The 2013 Financial Times Executive MBA ranking includes the top 100 programmes for working senior executives. As in previous years, cross-continental joint programmes dominate.

The ranking is based on surveys of business schools and their alumni who graduated in 2010. The latest edition takes a snapshot of the alumni’s current situation compared with when they started the programme.

The joint programme run by Kellogg School of Management near Chicago and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology comes top for the fifth consecutive year. The programme is first for the average salary of its graduates three years after graduation and in the top 10 for career progress, work experience and aims achieved. It also has one of the most international intakes.

“The teaching and experience were invaluable and really gave me some new perspectives,” says Camela Chan, a Kellogg/HKUST alumna from Hong Kong. “I also learnt a lot from my classmates’ insight and experience.”

Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, North Carolina, climbs to eighth position from 16th last year. The National University of Singapore Business School is ranked 17th, up from 26th. Nanyang Business School is the highest new entrant at 13th, followed by Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, ranked 32nd.

It takes strong motivation to finish a two-year EMBA while juggling a full-time job and social and family life. One-third of graduates were wholly sponsored by their company, while another third bore the full cost.

EMBA participants who put themselves through this process are eager to boost their management and leadership skills. “[The programme] helped me re-evaluate who I am and who I want to be as a leader,” says Greg Profeta, who graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “I am now more focused, impactful and caring.”

Graduates rated their degrees highest for corporate strategy, finance and economics. Information technology, ebusiness and law were rated the lowest. Career services did not always meet expectations. “We needed professional HR who had real life work experience and not just paper tigers,” lamented one graduate. But alumni networks are strong.

Most graduates see their careers accelerate quickly. They reach more senior positions and benefit financially. Some 31 per cent of participants were professionals when they started their programme, compared with 9 per cent three years after graduation. The proportion of alumni who are now chief executives or on the board increased from 8 per cent to 20 per cent. Overall, average salaries rose from $112,000 before the programme to $173,000 five years later, an increase of 54 per cent.

The gender gap in seniority and pay accelerates after graduation. From a fairly balanced position before the EMBA, 40 per cent of women were at directorship level or above three years after graduation compared with 53 per cent of men. There is a $14,000 difference in average salary before their degree, $101,000 for women compared with $115,000 for men. The difference increases to $26,000 three years after graduation, with women earning an average of $153,000 compared with $179,000 for men.

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