The Ten Biggest Surprises In The Financial Times 2021 Global MBA Ranking

9) The Metric That Doesn’t Count In This Ranking

In this year’s FT ranking, 6,570 MBA graduates responded to the newspaper’s surveys. All were asked to rate on a ten-point scale their overall satisfaction with the MBA program they had completed. The scores ranged from a high of 9.84 at IESE Business School in Barcelona to a low of 7.0 at the University of Connecticut. For many would-be applicants, these scores might well be among the most valuable in determining where to go to get your MBA. Yet, oddly, the Financial Times does not include the measure in its methodology to rank MBA programs.

We know from experience (P&Q founder Byrne was the first journalist to actually survey students and graduates for an MBA Ranking in 1988) that alums are loathe to mark down their alma maters out of understandable self-interest. If that data point found its way into a ranking, a graduate would effectively diminish the school that issued his or her MBA diploma. So there is no doubt that a certain amount of cheerleading is built into satisfaction surveys of graduates. On the other hand, they pretty much cancel each other out because it does occur across the entire sample, and graduates who leave disenchanted with their experience carry a lot of weight in these surveys because a bad mark can have an outsized impact on an overall score. That’s because the scores tend to be clustered very closely together from one school to the next.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting to take a look at these scores, especially because they don’t go into the ranking and alums may therefore answer the question more honestly. Overall, there is good news. The vast majority of MBA graduates surveyed are pretty satisfied with their learning experience. And here are the 25 schools that had the highest satisfaction scores.

10) The Champions Of Research

The Financial Times also does an analysis of the published research by a school’s faculty that is given a 10% weight in the overall ranking. A school’s research rank is based on the number of articles published by current full-time faculty members in 50 journals between January 2018 and August 2020. The rank combines the absolute number of publications with the number weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

This year, INSEAD cracked the U.S. party. For years, the top ten has been completely dominated by U.S. players. But once you take out some of those heavyweights, the European school zoomed up 15 places to rank third. The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management also made the top ten, moving up nine places to rank tenth.

The surprise winner in research this year? Washington University’s Olin School of Business. Olin gained eight spots to take over the top position (see below table). The results here can vary significantly year-over-year because the period measured changes every year and some schools lose highly productive professors to rivals or retirement. Among this year’s top 25 in research, Yale School of Management made the biggest advance, gaining 25 places to rank 11th from 36th last year. That improvement alone helped Yale achieve its highest rank ever in the FT ranking.

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