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April 24, 2009

Rankings For the 41 "Top 20" MBA Programs Worldwide

This is the first of two posts on "Top 20" MBA Programs. The second post can be found here.

This is the second year in a row that I decided to do a comparison of the "Top 20" MBA Rankings from
BusinessWeek, the Financial Times, US News and World Report, and The Economist Intelligence Unit. Last year, I included The Wall Street Journal, but since that their recruiter's poll has not been updated since 2007, I decided not to include this year. I also previously included Forbes, but since everyone ignores these rankings, I have as well. Since 2001, when I started working as an admissions consultant, I have yet to encounter anyone who takes Forbes into account. I am not actually convinced that most of my clients are even aware of the Forbes' rankings. Also see my fabulous ranking of MBA programs by post-MBA starting salary.


MBA Rankings are important because applicants, recruiters, students, and the schools themselves pay great attention to them. As to their basis in reality, I am not a statistician, so I can't judge their validity as measurements. I won't even try. For me the chief value in MBA rankings is that they provide lists of schools that are generally thought to be superior by enough people and institutions so that the authors of the rankings are taken somewhat seriously. Applicants take them seriously enough when selecting where to apply. B-Schools take them seriously enough to mention their rankings.

RANKINGS: Caveat Emptor!
Global and US national rankings inherently hide the local value of a particular school. It may very well be the case that a school ranks in the "Top 20," but has no name brand value in a particular market. As I have worked with an increasingly diverse client-base, I have come to realize that what may be an excellent choice for a banker in Japan, might make a lousy choice for entrepreneur in the UK. It may very well be the case that Notre Dame is a good choice for an American who wishes to work in Indiana, but what possible brand value can it provide to an Indian in Mumbai? For said hypothetical Indian, a local program in India, one without any international brand value, might be a much better choice. So while rankings are worth looking at, I do suggest that you really evaluate a school from the perspective of its value in terms of the job market(s) that you want to compete in.

If your intention is to be global and jump around the world than apply to MBA programs that have global brand value. You will likely find that a mixture of US and European programs best fit this description. In this sense, some rankings are particularly unhelpful. For instance, BusinessWeek ranks Queens University as the best non-US MBA program. I suppose if one is in Canada this is a quite a helpful thing, but I can say that the school has zero brand value here in Japan as well as in the US. Perhaps it has brand value somewhere aside from Canada, but except for Dubai, where it has a campus, I doubt it. Of course, the idea of separating the world into US and non-US programs is itself a clear sign that BW's perspective is inherently American. By contrast, what I appreciate about US News and World Report rankings is that they at least have the good sense to focus on what they can responsibility cover (US only). FT and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) are the only MBA rankings that attempt to cover the world from a mostly global perspective (The placement of so many UK programs on the top of the EIU list is somewhat troubling). Covering the entire planet is not an easy thing to do and there are certainly times when I have looked at the EIU or FT rankings with great suspicion, but one must say their rankings are at least quite international. EIU's rankings always strike me as particularly odd because they seem to have little to do with the way my clients, regardless of nationality, rank these schools.

Initially, I started looking at "Top 20" lists because of a real issue that some of my Japanese clients have regularly faced. If you are told that your company will only sponsor you for a "Top 20" MBA program, then you will have to take these lists seriously. I always have had Japanese clients who have been under such constraints. I hope the following is somewhat helpful to them. Otherwise, I have focused on "Top 20" primarily because most of my MBA clients, regardless of their nationality, are only applying to and getting admitted to
"Top 20" programs. Needless to say, the forty schools that are accounted for here are not necessarily the best forty-one business schools in the world. The inclusion or exclusion of a school from this list in no way should be assumed to be my view about which schools actually are "Top 20."

What I have done here is simply take all the major lists and look only at the rankings for top 20 programs as ranked by
BusinessWeek, the Financial Times, US News and World Report, and The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Following this table, you see each ranking list. Note: If less than 20 programs are listed that is because less than 20 were ranked.

To best view the following table, click on it.

The rankings lists:

Rankings from November 2008. Next Rankings will be in October or November 2010.

Top 20 US
Top 30 U.S. Programs
1 University of Chicago (Booth)
2 Harvard University
3 Northwestern University (Kellogg)
4 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
5 University of Michigan (Ross)
6 Stanford University
7 Columbia University
8 Duke University (Fuqua)
9 MIT (Sloan)
10 UC Berkeley (Haas)
11 Cornell University (Johnson)
12 Dartmouth (Tuck)
13 NYU (Stern)
14 UCLA (Anderson)
15 Indiana University (Kelley)
16 University of Virginia (Darden)
17 UNC - Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
18 Southern Methodist (Cox)
19 Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
20 University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Non-U.S. Top 10 MBA Programs

1 Queen's University
2 IE Business School
4 Western Ontario (Ivey)
5 London Business School
8 Toronto (Rotman)
10 Oxford (Saîd)

April 2009
1. Harvard University
2. Stanford University
3. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
5. University of Chicago (Booth)
7. University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
8. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
9. Columbia University
10. Yale University
11. New York University (Stern)
12. Duke University (Fuqua)
13. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
14. University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
15. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
15. University of Virginia (Darden)
17. Cornell University (Johnson)
18. University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)
19. Georgetown University (McDonough)
20. Univ. of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)

Top Twenty Worldwide

1 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
1 London Business School
3 Harvard Business School
4 Columbia Business School
6 Stanford University GSB
6 IE Business School
9 MIT: Sloan
10 New York University: Stern
11 University of Chicago: Booth
12 IESE Business School
13 Dartmouth College: Tuck
14 IMD
15 Indian School of Business (ISB)
16 Hong Kong UST Business School
17 University of Cambridge: Judge
18 ESADE Business School
19 Yale School of Management
20 University of Oxford: Saïd

2008 Ranking
1. IMD - International Institute for Management Development
2. IESE Business School - University of Navarra
3. Chicago, University of - Booth School of Business
4. Stanford Graduate School of Business
5. Dartmouth College--Tuck School of Business
6. California at Berkeley, University of--Haas School of Business
7. Cambridge, University of - Judge Business School
8. New York University - Leonard N Stern School of Business
9. London Business School
10. IE Business School
11. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology -- School of Business and Management
12. Harvard Business School
13. Cranfield School of Management
14. Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
15. York University - Schulich School of Business
16. Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management
17. Pennsylvania, University of - Wharton School
18. Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT Sloan School of Management
20. Henley Business School at the University of Reading

This is the first of two posts on "Top 20" MBA Programs. The second post can be found here.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. If you are looking for a highly experienced admissions consultant who is passionate about helping his clients succeed, please feel free to contact me at adammarkus@gmail.com to arrange an initial consultation. To learn more about my services, see here. Initial consultations are conducted by Skype or telephone. For clients in Tokyo, a free face-to-face consultation is possible after an initial Skype or telephone consultation. I only work with a limited number of clients per year and believe that an initial consultation is the best way to determine whether there is a good fit. Whether you use my service or another, I suggest making certain that the fit feels right to you.

-Adam Markus
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