The Financial Times Releases 2018 Executive MBA Ranking

This is the 18th edition of the global executive MBA ranking of the best 100 programmes worldwide.

The Financial Times Releases 2018 Executive MBA Ranking

The Financial Times has published its 2018 executive MBA ranking of the best 100 programmes worldwide, providing a useful benchmark of the performance of business schools for the 18th year in a row. The ranking is based on data collected from business schools and their alumni who graduated in 2015.

Average salary reaches USD 220,000

One of the more interesting findings is that Executive MBA graduates are much more likely to work in industry and manufacturing than MBAs or Masters in Management programme graduates. At the same time, EMBA graduates are less likely to be employed in finance or consulting. According to FT data, 17% of graduates of EMBAs are employed in industry or manufacturing, almost three times as many as their MBA peers. Only 10% of EMBA alumni work in consulting, less than half the proportion of their more junior counterparts from Master in International Management (MiM) pre-experience degrees.

Looking at the financial side of things, FT discovered that the gap in average salaries between EMBA and MBA alumni (USD 220,000 vs USD 146,000) is similar to that between MBA and MiM graduates (USD 146,000 vs USD 67,000), three years after graduation. However MBA alumni enjoy a 107% salary boost compared with their pre-MBA earnings. The salary boost for EMBA graduates is estimated at 59% for EMBA.

Corporate Social Responsibility

For the first time the ranking takes into account corporate social responsibility (CSR), replacing the number of PhD graduates per school.. IESE Business School (Spain) came in first in the new category, which is based on the proportion of core courses dedicated to CSR, ethics, social, and environmental issues. The IESE EMBA includes more than 150 case studies, which are discussed and debated and whose solutions must include CSR principles. Julia Prats, associate dean for MBA programmes at IESE, told FT that: “Participants understand that every business decision must include a consideration about what impact it will make on people, the environment and society.

Joint EMBA programmes top the list

Of the top 30 programmes, nine are joint courses offered by at least two business schools. The top five programme includes three joint programmes. 

The joint programme delivered by Kellogg School of Management (US) and HKUST Business School (Hong Kong) topped the ranking for the third straight year and a record ninth time overall. On the three occasions it did not secure the top spot, it came second. More than half of the business professionals graduating from the programme occupy leadership positions three years after graduation and earn a whopping USD 507,000 on average.

Kellogg/HKUST’s joint programme is built around the quality of the faculty, its participants and the alumni network. “I learnt a lot from classrooms, interactions with classmates and networking with alumni,” said one unnamed graduate cited by the Financial Times.  This is one of five joint programmes delivered by Kellogg, which offer good networking opportunities, according to graduates. “The different cohorts at different campuses connected with professionals from around the world,” noted one.

New entrants and returning schools

The ranking features four new or returning schools, with HEC Paris (France) being this year’s highest “new” entrant, in sixth place. The French school already featured in the ranking as part of Trium, a joint degree with London School of Economics (UK) and NYU Stern (US), but this year also takes part with its own programme. Its alumni have an average salary of USD 322,000, a 68% increase on the pre-EMBA salary. The EMBA also has a strong global element, with its modules available in 14 different locations helping it to reach 10th place for international experience.


Participation in the ranking is voluntary and at the business schools’ request. EMBA programmes must meet certain criteria to be eligible. First the school must be accredited by either the US’s Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the European EQUIS. The EMBA must be cohort-based, with students enrolling and graduating together, with at least 30 graduates each year.

A record 139 programmes took part in the 2018 ranking process, including 16 joint programmes delivered by more than one school. Nine schools took part for the first time. Data for the ranking are collected using two online surveys, the first completed by participating schools and the second by alumni who graduated from programmes in 2015.

The FT requires a response rate of 20% (or 20 fully completed responses, whichever is the greater) from the alumni survey for a school to be considered for the final ranking. A total of 4,680 alumni completed the survey — an overall response rate of 46%. The detailed methodology can be found here.