Poet&Quants’ International MBA Ranking: INSEAD Squeaks Ahead Of IESE To Claim The Top Spot

international MBA ranking

INSEAD did it again. After giving up first place to Spain’s IESE Business School in last year’s Poets&Quants‘ ranking of the best international MBA programs, INSEAD squeaked back to the top for the ninth time in 14 years. The school, with campuses in France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and San Francisco, also won Poets&QuantsMBA Program of the Year for its new emphasis on sustainability. INSEAD’s accelerated 10-month MBA is the quintessential global experience, drawing students from 110 nationalities and 75 countries.

Rounding out the top five are No. 2 IESE Business School in Barcelona, SDA Boconni in Milan, Italy, London Business School in the United Kingdom, and IE Business School in Spain. INSEAD moved ahead of IESE by a mere .4 index points.

This year’s composite ranking shows some fairly dramatic shifts in standings, largely the result of the disappearance of both The Economist and Forbes‘ global MBA rankings. Both publications have discontinued MBA rankings so the P&Q composite index is made up of only two lists: The Financial Times (weighed 80%) and Bloomberg Businessweek (accounting for 20% of our ranking). What’s more, the 2023 Businessweek list failed to include a number of International MBA programs that had been ranked by Businessweek previously, including eight of the Top 25 business schools. All this made for some unusual moves up and down the list.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story failed to include ranks for some schools from Bloomberg Businessweek’s ranking. After correcting for this error, several schools on our list of the Top 50 changed ranks. We apologize for the error.


International MBA rankingOur ranking takes into account a massive wealth of quantitative and qualitative data captured in these two major lists, from surveys of corporate recruiters, MBA graduates, deans and faculty publication records to the latest salary and employment statistics of alumni. Poets&Quants ranks U.S. MBA programs separately. By blending the rankings together, we’ve come up with a more authoritative ranking of MBA programs. The list tends to diminish anomalies and other statistical distortions that often occur in one ranking or another.

The system penalizes schools that either fail to make both rankings or shop for the best ranking they can get and avoid lists where they are less likely to do well. Yet, many of those schools will trumpet their single ranking, hoping that readers will simply assume that a school’s position on one list will be similar to its rank on another. That’s not true as the often considerable differences in the ranks of a school across the two lists clearly shows. So ranks based on more inputs have more credibility than those based on only one or two. Only 11 International MBA programs made the Businessweek ranking this year, a record low caused by the schools that dropped out of participating in that list, yet another factor in this year’s volatility.

As is often the case in all rankings, but especially this one given the absence of two major ranking organizations, a good number of schools had a roller-coaster ride of sorts.  On the up side, Trinity College Dublin soared 35 places to rank 46th, while the MBA program at the Audencia Business School, a French grande école located in Nantes, France, jumped 33 places to rank 45th.


The biggest year-over-year tumble hit the National University of Singapore, down 15 places to rank 20th from its fifth-place perch a year earlier. But it’s important to note that these big swings are not the result of anything more than the change in methodology.

The United Kingdom boasts nine schools on the list, led by London Business School which achieved the highest rank of any MBA program in Britain. France has eight top MBA programs, led by INSEAD and HEC Paris. Five of the Indian Institutes of Management schools also make the list, led by IIM-Bangalore at a rank of 19th, though the Indian School of Business can lay claim to having the highest ranked MBA program in the country in 13th place worldwide. Canada has four entires in the Top 50, with Western University and McGill University the two leading MBA programs in Canada.

INSEAD’s return to the top spot is well deserved. In the latest Financial Times ranking, the school gained Top 10 scores for ESG, Faculty Research, International Course Experience, and International Mobility. This past year INSEAD revamped its MBA curriculum to more deeply incorporate sustainability in its 14 core courses. The change, which takes effect in January, helps INSEAD align with its mission to be a force for good. Even more, it helps the school stay relevant with students and employers who are clamoring for greater understanding in sustainability-related concepts – and the opportunities inherent to the field.

Another popular aspect of the INSEAD MBA is its 10-month format. By completing their MBA in half the time of a normal program, they can save money in tuition and living costs. It also translates to less debt and a quicker return to their career path. “INSEAD’s accelerated program [provides] me with a globally recognized qualification from one of the world’s leading business schools, while only requiring me to take one year out of full-time work,” says Catherine Dimitroff, a current MBA student at INSEAD who had majored in the classics at the University of Oxford.

In an interview with Poets&Quants, INSEAD Dean Francisco Veloso says he strongly believes that the school’s MBA is “an amazing transformational journey. I think that the attractiveness of the offering that we have has not changed, and will not change. In fact, in this fractured world that we are seeing emerge — unfortunately, in my view — I think that the global nature of our school and the experiences that it provides…is as contemporary as ever.”





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