☰ Menu eFinancialCareers

U.S. business schools top the rankings, but European programs provide more bang for the buck


The latest MBA rankings are out, and they tell two very different stories. U.S. business schools hold eight of the top 10 spots in The Economist’s 2013 ranking of full-time MBA programs, but European and Asian schools appear to provide a much greater return on the investment.

For the second year in a row, Chicago University’s Booth School of Business took home the top spot, followed by Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, University of California’s Haas School of Business and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Somewhat surprisingly, Harvard slipped to the sixth spot, right behind Spain’s IESE. HEC Paris was the only other non-U.S. institution to crack the top 10. The top ranking U.K. program belongs to London Business School, which finished twelfth.

The methodology behind the study is rather complex, with factors like networking potential, quality of faculty, student diversity and qualitative assessments playing a role. Click here for the full breakdown.

What’s more interesting, frankly, is the raw data provided by the schools. Looking at the top eight U.S. programs, the average salary for new graduates sits at just over $116,000, a 58% increase over students’ pre-MBA salaries. The average tuition for students attending those programs was just north of $112,000.

Compare those numbers to the averages for the top eight ranked European and Asian schools and they don’t look near as impressive. The average starting salary for graduates of those programs, including London Business School, Bath and Hong Kong University, was $120,000, just higher than the average for top U.S. graduates. However, European and Asian business school grads saw, on average, a 103% increase from their pre-MBA salary. What’s more, the mean tuition was just $76,000, roughly $40,000 less than what U.S. students paid. (Researchers converted the salaries to average 2012 exchange rates for the comparisons).

Moreover, non-U.S. students were able to achieve higher starting salaries despite generally poorer board scores. The average GMAT score for students attending one of the top eight European or Asian programs was well below 700. Each U.S. school in the top eight boasted an average GMAT score above 700.

Comments (5)

  1. Which ranking is this? FT? WSJ?

  2. The increase in salary is a fallacy. Most people wish to change industry, otherwise, why bother do an MBA? So, lest’s say you were working in hotel business and then you can make it into finance: your salary will double (at least) simply because you’ve changed industry, not because of the MBA per se. People should keep in mind that this schools are businesses too, and these numbers are used as a marketing tool.

  3. Q: What ranking is this? FT? WSJ?
    A: It clearly states in the article, and on the ranking table itself, that this is the Economists’ rankings. I can tell you are not a candidate for any of the schools listed….

  4. Just FYI, the GMAT scores are naturally lower outside of the US because of the higher proportion of non-native speakers, de facto penalized in the verbal part of the test. Would make more sense to look at quantitative only. Not sure the divide between US and ROW would be that clear. European top MBAs (IESE and LBS) are far, far more international than even the most international US schools.

  5. The Economist’s ranking methodology has been discussed at length before and elsewhere and I am not going to get into that here.

    I’d say in Canada the top 3 MBA programs are widely regarded to be those at the U of Toronto, Western U and Queens U. The one at York U, the only one from Canada to make the Economist’s Top 25, is generally seen as second-tier.

    Likewise, in the US, I’d take Harvard, Wharton or Stanford any day over higher-ranked Dartmouth, Haas or Darden.

    Bay_Street_Guy Reply

The comment is under moderation. It will appear shortly.


Screen Name


Consult our community guidelines here