Asian Business Schools: Best Pay, Support & Satisfaction

Western companies can’t help but be drawn to Asia. Still, doing business there can be messy and complicated. Think political uncertainty and legal inconsistency – wildly divergent languages, traditions, and values in each state – where misreading any cultural nuance can torpedo a brand. At the same time, however, the region is home to big populations with a swelling middle class pursuing better lives. That means once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

In Asia, companies aren’t just disrupting markets, they’re creating them.

Just look at the data. In India, the National Statistical Office is projecting 7% growth for the third straight year – with S&P Global Ratings adding that India will be the fastest-growing major economy in the coming three years. China has fueled over a third of the world’s GDP growth in the past 15 years according to the International Monetary Fund. In just 60 years, Singapore has produced the world’s 30th-largest GDP on 734 square kilometers populated by 6 million people.


To continue this momentum, these countries require professional managers who possess technical skills, cultural competencies, and honed judgment. That’s where the region’s business schools come into play. They are younger than their American counterparts, more nimble and less beholden to generational practices. Their curriculum is packed with cases specific to Asia and projects that leverage Asian companies. More than that, their programs are designed to help students develop networks across the region

Alas, you won’t find Asian MBA programs getting much love in The Financial Times Rankings. CEIBS cracked the Top 5 in 2019…before slowly rolling back to 21st in 2024. From 2020-2021, the National University of Singapore elbowed its way into the Top 15. Four years ago, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology paid a visit to the Top 20 too.

This year, there were again no Asian business schools represented in the Top 20. That doesn’t mean they didn’t send a message.

CEIBS still ranked two spots ahead of Stanford GSB, ranked by The Financial Times as the world’s top MBA program in 2019.  The Shanghai University of Finance and Economics claimed the #24 spot, while China’s Fudan University and the National University of Singapore tied at 27th. Overall, 11 Asian business schools ranked between 21st and 47th in the 2024 Financial Times MBA Ranking. That includes Peking University, which debuted at 37th. At the same time, India’s XLRI (Xavier School of Management) also joined the fray, while IIM Indore fell out of the Top 100. In total, there were 17 Asian MBA programs in the 2024 ranking. If you treat INSEAD as equal parts Asian and French, Asia matched the United Kingdom and France for the total number of ranked business schools.

IIM Ahmedabad Campus


Alas, this is still a far cry from the 42 American business schools that made the list. Certainly, U.S. institutions enjoy certain advantages around established reputations, diverse populations, wide connections with employers, and deep-pocketed alumni and friends. For students looking to immerse themselves in Asian culture and business practices – and gain a foothold in their target region or employer after graduation – it’s hard to top the value-add of an Asian business school.

Which is the best program? Depends on what you’re seeking.

Start with pay. Where can you make the most in American dollars after graduation? The Financial Times surveys schools to learn how much alumni make in base salary within three years of graduation. Last year, IIM Ahmedabad grabbed top honors. This year, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics replaced IIM Ahmedabad for highest-paid alumni. Shanghai University grads pulled in $211,973 in base alone. This is up over $30,000 from the previous year. Even more, the pay was higher than grads from American programs like Dartmouth Tuck and NYU Stern were raking in (though lower than #1 Stanford grads were grossing at $250,650). This also represented a 190% pay increase from pre-MBA pay to now – 3rd-best among the 17 business schools ranked by The Financial Times. The University also reported 100% placement within three years of graduation, a number undercut by the school’s 79% alumni participation rate.

While IIM Ahmedabad lost the top spot for pay, their graduates still managed to pull in $194,595 in base (over $8,100 better than last year). By the same token, pay increase over pre-MBA employment rose from 114% to 141% over the previous ranking. CEIBS ranked 3rd for MBA pay, going from $177,132 to $189,348. As a whole, Indian Business School grads enjoyed the biggest returns from an MBA degree, increasing their pre-MBA pay by 229%. In addition, seven schools reported 100% placement rates within three months of graduation, a number that should be treated with some skepticism.

The Indian School of Business


It’s hard to tag a money value on an alumni network. They act as cheerleaders and mentors to MBAs – and eventually become their bosses and business partners. They plug students into their networks and alert them to opportunities. They open doors that few can pass and put in a good word for internships, honors, and jobs. In the process, they put the right talent in the right places and make their employer all the more formidable and their industry all the more relevant.

The Financial Times defines Alumni Network in terms of its “effectiveness… for career opportunities, starting companies, gaining new ideas, recruiting staff and providing event information.”   In this metric, Asia boasts two Top 10 business schools: Indian School of Business (8th) and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (9th). On one hand, IIM Ahmedabad rose from 28th to 16th in this metric. In contrast, IIM Calcutta fell from 14th to 33rd over the past year in Alumni Network.

Like an alumni network, a career services office can tap into a wide range of company leaders and alumni practitioners who can get students into the right industries, roles, and organizations. Even more, their staff can provide career coaching, interview prep, and job placement strategy. In Asia, you’ll find two of the best MBA career centers in the world: Fudan University (3rd) and Peking University (4th).  The Indian School of Business also ranks among the Top 20, while IIM Ahmedabad moved up 25 spots in the past year alone.

That said, Faculty Research remains the Achilles Heel of Asian MBA programs. The Financial Times bases their research ranking on “the number of articles published by current full-time faculty members in 50 selected academic and practitioner journals from January 2021 to July 2023.” In this regard, just one Asian program, Hong Kong University, makes the Top 20 – and 18th at that.

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