The Economist has released its 2018 MBA ranking, providing a useful snapshot of the current MBA market.

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. The Economist’s MBA rankings differ from others in that they are “heavily weighted toward career outcomes,” according to Stacey Kole, Deputy Dean for MBA programmes of The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (US).

Chicago Booth topped the 2018 MBA ranking, the sixth time in seven years that the school has occupied first place.


The Economist’s MBA ranking is partly based on data provided by students. The results are a mixture of hard numbers and subjective marks given by students and alumni in four categories: opening new career opportunities (35%), personal development and educational experience (35%), better pay (20%), and networking potential (10%).

For the full-time MBA ranking, The Economist conducted two surveys. The first was completed by schools with eligible programmes and covers quantitative matters such as the salary of graduates, the average GMAT scores of students, and the number of registered alumni. This accounts for around 80% of the ranking. The remaining 20% comes from a qualitative survey filled out by current MBA students and a school's most recent graduating MBA class. The Economist asks respondents to rate things such as the quality of the faculty, facilities and career services department.

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All data received from schools are subject to verification checks, including, where possible, comparison with historical data, peer schools, and other published sources. Student and graduate questionnaires are audited for multiple or false entries. Memory has been built into the rankings by taking a weighted average of data from 2018 (50%), 2017 (30%) and 2016 (20%) to provide a rounded picture of the school over a period of time.

US schools dominate

US schools claim 16 of the top 20 places in The Economist’s ranking of full-time MBA programmes, and 53 places in the top 100. Chicago Booth regained first place from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management (US).

Students rate Booth’s programme the best of the 100 programmes surveyed. They also praise its world-class facilities and faculty, which includes several Nobel laureates. Job opportunities are among the best, thanks to a highly rated careers service and an alumni network of 52,500 people, one of the largest in the world. Employment outcomes are outstanding: 97% of students find a job within three months of graduation. Graduates pocket an average salary of USD 129,400, a 67% rise on their pre-MBA pay. The relationship with alumni lasts beyond graduation. The school runs refresher courses for former students on subjects such as entrepreneurship.

All this comes at a price. Fees at prestigious American schools in the top 20 now average USD 123,000, and have risen quickly in recent years. By contrast, gaining an MBA in European schools is cheaper because courses are generally shorter, so the return on investment is quicker. At IESE (Spain), which has the top-ranked programme outside America, students pay USD 96,000 for its 19-month course. The Spanish school has moved up 11 places to sixth, mainly because of a big boost in the average salary for its graduates to USD 123,000 and a job-placement rate of 99%. IESE, at sixth place, was the only non-US school to find its way into the top 10 this year. The top 20 contains only four non-US schools – IESE, HEC School of Management (France) at 13th place, Warwick Business School (UK) at 18th place, and INSEAD (France) at 19th place. At 23rd place, Melbourne Business School (Australia) was the highest ranked school in Asia and Australasia. Last year, the top-ranked institution from the region was The University of Queensland Business School (Australia) at 16th place.

Learn more about MBA programmes at INSEAD by taking a look at this handy school profile.

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Here are the top five universities by region. The place in the general ranking is indicated in brackets (#) before the name of the university.


Top 5 MBA programmes in North America

1. (#1) University of Chicago – Booth School of Business (US)

2. (#2) Kellogg School of Management (US)

3. (#3) Harvard Business School (US)

4. (#4) Wharton School (US)

5. (#5) Stanford University – Graduate School of Business (US)


Top 5 MBA programmes in Europe

1. (#16) IESE Business School (Spain)

2. (#13) HEC School of Management (France)

3. (#18) University of Warwick – Warwick Business School (UK)

4. (#19) INSEAD (France)

5. (#24) SDA Bocconi – School of Management (Italy)


Top 5 MBA programmes in Asia and Australasia

1. (#23) Melbourne Business School (Australia)

2. (#38) University of Queensland Business School (Australia)

3. (#39) University of Hong Kong – Faculty of Business and Economics (Hong Kong)

4. (#68) Nanyang Business School (Singapore)

5. (#69) Sun Yat-sen Business School (China)

Source: The Economist