June 23, 2013 10:35 pm

Financial training report: Rankings methodology

The FT masters in finance rankings, now in their third year, evaluate the world’s leading courses in the field. There are two rankings: one for pre-experience programmes and another for post-experience degrees respectively.

The FT defines pre-experience programmes as those aimed at students who have little or no professional experience. Those requiring entrants to have prior work experience before enrolment are deemed post-experience programmes. Masters in financial engineering degrees are not considered for these rankings as they tend to place greater emphasis on quantitative skills.

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To participate, programmes must have run for at least four consecutive years and the school must meet certain minimum criteria. The rankings are calculated according to information provided by business schools and their alumni.

Each of the 49 schools that participated in this year’s rankings completed an online survey. Their alumni who graduated from the nominated masters in finance degree in 2010 were invited to complete a separate survey.

For a school to be eligible for the ranking, at least 20 per cent of their alumni must respond to the FT survey, with a minimum of 20 responses. This year, 1,611 alumni provided information towards the two rankings, 44 per cent of the total contacted.

For the pre-experience ranking, alumni responses inform six criteria – from “salary today” to “placement success” plus “international mobility” – that together account for 55 per cent of the ranking’s weight.

In calculating salary-related measures – the most heavily weighted – salaries of non-profit and public service workers, and as well as full-time students, are removed. Remaining salaries are converted to US dollars using purchasing power parity rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund. Conversion to PPP – based on the premise that identical goods should cost the same in different countries – accounts for differences in relative strength of currencies. The very highest and lowest salaries reported are subsequently removed, and the mean average “salary today” is calculated for each school.

The remaining 10 criteria, which collectively account for 45 per cent of the ranking, are determined by data provided by the schools themselves. These measure the diversity of teaching staff, board members and finance students, according to gender and nationality, and the international reach of the programme. For gender criteria, schools with a 50:50 (male/female) composition receive the highest score.

There have been minor changes to the calculation of international diversity for 2013. In addition to schools’ percentage of international students and faculty – the figures published – the composition of these groups by individual citizenship informed a diversity-measuring score, which feeds into the calculation.

Additionally, the contribution of both the “female students” and “female faculty” criteria has increased from 3 to 4 per cent. The “languages” criterion now accounts for 3 per cent.

The calculations for the post-experience ranking are the same, with two exceptions.

Firstly, a “salary increase” criterion is calculated for each school according to the percentage difference between average alumni salaries before the masters to today, three years after graduation – a period of typically four to five years. Half of this measure, worth 20 per cent of the post-experience ranking weight, is calculated according to the absolute salary increase, and half according to the percentage increase over this period. Only the percentage increase features in the published table.

The second difference is the omission of the languages criterion in the post-experience ranking, since none of the participating programmes require students to study an additional language. Overall, alumni data informs 60 per cent of the post-experience ranking, and school data 40 per cent.

Where available, information collected over the past three years is used for all alumni criteria, except “value for money”, which is based on 2013 figures. Responses from 2013 carry 50 per cent of the total weight, and those from 2012 and 2011 each account for 25 per cent. Excluding salary-related criteria, if only two years of data are available, the weighting is split 60:40 if data are from 2013 and 2012, or 70:30 if from 2013 and 2011. For salary figures, the weighting is 50:50 for two years’ data, to negate inflation-related distortions.

An FT score is finally calculated for each school. First, Z-scores – formulas that reflect the range of scores between the top and bottom school – are calculated for each ranking criterion. These scores are then weighted, according to the weights outlined in the key to the 2013 ranking, and added together to give a final score. Schools are ranked according to these scores, creating the FT masters in finance rankings 2013.

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Key to weighting of ranking factors

Weights for ranking criteria are shown in brackets – (pre-experience) [post-experience] – as a percentage of the overall ranking.

Salary today US$ (20) [20]: average alumnus salary three years after graduation, US$ PPP equivalent (purchasing power parity, allowing comparison between countries). Includes data for the current year and the one or two preceding years where available.*

Salary increase (n/a) [20]: average difference in alumnus salary between before the masters to today. Half of this figure is calculated according to the absolute salary increase, and half according to the percentage increase relative to pre-masters salary – the figure published in the post-experience table.*

Value for money (5) [3]: calculated according to alumni salaries today, course length, fees and other costs, including the opportunity cost of not working during the programme.*

Careers (10) [7]: calculated according to the career status of alumni three years after graduation. Progression is measured according to seniority and size of company today.*

Aims achieved (5) [3]: the extent to which alumni fulfilled their goals or reasons for doing a masters.*

Placement success (5) [3]: effectiveness of the careers service in supporting student recruitment, as rated by alumni.*

Employed at three months % (5) [3]: percentage of the most recent graduating class that found employment within three months. The figure in brackets is the percentage of the class for which the school was able to provide data.

Female faculty % (4) [3]: percentage of female faculty. For gender-related criteria, schools with 50:50 (male/female) composition receive the highest possible score.

Female students % (4) [3]: percentage of female students on the masters.

Women on board % (1) [2]: percentage of female members on the school advisory board.

International faculty % (5) [5]: calculated according to faculty diversity by citizenship and the percentage whose citizenship differs from their country of employment – the figure published in the table.

International students % ( 5) [5]: calculated according to the diversity of current masters students by citizenship and the percentage whose citizenship differs from country of study – the figure published in the table.

International board % (2) [3]: percentage of the board whose citizenship differs from the school’s home country.

Faculty with doctorates % (6) [6]: percentage of full-time faculty with doctoral degrees.

International mobility (10) [7]: calculated according to changes in the country of employment of alumni between graduation and today.*

International course experience (10) [7]: calculated according to four criteria that measure international exposure during the masters programme

Languages (3) [n/a]: number of extra languages required on graduation.

Course length (months): minimum length of the masters programme

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* Includes data for the current and one or two preceding years where available.

Judith Pizer of Jeff Head Associates is the FT’s database consultant

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