The Financial Times’ 14th annual ranking of executive MBA degrees lists the world’s top 100 programmes for senior working managers.

EMBA programmes must meet strict criteria in order to be considered for the ranking. The schools must be accredited by either the US’s Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the European Equis accreditation bodies. Their programmes must also have run for at least four consecutive years. This year, 134 programmes from 32 countries took part in the ranking process, including 17 offered jointly by more than one school.

Data for the ranking is collected using two online surveys – one completed by participating schools and one by alumni who graduated from their nominated programmes in 2011.

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 4,983 alumni completed the survey – 51 per cent of respondents.

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 are the most heavily weighted, each counting 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 very highest and lowest salaries are subsequently removed, and the mean average “current salary” is calculated for each school.

“Salary increase” 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 for the two previous rankings are used for all alumni-informed criteria. Responses from the 2014 survey carry 50 per cent of the total weight, and those from 2013 and 2012 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 2014 and 2013, or 70:30 if from 2014 and 2012. 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 the next 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.

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 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 45 internationally recognised academic and practitioner journals. The rank combines the absolute number of publications, between January 2011 and August 2014, with the number of publications weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

The FT ranking is a relative ranking. Schools are ranked against each other by calculating for each criterion their Z-score. Z-scores represent the number of standard deviations each school’s data is away from the mean. Z-scores allow the ranking to be based on very different criteria (salary, percentages, points) since they are unitless. 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 have a sufficient response rate from the alumni survey, a first version is calculated using all remaining schools. The school at the bottom is removed and a second version is calculated. And so on until we reach the top 100. The top 100 schools are ranked accordingly to produce the 2014 list.


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

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