Round 1: November 9th, 2016
Round 2: January 11th, 2017
Round 3: March 18th, 2017
HKUST, as it is known, jumped onto the radar screen as one of the world’s best schools thanks to its remarkable climb in The Financial Times’ rankings. As recently as 2004, the school’s full-time MBA program was ranked 69th among 100 by the FT.
But in the last four years in particular, HKUST has made great strides. In 2013, the school was ranked first in Asia and eighth in the world by the Financial Times. It marked the program’s fourth consecutive year in the top ten.
The full-time program here not surprisingly puts a strong focus on global business, especially as it relates to Asia, leadership and teamwork. New initiatives include a comprehensive leadership development program to enhance students’ leadership skills, and study tours to emerging markets. The program is also working with new technology to enhance the learning experience. Since 2011, the program has started giving each student of the full-time program a tablet computer through which they can access course materials and other resources.
HKUST gives students the option of completing its full-time MBA program in either 12 or 16 months. The shorter version is designed for students with more work experience and international exposure. Because it lacks the opportunity for a summer internship, it’s generally best for students who are not career changers. The result: it draws a good number of company sponsored students.
The 16-month program, on the other hand, is meant for students who want to switch careers and want to develop a global perspective. It includes an optional internship in the summer and an exchange opportunity at one of HKUST’s business school partners outside Hong Kong for one semester in the second year.
This is a relatively small full-time program, with a typical intake size of 100 to 120 students, split into two classes of 50 to 60. Over 90% of students are from outside of Hong Kong, and classes typically include students from more than 25 nationalities. Three of the top four feeder colleges to this business school are in China: Fudan University, Tsinghua University, and Nanyang Technological University.
MBAs from HKUST tend to stay in Asia–largely because they started in Asia–mainly in Hong Kong but also in mainland China. In fact, roughly seven out of every ten students in the Class of 2012 took jobs in Asia, with only 6% landing jobs in Europe and North America. The top three employers were Standard Chartered Bank, Li & Fung, and IMS Consulting.
The school’s small size and its near complete tilt toward China makes it less than well known in Europe and the U.S. As one Class of 2012 graduate told BusinessWeek in its student satisfaction survey: “Unfortunately the school is still relatively unknown outside Asia which is a shame as it is excellent but it has not capitalized on its previous successes (although I think this may have been improving in the last year). In the past it has seemed as though they have not wanted to go down the ‘aggressively salesy’ route of some U.S. schools for fear of losing some of the uniqueness, but I think this could have lost some international recognition that may have otherwise helped the graduates.”
Despite the school’s relatively high ranking from the FT, HKUST is not very transparent when it comes to providing applicants with key data on its MBA program. On its own website, for example, you won’t find average GMAT scores for enrolled students nor will you find salary and placement stats. The percentage of applicants accepted by the school also is not revealed. Typically, schools that fail to provide such data do so because the numbers are less than flattering to the MBA program.
What stands out when you look at the rankings for HKUST is the disparity between The Financial Times and The Economist, both of which publish annual global lists. The FT has been far more beneficial to the school than The Economist, which in 2012 placed the school 62nd in the world.
Why is there such a big difference of opinion here? Disparities are not unusual in rankings, of course, but this one is so big it gives pause. We’re not sure why the school does so relatively poorly on The Economist list. But it’s worth noting. The Economist, moreover, ranks the University of Hong Kong significantly higher than HKUST, placing it 41st globally in 2012–22 spots higher.
BusinessWeek, meantime, had HKUST as the only school in Asia on its 2012 international ranking of the best full-time MBA programs.
The bottom line: The paucity of ranked schools in Asia along with the wide gap between two of the most influential rankings make them a less reliable guide for applicants. Overall, Poets&Quants ranks HKUST 17th among non-U.S. schools and best in Asia. CEIBS is right behind it, however, at 18th.