FT Ranks HBS #1

In its seventh annual ranking of global MBA programs, the Financial Times recently ranked HBS #1 in a tie with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Columbia Business School, Standford University GSB, and the London Business School rounded out the top five, respectively.

The FT rankings were based on 20 criteria, with particular weight on graduates’ salaries three years after completing an MBA program. As such, this year’s rating was based on the average salaries (adjusted for variations in industry sectors) of the Class of 2001. On average, HBS alumni earned an average salary of $155,107 per year-a 140 percent increase from their salaries upon entering HBS. Rankings within each of the 20 criteria can be found at //news.ft.com/businesslife/mba.
The FT relies on information provided by business schools as well as responses from alumni to compile the data used in the rankings, which were then assessed by an independent research firm. Since 2003, HBS has not facilitated access to their existing students or alumni for MBA rankings, and has rejected the idea of a number one business school. Rather, HBS believes that different programs suit different people, and a ranking can not determine this fit.

In an article recently published in The Harvard Crimson, Executive Director of HBS Marketing and Communications David Lampe downplayed the importance of the Times’ assessments of MBA programs. “These rankings are not really meaningful measures of the differences between the schools,” he said. “It’s inevitable that sometimes Harvard will be ranked as number one, two, three, or whatever else.” Lampe also noted that the Times’ rankings do not account for some of HBS’s strongest assets.

Whether meaningful or not, the FT rankings do provide one clear benefit. The UK Treasury recently implemented a special program to encourage recent MBA graduates to work in the UK. Graduates of the top 50 global MBA programs, based in a large part on the data collected by the FT, are eligible to work in the UK for up to 12 months after graduation, by-passing the usual visa requirements. Further details and a list of the 50 eligible schools can be found on the Treasury’s website at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.