Ranking The Best Masters In Management Programs

Before The Economist completely bows out of the business school rankings race, we thought it would be helpful for prospective students in Master’s in Management programs to see how The Economist‘s take on this degree differs from The Financial Times. The MiM, the most popular graduate management degree in Europe, has long had two rankings. Now it will only have one from the FT.

Yet, the lists are dramatically different. More U.S. business schools have participated in The Economist list, while they all but ignore the Financial Times when it comes to its ranking of management master’s. The FT, on the other hand, includes more Indian and Chinese programs than The Economist.

Both organizations use different methods to rank these programs which result in significantly different outcomes. At the top of The Economist‘s 2021 MiM ranking is HEC Paris, while the University of St. Gallen is given top honors by the Financial Times. In fact, St. Gallen has been in first place in the FT ranking for the 11th year in a row in 2021. The Economist‘s ranking places St. Gallen’s program 17th best, a wide gap that underlines the different approaches taken to evaluate the quality of these programs which are geared for students just out of college, with little or no prior professional work experience.


To gain a better sense of where programs ranked, we combined both lists, equally weighting each ranking, to come up with a Top 25 list from the 40 schools ranked by The Economist and the 100 schools ranked by the Financial Times. This 2021 list is the very last MiM ranking from The Economist which recently announced that it is not only withdrawing from the business of B-school rankings but will also erase them from its website on Sept. 30th of 2022.

The winners of our composite list? The MiM programs at HEC Paris and the University of St. Gallen are in a dead tie for first in the Poets&Quants analysis. They are followed by three schools based in France: ESSEC Business School, EDHEC Business School, and ESCP Business School in fifth place. Not surprisingly, there are some notable programs that don’t make the list: INSEAD and IESE Business School, which only recently entered the MiM market, don’t make the composite ranking. Neither does London Business School nor IE Business School, both of which declined to participate in The Economist ranking.

No prominent U.S. schools make the ranking, either. That’s because the few that participate only cooperate with The Economist. They include Duke, Babson, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, and the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the highest ranked U.S. school overall with a master’s in management program, does not participate with either ranking. All that leaves the Top 25 to European schools with one exception, Hult International Business School, which has campuses in Boston and San Francisco in addition to several international locales.


With 20 specializations, 20 international dual degree programs, an array of electives and an optional gap year, HEC Paris offers one of the deepest and broadest MiMs on the market, with excellent results for its graduates. Last year, 99% of HEC’s graduates were employed within three months, with starting salaries that averaged €66,000. But that number only captures a small amount of the degree’s value. Three years after graduation, the average HEC Paris grad from the program was pulling down €107,000. HEC Paris takes in 250 students to its program.

The University of St. Gallen, with a much smaller intake of 55 students, also posts stellar stats for its master’s in strategy and international management. The FT found, for example, that St. Gallen’s graduates had among the highest weighted salaries three years after finishing their degrees, at $123,999, and rated the school highly for helping them achieve their professional aims and for its careers advice.

While HEC Paris and St. Gallen are both ranked No. 1 and No. 2 by the two media organizations, the differences between the rankings can be significant. Germany’s Mannheim Business School at the University of Mannheim is ranked 10th best in the world by The Economist, while the school’s MiM program has a much higher rank of 24th from the Financial Times. SKEMA Business School, which boasts campuses in France, Brazil, China, South Africa, and the United States, also is viewed more favorably by The Economist. The school’s MiM gets a ranking of fifth from The Economist at the same time it ranks 22nd in the FT.

Look no further than the fine print in the methodology for the primary reason for those different ranks. The Financial Times uses 17 different metrics to come up with its rankings. Alumni survey responses inform seven criteria that account for roughly 60% of the 2021 ranking. The remaining 10 criteria are calculated from school data and account for rest of the weight. The current average salary of alumni has the highest weighting, at accounting for about 21% of the ranking.


The Economist measures 20 different metrics, mostly from its survey of students and alumni. Alumni salaries get the single biggest weight as well, representing 23% of the overall ranking. What may make The Economist ranking more useful to applicants is the transparency it allows in parsing alumni and other survey responses.

When alumni rate the quality of a program’s faculty, the top five schools are quite different than the lineup in The Economist‘s overall ranking. The University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce comes out on top, followed by Wake Forest University, Germany’s Otto Beisheim School of Management, Spain’s EADA Business School in Barcelona, and the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin, Germany.

McIntire’s also comes out on top when the Economist rates the “educational experience” of MiM students, with HEC Paris Business School in second place, EDHEC Business School in third, the Thunderbird School of Global Management fourth, and ESMT Berlin fifth.


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