What the Financial Times’ 2015 ranking tells us

The FT rankings are out and MBA students worldwide look at how their preferred business schools place or even use the ranking to make a decision where to apply. But while looking at rankings like the ones from the Financial Times, the Economist or BusinessWeek could theoretically make your decision easy, you should look further than just the numbers. But let’s look at the current FT results before we dive deeper into other criteria.

Bildnachweis: Andrey Burmakin / fotolia

The winners this year are Harvard Business School, London Business School, Wharton, Stanford and Insead (see link and further rankings below). These schools were selected as the top 5 after comparing the MBA salaries three years after graduation (this is the major factor that accounts for 40 per cent of the score).  BusinessWeek for example rather looks at the satisfaction levels of students, though, and recruiters whilst the Economist weighs the international make-up of the school and post-MBA career opportunities into the ranking.
Despite the rankings not telling everything about a school, students have been influenced greatly by their results in the past years. The top 20 schools have benefited by not having had to worry about enrolments and applications while many second-tier schools have been forced to close their full-time MBA programmes as they didn’t prove profitable enough anymore. Thunderbird School of Global Management, Wake Forest University and Virginia Tech’s Pamplin School of Business are three examples in the US. They are now heavily investing in part-time programmes and Masters in Management programmes. 

But whilst rankings surely give a picture of a school’s success, there are also other factors that applicants should take into consideration before choosing a school: 

One is surely the school’s location and therefore proximity to industry. Chicago Booth, Columbia, NYU-Stern, and the London Business School are all close to financial institutions whereas schools in California benefit from relations to the Silicon Valley. France can open doors to aerospace and luxury brand management, whilst Germany is the hub for car manufacturers.

Another topic to factor in is the specialisation that a school offers. Apart from the traditional MBA qualification, schools offer subjects like entrepreneurship, marketing, non-profit, finance, IT management, real estate or healthcare and often have spun close relationships with these industries that can help open doors after a degree. Therefore choosing a business school that has a known relationship or proximity to a company and/or industry can help students who know already where they wish to go to after their degree.

Financial Times Ranking 2015

1 Harvard Business School, US
2 London Business School, UK
3 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton, US
4 Stanford Graduate School of Business, US
4 Insead, France / Singapore
6 Columbia Business School, US
7 Iese Business School, Spain
8 MIT: Sloan, US
9 University of Chicago: Booth, US
10 University of California at Berkeley: Haas, US
11 Ceibs, China
12 IE Business School, Spain 


Barbara Barkhausen