Forbes has released its 2019 MBA rankings for the United States as well as one- and two-year international MBA programmes. This is the magazine’s 11th biennial assessment of the best business schools.
The rankings strive to answer one major question: Is a full-time MBA worth it? The lists are based solely on the median returns on investment achieved by graduates from the class of 2014.
Forbes examined more than 100 schools and surveyed 17,500 alumni regarding their pre- and post-MBA compensation, career choice, and location. The magazine received replies from 25% of those graduates. Schools were excluded from the rankings if alumni response fell below 15%. Schools for which alumni had a negative ROI after five years were also excluded.
Forbes compared alumni earnings in their first five years out of business school with their opportunity cost (two years of forgone compensation, tuition and required fees). The rankings measure total compensation, including salary, bonuses and exercised stock options. It is assumed that compensation would have risen half as fast as their post-MBA salary increases had these alumni not attended business school. You can read more about the methodology here.
America’s Best Business School in 2019: Chicago Booth
The school’s rich history includes nine faculty members or alumni awarded the Nobel Prize in economics since 1982. Graduates typically have their pick of the litter on job placements after securing a Booth MBA.
For the first time, Chicago Booth tops Forbes’ biennial examination of the best American business schools. Booth grads from the Class of 2014 entered school with a median compensation of USD 83,000 and banked USD 245,000 last year for a “five-year MBA gain” of USD 94,400 after tuition and fees.
Chicago grads sent two thirds of the 2018 class into consulting or finance, which rate as the most lucrative positions for MBAs. Consultancies McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group and Accenture are among the five largest hiring firms at Booth, along with Amazon. The median base salary for Booth grads who took consulting jobs was USD 150,000, tops among all US schools and tied with Stanford’s and Harvard’s finance grads for the top salaries across any function.
Stanford Graduate School of Business ranked second for the second straight year with a five-year gain of USD 90,800.
Best One-Year International Programme: IMD (Switzerland)
Lausanne, Switzerland-based IMD held on to its No.1 ranking for the second time in a row as the best one-year international business school. Graduates saw an average five-year gain of USD 168,900, and had a median salary of USD 200,000 five years out of school, the highest among all international programmes in the ranking.
IMD is highly selective in choosing more experienced students with an international mindset. Students come in with an average seven years of work experience and demonstrated progression in their responsibilities and career. The current cohort in the capped class of 90 students is a mix of 43 nationalities.
INSEAD (France), the largest MBA programme in the world with 1,032 students in its current cohort, again ranks No. 2 among the best one-year international MBA programmes. Graduates had a five-year gain of USD 154,700, and it took them 2.6 years to pay back their investment. Half of the graduating class chose consulting; McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company are perennial top employers.
Best Two-Year International Programme: London Business School (UK)
For the seventh consecutive time, London Business School earned the No. 1 spot among international two-year programmes (options to complete the programme in 15, 18 or 21 months) with a five-year gain of USD 93,100.
LBS remains a hot spot for employers and as a result, 94% of students accepted an offer within three months of graduation. Management consulting firms still recruit the most graduates — 42% went to one right out of school. McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company landed most of them.
HEC Paris (France) jumped two spots to rank second among international two-year (16-months) programmes with a five-year gain of USD 79,761. It is one of the more affordable two-year programmes in the world at a cost of USD 70,400. Class of 2018 graduates had the highest median base salary (USD 127,410) and highest median signing bonus (USD 28,943) of any international programme. Only eight US programmes saw higher median base and median signing bonuses. Amazon employed the most graduates, followed by consulting firms McKinsey and Bain.
Different rankings of MBA programmes employ different methodology. Since none is conclusive, aspirants need to understand the methodology behind each one before deciding whether what it measurеs is important for them.