This is the first time a “one-year” MBA has led the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking.

Insead joins an elite club of schools that have reached the number one spot, including Harvard Business School, London Business School, the Wharton School and Stanford Graduate School of Business. These four schools occupy the remaining top five places with their two-year programmes.

Insead’s Class of 2012 have an average salary of about $167,000 three years after graduation, nearly double (up 96 per cent) their pre-MBA remuneration. Alumni from the four other schools in the top five have roughly similar salaries and salary increases three years after graduation.

However, Insead is ranked 10th for value for money, way above the four runners-up, which are in the bottom quarter for this criterion.

With a programme half as long, its fees are also lower than those of the top three US schools. As one graduate puts it, Insead gives the “most bang for the buck”.

Insead calls itself “the business school for the world” and it does have grounds to claim it is one of the most international. Not only are more than 90 per cent of the professors and students international, but thanks to its campuses in France and Singapore, the school is ranked fifth for international course experience. Its alumni are also ranked third for international mobility.

The 2016 ranking includes nine new schools, two of which appear for the first time. Renmin University of China School of Business is the highest new entrant, in 43rd place.

The remaining seven schools had appeared previously but did not make the ranking in 2015. Edhec Business School, in 84th place, was last ranked in 2004, for example.

The proportion of women studying at ranked schools is rising. In 2015, 35 per cent of MBA students were women, up from 30 per cent in 2005. Last year, the proportion of female students topped 40 per cent in 27 schools, a leap from just four schools 10 years ago.

Chinese schools lead the way in this respect, with women accounting for 44 per cent of students overall and 59 per cent at Renmin University of China School of Business.

However, the proportion of female business school faculty remains low overall at about 27 per cent. Merage School of Business at University of California Irvine is the most gender-balanced, with women making up 46 per cent of faculty.

Greater study opportunities have yet to translate into increased equality at work. Before their MBAs, about 80 per cent of both male and female alumni who responded to the FT survey were “professionals”, one of the lower categories of seniority. Three years after graduation, 40 per cent of the women described themselves as professionals, compared with 30 per cent of men.

The percentage of male and female graduates at department head or senior manager level is almost equal at about 42 per cent, but women are under-represented in the higher levels of seniority, director/partner and chief executive/board member.

The average pay gap between men and women increases from 14 per cent before their MBA to 19 per cent three years after graduation (or from $9,000 to $22,000).

The imbalance in seniority may provide one answer for the disparity in pay between the genders. However, the data collected by the FT show that there is a pay gap even within the same sector of industry and at the same level of seniority.

Top full-time MBA: Insead

It was 58 years ago that Insead was established in Fontainebleau, just outside Paris, to train Europe’s business elite. Placing a heavy emphasis on a global mix of students and on multilingualism, the school was very different from the top US business schools that it emulated. The most significant difference was that it taught its MBA in one year, not two.

This year Insead’s MBA, which has been ranked by the FT as one of the top 10 MBAs in the world for the past 17 years, has been ranked in the number one slot for the first time.

This is a first not only for Insead but for the one-year MBA, which is proving increasingly popular worldwide, including among some US business schools.

Ilian Mihov, Insead’s dean, believes there are five characteristics of a top business school, including having a global perspective and promoting diversity. The MBA should also be a transformational experience, he says. “If we just teach content then online courses will be a substitute.”

And as well as being strong in entrepreneurship he believes analytical and critical thinking skills will prove vital.

“I think the most important skills are problem-solving,” says Prof Mihov. “Problem-solving skills will still be in fashion 30 years from now.”

Top for career progress: IIMA

Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad

Created just a decade ago, the one-year, full-time residential PGPX programme from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad is ranked number one for the career progress of its alumni this year.

Widely regarded as the top business school in India, a reputation earned for its two-year pre-experience PGP programme, and ranked 15th in the world in the FT’s 2015 Masters in Management rankings, IIMA is also famous for its 100-acre campus and its teaching space designed by American architect Louis Kahn. The school, founded by local entrepreneurs with Harvard Business School, has followed the HBS lead and favours case-based teaching.

Highest new entrant: Renmin

Renmin University of China School of Business

Renmin University of China School of Business is a latecomer to the FT MBA rankings. The school has been offering an MBA since 1991 but became eligible to be ranked in 2010 when it was accredited by Equis (see methodology).

The Beijing school is the highest new entrant, in 43rd place, sandwiched between fellow mainland Chinese schools Antai College of Economics and Management at 39 and Fudan University School of Management at 47. The class of 2012 has an average salary of $94,000 three years after graduation, up 168 per cent on pre-MBA salary.

Highest riser: Carroll

The Carroll School of Management at Boston College
© Lee Pellegrini

The Carroll School of Management at Boston College has featured annually in the FT MBA rankings since it was first listed in 2006. It has enjoyed mixed fortunes during that time, from a high of 47th place in 2010 to a low of 93rd in 2013.

The 18th edition of the MBA ranking has been more favourable to the school. It climbed 21 places to 69th.

The average salary of its alumni three years after graduation went up by nearly $6,000 to $120,000 compared with last year’s rankings.

The school also registered a strong progression in terms of value-for-money and career progress.

Best international experience: Ipade

Ipade Business School

Ipade Business School features once again in the FT MBA rankings after having failed to make the top 100 for the past three years. It is ranked 80th overall, just above Incae Business School, the other school from Latin America.

All students study abroad for at least a month on exchange programmes at one of about 75 partner institutions worldwide. Students are also encouraged to go on an international study trip with the school subsidising about half the cost. Ipade adds two destinations per year based on students’ votes. The latest graduating cohort had the option to go to China or Vietnam.

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