FT Executive MBA Ranking 2021: Resilience and Flexibility

HEC Paris’ International EMBA regains top position.

FT Executive MBA Ranking 2021: Resilience and Flexibility

The Financial Times has published its Executive MBA Ranking 2021, noting that programmes showed a great deal of resilience in a year characterised by continued disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2021 top 100 ranking is based on measures such as alumni salaries, the extent to which a programme has helped them achieve their goals three years after completion, as well as the diversity of students and faculty members.

HEC Paris reclaims top spot

HEC Paris’ International EMBA regained its top position in the ranking, boosted by the 95% increase in alumni salary three years after completion compared with the period before the EMBA. The joint EMBA offered by Kellogg School of Management (USA) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), which topped the 2020 ranking, took second place this time together with the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).

In terms of remuneration, alumni had reason to be satisfied. “EMBA alumni overall continued to command high pay at a time of business uncertainty, with adjusted average salaries among those who graduated from schools ranked by the Financial Times in both 2020 and 2021 up from USD 276,655 to USD 281,089,” the business daily said.

Joint programmes thrive in pandemic

Many of the top-ranked programmes are held at multiple campuses. This feature has long been cherished by business professionals who want to take advantage of the expertise of multiple schools at once and witness how business is done in different parts of the world. But during the pandemic, schools that have more than one campus discovered yet another advantage – flexibility during restrictions on movement.  

The top three ranked programmes take place at multiple campuses. HEC Paris has sites in France and Qatar while CEIBS operates in China, Ghana and Switzerland. Kellogg/HKUST’s EMBA is based in Hong Kong but students can spend time at other campuses worldwide for part of the programme. Eight of the 12 highest-ranked programmes have sites in multiple countries.

Together with North America and Europe, China is among the most popular locations for executive business education. The ranking also incudes programmes offered in Singapore, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, the Gulf states, North Africa and Iran.

One of the most prominent trends nowadays is a growing interest among applicants in learning digital skills and technology, the Financial Times reported. In addition, alumni increasingly prefer programmes that are taught partly online so that they can balance study, work and travel. “The words for the past year were resilience and agility. We required it of our teachers, students and staff,” said Elizabeth O’Neill, executive director of Trium, the joint EMBA offered by New York University Stern School of Business (US), London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), and HEC Paris School of Management (France).

Diversity and inclusion  

Business school rankings are increasingly paying attention to diversity which helps prospective applicants group schools across different subcategories that they consider important. In terms of geographical diversity of students, HEC Lausanne (Switzerland) ranked first with 85% of international students. Neoma Business School (France) came in second with 24% of international students, followed by University of Pittsburgh: Katz (USA) with 20%.

In terms of student gender diversity, BI Norwegian Business School/Fudan University School of Management ranked first with 64% female students, followed by HEC Lausanne (56%) and University of Maryland: Smith (55%)

How was the ranking compiled?

A total of 136 programmes were considered for the 2021 ranking, including 14 joint programmes delivered by more than one school. There are two new schools in the list — Moscow School of Management Skolkovo (Russia) and Zhejiang University School of Management (China).

To be included in the ranking EMBA programmes must fulfil certain criteria. The school must be accredited by either AACSB or EQUIS. In addition, the EMBA must be cohort-based, with students enrolling and graduating together, and with at least 30 graduates each year.

The Financial Times has collected data by using two online surveys, one completed by participating schools and the second by alumni who graduated in 2018. Alumni responses account for 55% of the ranking’s weight and cover five ranking criteria: salary today, salary increase, career progress, work experience and aims achieved. Information provided by the business schools covers 10 criteria that account for 35% of the final ranking.

When selecting the right business school, applicants need to consider different factors. Executive MBA rankings are a valuable resource for initial orientation, but should not be relied upon as the sole basis for choosing a programme.

Meet EMBA alumni and top ranked business schools at Premier Executive MBA Online Events


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