Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Almost Ballerina
GRE ..., GPA ...
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Darden | Mr. Engineer Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Public Finance
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Systems Change
GMAT 730, GPA 4
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Airline Captain
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Startup
GRE 327, GPA 3.35
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
GMAT 725, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Energy Reform
GMAT 700, GPA 3.14 of 4
Ross | Mr. Verbal Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3

Harvard Nudges Aside Stanford For Top Honors In Financial Times’ Ranking

Graduation at Harvard Business School brings highly lucrative jobs


The volatility in the FT ranking — which diminishes the credibility of the list because there are few year-over-year changes at schools to justify big changes — again means that there were big winners and big losers. 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. This was especially true for all three Australian business schools that saw double-digit dropoffs.

Indeed, the single biggest drop recorded by any MBA program was felt by the Macquarie Graduate School of Management which plummeted 23 places to rank 97th from 74th a year earlier. Melbourne Business School and the Australian Graduate School of Management fell 19 and 18 places, respectively, to finish 80th and 88th (see table below on the double-digit decliners).

In fact, 27 of the 91 returning business schools had double-digit increases or declines this year. Nine MBA programs fell off the list, replaced by nine new business schools, mainly near the bottom of the list. More telling perhaps is the roller-coaster ride that schools have experienced in the ranking over the past five years. Half of all the MBA programs ranked five years ago by the FT. 39 of 78 schools, have experienced either double-digit rises of falls. And 23 of those double-digit changers have seen differences of 20 or more places.


Since 2015, for example, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management has seen its rankings collapse by 41 places to 94th from 53rd. The Lisbon School’s MBA option has had even worse treatment, dropping 48 positions from 36th to 84th. On the plus side of the ledger, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore has soared 55 places to rank 27th this year from 82nd in 2015. It now ranks higher on the FT list than IIM-Ahmedabad, often regarded as the best IIM in India, which has fallen 35 places from a rank of 26th to 61st.  The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business is another winner over the past five years, having climbed 32 spots to rank 57th from 89th.

Among this year’s big decliners were the Singapore Management Institute, down 20 places to rank 63rd, and Durham Business School in the United Kingdom, which stumbled 19 places to rank 62nd.  The steepest decline for a U.S. business school went to UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business, which fell 17 spots to finish outside the Top 50 at a rank of 65th.

Several of the most successful schools on this year’s list will certainly make B-school observers wonder about the underlying credibility of the FT‘s ranking. George Washington University’s MBA program was the biggest gainer, moving up 20 places to rank 70th, while Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business improved its ranking by 18 spots to finish 74th. Another U.S. school, the University of Texas at Dallas, made the list of the biggest three gainers by climbing 15 places to rank 81st (see table on double-digit gainers on the following page).


To crank out its ranking, the FT gathers a lot of fascinating metrics. Among them are the current salaries of alumni three years removed from graduation as well as the increase over pre-MBA base salaries. Stanford came in first by posting the highest weighted alumni salaries of any business school — $225,589 to Wharton’s $217,141 and Harvard’s $208,023. For Stanford MBAs, that sum translates to a 117% increase over pre-MBA salaries. Compared to some of the lesser ranked programs, it’s a gain that is not nearly as impressive as the more than 200% jumps racked up by three Chinese schools: the Shanghai University of Finance & Economics (216%), Fudan University (203%) or Shanghai Jiao Tong University (201%).

But no schools score well across all of the FT’s many metrics. Some 77 MBA programs, for example, were ahead of Harvard on the newspaper’s “value for money rank” and HBS was just 18th on the “career service rank” even though its alumni boast the third-highest reported salaries. The top five schools for “value for money” are the University of Florida, Penn State, Durham University, Shanghai University of Finance & Economics, and Brigham Young University. The top five for career progress are Stanford, Renmin University in China, Babson College, Shanghai University of Finance & Economics, and IIM-Calcutta.

Yet when the Financial Times asked surveyed alumni which three schools would they recruit MBAs from, the number one school was Harvard, followed by Stanford, MIT Sloan, INSEAD and London Business School.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.