Financial Times EMBA Ranking 2022 – Results and analysis

We spoke to representatives from four leading business schools to hear about the secrets to their success in the latest Financial Times EMBA Ranking 2022.

In short

Financial Times EMBA Ranking 2022

According to the Financial Times, these are the top 10 Executive MBA (EMBA) programs in the world:

  1. Kellogg/HKUST Business School
  2. CEIBS
  3. Tsinghua University/INSEAD
  4. HEC Paris
  5. ESCP Business School
  6. Trium: HEC Paris/LSE/NYU: Stern
  7. MIT: Sloan
  8. University of Chicago: Booth
  9. Washington University: Olin
  10. IESE Business School

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the FT EMBA Ranking 2022 and how it is compiled. If you would prefer to read our analysis of the 2022 list and how to use it to find your ideal EMBA, you’ll find them in the final two sections of the article.

What is the Financial Times EMBA Ranking 2022?

The Financial Times EMBA Ranking is an annual list of the top executive MBA programs in the world. It is one of the most respected and prestigious executive MBA rankings out there.

Business schools must request to join the ranking, and each program must meet the following criteria:

  • Be accredited by either the AACSB or EQUIS.
  • Be cohort-based, which means the students enrolled have to start and finish their studies together.
  • Be at least four years old.
  • Take no longer than three years.
  • Have at least 30 graduates each year.
  • No more than 20% of the cohort can come from the same company.
  • Have at least 20 full-time faculty.

This year, a total of 138 schools were eligible for the list.

How is the ranking compiled?

The Financial Times collects the data used for the ranking through one survey sent to alumni (56% of the ranking), one survey sent to business schools (34%), and an analysis of faculty research (10%), known as the FT research rank.

Alumni survey (56%)

At least 20% of a school’s alumni must respond to the survey in order to be eligible for the FT EMBA ranking. Alumni are asked to provide: 

  • their salary today in US$ (20%),
  • their increase in salary since completing their EMBA (20%),
  • any change in job seniority or the size of their company (6%),
  • the number of years of work experience they had prior to the program (5%), and
  • the extent to which they feel an EMBA helped them to achieve their aims (5%).

Business school survey (34%)

In the survey that’s sent out to business schools, schools are asked to provide details about:

  • the proportion of female faculty (4%),
  • the proportion of female students (4%),
  • the proportion of women on the school’s advisory board (1%),
  • the proportion of faculty whose citizenship differs from the school’s location (5%),
  • the proportion of international students (5%),
  • the proportion of the advisory board whose citizenship differs from the school’s location (5%),
  • the percentage of classroom hours spent in a different location to the school (2%),
  • the proportion of faculty that hold a doctorate (5%), and
  • the proportion of courses dedicated to ethical, social and environmental issues (3%).

FT research rank (10%)

The FT research rank is calculated by looking at the number of research articles published by a school’s faculty in the three-year period preceding the ranking. This is weighted according to the total number of faculty at a school.

Analysis of the Financial Times EMBA Ranking 2022

The #1 Executive MBA program in the world in 2022 is the joint EMBA offered by Kellogg and HKUST Business School. Although the program ranked #1 in the world for the average salary of its alumni, the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA Academic Director Kai-Lung Hui is just as proud of the school’s commitment to an international experience.

“If you look at the FT ranking, some of the important dimensions that they look at include the international course experience, the percentage of international faculty and students, whether we utilize an international board and how many female faculty members we have. I’m very happy that the HKUST program does very well in these international dimensions,” he tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS. (05:48)

One of the biggest risers in the 2022 ranking was Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. They went from #74 in the 2021 list to #36 this year. According to Jaclyn Conner, Associate Dean of Executive MBA programs at Goizueta, their rapid rise comes down to two main factors.

“We definitely benefited from the high student satisfaction as well as [the] increase in salary for this group of students,” she says. “And we plan to continue to see that in future cohorts because our career management center is amazing with all they do with the students.” (01:36)

Another big riser in the ranking was the University of St.Gallen, who saw their EMBA program rise from #47 to #32 in the 2022 list. Karolin Frankenberger, the Academic Director of the University of St.Gallen’s Executive MBA program, says the rise aligned perfectly with the school’s mission and values.

“In our research rank we increased significantly,” she says. The improvement in graduates’ lives can be seen “in career progress where we were globally number one, and aims achieved where we were globally number two. It really resonates very nicely with what we try to achieve as a university: from insight to impact.” (02:29)

In the case of the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), which rose seven places to #57, their success was down to a renewed focus on environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) issues. In the Financial Times ranking, the ESG criteria are calculated according to the proportion of courses offered by a school that is dedicated to ESG issues.

“Sustainability is really integrated within our program,” says Angelika Lindstrand; the Academic Director of the SSE EMBA. “We worked really hard on integrating it into every aspect of the program, so it runs like a red thread throughout the whole of the program.” (03:01)

How to use the FT ranking to find your ideal EMBA

The FT EMBA ranking contains a lot of data, but how can you use it to find your dream program? According to Jaclyn from Goizueta, you should spend more time researching the school itself rather than relying on rankings.

“An EMBA is a huge commitment,” she warns. “You’re now dedicating years of your life [to] this institution – not only while you are in school, but also as a member of their alumni group. So it’s more than just a ranking; it’s really looking at ‘What community do I want to join?’” (12:09)

Geographical factors also play a key role in shaping the ranking. Although much of the ranking is based on salary, average salaries can differ hugely from country to country. It’s something that Angelika says you should also take into account.

“We don’t rank high on salary…and 40% of the ranking is actually based on salary. So you have to be aware of where in the world [the program is located].” (15:09) The program at SSE might be as good as Harvard or Yale. However, because salary levels in Sweden are much lower than in the United States, SSE will rank lower – and the rankings don’t consider other financial factors like the (average of) 30% Swedish employers give to pensions.

Despite the fact that Kellogg-HKUST sits at #1 in the world for average alumni salary, Kai-Lung from HKUST maintains that salary is not the cause of a high ranking for a school. Rather, it is the outcome of a well-rounded and successful program.

“That is the consequence of what the program has been doing to help students move forward,” he says. “The salary is an outcome after the program has provided all those benefits.” (17:49) Among the benefits Kai-Lung cites are the classes, the international exposure, and the close collaboration with Kellogg to draw on the best experience and resources from both schools. These are ultimately the most important factors that drive the school up the ranking. 

There are clearly a lot of factors at play here, all of which can twist and distort the final list. No ranking can ever be definitive, and even the schools maintain that in the end, you shouldn’t place too much importance on rankings.

“We always say that we are ranking-informed but not ranking-led,” says Karolin from St.Gallen. “We wouldn’t design a program so that it performs well in the ranking because our mission is to educate executives in a way that they will be socially responsible leaders. This is not always reflected in the rankings, which is why it’s important not to [overvalue] the whole ranking thing.” (13:37)

Perhaps St.Gallen’s philosophy could also be applied to students searching for an MBA: be rankings-informed, but not rankings-led. Use MBA rankings as a guide to help you narrow down your search, but don’t rely on them too much. The rankings are often the first step in your search for an MBA, but they shouldn’t be your last.

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