2017 Financial Times EMBA ranking

October 16, 2017

Asia again in the lead

In 2017, business schools from Asia again impressively dominate the Financial Times (FT) Executive MBA (EMBA) ranking, which is the most important MBA ranking of the year: 6 of the top 10 programs are offered or co-offered by Asian business schools. What is more, in recent years MBA alumni in Asia have seen far bigger increases in their earnings than their counterparts elsewhere. The ranking's strong focus on compensation and the relatively low salary levels in Europe and the CEE region make it more and more difficult for business schools from this part of the world to compete successfully with their Asian rivals for top positions.


Coming 58th among the world's top 100 programs, the WU Executive Academy's Global Executive MBA has, for the 10th year running, achieved a respectable result.

Besides the three most important accreditations, AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS, the prestigious FT EMBA ranking is one of the key factors influencing prospective students in their MBA choices. Qualifying for the ranking is a success in itself for many business schools, given that only an infinitesimal percentage of all the MBA programs around the world meet the FT's strict criteria for participation.

In 2017, Kellogg/Hong Kong UST Business School from China has once again come 1st, ahead of an EMBA newcomer, EMBA-Global Asia, which is offered by Columbia/HKU and LBS. The dual-degree EMBA program of Tsinghua University/Insead ranks 3rd, down one place on last year.

Prof. Barbara Stöttinger

  • Dean of the WU Executive Academy

This year's FT EMBA ranking highlights the fact that Asia is a dominant force. A trend that has crystalized over the past three years is that MBA graduates in Asia see their earnings increase much more rapidly than their counterparts elsewhere. This is somewhat unpleasant for us, given that in 2017 our alumni reported average earnings of USD 171,000, which is significantly more than in previous years.  Hence, you may initially think that coming 58th is not great. However, it is important to keep a sense of proportion. Being among the world's top 60 MBA programs is no mean achievement.

Particular challenge for business schools from Europe and the CEE region

The FT ranking is the result of a complex evaluation method based on some 20 criteria that are weighted differently. It is this approach that makes it increasingly difficult for business schools from Europe and the CEE region to keep up with their Asian rivals: The categories “Annual Salary Today” and “Salary Increase 3 Years After Graduation” together account for 40% of a program's overall position in the ranking.

“It makes good sense to put such great emphasis on these two categories. But when you take a closer look, you will realize that this puts business schools from countries where salary levels are significantly lower than in Asia, for example, at a considerable disadvantage that they can hardly overcome, even if they achieve excellent results in the other categories. Therefore, potential MBA students get a somewhat distorted picture insofar as a program's position in the ranking does not necessarily reflect its quality,” continues Prof. Stöttinger.

Outstanding results in important categories nonetheless

Apart from the fact that its alumni have reported their highest annual earnings in 2017, the Global Executive MBA has achieved great results in several categories of the ranking that are of particular relevance to students. It is the world's number 11 in terms of “Average Work Experience” (#3 in the EU, #1 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and ranks 17th for "International Course Experience", outdoing absolute top performers, such as the University of Oxford: Saïd, MIT Sloan and the University of Chicago: Booth. Three ten-day residencies to Latin America, Asia (India and China) and the USA, respectively, form the backbone of the program's exceptional international orientation.

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