Scott Edinburgh
February 17, 2023

Personal MBA Coach’s Take on the 2023 Financial Times MBA Rankings

The Financial Times recently released its 2023 MBA Rankings.

For the second year in a row, U.S. schools dominate the top of the list. However, this year, three international MBA programs are in the top 10, as the Financial Times has added SDA Bocconi School of Management to its MBA Rankings list. While the Financial Times more frequently recognizes international MBA programs than competitors such as US News & World Report, this change confirms the increased demand for often lower cost and shorter international programs.

This year, Columbia Business School took the top position, followed by INSEAD and IESE.  This year, Harvard dropped from #3 to share the fourth spot with Stanford. SDA Bocconi School of Management took #6, which is a jump from #13 last year. It is followed by Berkeley Haas at #7, compared to last year’s #14, and then Cornell Johnson at #8, which is a significant increase from #17 last year. Kellogg moved down from #5 to #9. Similar to last year, Yale SOM closed out the top 10 in the Financial Times MBA rankings.

Looking a bit farther down the Financial Times list of top MBA programs, MIT Sloan remained at #11, joined by Duke Fuqua and Chicago Booth. While this ranking is a huge jump for Duke Fuqua (up from #17 last year), Chicago Booth moved down from #7 in the 2022 ranking. UCLA Anderson joins the top 20 this year at #14, after being ranked #26 in 2022.

Dartmouth Tuck improved to #15 (up from #18 last year). HEC Paris moved down from sharing #11 with MIT Sloan last year to tying for #17 with London Business School. Finally, NYU Stern ranked #19, compared to tying for #14 with Berkeley Haas last year. CEIBS closed off the top 20, dropping from its previous #16 rank.

It is worth noting that Wharton is not included in this year’s rankings due to insufficient alumni responses.

What drove the change in MBA rankings this year?

It is important to note that the Financial Times updated its ranking methodology this year, placing greater emphasis on diversity and sustainability which, as Personal MBA Coach shared last spring are becoming increasingly important to admissions directors. Value for money was also weighted more heavily this year. Conversely, salary data accounted for only 32% of the rankings, down from 40% during the prior year. Find out more about the Financial Times criteria here.

While these rankings can help MBA hopefuls build their target school lists, Personal MBA Coach likes to remind candidates that rankings are not the be-all and end-all. Below, we have shared our top tips to keep in mind as you review MBA rankings.

Need help determining which programs are right for you? Program selection is included in our Comprehensive Packages!

1) Look at MBA rankings to get an overview of the business school landscape.

If you are in the early stages of your MBA application journey, rankings can be useful to get a general lay of the land. Use these rankings to see what schools are out there, where they are located, and how they compare to one another.

2) Review statistics as an initial guide.

Statistics including acceptance rate, average undergraduate GPA, and average test scores of enrolled students will give you some strong benchmarking information. That said, these numbers should be used as only an initial guide since the whole applicant package is far more important.

Plenty of applicants with GPAs or GMAT/GRE/EA scores below average are accepted every year while others with higher statistics are not. This disparity is why we encourage candidates to apply to a range of programs (ideally 5 to 8 schools).

3) Consider average ranking over the years.

A school’s average ranking over time is important to consider when looking at MBA rankings. When you are applying to jobs down the road, recruiters likely will not know your school’s ranking when you applied, but they may look at its current standing.

Therefore, it is worth evaluating how the schools you are interested in have placed over time. Have they consistently stayed in the top tiers, or has their placement fluctuated greatly?

4) Analyze general trends.

While the latest Financial Times MBA rankings show Columbia in the top spot this year, other rankings scales are likely to show different results (see the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings and Bloomberg Businessweek rankings for reference).

Of course, certain schools will consistently place in the top ten, but the general list will vary from source to source. As mentioned with ranking over time, the general trend across different ranking sources is the most significant.

5) Notice how rankings vary from one industry to the next.

While all MBA programs highlight strong general management education, each school has different areas of expertise. Thus it will be helpful to consider how schools perform in industry-specific rankings as well.​ Think about your MBA goals and check out rankings that pertain to these goals.

Are you looking for help with school selection? Along with MBA rankings, there are many factors to consider when building your target school list. Download Personal MBA Coach’s free Decision-Making Guide to get more tips on business school selection.

School selection is part of our Comprehensive Packages. For those planning to apply to business school in September 2023, it is not too early to get started! Personal MBA Coach is already beginning to work with clients on round 1 MBA applications.

About Personal MBA Coach