The global MBA ranking decoded

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To take part in the FT ranking, schools must have run a full-time MBA for four years and graduated their first class at least three years ago. (Classes must have 30 or more students.) European or US schools must be accredited by international bodies such as AACSB International, Equis or the Association of MBAs.

The ranking is based on data from two main sources: alumni and schools. A total of 158 business schools met the criteria and completed a survey. More than 21,000 alumni of the class of 2007 were asked to complete a survey, and more than 9,200 responses were submitted. The FT surveys graduates three years after completion of an MBA to assess its effect on career progression and salary. Fifty schools were excluded because of insufficient alumni data (at least 20 responses if the class is smaller than 100, otherwise 20 per cent). The rest were ranked, and the table shows the top 100.

Three main areas are analysed: alumni salaries and career development, the diversity and international reach of the school and its MBA, and the research capabilities of each school.

Within these areas, 20 criteria are used to determine the ranking. Eight are based on data from alumni questionnaires, including “Weighted salary (US$)”, “Placement success rank”, “Alumni recommend rank” and “International mobility rank”. The figures for seven of these eight criteria are based on data collected by the FT over three years. The information gathered for the 2011 MBA survey carries 50 per cent of the total weight. Data from the 2010 and 2009 rankings carry 25 per cent, respectively. Except for salary details, if only two years’ worth of data are available, the weighting is split 60:40 if the information is from 2010 and 2009, or 70:30 if it is from 2010 and 2008 (where a programme did not make the top 100 in 2009).

For salary data, the weighting is 50:50 (the latest data are likely to be higher than previous years and may distort the average). “Value for money” is based on the 2011 MBA figures only.

The first three criteria examine alumni salaries and include the two most heavily weighted components of the ranking: “Weighted salary (US$)” and “Salary percentage increase”. Together these contribute 40 per cent of the rank for each school.

For all salary data, full-time students and salary data of alumni in the non-profit and public service sectors are removed. International Monetary Fund purchasing power parity rates are used to convert the remaining data to US$ PPP-equivalent figures. The highest and lowest salaries are excluded before schools’ average salaries are calculated. For larger schools, the average salary is weighted to reflect variations between sectors. The weights are derived by calculating the percentage of respondents in each sector. This breakdown is then used to calculate an overall average school salary, which includes average salaries for each sector. Salary data on the table are all US$ PPP-equivalent figures.

The salary percentage increase is calculated according to the increase in the average US$ PPP salary for each school from before alumni started the MBA until 2010 (four or five years).

Eleven ranking criteria are based on data from schools, including “Employed at three months” and all criteria from “Women faculty” to “International board” and from “International experience rank” to “FT doctoral rank”.

For the final column, “FT research rank”, papers written by faculty in 45 academic and practitioner journals over the past three years are counted. Schools are awarded points per number of papers. The mark is weighted for faculty size. The research rank contributes 10 per cent of the final score.

A Z-score is compiled for each column to account for the differences in score between each school in that column and the spread of scores between the top and bottom school. The Z-scores are added up to give a total score for each school.

Judith Pizer of Jeff Head Associates acted as the FT’s database consultant. FT research rank calculated using the Scopus database of research literature

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