This is the 17th edition of the Financial Times annual ranking of the world’s top 100 executive MBA programmes for senior working managers.

Participation in the FT ranking is voluntary and at the business schools’ request. EMBA programmes must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible. First the school must be accredited by either the US’s Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the European Equis. The EMBA must be cohort-based, with students enrolling and graduating together, with at least 30 graduates each year.

As with last year, 137 programmes took part in the 2017 ranking process, including 17 joint programmes delivered by more than one school. Nine schools took part for the first time.

Data for the ranking are collected using two online surveys: the first is completed by participating schools and the second by alumni who graduated from nominated programmes in 2014. The FT requires a minimum response rate of 20 per cent (or 20 fully completed responses, whichever is the greater) from the alumni survey in order for a school to be considered for the final ranking. A total of 4,810 alumni completed the survey — 47 per cent of all graduates on participating programmes.

Alumni responses inform five ranking criteria: salary today, salary increase, career progress, work experience and aims achieved. They account together for 55 per cent of the ranking’s weight. The first two criteria, about alumni salaries, each count for 20 per cent.

Salaries of non-profit and public sector workers, as well as full-time students, are removed. Remaining salaries are converted to US dollars using the latest purchasing power parity (PPP) rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund. The highest and lowest salaries are then removed and the mean average “current salary” is calculated for each school. Salary increase is calculated according to the difference in average salary before the EMBA to three years after graduation, typically four to five years. Half of the ranking weight is applied to the absolute increase and the other half to the percentage increase relative to pre-EMBA pay.

When available, the alumni criteria are informed by the past three surveys. Responses from the 2017 survey carry 50 per cent of the total weight and those from 2016 and 2015 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 2017 and 2016, or 70:30 if from 2017 and 2015. For salary figures, the weighting is 50:50 for two years’ data, to avoid inflation-related distortions.

Information provided by the business schools inform 10 criteria that collectively account for 35 per cent of the final ranking. These include the gender and international diversity of teaching staff, board members and EMBA students, as well as the international reach of the programme.

For gender diversity criteria, schools with a 50:50 (male:female) composition receive the highest score. The international diversity calculation is based on the overall percentage of students and faculty from abroad as well as the spread of these individuals by citizenship based on the Herfindahl index, a measure of concentration.

The final criterion, the FT research rank, accounts for 10 per cent of the ranking. It is calculated according to the number of articles published by schools’ full-time faculty in 50 internationally recognised academic and practitioner journals. The rank combines the absolute number of publications between January 2014 and July 2017 with the number of publications weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

The FT rankings are relative. Schools are ranked against each other rather than against set standards. The FT calculates the Z-scores for each criterion. Z-scores show how far a school’s data is from the mean. Z-scores are unitless, so allow the ranking to be based on very different criteria (salary, percentages, points). These scores are then weighted as outlined in the ranking key and added together for a final score.

After removing the schools that did not meet the minimum response rate from their alumni, a first version is calculated using all remaining schools. The school at the bottom is removed and a second version is calculated. This action is repeated to find the top 100.

Key to the 2017 ranking

Weights for ranking criteria are shown in brackets as a percentage.

Salary today US$ (20): average salary three years after graduation, US$ PPP equivalent.†

Salary increase (20): average difference in salary between before the EMBA and now. Half of this figure is calculated according to the absolute salary increase and half according to the percentage increase relative to pre-EMBA salary.

Career progress (5): calculated according to changes in the level of seniority and the size of company alumni work in now, versus before their EMBA.†

Work experience (5): a measure of pre-EMBA experience according to the seniority of positions held, number of years in each position, company size and overseas work experience.†

Aims achieved (5): the extent to which alumni fulfilled their goals or reasons for doing an EMBA.†

Female faculty (3): percentage of female faculty.

Female students (3): percentage of female students on the programme.

Women on board (1): percentage of female members of the advisory board.

International faculty (5): calculated according to the diversity of faculty by citizenship and the percentage whose citizenship differs from their country of employment.

International students (5): the percentage of current EMBA students whose citizenship and country of residence differs from the country in which they study, as well as their diversity by citizenship.

International board (2): percentage of the board whose citizenship differs from the country in which the business school is situated.

International course experience (5): percentage of classroom teaching hours that are conducted outside the country in which the business school is situated.

Languages (1): number of languages required upon graduation. *Programme not fully available in English.

Faculty with doctorates (5): percentage of full-time faculty with a doctoral degree.

PhD graduates (5): number of doctoral graduates from each business school during the past three years. The figure in brackets is the percentage of these graduates who took up faculty positions at a school in the top 50 of the full-time MBA ranking.

FT research rank (10): calculated according to the number of articles published by a school’s current full-time faculty members in 50 academic and practitioner journals between January 2014 and July 2017. The rank combines the absolute number of publications with the number weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

For all gender-related criteria, schools with a 50:50 (male/female) composition receive the highest score.

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

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

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