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MBA Olympics: The World’s Best B-Schools For Salary Increase, GMAT Score, Diversity & More

As events unfold in Rio, we've pitted MBA programs from around the world against each other

Tue Aug 9 2016

China and the US dominate, small countries surprise, and Russians are noticeable by their absence. Sound familiar?

As events unfold in Rio, we’ve come up with our very own MBA Olympics 2016. Based on statistics from the Financial Times and Economist rankings, we’ve compared MBA programs, pitting them against each other to rank the world’s best business schools for MBA salary increase, graduate employment, GMAT score, entrepreneurship, class diversity and more.

We have a surprise winner. While US schools dominate the MBA rankings, it’s the Chinese schools - with a medal haul of four golds, two silvers and three bronze - who’ve secured first place in our MBA Olympics. 

China’s success indicates the upward trajectory of business education in the world’s leading emerging economy. Renmin University of China School of Business - located in 2008 Olympic host city Beijing - is our most successful school, winning golds for graduate employment and the percentage of women in its MBA class. 

The US places second overall. Stanford is our best-performing US school, winning gold in average graduate salary and silver in GMAT score. This is fitting, given that 30 Stanford alumni are in Rio on the US Olympic team. 

The UK places third - led by Leeds University Business School - followed by France, India, Switzerland, Mexico, Spain and the Netherlands.

Our overall rankings are based on points scored. We've awarded three points for a gold medal, two points for a silver and one for a bronze. Here’s all the medal winners:

Average graduate salary

Gold: Stanford, USA, $186,000

Silver: Wharton, USA, $178,000

Bronze: Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India, $174,000

US schools tend to offer the highest graduate salaries according to the Financial Times, with Stanford students set to enjoy mega paycheques only three years after graduation. Just missing out on the medals is Spain’s IE Business School, with a $159,000 average graduate salary, and the USA’s Chicago Booth with $158,000.

Salary increase

Gold: Ipade Business School, Mexico, 190%

Silver: Fudan University School of Management, China, 170%

Bronze: Shanghai Jiao Tong University: Antai, China, 168%

With lower pre-MBA salaries, students at b-schools in developing markets tend to come out on top in terms of post-MBA salary increase; a massive 190% at Mexico’s Ipade Business School. Just outside the medals, students at CEIBS in China and CUHK in Hong Kong (pictured below) can also expect decent returns, with average graduate salary uplifts of 157% and 121% respectively.

cuhk classsss

Graduate employment

Gold: Joint winners with 100% of students employed less than three months after graduation include India’s Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, the UK’s Leeds University Business School, China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University: Antai and Renmin University of China School of Business.

Silver: Joint runners-up with 98% graduate employment are the UK’s University of Bath School of Management and the University of Iowa: Tippie in the US.

Bronze: Joint third with 97% are Washington University: Olin in the US, University of Strathclyde Business School and Warwick Business School in the UK, and China’s Fudan University School of Management.


Gold: Babson College: Olin, USA, 46% of 2012 MBA grads have since started their own business

Silver: Ipade Business School, Mexico, 41%

Bronze: UK school, 36%

While school support in terms of funding, startup incubators and mentorship is important, we’ve given medals to the schools who produce the highest proportion of entrepreneurs. Spain's IESE Business School (pictured below) is also worth a mention for its strong focus on entrepreneurship and dedicated center, Finaves.


International diversity

Gold: Joint winners with 100% international students are Swtizerland’s IMD, Grenoble École de Management in France and a UK school.

Silver: Joint runners-up with 98% are Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands and Lancaster University Management School in the UK.

Bronze: Joint third with 96% are EDHEC Business School in France and the UK’s University of Oxford: Saïd.

Our gold medallists have an international student make-up of 100%, meaning there are no domestic students on their MBA programs. Just missing out on a medal are ESADE Business School with 95% and the Australian Graduate School of Management with 94%.

% Women

Gold: Renmin University of China School of Business, China, 59% women

Silver: Leeds University Business School, UK, 57% women

Bronze: Fudan University School of Management, China, 51% women

More women are looking to do MBAs than ever before. Yet still women are still disproportionately represented in the c-suite. Our medallists are doing their best to help women break the career glass ceiling. Just outside the medals with 49% are the UK’s Durham University Business School and Hong Kong’s CUHK.

india schools

GMAT Score

Gold: Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India, 763

Silver: Stanford, US, 732

Bronze: Wharton, US, 730

Based on the Economist’s 2015 ranking, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (pictured above) is head and shoulders above its competition with a massive 763 class average GMAT score, out of a possible 800. Chicago Booth in the US narrowly misses out on a medal with an average GMAT of 726.

Online MBAs

Gold: IE Business School, Spain

Silver: Warwick Business School, UK

Bronze: University of Florida: Hough, US

Based on the Financial Times’ Online MBA Ranking 2016, IE Business School comes out on top. Online programs are gaining credibility. Earlier this year, Birmingham Business School’s distance-learning MBA became the world’s first fully-online MBA to receive AMBA accreditation (school pictured below).


Executive MBAs

Gold: Tsinghua University-INSEAD EMBA, China & France

Silver: Kellogg-HKUST EMBA, US & China

Bronze: Trium Global EMBA, HEC Paris (France), LSE (UK), NYU: Stern (US)

Based on the Financial Times’ 2015 EMBA ranking, the best executive MBA programs are combined efforts from the world’s leading schools. Schools who go it alone include France’s SKEMA, with a project-management focused program, and Italy’s MIP Politecnico di Milano whose International Flex EMBA is embracing technological change.

Master in Management

Gold: University of St Gallen, Switzerland

Silver: HEC Paris, France

Bronze: ESSEC Business School, France

A Master in Management is a pre-experience business degree for those not yet qualified to pursue an MBA. Based on the Financial Times’ 2015 Master in Management ranking, European countries take home the medals. In the Netherlands, Maastricht School of Management’s new Master in Management program is attracting international attention.


Unless stated otherwise, all figures are based on the Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking 2016.