Financial Times 2024 MBA Ranking: Wharton Returns To The Top, Harvard & Stanford Plunge To New Lows

Michigan Ross was the highest ranked school to disappear from this year’s Financial Times MBA ranking

A LESS VOLATILE MBA RANKING AFTER WILD UPS AND DOWNS LAST YEAR

This year’s list was less volatile than the 2023 ranking which saw numerous changes in the methodology employed by the newspaper to rank schools. Last year, Some 30 business schools experienced double-digit swings year-over-year. This time around, only 10 MBA programs saw double-digit changes in their ranks, though a dozen schools completely disappeared from the 2024 list that had been ranked the previous year. That’s a big change from the 20 schools that had double-digit increases last year. The single biggest gainers were the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad. The full-time MBA programs at those two schools rose 21 places from a year-earlier to rank 40th and 41st, respectively.

And who lost ground? All five of the schools that fell in double-digits were based in the U.S. Washington University's Olin Business School dropped 20 places to rank 48th from 29th a year ago. Stanford Graduate School of Business plunged 19 places to its lowest rank ever at 23rd (see table above). Last year, ten schools suffered double-digit declines.

More surprising, perhaps, than the ranking ups and downs for schools was the prospect of dropping out of the list altogether. Of the dozen schools to suffer that fate, eight are based in the U.S., including most prominently the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. Ranked 26th last year, Ross completely disappeared from the 2024 list. A spokesperson for the school confirmed that it is not in the ranking because Ross failed the reach the minimum response rate on FT's alumni survey. "We're both surprised and disappointed because our alumni remain highly satisfied and engaged," says Matthew Ganderson, managing director of Ross' full-time MBA program. "In addition, we anticipated seeing an improvement in our ranking based on data collected from this year. Michigan Ross remains a top global and U.S. MBA program and we will continue to offer a best-in-class student and alumni experience.”

Ross was not alone. The same fate befell the University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, and Boston College (see table below).

HOW THE FINANCIAL TIMES CRANKS OUT ITS GLOBAL MBA RANKING

The FT said that a total of 6,330 alumni from the Class of 2020 completed its survey for this year's ranking, an overall response rate of 32%. In all, 132 schools participated. This year’s ranking incorporates last year's major changes in how the Financial Times compiles its annual list. Last year, 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 last year: 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.

Despite the hand-wringing controversy rankings fuel, many schools are happy to promote the most positive aspects of the ranking for their programs. Audencia Business School in France was among the many institutions to parse the best attributes picked up by the FT.  "The school's International MBA has gained nine places to 77th worldwide in the Full-Time MBA program 2024 rank," noted a news release published today (Feb. 12) "Audencia’s progress in the ranking can be attributed to successes in three criteria: salary increase, value for money and carbon footprint. Audencia has gained 18 places for salary increase, and 14 places for value for money. As a result, the business school joins the world's Top 10 (7th) for value for money, alongside ESCP, Bocconi School of Management (3rd worldwide in the overall ranking), and Shanghai University of Finance and Economics - College of Business (24th worldwide). Thanks to its commitment to ecological and social transition, Audencia has also gained 14 places in the carbon footprint category and is now among the Top 20 worldwide (18th) for this criterion."

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