FT Masters in Finance rankings methodology

How the Financial Times ranks business schools

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This is the sixth edition of the FT Masters in Finance rankings, which lists both pre-experience programmes and post-experience degrees.

The FT defines pre-experience programmes as those aimed at students who have little or no professional experience, while post-experience programmes require participants to have work experience before enrolment. Masters in financial engineering degrees are not considered for these rankings as they tend to place greater emphasis on quantitative skills.

Programmes must meet strict criteria in order to be eligible for these rankings. They must have run for at least four consecutive years as the FT surveys the class that graduated three years ago. The programmes must be full-time, cohort based and have a minimum of 30 graduates each year. Finally, the participants must be either AACSB or Equis accredited.

The rankings are calculated according to information provided by business schools and their alumni. Each of the schools that participated in this year’s rankings, 61 in the pre-experience ranking and five in the post-experience ranking, completed an online survey. Their alumni who graduated from the nominated masters in finance degree in 2013 were also invited to complete a separate survey.

For a school to be eligible for the ranking, at least 20 per cent of its alumni must respond to the FT survey, with a minimum of 20 responses. This year the FT surveyed 5,210 graduates from pre-experience programmes and 438 graduates from post-experiences programmes. The two surveys achieved a response rate of 36 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively.

For the pre-experience ranking, alumni responses inform six criteria — including today’s salary, placement success and international mobility — that together account for 55 per cent of the ranking’s weight.

In calculating salary-related measures — the most heavily weighted — salaries of non-profit and public service workers as well as full-time students are removed. Remaining salaries are converted to US dollars using purchasing power parity rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund. Conversion to PPP — based on the premise that identical goods should cost the same in different countries — accounts for differences in the relative strength of currencies. The very highest and lowest salaries reported are subsequently removed and the mean average salary is calculated for each school.

The remaining 10 criteria, which collectively account for 45 per cent of the ranking, are determined by data provided by the schools themselves. These measure the diversity of teaching staff, board members and finance students, according to gender and nationality, and the international reach of the programme. For gender criteria, schools with a 50:50 (male:female) composition receive the highest score.

When calculating international diversity, in addition to schools’ percentage of international students and faculty — the figures published — the FT considers the proportion of international students and faculty by citizenship.

The calculations for the post-experience ranking are the same, with a few exceptions.

First, a salary increase criterion is calculated for each school according to the percentage difference between average alumni salaries before the masters compared to today and three years after graduation. Half of this measure, worth 20 per cent of the post-experience ranking weight, is calculated according to the absolute salary increase, and half according to the percentage increase over this period. Only the percentage increase features in the published table.

The second difference is the omission of the language criterion in the post-experience ranking, since none of the participating programmes require students to study an additional language. Overall, alumni data informs 60 per cent of the post-experience ranking and school data 40 per cent.

Finally, in the post-experience rankings, the FT used the average programme length in the calculations of the value for money criterion, adding the opportunity cost of not working during the programme.

Where available, information collected over the past three years is used for all alumni criteria, except for value for money, which is based on 2016 figures. Responses from 2016 carry 50 per cent of the total weight, and those from 2015 and 2014 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 2016 and 2015, or 70:30 if from 2016 and 2014. For salary figures, the weighting is 50:50 for two years’ data, to negate inflation-related distortions.

An FT score is finally calculated for each school. First, Z-scores — formulas that reflect the range of scores between the top and bottom school — are calculated for each ranking criterion. These scores are then weighted, according to the weights outlined in the key to the 2016 ranking, and added together to give a final score. Schools are ranked according to these scores, creating the FT Masters in Finance rankings 2016.

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