INSEAD Tops New Financial Times MBA Ranking For The Third Time

INSEAD gains its third first-place finish in the much consulted Financial Times Global MBA Ranking


INSEAD, with its campuses in France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and San Francisco, has done a superior job through the pandemic, maintaining a high degree of diversity in both students and faculty (see Meet the INSEAD MBA Class of 2020). A remarkable 93% of the faculty are deemed to be international, while 96% of the students are from outside France and Singapore. That truly global dimension is what has long differentiated its MBA program from others.

NSEAD made its biggest gains in both pay and faculty research, key FT metrics in the newspaper’s approach to ranking MBA programs. Average salaries for INSEAD alumni rose to $190,680, up more than $8,000 from a year earlier, while the schools research rank jumped 15 places to third from 18th in 2020 (Washington University Olin Business School and Chicago Booth finished first and second in research). The school also recorded slight improvements in women faculty, students and board members. Female faculty rose two percentage points to 22%, while female students moved up a point to 35%. Women now account for 41& of the members on INSEAD’s board, up three percentage points.

INSEAD Dean Ilian Mihov told the Financial Times that he is “particularly pleased to see how INSEAD has advanced significantly in the research ranking and in our gender diversity statistics. This ranking captures many of the key aspects of high quality business schools.”

Since 2010, the INSEAD has topped Poets&Quants’ international MBA rankings six times. Alongside London Business School – which took the top spot the other four times – it is widely regarded as one of the world’s best. Starting compensation packages for INSEAD MBA grads are around $180,000, just slightly below the top U.S. schools, and it regularly performs spectacularly in the FT rankings, placing fourth globally in 2020, and reaching second in 2018.


To produce 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. With the big three missing, Chicago Booth came in first with the highest weighted alumni salaries of $200,287, a sum that compared with last years’s leaders of $225,589 at Stanford, $217,141 at Wharton, and $208,023 for Harvard alums. After Booth, alums of the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad had the largest weighted “adjusted” salaries of $192,390. Then, it was Kellogg ($190,975), INSEAD ($188,432), Yale SOM ($186,887), and Dartmouth Tuck ($182,988).

For Booth MBAs, the salary figure translates to a 121% 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 nearly 200% jumps racked up by three Asian schools: Fudan University (190%), the Shanghai University of Finance & Economics (189%), or the Indian School of Business (173%).

But no schools score well across all of the FT’s many metrics. Some 82 MBA programs, for example, were ahead of the highest ranked U.S. MBA program—Chicago Booth—on the newspaper’s “value for money rank,” a metric that takes into account the full cost, including tuition, fees and opportunity costs vs. the immediate short-term salary rewards of the degree. That calculation, too, favors one-year programs and international schools because it does not include scholarship offsets that are much larger in U.S. MBA programs. INSEAD ranked seventh in value, behind No. 1 University of Florida, No. 2 Brigham Young University, No. 3 SDA Bocconi in Italy, No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 University of Cape Town, and No. 6 Durham University Business School in Britain.

INSEAD ranked 27th on the “career progress rank” which attempts to measure an alum’s advancement in a career by seniority and company size. The top five for career progress are Shanghai University of Finance & Economics, IIM-Ahmedabad, Babson College, IIM-Indore, and IESE Business School in Barcelona.

When the FT asked surveyed alums if they achieved their goals with the MBA, three schools came out on top: London Business School, Vanderbilt University and Imperial College, with 91% of their respondents indicating that they accomplished their aims. The results demonstrate that you don’t have to go to a Harvard, Stanford or Wharton to achieve your objectives. Some 90% of the alumni of 16 other schools came next, a group that included Chicago Booth, Yale and Dartmouth but also Indiana Kelley, UVA Darden, and UC-Irvine. The lowest scoring school–Shanghai University of Finance and Economics: College of Business–has a 73% alum rate on aims achieved.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.