Silicon Valley’s Stanford Graduate School of Business is the world’s best business school, according to the prestigious Financial Times’ Global MBA Rankings 2018, which saw two-year MBAs reclaim their dominance and Asian schools shine.
Stanford is back at the top of the table for the first time in six years, edging out INSEAD’s one-year MBA, which was ranked first by the FT for the past two years.
Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania remains third, with London Business School laying claim to the top UK MBA, moving up to fourth place after falling outside the top-five in 2017. Cambridge Judge Business School, also of the UK, fell a hefty eight places to 13th. And Harvard Business School fell to fifth, its poorest performance in the FT ranking since 2008.
Overall, a majority of two-year MBA programs rose or maintained their position (31 up and 21 down) while the majority of their rival one-year courses fell (14 up; 21 down).
The FT ranking comes as two-year MBAs face headwinds, with their higher tuition fees and opportunity cost of not earning a salary contributing to a fall in applications at the majority of schools in the US.
According to the FT, the overall number of students enrolled at its ranked US schools remained stable at about 12,000 in 2017. Slightly more than half of schools enrolled more students last year than in 2016. But the average proportion of international students, who are coveted as their diversity enriches the learning experience, has fallen marginally to about 38%.
For Stanford, its stellar performance in the FT ranking will provide a significant PR boost after the school was caught lying about how it awards scholarships in December last year.
It is the second time Stanford has topped the FT’s ranking after doing so in 2012, when it only held the spot for a year before being displaced by Harvard. INSEAD has dominated the FT’s table in recent years, capitalizing on its shorter 12-month course.
Stanford has come up trumps because of a significant alumni salary boost, up nearly $20,000 to $214,000 — the highest average salary since the FT’s first ranking in 1999, though this has not been adjusted for inflation.
Despite being in the heart of Silicon Valley, one-third of Stanford’s alumni work in corporate finance, with the typically high salaries in the sector counting in its favour in the FT ranking, which is weighted heavily to salary increase.
Stanford’s most recent MBA cohort set a fresh record for salaries, with a median total pay package of more than $180,000, up slightly on the year before and ahead of its peer schools in the US such as Harvard, whose graduates earned around $175,000 in 2017.
According to FT data, three years after graduating, Stanford MBAs earn $215,000, up 114% on their pre-MBA pay and the highest increase among all the ranked schools.
Stanford MBA graduate Angel Pu, landed a job as vice president at the New York private equity firm Warburg Pincus. “Personally, I think this is one of the most interesting, intellectually challenging and rewarding jobs out there,” she said.
Stanford’s location, so close to the US technology industry and companies such as Apple and Amazon, as well as hedge funds and venture capital firms, is thought to contribute to its graduates’ career success.
According to FT surveys of students, Stanford has also been rated highly for its focus on personal development. For example, more than one-quarter of the school’s latest graduating cohort completed an internship overseas, the highest among US schools.
Meanwhile, a record 15 Asian schools are in the FT ranking, and they performed well. China Europe International Business School, which is one of BusinessBecause’s schools to watch in 2018, is back in the top-10 at eight, up from 11th in 2017. The National University of Singapore Business School rose eight places to 18th, it’s best ever showing. Renmin University of China’s School of Business is ranked 39, up four places from 2015.
And Lee Kong Chian School of Business is the highest new entrant to the FT ranking at 49.
Harvard and LBS alumni have higher average salaries this year, both up by about $14,000 to $192,000 and $168,000 respectively. But their research ranks have fallen (Harvard’s from third to 16th and LBS from 12 to 27th), which contributed to Harvard’s drop in the overall MBA ranking.
The FT attributes some weight in its ranking to the number of articles published by current full-time faculty members in 50 selected academic and practitioner journals between January 2015 and August 2017.
But many Harvard faculty, who have historically performed well, last appeared in these journals in 2014.