Financial Times 2024 MBA Ranking: 10 Biggest Surprises

What good would a ranking be without a few surprises or shocks?

On this score, the new 2024 Financial Times Global MBA ranking doesn’t disappoint. The thunderbolts are many, from the return of The Wharton School to rank first to the worst ranking ever achieved by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which placed 23rd in the ranking.

Matt Symonds, a co-founder of Fortuna Admissions, sums up the entire exercise with a simple assessment. “When you look at the 2024 results, you wonder whether this is the enlightened future of assessing the world’s best MBA programs, or names drawn from a hat,” he says.

As usual, we pull apart the new ranking, parse many of its detailed metrics, judge what is drawn from a hat or not, and bring to light its biggest surprises.

1) What Matters Most — And Why

The Financial Times uses 21 different metrics in its annual evaluation of the world’s best full-time MBA programs. Yet, many of those statistics have little to nothing to do with the actual quality of the MBA experience.

If you’re a prospective student, do you care how many professors at a business school have a Ph.D., which pretty much means they have never had any experience in the real world of business? Or does it matter to you whether a business school’s advisory board has a certain number of members with an international background? Or would you choose a program based on the faculty’s ability to be published in the top academic journals that are read by a handful of other academics and have little to no relevance to business practice?

Of course not. Yet, these are among the 21 metrics the FT uses to rank business schools. Curiously, if not ironically, the single best measure for a would-be student is the overall satisfaction with the school and the MBA program by alumni. The FT gathers this information from its alumni surveys and even reports it in the data dump that it publishes with what it does measure. The newspaper does not include in its ranking what matters most to prospective students: the overall satisfaction of the people who have been through an MBA program.

If it did, the results of the ranking would look quite different. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, instead of ranking 23rd, would top its ranking. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business would come in second, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business would take third place (see below). To smartly use the FT’s overall satisfaction metric, we looked at the results over the past three years (the only years in which this data has been made public by the FT). We combined all three years of data, giving twice the emphasis on the most recent data.

When it comes to alumni opinion, multiple years of data are far more compelling and telling than a single year, which is more likely to be subject to an anomaly. To make our list, an MBA program had to be ranked by the FT in all three years. And sure, the differences among schools on this metric can be slight, particularly at the top. Even so, from our perspective, this is what should matter to would-be applicants.

Next Page: Columbia Business School returns to Earth.


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