10 Biggest Takeaways In The Financial Times 2019 MBA Ranking

3. American Schools Dominate in Career Services

What is the most underrated part of the MBA experience? Some might say career services, a nerve center that often connects students with their all-important constituencies: employers and alumni. It is here where American MBA programs excel.

In the 2019 ranking, the Financial Times surveyed alumni – in this case, the Class of 2015 and a preceding class – on the effectiveness of their alma mater’s career services. The alumni evaluated criteria such as “career counseling, personal development, networking events, [and] internship search and recruitment.” When it comes to alumni satisfaction with career centers, the gap between American and international MBA programs is staggering.

Namely, alumni believe American career centers boast far superior services than their overseas counterparts. Among the 10 highest-scored centers, nine were based in the United States, led by Chicago Booth, UCLA Anderson, Georgia Tech Scheller and Indiana Kelley, which ranked 2nd through 5th. When the lens expands to the Top 25, American career centers take up 22 spots. Some of this may have to do with the greater level of acceptance of the MBA as a credential in the U.S. But it also has to do with the amount of resources U.S. schools pour into their career development efforts.

Eventually, international centers make headway in the survey. Still, it is hard to ignore that 18 of the 25 lowest-scoring centers are based overseas. The top-performing center overall, ironically, hails from South Korea – Sungkyunkwan University Graduate School of Business. The United Kingdom features the most non-US centers in Top 50 – 5 – headed by the Lancaster University Management School (24th). France and China each produced two centers that made the Top 50, led by INSEAD (43rd) and the Fudan School of Management (39th) respectively. Aside from Sungkyunkwan, Canada’s Ivey was the only other non-American center to crack the Top 20…at 20, no less

What does this mean? Career centers are the traditional source for conducting resume reviews, mock interviews, and one-on-one coaching. As noted earlier, these centers often perform the “recruit the recruiter” function, bringing companies to campuses for events and presentations that jumpstart the relationship-building process. In other words, American programs own a distinct advantage, according to this survey, in both fostering students’ professional development and employer outreach. If international programs are looking for a place to make their MBAs more appealing to employers – the
kind that leads to internships, jobs, class projects, and internal school-driven networks – they may want to start with beefing up their career centers. It is one area where they seriously lag behind their American counterparts.

4. Higher Tuition Costs Equal Better Job Opportunities

Most people are familiar with the cliché, “You get what you pay for.” That certainly applies when you look at FT data that ranks a school’s “Value for Money” and “Alumni Recommendation.” The former is a calculation that includes current salary, program length, costs, and lost income. The latter is based on an alumni survey, where respondents were asked to name the three schools from which they would recruit alumni.

Not surprisingly, the highest cost programs ranked low for value. Consider the source here: mostly two-year MBAs who have been barely out of school for four or five years – many still paying down debt. This category includes MIT Sloan, London Business School, Wharton School, Northwestern Kellogg, and Columbia Business School, which all ranked in the bottom 20 for Value For Money. However, high cost equals low value isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, however. Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School, for example, ranked 60th and 73rd here respectively.

When it comes to recommendations, the big brands top all comers, hands down. Not surprisingly, Harvard and Stanford MBAs fetched the highest number of recommendations. Beyond that, the low-value programs earn the highest marks. Among the twenty most-recommended alumni, 14 hailed from low-value schools. For example, Duke Fuqua placed 98th of 100 in value, yet ranked 11th for recommendations. That isn’t always a truism: the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad, ranked 41st in value and 16th among recommendations, doesn’t follow the pattern. The same is true for INSEAD, which placed 6th for both Value for Money and Recommendations.

Overall, 16 American MBA programs finished among the Top 20 among alumni recommendations. That said, just three Top 20 programs are one year in duration. That means a shorter MBA – despite enabling students to earn more sooner – doesn’t necessarily translate to stronger appeal with employers. Instead, an MBA is a long-term investment, one where the most exclusive and in-demand programs can draw the best students and charge a premium. The payout may take longer, but it garners immediate respect and produces more sustainable results over the long haul.

Looking for outliers? Toronto Rotman may rank 85th overall – and 100th for Value for Money – but graduates make a strong impression on decision-makers, finishing 27th for Recommendations. In contrast, China’s CEIBS placed 5th overall but ranked 34th in Recommendations.