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This is the fourth year in which the Financial Times has compiled a ranking of Executive MBA programmes and it has, in terms of response rate, been the most successful so far. More than 3,000 of the 6,212 alumni that we contacted completed the questionnaire.

The ranking, is based on the responses to two questionnaires: one for the business schools; the second for alumni who have been in the workplace for three years since graduation. Of the 88 business schools initially contacted, 81 had a sufficient response rate (20 per cent of alumni and a minimum of 20 responses in total) to be considered for the ranking of the top 75 programmes.

The final position of a school in the table is calculated on its performance in three main areas: the career progress of the alumni; the school’s diversity and the international experience it offers; and the school’s intellectual output and research.

All criteria in the table are either presented in a rank form (with the top performing school scoring the number one rank), percentages or, as in a few instances, raw data (“salary today” and “languages” required, for example).

As with all the FT business education rankings, each criterion is converted into z-scores: a measure that standardises the dispersion within each criterion and so enables us to position each school, within any criteria, relative to all the other schools - regardless of the sample sizes.

Each criterion has an associated weight (given in the key to the table) - a reflection of its relative importance.

These weights are multiplied with the z-scores for each school. The sum of the weighted z-scores across all criteria determines the position in the final table.

The main driver of the table is the career success of respondents during and after completing their EMBA.

The two main components of this are salary levels today and the percentage salary increase the alumni have experienced between the beginning of their MBA programme and today.

As absolute figures, the former represents the purchasing power of the EMBA in the marketplace, while the latter provides a measure of the impact of the EMBA in monetary terms.

Both of the above criteria are compiled from data collected by the FT over three years.

The data collected this year (from the EMBA class that graduated in 2001) carries 50 per cent of the total weight. Data from the 2003 and 2002 surveys are each given 25 per cent of the total weight. If only two year’s worth of data is available, then the ratio is 60 per cent from this year’s survey and 40 per cent from the 2003 survey.

The career progression factors also include measurements of the change in the level of seniority and the size of the company in which the alumnus now works. We also rank alumni on their work experience prior to the EMBA.

All of these career progression components, represented in the first four fields of the alumni survey, account for 50 per cent of the final marks.

As salary data is reported in different currencies, they are all standardised by conversion to US dollars with PPP (purchasing power parity) exchange rates, formulated by the World Bank. The PPP rates are currency conversions that bring every country’s purchasing power values to the same comparable level - that is, where $1 purchases the same quantity of goods and services in all countries. This allows for more accurate international comparisons. Extreme values are omitted before calculating the averages.

As with participants on full-time MBA programmes, the older EMBA participants reported higher salaries both before and after their EMBAs. However, younger students reported higher percentage increase figures.

For example, those students who were 30 years old (before starting the EMBA course) earned, on average, $71,910 and those who were 45 years old had an average salary of $87,359. The same 30 year old students are currently enjoying average salaries of $125,153 and those who were 45 years old currently have an average salary of $130,446. That means those who were 30 when starting the programme had a percentage salary increase of 74 per cent, compared with the older group’s percentage increase of 49 per cent increase.

The “Aims Achieved” criterion determines the extent to which the school has enabled a participant to fulfil his or her goals or reasons for doing an EMBA and carries 5 per cent of the total weighting.

The nine criteria, from and including “Women Faculty (%)”, measure the diversity among a school’s students, faculty and board members. These criteria hold a smaller proportion of marks than the four career progression questions. Schools can score well in these criteria if they display consistency. The diversity criteria consider factors such as the proportion of faculty, students and advisory board that are international or female. Combined, these six criteria carry half the weighting of the career progression criteria.

The data shows that while the proportion of female respondents constantly fluctuates around a fifth of the entire population (19 per cent for EMBA 2004, 21 per cent last year, 17 per cent in the EMBA 2002 and 19 per cent in 2001), the salary gap between the sexes has widened - with female EMBA alumni, on average, receiving a 16 per cent lower basic pay package than their male counterparts, compared with 12 per cent last year.

The final three criteria measure the school’s performance in research and account for 20 per cent of the total weighting.

The research rating is based on the number of publications in 40 international refereed academic and practitioner journals that were chosen by the business schools.

The period over which we assess publications is January 2001 to June 2004. For each publication, a point (or a fraction, if there is more than one author) is awarded to the school where the faculty member is currently employed. The final index is a weighted sum of the absolute number of publications and the publications adjusted for faculty size (the number of articles per faculty member).

Additional research by Ursula Milton

Database consultant: Judith Pizer of Jeff Head Associates, Amersham, UK.

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