The Financial Times has released its FT Global MBA ranking 2020, revealing a business education landscape where top schools are able to lean on their brand value as a source of stability.

This year’s ranking offered no major changes but rather a rearrangement of the best known schools in their respective markets.  

 Browse top schools to find the best for you.

HEC Paris leaps ahead

There were some notable shifts though. HEC Paris (France) jumped to ninth place, up from 19th a year ago. Also, the ranking has a new number one: Harvard Business School (US), which unseated Stanford Graduate School of Business (US). University of Pennsylvania: Wharton (US) rose to second place from fourth in 2019. The top five also features INSEAD (France) at fourth place, making it the highest ranked European school, and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) fifth.    

Read: The FT 2019 Global MBA Ranking Reveals a Changing Landscape

The key phrase of the FT Global MBA ranking is brand value. The Financial Times stressed that it proved a pillar of support for top schools in a difficult MBA market, especially in the US. “The strength of the brand is obvious in the top 10 institutions on this year’s list. All but one are the same as in the 2019 ranking. However, this does not mean that success is a matter of simply repeating the same formula,” the newspaper noted.

Of the 100 business schools included in the ranking, 51 are from the United States. China and the UK are tied for second with nine representatives each. France and India each have four representatives, while Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore and Spain have three each.

How is the ranking created?

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.

Alumni opinion plays a major role across all Financial Times rankings. The newspaper surveys alumni three years after completing their MBA. Their 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 an in-depth understanding of the methodology behind each ranking before deciding whether its parameters should actually sway their MBA selection and in what way.

Ranking highlights

Top school: Harvard Business School (US)

HBS returned to the top of the ranking after four years, thanks in part to an increase in average weighted salary to USD 210,110 (from USD 205,486). Speaking of brands, the Financial Times notes that HBS is arguably the best-known name when people mention MBA.

Highest salary: Stanford Graduate School of Business (US)

Despite its drop to the third place in the ranking after two consecutive pole positions, Stanford remains the highest ranked by weighted salary, at USD 222,625. The school is also top for career progress. The average GMAT score for the MBA class of 2021 is 734.

Top for international mobility: IMD Business School (Switzerland)

International mobility covers 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 school is also number one for international faculty, at 98% of the total.

Top for salary increase: Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (China)

Students at Asian schools typically earn lower salaries before their MBA. Alumni of the Chinese university reported their average salaries skyrocketed 216% in the three years after graduation. The weighted average salary is USD 119,531.

Highest riser: George Washington University (US)

The US university’s business school is the biggest gainer this year, climbing 20 places to 70th. Alumni reported salaries three years after the MBA on average 115% higher than pre-MBA. Foreign students appreciate its attractive location for business.

Read: Essential MBA Rankings You Should Keep in Mind