Ten Biggest Surprises In The Economist’s 2019 MBA Ranking

Harvard Business School

2) Harvard MBAs Quit Jobs With Six-Figure Salaries!

All rankings unleash an amazing amount of data, some of which would never be publicly available by the schools. One of the most compelling data points in The Economist’s ranking is the average pre-MBA salary achieved by the school’s latest incoming class. The magazine actually uses this metric to make a judgment on the quality of students entering an MBA program, along with average GMATs and the number of years of work experience.

This year’s eye-opening pre-MBA salary average was achieved by Harvard Business School because students left jobs that on average paid a shockingly high $108,303, making Harvard students the most highly paid of any business school in the world–before they went for their MBAs. Last year, pre-MBA salaries at HBS were $93,318.

Pause for just a moment to think about that. Only Harvard could entice a young professional already making six figures to its MBA program. That compares with the $92,719 average salary of incoming MBAs at MIT Sloan, $91,366 at Stanford, and $90,241 at Wharton. The Economist gets these numbers from its student surveys so they can vary by sample size along with the career paths of a school’s graduates.

But the $108,303 is unprecedented. It tells you that having Harvard’s imprimatur on one’s resume still has remarkable value. Because it would take a lot to walk from a six-figure salary to go into an expensive MBA program if you weren’t fairly confident that it was worth it.

And the other fascinating number in this equation is the average post-MBA salary reported by Harvard grads to The Economist. It came to $139,339, resulting in the slimmest salary bump of any MBAs in the survey: a mere 29%. So the students who are trading their high-paying jobs for Harvard are making a long-term bet that the degree will pay off.

Students meeting inside MIT Sloan

3) MIT Sloan Barely Cracks Top 20? No Way!

MIT’s Sloan School of Management is the perennial bridesmaid – a school that can never quite break into the ‘Big Three’ conversation among American MBA programs. In Bloomberg Businessweek, Sloan ranks 4th – and 5th in The Financial Times when INSEAD, CEIBS, and LBS are removed. Technically, the program finished 3rd in this year’s U.S. News & World Report ranking…but in true Sloan style had to share the honor with Harvard and Chicago Booth.

To add insult to injury, MIT Sloan ranks 19th this year with The Economist. This is hardly an anomaly. Over the past four years, the program has placed 16th, 19th, 17th, and 15th – even ranking behind the University of Queensland during two of those years.


Yes, MIT Sloan is a model of consistency in a historically-rickety ranking. In reality, MIT Sloan is the pioneer – trendsetter, even – in team-driven, hands-on MBA programming. You could say the program is founded on the four I’s: innovation, impact, interdisciplinary, and international. It attracts some of the most accomplished MBA candidates to Cambridge – with the Class of 2018 pulling down higher starting paychecks than their Harvard Business School kin. In fact, MIT Sloan draws more applications per open seat than its peer schools – all while boasting programming that ranks among the best according to U.S News’ annual survey of deans and faculty leaders. In other words, how does The Economist not include MIT Sloan among its Top 10 – minimum?

Well, let’s start out with what MIT Sloan does well according to The Economist. The program ranked 2nd overall in the “Personal Development and Education Experience” category. Notably, student surveys gave MIT Sloan high marks in Student Quality (14th), Student Diversity (10th), And Education Experience (12th). The program also finished among the ten-best in “Increase In Salary,” headlined by a 4th-place finish in post-MBA salary ($135,105). Even more, the program ranked among the Top 15 in student ratings of Faculty (4.59) and Culture and Classmates (4.50).

Good so far, so what’s the catch? Like previous years, MIT Sloan struggled in “Opening New Career Opportunities.” In particular, the school scored low in career services, as in 60th with a 3.41 score to match. However, it is in “Potential To Network” where MIT Sloan sinks, finishing 67th with Breadth and Internationalism of Alumni being the main culprits.

How badly do those areas hamper the school? Just compare MIT Sloan to Chicago Booth and Northwestern Kellogg – two programs that it traditionally ranks alongside. In the Internationalism of Alumni, MIT Sloan ranks 68th, compared to Northwestern Kellogg’s 1st and Chicago Booth’s 18th. In Breadth of Alumni, MIT Sloan finishes near the bottom at 89th, nearly double that of Kellogg and Booth. Beyond that, Sloan often equals, if not exceeds the Second City twosome, including areas like Student Quality, MBA Pay, Post-Graduation Placement, and Overall Educational Experience. Better yet, MIT Sloan has improved in its weakest area, going from 77th to 67th in “Potential To Network” over the past year.

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