The FT’s 13th annual ranking of executive education programmes – non-degree programmes for working managers and corporations – ranks business schools in three categories. The first is for those that teach open-enrolment programmes; the second for customised programmes; and the third a combined ranking of the top 50 schools in the field.

Customised programmes are tailored by schools to the specific needs of commissioning organisations. Open-enrolment programmes are offered to employees of any company and address a specific topic or managerial level.

Schools must meet strict criteria to participate. They must be internationally accredited and have earned revenues of at least $2m in 2011 from their open or customised programmes respectively. For schools to be eligible for the open-enrolment ranking, a 20 per cent rate of response to the FT questionnaire is required among participants, with a minimum of 20 responses. At least five clients must complete the survey for each school to remain eligible for the custom ranking. This year, 79 schools took part in the customised ranking and 71 in the open programme ranking.

The final ranking of 70 providers of customised programmes is compiled using data from the participating business schools and organisations that commissioned courses in 2011. These clients, nominated by the school, complete an online questionnaire about their tailored programme.

Clients are asked to categorise their programme as principally strategic, general or functional in design, defined as follows. Strategic: designed to influence the direction of the company and delivered to top management. General: delivered to management on operational aspects of a company. Functional: related to a specific function, such as marketing.

Client responses are weighted accordingly, with strategic programmes carrying the largest weighting. Responses are also weighted depending on the seniority of the individual responsible for specifying the programme, the size of their organisation and the number of business schools from which that client has purchased customised programmes in the preceding three years.

This year, 942 business school clients – almost half of those nominated – completed the FT questionnaire, rating their programme across a range of indicators on a 10-point scale. Their answers directly inform the first 10 of the ranking’s criteria – from course preparation to the likelihood of repeat business – which together account for 80 per cent of the ranking’s weight.

The remaining customised ranking criteria are calculated from data provided by schools and broadly measure schools’ international diversity, in terms of course provision and nationality of clients and participants, in addition to faculty diversity.

The open-enrolment ranking of 65 schools is similarly compiled using data from participating schools and individuals that completed the programmes.

Schools submit one or two general management programmes of at least three days in length, and one or two advanced management programmes of at least five days. Individuals who took part in these nominated programmes in 2011 are invited to answer the FT survey.

Approximately 6,300 participants responded, rating selected elements of their programme on a 10-point scale. Data provided by advanced and general-level participants are collated separately, with the results combined using a 50:50 weighting to calculate the first 10 ranking criteria. As in the customised ranking, these criteria – which include the quality of fellow participants and of school facilities – account for 80 per cent of the ranking’s weight. School data are used to calculate the remaining criteria.

For both customised and open rankings, data collected in the preceding two years are used, where available, to calculate criteria informed by client and participant responses. If a school has participated for the past three years, the weighting is 40:33:27, 2012 data carrying 40 per cent. If two years of data are available, the weighting is 55:45, with 2012 data worth 55 per cent.

The weighting for each of the first 10 criteria in both rankings is determined by the level of importance clients and participants attach to each criterion in their 2012 surveys. Ranking weightings for these criteria may vary, therefore, from year to year. The weightings for criteria calculated from school data are determined by the FT and remain unchanged from previous rankings.

A weighted Z-score – a formula to reflect the range of the points – is calculated for participating schools for each criterion. These scores are added together, giving a total according to which schools are ranked in descending order for customised and open rankings.

The combined overall ranking of the top 50 schools is calculated according to an equal weighting of the total Z-scores for schools that feature in both rankings. It is not equal, therefore, to the average of the two printed figures for each school.


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

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