October 20, 2013 10:21 pm

Methodology: Executive MBA rankings 2013

The 13th annual Financial Times ranking of executive MBA degrees is a thorough evaluation of the world’s best MBA programmes for senior working managers.

EMBA programmes must meet strict criteria to be considered for the ranking. The schools must be internationally accredited and their programmes must have run for at least four consecutive years. This year, 136 programmes took part in the ranking process, including 17 offered jointly by more than one school.

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Data for the rankings are collected using two online surveys – one completed by participating schools and one by alumni who graduated from their nominated programmes in 2010.

For schools to be ranked, 20 per cent of their alumni must respond to the survey, with at least 20 fully completed responses. A total of 5,550 alumni completed the survey – 54 per cent of respondents.

Alumni responses inform five ranking criteria – from “salary today” to “aims achieved” – that together account for 55 per cent of the ranking’s weight. The first two criteria, the most heavily weighted, examine alumni salaries.

Salaries of non-profit and public sector workers, as well as full-time students, are removed. Remaining salaries are converted to US dollars using purchasing power parity (PPP) rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund. PPP conversion – based on the premise that identical goods should cost the same in different countries – accounts for differences in the relative strength of currencies. The very highest and lowest salaries are subsequently removed, and the mean average “current salary” is calculated for each school. The resulting figure carries 20 per cent of the ranking’s weight.

“Salary increase”, also accounting for 20 per cent, is calculated for each school according to the difference in average alumni salary before the EMBA to three years after graduation – a period of typically four to five years. Half of this figure is calculated according to the absolute increase, and half according to the percentage increase relative to pre-MBA salaries.

Where available, data collated by the FT over the past three years is used for all alumni-informed criteria. Responses from the 2013 survey 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 any inflation-related distortions.

Information provided by the business schools themselves inform 10 criteria that collectively account for 35 per cent of the final ranking. These measure the diversity of teaching staff, board members and EMBA students, according to gender and nationality, as well as the international reach of the programme. For gender-related criteria, schools that have a 50:50 (male:female) composition receive the highest possible score.

With the exception of the “doctoral rank” (which measures the number and progress of doctoral graduates from each school over the past three years) criteria informed by the school surveys use only 2013 data.

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

The FT research rank, which accounts for 10 per cent of the ranking, is calculated according to the number of articles published by schools’ full-time faculty in 45 internationally recognised academic and practitioner journals. The rank combines the absolute number of publications, between January 2010 and August 2013, with the number of publications weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

An FT score is finally calculated for each school. First, Z-scores – mathematical formulae that reflect the range of scores between the top and bottom school – are calculated for each respective ranking criterion. These scores are then weighted according to the weights outlined in the ranking key, and added together for a final score.

The top 100 schools are ranked accordingly to produce the 2013 list.

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Judith Pizer of Jeff Head Associates acted as the FT’s database consultant.

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