Financial Times 2023 MBA Ranking: The Biggest Bombshell Is Wharton’s Disappearance

Financial Times 2023 MBA ranking

The ranking’s biggest bombshell: The disappearance of the Wharton School which ranked first only last year.


This year’s ranking is the result of a major shift in how the Financial Times compiles its annual list. For the 2023 MBA ranking, the FT changed the weights or added and subtracted 15 of the 21 metrics in its methodology. The most consequential change lessened the ranking’s emphasis on MBA compensation to 32% from 40%. The FT now gives a 16% weight, down from 20%, to the average salaries of alumni three years removed from graduation and also a 16% weight, down from 20%, to the average increase in salary alumni report over the pre-MBA base.

The newspaper eliminated two metrics: its so-called “alumni recommend” which asks alumni to name three schools from which they are most likely to recruit MBA graduates and “extra languages” which awards schools that require learning a new language by graduation, excluding English. The alumni’s MBA recruitment scores had been worth three percentage points, while the language requirement was given one percentage point in the overall scoring.

The FT then added three new metrics: carbon footprint (4%), sector diversity (3%), and alumni network (4%). The FT calculates a school’s carbon footprint rank by “using the net zero target year for carbon emissions set by the university or school and a publicly available carbon emissions audit report within the last three years.” The FT ranked Virginia’s Darden School of Business first in carbon footprint. The newspaper defines “sector diversity” as “the diversity of sectors the students worked in before arriving on campus for their MBA education. AGSM ranked first in this category. The alumni network rank is a measure of “the effectiveness of the alumni network for career opportunities, starting companies, gaining new ideas, recruiting staff and giving event information such as career-related talks, as rated by alumni.” Cornell cruised into first on this metric, followed by Florida and Stanford.


More often than not, the more meaningful data in this ranking are the different metrics the FT uses to come up with its overall ranking. Consider the newspaper’s measurement of the percentage increase in pay from pre-MBA levels. When it comes to this metric, you usually expect lower-ranked international programs to dominate. However, Rochester Simon ranked 4th (+185%). Among the Top 20, you’ll find Georgetown McDonough (+152%), Cornell (+148%), Yale (+141%) and Virginia Darden (+139%).

Then, there is the “value for money” calculation. It’s 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. Ranking first this year was the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, followed by the University of Florida, two schools that offer MBA students generous if not full-ride scholarship awards. They were followed by SDA Bocconi in Italy, Brigham Young University’s Marriott School, and the University of Georgia’s Terry School in fifth place.

Just about all of the metrics, including the weights attached to them, are arbitrary and often have little to do with the quality of the MBA experience. What the FT doesn’t measure yet still collects is arguably the most important metric of all for would-be students. It’s overall satisfaction. On a scale of one to ten, with ten reflecting the most satisfied MBA alumni, 14 schools got as close to a perfect score as possible by achieving 9.5 or above.

All of those MBA programs with the exception of two are in the U.S. Stanford Graduate School of Business led them all with a highly impressive 9.98 satisfaction score, followed by Cornell at 9.94, and then UVA Darden, Florida Warrington and Maryland Smith, all scoring 9.71. Also in the mix are Dartmouth Tuck (9.70), Harvard Business School (9.69), Notre Dame Mendoza (9.63), Georgia Tech Scheller (9.58) and Columbia Business School (9.51). The only two non-U.S. MBA programs to earn an alumni satisfaction rate above 9.5 were IESE Business School (9.61) and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (9.67). By the way, the lowest-scoring MBA program for alumni satisfaction on the FT list is the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. AGSM managed to earn itself a 7.61 score.

While AGSM may have fared poorly this year, at least it was on the list of the Top 100. Besides Wharton, 16 other business schools fell off the FT ranking completely. The newspaper’s editors never comment on these schools and do not list them in their coverage so it’s hard to know why a school disappeared. Obviously, some didn’t make the cut. Others were disqualified for various reasons, including the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School which fell off the list for the same reasons Wharton was excluded. The FT couldn’t get the minimum response rate from Carlson’s alumni. Penn State’s MBA program, ranked 60th last year, admitted its last full-time MBA cohort in the fall of 2022 so the school’s disappearance is a result of a decision to end its two-year, full-time program and transition to a one-year MBA with a STEM designation beginning in fall of 2023.

ESMT Berlin, ranked 88th, last year, is also going through a different kind of transition. The school not meet the participation criteria because it had no graduates in the 2020 calendar year. From January 2020, the MBA became a 14-month program. “Although ESMT has demonstrated its ability to run a sustainable, sizeable program each and every year, the technicality of having no graduates in the calendar year 2020 means that the FT will exclude us from the ranking in 2023 and 2024,” according to the school. “We made the strategic decision to extend our full-time MBA program to make it even better for students, allowing them to take part in internships and exchange programs. We knew that this meant that we would not be able to participate in this year’s and next year’s ranking. We will re-enter in 2025.”

(See following pages for the full ranking)

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