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The Best Business Schools For Executive Education, According To The Financial Times

Switzerland's IMD tops the open-enrolment executive education ranking, while Spain's IESE ranks highest for customized executive programs

Wed May 16 2018

The 18th edition of Financial Times' (FT) executive education rankings reveals impressive consistency on the part of the business schools topping the lists.

For the seventh consecutive year, Switzerland's IMD has come first for its open-enrolment executive education while IESE Business School in Spain has topped the customized program ranking for the fourth year in a row.

Open-enrolment programs are available to all senior working managers, and focus on the personal skills development of individual employees. Courses are designed by the school according to what it perceives to be prevailing market needs.

This form of executive education enables managers to interact with peers coming from a diversity of industries, and who possess unique perspectives. Graduates can then take the lessons they have learned to remould strategy and organizational culture within their workplace.

In contrast, a customized program is a bespoke course, created in collaboration with senior managers of a business and tailored to develop skills in line with a specific organization's strategy. Emphasis is on developing the company collectively and strengthening relationships within the organization.

The FT ranks schools according to a set of ten criteria, which include the extent to which expectations from the course are met; the structure and design of the course; the quality of teaching methods; and the level of follow-up provided after participants graduate and return to their workplace.

Open-Enrolment Executive Education

Lausanne-based IMD ranks first in the teaching and aims achieved categories second for faculty, food and accommodation, and comes third for skills developed, course design, facilities, and advanced preparation offered to candidates.

Saïd Business School at Oxford and IESE are placed third and fourth respectively, however, IESE ranks first when it comes to the relevance of skills developed to candidates' workplaces and encouraging new ways of thinking in students. Harvard Business School in fourth place is the only US school to make it in the top five, while INSEAD is ranked fifth.

Stanford Graduate School of Business has made it back into the top ten after five years, notably ranking first for the high standard of participants on the course, the diversity of the cohort and the quality of interaction amongst peers.

University of Chicago Booth School of Business has climbed 11 places since last year to rank eighth on the list, coming first in the preparation of candidates category and second for course design.


Customized Executive Education

IESE not only tops the list in this ranking for the fourth year, but is also in the top three for eight criteria out of the ten upon which the ranking is based. Located in the sun-soaked city of Barcelona, recent clients have included the BMW group, PepsiCo, and Oracle.

With offices in the US, Europe, Africa, and Asia, Duke University's executive programs come second place. IMD is ranked third, yet notably ranks first in over six criteria including program design, aims achieved, and the quality of teaching.

London Business School is placed fourth in the list, ranking in the top five for half the criteria used. HEC Paris has climbed two places since last year, coming fifth place. 

INSEAD has climbed two spots to take sixth place, while SDA Bocconi has dropped three to come seventh. Stanford and Harvard are placed eighth and ninth respectively, however, the former ranks first for its facilities. Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina is tenth place, but clients have ranked the school first for value for money.