Which business schools offer the world’s best Executive MBA programs? The top EMBA rankings tables—by the Economist, Financial Times, QS, and US News & World Report—all throw up different results.
The Economist ranks Berkeley Haas’s EMBA program as the best in the world. US News—a US-only ranking—places Chicago Booth’s EMBA program in pole position. HEC Paris tops both the latest Financial Times ranking, and the QS list. They can't all be right, can they?
When it comes to comparing EMBA programs, you need to look further than one ranking alone. The different results stem from the different methodologies behind each ranking. If a school performs consistently well in each ranking, that's a good sign that its EMBA program is among the world's best.
Here, BusinessBecause compares the major EMBA rankings tables to help you identify which ranking best matches your career goals and the best EMBA programs on the market.
Executive MBA Rankings Breakdown
The Economist. For the all-rounder
The Economist ranks programs on two broad measures, equally weighted. Personal development and educational experience—which covers quality of students, faculty and student diversity, and program quality—and career development—which considers career progression post-EMBA, salary increase, and the network reach.
The publication invited all the schools that are included in their annual full-time MBA ranking to take part.
QS. The reputation ranking
QS’s ranking is weighted heavily by how employers see the attractiveness of each program’s graduates (30%), and how academics rank each institution’s research credentials (25%), totalling 55% of the overall ranking.
The rest of the ranking is made up by years of work experience (5%), management experience (5%), C-Suite experience (10%), number of nationalities in the class (5%), female representation (5%), salary increase 12 months after graduation (10%), and whether a candidate was promoted within 12 months of the EMBA (10%).
To be eligible for the QS EMBA ranking, schools must have at least one graduating class, and have accreditation from either the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Association of MBAs (AMBA), The EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), or EPAS.
QS ranks joint EMBA programs separately with the TRIUM EMBA—of London School of Economics (LSE), HEC Paris, and NYU Stern—topping the list.
The Financial Times. The salary ranking
The Financial Times’ methodology heavily weights the impact of the program on alumni salaries. Salary today (20%), salary increase (20%), career progress (5%), work experience (5%), and aims achieved (5%) account for 55% of the ranking. Research quality (10%) also makes up a strong portion.
To participate, schools must have accreditation by either AACSB or EQUIS, and the program must have students enrolling and graduating together (cohort-based), with at least 30 graduates each year.
World's Best Executive MBA Programs
With each ranking throwing up such wildly different results, it's hard to say which schools offer the best EMBAs. Ranking alone is a sure sign of quality. But there are schools which perform well across the EMBA rankings tables.
The University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School sits in fifth place in QS’s Global ranking, and just outside the top 10, in 11th, in The Economist’s 2020 EMBA ranking. It's also 12th in the Financial Times ranking.
IESE Business School boasts a strong performance across the board. The school's EMBA program is ranked seventh in the world by the FT—a jump of one place from last year—seventh by The Economist, and third in QS's Global ranking. The HEC Paris EMBA program is ranked the best in the world by both QS and the Financial Times.
There are also several joint Executive MBA programs that perform strongly in multiple rankings.
The TRIUM EMBA features in fifth place in the FT EMBA ranking and in first place in QS’s Joint ranking. The program therefore performs highly when it comes to post-EMBA salary, the attractiveness of graduates to employers, and as a renowned source of academic research.
Two more joint EMBA programs perform equally well across both the Financial Times and QS rankings. They are the Columbia/LBS program, ranked eighth in the world by the FT and second by QS, and the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA, ranked the joint second-best EMBA program in the world by the FT and third in the world by QS.
Best US Executive MBA Programs
If you are looking solely at the US for your EMBA, then it's worth browsing the Executive MBA ranking by US News & World Report, which only ranks US schools. Chicago Booth tops this ranking, followed by Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, and Michigan Ross.
When looking at the rankings it helps to know what you want from your Executive MBA. If it’s a salary spike, then the more heavily weighted FT ranking might be better guidance. If you’re after a program that is well respected by employers and academics alike, then look to QS.
Elsewhere, if you’re after a well-rounded program, the Economist’s EMBA ranking is a good guide.
Though the methodologies of each Executive MBA ranking make it difficult to speak of any program as the absolute world’s best, there are three schools that rank consistently well across each ranking and are deserving of your attention.
They are the HKUST-Kellogg EMBA, a joint program that has been ranked by the FT as second in the world in two out of the last three years, was top last year, and that also that sits in third in the world according to QS. There's also IESE Business School, with an arguably more impressive, consistent standing across the EMBA rankings. The school's EMBA program is ranked seventh in the world by the FT, seventh by The Economist, and third by QS.
Finally, the Executive MBA at HEC Paris deserves a mention, climbing one place from the previous ranking to hit top spot in QS's Global EMBA ranking, and that this year also claimed the crown as the best EMBA in the world according to the Financial Times.
This article was updated on October 18th 2021 to reflect the latest rankings.