The Financial Times has released its 2019 Global MBA Ranking, with changes to this year’s ranking pointing to a global business education market in transition.       

Although the top 10 list is relatively unchanged, the Global MBA Ranking offers a glimpse of some of the key changes in business education occurring worldwide.


The Financial Times Global MBA Ranking is published at the end of January every year and features the world’s best 100 full-time MBA programmes. To be eligible for inclusion in the ranking, schools must be accredited by EQUIS or the AACSB.

As with the rest of the Financial Times’ rankings, alumni opinion plays a major role here. The newspaper surveys alumni three years after completing their MBA. Alumni responses are tied to eight criteria (average income three years after graduation, salary increase compared with pre-MBA salary, etc.) that together contribute 59% of the ranking’s weight. The ranking also calculates “value for money” for each school by dividing average alumni salary three years after graduation by the MBA’s total cost, including tuition, opportunity cost, and other expenses.

Information from schools is also collected. School criteria include the diversity of the staff, board members, and students by gender and nationality, and the extent to which the MBA succeeds in attracting an international cohort. For gender criteria, schools with a 50/50 composition score highest.

Access MBA advises business school aspirants to gain in-depth understanding of the methodology behind each ranking before deciding whether its parameters actually sway their MBA selection and in what way.

Read: Essential MBA Rankings You Should Keep in Mind

A business education market in a state of flux

The names in the top 10 of the 2019 Global MBA ranking are the same as last year, but there are interesting position changes. CEIBS (China Europe International Business School) rose to fifth place this year, up from eighth in 2018, while Harvard Business School (US) climbed to second place after dropping to fifth last year. Stanford Graduate School of Business (US) claimed the top spot for the second year in a row.

More significant changes, however, occur further down the ranking. Despite the uncertainty generated by the 2016 Brexit referendum vote, it has been a good year for UK schools. For example, the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School reached 13th place in this year’s ranking, jumping 14 positions. The Financial Times points out that many of the greatest fears associated with Brexit, such as a drop in demand from overseas candidates, have not materialised. In fact, the drop in the value of sterling made British MBAs more affordable and the robust UK job market has helped graduates of the country’s institutions find better employment opportunities.

Another notable development in business education is the growing strength of top MBA providers in the Asia-Pacific region as exemplified by CEIBS’ impressive performance in this year’s ranking. The Asia-Pacific region has been driving the global growth in business education for several years now. Applications to schools in the Asia-Pacific region rose nearly 9% last year, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC).

Very few new schools made it on to this year’s ranking, which the Financial Times interpreted as a sign that the market for campus MBAs is reaching a point of maturity, whereby the gap between the top schools and the rest mean that the barriers to entry have become too high for others to gain a foothold.

The US is represented by 51 schools in the ranking, followed by the UK with 11, China with six, France with five, and India with four.

Ranking highlights

Top school: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford tops the ranking for the second year in a row. Its alumni have the highest weighted average salary of USD 228,074. Stanford also ranked top for career progress. In addition, the school’s network is being highly rated by alumni. The average GMAT score for the MBA Class of 2020 is 732.

Top European school: INSEAD (France)

INSEAD, ranked third, is Europe’s highest-ranked MBA provider. The school, which topped the FT Global MBA Ranking in 2016 and 2017, boasts a diverse alumni network of over 50,000 members worldwide, around 24,000 of whom are MBA alumni. The average weighted salary of its graduates is USD 179,661. About half of its alumni surveyed for this ranking work in lucrative sectors, whether consultancy, finance/banking or IT/telecoms.

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

Top for international mobility: IMD (Switzerland)

The criterion for international mobility is based on alumni citizenship and the countries they worked in before their MBA, on completing it, and three years later. The Swiss school has topped  this category since 2006. The high degree of internationalisation naturally creates a diverse alumni network. IMD is second in the international students’ category, with 99% of the recent class coming from abroad.

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

Highest salary increase: Fudan University School of Management (China)

The Shanghai-based business school tops this category thanks to a 195% increase on pre-MBA salaries three years after graduation. Its alumni earned an average salary of USD 110,062. They ranked third in terms of career progress and were the sixth most likely to be employed three months after graduation (97%).

Biggest Riser: Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

IIM Calcutta jumped a whopping 29 places to 49th, becoming the biggest riser in 2019. One reason for the big leap is that its alumni enjoyed a 139% increase on pre-MBA salaries to USD 158,138. In addition, they are seventh for career progress.

Meet leading business schools in person at an Access MBA One-to-One event in your region.