of graduate management education, INSEAD came in third, Wharton fourth, with CEIBS of China rounding out the top five. For China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, it was the highest ranking ever achieved by an Asian school in the Financial Times ranking.
But U.S. schools continued to dominate the FT list, with 51 of the 100 MBA programs in the United States. Next came the United Kingdom with 11 programs, China with six, France with five, India with four, and Singapore, Australia, Canada, Germany and Spain with two each.
As is often the case with all rankings, there were plenty of surprises on the new FT list. Oxford University’s Saïd Business School jumped 14 spots, more than any other Top 25 school, to gain its highest FT ranking ever in 13th place. More than that, Oxford bested its British rival, the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, which fell three places to rank 16th. Only two years ago, in 2017, Cambridge’s one-year MBA program was ahead of Oxford by 28 positions, ranking fifth versus Oxford’s 33rd.
THE RETURN OF IE BUSINESS SCHOOL — BUT IN 31ST PLACE
Another notable gainer this year is the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. With a year-over-year rankings gain of nine places, Darden moved into the Top 25, ranking 23rd from 32nd only a year ago. It was the school’s best Financial Times ranking since 2005, when Darden was ranked 20th. Darden’s position was helped by the addition of a new FT metric on corporate social responsibility in the ranking. Darden came out first for including a substantial amount of teaching on the subject in its core curriculum.
This year also marked the return of IE Business School on the FT ranking, after the school was tossed off last year’s list after FT editors said they had discovered “irregularities” in returned alumni surveys from IE. The school’s disappearance from the most watched ranking in Europe was a shock because IE had been in every single FT ranking from the very start in 1999. But this year, IE sank to a rank of 31st, the school’s weakest showing since 2002 when IE finished 35th, and significantly below its eighth-place finish in the world in 2017 when it was also third best in Europe (see IE Back On The FT List But At A Rank Of 31st).
The volatility in the FT ranking — which diminishes the credibility of the list because there are few year-over-year changes at schools to warrant big changes — means that there were plenty of big winners and big losers this year. While there is nothing worse than dropping off the FT list entirely, the full-time MBA programs at several schools experienced dramatic drops in rank.
THE SINGLE BIGGEST YEAR-OVER-YEAR GAIN WAS BY IIM-CALCUTTA
In fact, 34 of the 93 returning business schools had double-digit increases or declines this year. Seven MBA programs fell off the list, replaced by seven new business schools, mainly near the bottom of the list. The biggest declines hit Alliance Manchester, falling 23 places to rank 59th from 35th; Lancaster, which dropped 21 places to end up 91st from 70th, and Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, which plunged 20 places to finish 75th from 55th last year.
The biggest gainer on this year’s ranking is the Indian Institute of Management at Calcutta, which soared 29 places to rank 49th from 78th. IIM-Calcutta, in fact, is now only two spots down from India’s most acclaimed IIM in Ahmedabad, which had something of a reversal of fortunes this year, sinking 16 places to rank 47th from 31st in 2018.
WHU’s Otto Beisheim School of Management also had a good showing in the new ranking, improving by 23 places to rank 71st from 94th. Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management and Durham University Business School both advanced 21 places to rank 52nd and 43rd, respectively.