Illustration by Adrian Johnson
© Adrian Johnson

The University of St Gallen’s domination of the Financial Times’ ranking of masters in management courses continues for another year. The Swiss school came top of the list of 90 best masters programmes worldwide in 2016, winning its sixth consecutive crown. France’s HEC Paris and Essec Business School remained second and third, respectively, for the third year running.

The 2016 ranking features a record 90 programmes, up from 70 in 2014. The ranking is based on data collected from two surveys: one of the participating business schools and the other of alumni who graduated three years ago — the class of 2013. The ranking is in part based on how successful alumni have been in their careers, as reflected in the salary data.

The average salary of St Gallen’s alumni jumped to $102,000 three years after graduation compared with $90,000 last year. It is the third-highest overall behind the two Indian management academies at Ahmedabad and Bangalore, with respective salaries of $109,000 and $106,000.

The school ranks first for alumni satisfaction. “We were forced to leave our comfort zone but were rewarded with unique experiences,” says one graduate. Overall, St Gallen’s alumni report a 95 per cent satisfaction level, 2 percentage points more than the alumni from London Business School and WHU Beisheim. Other high points for the school include being first for alumni international mobility, second for international experience and third for job placement.

Elsewhere, Stockholm School of Economics was a big winner, climbing 16 places to 28, not only recording the best year-on-year progression but also recovering from a drop of 11 places last year. Meanwhile, La Rochelle Business School dropped 12 places to 60 having been last year’s highest climber.

Nova School of Business and Economics consolidated last year’s strong performance by climbing a further 14 places to 17. The Portuguese school has risen 31 places over the past two years since its International Master in Management course was first included in the ranking. It has now entered the top 20 for the first time.

While heavily dominated by French and English schools, accounting for 44 per cent of the table, the ranking is more diverse than ever with schools from 25 countries. Notably, among the nine schools ranked for the first time, WP Carey School of Business at the Arizona State University is the first US institution to take part in the ranking, having entered at 82. The highest newly ranked school is Université Paris-Dauphine at 57.

Unlike MBAs, masters in management are targeted at those at the beginning of their career. They are typically designed for students with an average age of 22. About 60 per cent have not yet worked and a further 30 per cent have less than two years’ experience.

When many millennials struggle to find jobs or make do in low-skilled positions, these masters programmes achieve strong employment rates thanks to their links with corporate partners and alumni networks.

More than 90 per cent of alumni from the most recent graduating classes accepted a job offer within three months of completing their programme.

“The school’s network was vital in helping me find a job in one of the most prestigious companies worldwide,” says one graduate from Rotterdam School of Management. “The company was a corporate partner so I basically received the job application in my mailbox.” 

Top school: St Gallen

This is the sixth year that the University of St Gallen’s MA in Strategy and International Management has topped the FT’s ranking. All students at the Swiss school take part in exchanges and overseas internships — leading to a number two ranking for international experience. It is also in the top 10 for value for money.

St Gallen
Top spot: University of St Gallen is ranked first for alumni satisfaction © Hanspeter Schiess

First time in the top 10: WU

Vienna university; WU

Vienna University of Economics and Business’s Master in International Management course was ranked 22nd for three years in a row. In 2015, it moved to 13th place and this year, the member of Cems, an academic and corporate alliance, has jumped to eighth place. The course is ranked first for international experience.

Top new entrant: Smurfit

© Hu O'Reilly

Smurfit’s MSc in International Management at University College Dublin is the Irish branch of the Cems programme. It is popular with foreign students as more than 90 per cent of the 50 enrolled come from abroad.

It is also almost perfectly balanced for gender, with 48 per cent of students women.

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