Fifteen years of influence: The FT MBA Ranking 1999 – 2013

FT MBA rankings 1999 - 2013

When the Financial Times published its first MBA ranking in 1999, the Harvard Business School claimed the #1 spot ahead of a familiar list of top US business schools, including Columbia Business School, Stanford GSB, The Wharton School and MIT Sloan. Fifteen years later, and Harvard is again #1, with only the London Business School representing European business schools among the top 5, with MIT Sloan now further down the list.

Arguably the most influential business school ranking along with that of BusinessWeek, which launched the media circus of MBA league tables back in1988, the Financial Times was the first to combine the results from schools in the US and the rest of the world – a point of apples and oranges contention ever since. With 40% of the FT’s methodology based on the weighted salary and salary increase 3 years after graduation, MBA programs with strong placement in financial services and consulting have typically outperformed others. So business schools whose graduates pursue a career in industry, non-profits or entrepreneurial start-ups are unlikely to compete with the high salaries on Wall Street or at McKinsey, Bain and other strategy consultants.

Looking back over the last fifteen years, several trends stand out:

- The overall growth in the MBA market. The 1999 FT MBA ranking included 50 business schools, compared to the 100 schools in 2013. Many other schools now complete the FT survey every year, eager to break into the lower reaches of the table, and reassure potential applicants that they are among the best business schools in the world.

- The European challenge to the US. The first FT MBA ranking saw US business schools secure 9 of the top 10 places, and 31 of the 50 places overall. European business schools now occupy 3 of the top 10 places, with the London Business School reaching the #1 rank on three occasions. Among the top 100, only half now come from the US. In addition to schools from the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the 2013 FT MBA ranking now features European business schools from Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Portugal

- The rise of Asia Pacific and Canada. The results in 1999 did not include a single business school from Asia or Australia, and only three from Canada. Today, two Chinese schools feature in the top 20, with a total of 22 schools from Australia, Canada, China, India, Singapore and South Korea in the top 100.

- The consistent performance of the top 10. With Harvard Business School again at #1, they feature alongside Stanford GSB, Wharton and the London Business Schools as the only four business schools to hold the top position. But as the table below explains, the number of business schools who have made the top 10 in the past fifteen years remains a very select group.

- The emergence of world class business schools. Since 1999, a handful of business schools have emerged from seemingly nowhere to stake their claim at the top table. Notable examples are China’s HKUST and CEIBS, Spain’s IE Business School and Esade, France’s HEC Paris, and the UK’s Cambridge Judge and Oxford Saïd.

- The battle to stay at the top. The downside of ranking #1 is that there is only one direction you can take from there. But the FT MBA rankings of the last fifteen years also shows how difficult it can be to keep your top 10 position when faced with fierce global competition. Cornell Johnson, Northwestern Kellogg, NYU Stern, Tuck, UCLA Anderson and Yale SOM have all featured at some stage in the top 10, and though the margins that separate the #10 from the places further down can be narrow, business schools face a battle to maintain or improve their position each year.

So what will the FT MBA Ranking of 2028 look like? The dominance of a small handful of schools suggests that we will still see the usual suspects at the top of the rankings, but with the growing attraction of the one-year MBA program, and continued economic growth and opportunity in Asia and other emerging regions, expect to see more business schools from BRICS countries and beyond.

1Harvard Bus SchUSA23335321222211
2Stanford GSBUSA14464334743333
3UPenn - WhartonUSA31211111111124
4London Bus SchUK41112555479888
5Columbia Bus SchUSA57643243333552
7Iese Bus SchSpain99111211161312131825242523
9MIT - SloanUSA798971410139106645
10Chicago - BoothUSA12129119666453466
11IE Bus SchSpain88668111219152635312424
12UC Berkeley - HaasUSA1425283132251613221515141214
13Northwestern - KelloggUSA162122212419171111910977
14Yale Sch of MgmtUSA201516191610119131212201820
16Dartmouth - TuckUSA191813131598710111113159
16Cambridge - JudgeUK2626211710153542343022---
18Duke - FuquaUSA1520202228232718201519181715
19NYU - SternUSA1715131013879888101317
21HEC ParisFrance1818182918182237536267525045
22Esade Bus SchSpain33211918212427357183796474-
23UCLA - AndersonUSA3231332925171926322016121410
24Oxford - Saï•dUK202716201919202526352834--
24Cornell - JohnsonUSA2430363436293624161913151012

Source: Financial Times Global MBA rankings 1999 – 2013 


Also on

Full analysis of the winners and losers in the FT MBA Ranking 2013

Harvard claims #1 position in the FT’s 2013 Full-Time MBA ranking for first time in 8 years

See the results of the ranking of MBA rankings, combining the last 12 months of media tables


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