The Wharton School returned to what had been a very familiar place in the newly updated Financial Times global ranking of the best MBA programs. For the 11th time in the history of the FT rankings, Wharton finished first on the 2022 list, grabbing top honors for the first time since 2011.
Right behind the University of Pennsylvania’s business school is Columbia Business School, gaining its highest FT ranking ever. Just two years ago, CBS did no better than eighth. Rounding out the top five are last year’s winner, INSEAD, tied with Harvard Business School, for third place. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is fifth, a big improvement from its 11th place finish in 2020.
Last year’s absence of five of the M7 U.S. business schools, along with UC-Berkeley and UCLA, allowed many other rivals to earn higher rankings than they otherwise would. This year’s return of Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, and Columbia Business School took that temporary advantage away.
The Financial Times’ Top Ten MBA Programs In The World
|School & 2022 Rank||Y-O-Y Change||Weighted Alumni Salary||Salary Increase||Overall Satisfaction Score|
|1. Pennsylvania (Wharton)||——–||$237,530||115%||9.42|
|2. Columbia Business School||——–||$218,542||125%||9.52|
|3. Harvard Business School||——–||$207,180||104%||9.56|
|5. Northwestern (Kellogg)||+1||$201,455||117%||9.60|
|6. Stanford Graduate School of Business||——–||$218,805||114%||Row:7 Cell:5|
|7. Chicago (Booth)||-4||$199,046||120%||9.31|
|8. London Business School||-6||$174,106||99%||9.20|
|9. Yale School of Management||-5||$190,941||131%||9.32|
|10. IESE Business School||-6||$163,780||124%||9.57|
RETURN OF TOP U.S. SCHOOLS TO MBA RANKING CREATES A PUNISHING CASCADE OF DECLINES
The result? A return to some semblance of normalcy (see Ten Biggest Surprises In The Financial Times’ 2022 MBA Ranking). London Business School fell six places to eight from second, CEIBS in Shanghai dropped nine spots to 16th from seventh, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business lost eight places to finish 18th, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business slipped nine spots to 20th from 11th.
The reshuffling caused a punishing cascade of declines, far more year-over-year downfalls than typical. All told, about three out of every four schools–69 of the 91 schools that participated in last year’s ranking–suffered a ranking decline. Even worse, more than a third–33 of the 91 in last year’s ranking–experienced a double-digit ranking downturn. That is nearly five times the number of schools showing a double-digit ranking improvement.
Some of the drop-offs were breathtaking, with nine MBA programs plunging by 20 or more places. The University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business plummeted 33 spots to rank 85th from 52nd a year ago. Hong Kong University Business School nosedived 30 places to a rank of 59th from 29th in 2021.
Only seven business schools were able to swim against that tide, posting double-digit increases with the return of the top American MBA programs. Beating the odds were Rochester’s Simon Business School (climbing 17 places to rank 69th), Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business (up 19 to rank 37th), Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business (up 15 to rank 54th) and Rutgers Business School (up 17 to finish at 69th).
CHAOTIC RESULTS ARE A BLATANT REMINDER TO KEEP RANKINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
A trio of European schools also pulled off this magic trick: Imperial College Business School in London was the only top 40 European school to climb, moving up ten spots to rank 34th from 44th. Lancaster University’s business school gained 20 places to rank 76th, while ESSEC Business School in France gained 17 places to finish 64th.
If anything, the chaotic results are a blatant reminder to prospective students and applicants to keep rankings in perspective. Almost all of these changes in school ranks have nothing to do with the quality of these MBA programs. Instead, they are a reflection of school participation rates, sample size and external factors like a strong U.S. economy that has sent salaries at most American MBA programs to record levels (see MBA Salaries & Bonuses At The Top 25 Schools).
Josep Franch, dean of Esade Business School in Spain, notes that the U.S. schools “have benefited from the country’s strong economic recovery and an overall surge in salaries. Inevitably, this has had an impact on the results of business schools from other regions which have seen drops from the positions they had in 2021.”
STANFORD SLIDES INTO SIXTH PLACE
Yet, oddly, perhaps the biggest shock of this year’s ranking is where Stanford Graduate School of Business placed. Even after posting the second highest alumni salaries–$223,632–the school’s MBA program found itself in sixth place, three places below its 2020 rank from the Financial Times. That put Stanford, the most selective prestige MBA program in the world with the highest average GMAT scores ever recorded for an incoming class, behind Columbia, Kellogg, INSEAD and Wharton.
Wharton’s rise to the top is a coup for the school and its relatively new dean, Erika James, who left the deanship at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in 2020 to become the first woman and the first Black person to lead the business school. While no school has topped the FT ranking more than Wharton, it has been 11 long years since the school won the FT‘s top honors.
“This is a headline-grabbing result for Wharton, following on from the record breaking percentage of female students in the most recent incoming class,” says Judith Silverman Hodara, a co-founder of Fortuna Admissions who formerly led MBA Admissions at Wharton. “The school has historically done well in the FT ranking, regularly appearing among the top three but to come out ahead of Stanford GSB and HBS always turns heads. Such global recognition also comes at a time when we are seeing much greater interest for the top U.S. schools in the international market, and I won’t be surprised to see a jump in demand for Wharton as we start to work with clients for the 2022/23 admissions cycle.”