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The Financial Times masters in management report, established in 2005, ranks masters programmes in general management for students with no prior work experience. Details of these programmes are submitted by leading international business schools to be evaluated and potentially published in our table of the top 50 programmes.

The ranking is intended to give a thorough assessment of the nominated Masters in management programmes, as well as an insight into participating business schools and their alumni. It is compiled using data from two sets of online surveys. The first is completed by business schools and the second by alumni who graduated from the respective programmes three years previously. For each programme we require a response rate of 20 per cent from alumni, with a minimum of 20 responses for schools with fewer than 100 alumni in the graduating class.

The alumni survey also allows students who participate in the Cems MiM (Masters in International Management) programme to evaluate this programme. The Cems degree is awarded to students through an alliance of 25 business schools and is in addition to the degree of their alma mater. Originally the Cems MiM programme was only offered by European schools, however non-European schools have recently joined the network. This year all the Cems alumni who completed the survey studied exclusively at European business schools.

Data from alumni questionnaires are used to determine the rankings in six of the 16 criteria, from “weighted salary”, which is calculated in US dollars, to “placement success rank” and “international mobility rank”. The figures in the first column, “salary today (US$)”, are also based on data from alumni questionnaires, but are published for information only and are not used in any of the calculations for the ranking.

The following process is applied to salary data before they are used to calculate the salary figures presented in “weighted salary (US$)” column. To start with, salary data supplied by alumni working in the non-profit and public service sectors, or who are still full-time students, are excluded.

Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund are then used to convert the remaining salary data to US dollar PPP equivalent figures. PPP rates are currency conversion rates that are applied to iron out differences in purchasing power between different currencies. In this way, alumni salary data can be standardised and compared meaningfully.

After this conversion has been completed, the very highest and lowest salaries are excluded before the average salary is calculated for each school.

For larger schools (those with more than 50 alumni responses) there is one further stage in the process: the average salaries are weighted to reflect variations in salaries between different employment sectors.

The weights are derived from a breakdown of the sectors in which alumni are working. Average salaries within sectors are calculated for each school. The overall sector weights are then used to calculate the proportion that each sector salary average will contribute to the total average figure for a school.

The remaining 10 criteria: “employed at three months (%)” to “international board (%)”, “international course experience rank”, “languages” and “faculty with doctorates (%)”, are calculated using data from the business school questionnaires.

After all calculations have been applied to the data for each of the different ranking criteria, the results are ranked using Z-scores on a column-by-column basis. That is, for each criterion on the table, a separate set of Z-scores is calculated. Z-scores take into account the differences between each school and the spread of scores between the top and bottom school.

The Z-scores in each field are then multiplied by the column weights (see table key) and these results are added to give a final score for each school. This final score is presented as the school’s overall rank for 2009.

All the criteria that contribute to the final ranking have underlying Z-scores, but in the table the data is presented as US$ equivalents, ranks, percentages, or, in the case of languages, the number of additional languages required on graduation.

The five columns at the end of the table – from “Course fee” to “Company internships (%)” – do not contribute to the rankings. This data is supplied by the business schools to inform readers.

Competition is fierce. This year, 63 programmes were submitted for the survey and 11,694 alumni were contacted, 4,270 of whom completed the online questionnaire.

Our interactive ranking tables show this year’s results alongside tables dating back to 2007. Users are able to search the interactive tables for a school of interest, sort by selected criteria and filter by business school location.

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