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This is the fifth 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. Those requiring entrants to have prior work experience before enrolment are deemed post-experience programmes. Masters in financial engineering degrees are not considered for these rankings as they tend to place greater emphasis on quantitative skills.

To participate, programmes must have run for at least four consecutive years and the school must meet certain minimum criteria. 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, 56 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 2012 were invited to complete a separate survey.

For a school to be eligible for the ranking, at least 20 per cent of their alumni must respond to the FT survey, with a minimum of 20 responses. This year, the FT surveyed 4,643 graduates from pre-experience programmes and 427 graduates from post-experiences programmes. The two surveys achieved a response rate of 41 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.

For the pre-experience ranking, alumni responses inform six criteria — from “salary today” to “placement success” plus “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, and 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 today” 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 also considers the proportion of international students and faculty by citizenship.

The weight of the “language” criterion has decreased from 3 per cent to 1 per cent. Instead, the weight of “female faculty” and “female students” increased by a percentage point each to 5 per cent.

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

First, a “salary increase” criterion is calculated for each school according to the percentage difference between average alumni salaries before the masters to today, three years after graduation — a period of typically four to five years. 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 languages 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.

In both rankings, the FT used the average programme length to calculate the “value-for-money” criterion, compared with the minimum programme length used in previous rankings.

Where available, information collected over the past three years is used for all alumni criteria, except “value for money”, which is based on 2015 figures. Responses from 2015 carry 50 per cent of the total weight, and those from 2014 and 2013 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 2015 and 2014, or 70:30 if from 2015 and 2013. 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 2015 ranking, and added together to give a final score. Schools are ranked according to these scores, creating the FT Masters in Finance rankings 2015.

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