Scott Edinburgh
February 16, 2024

Personal MBA Coach’s Take on the 2024 Financial Times MBA Rankings

The Financial Times released its 2024 MBA Rankings this week. For the second year in a row, U.S. schools dominate the top of the list. However, three international MBA programs cracked the top 10 this year, after the Financial Times 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, Wharton took the top position, followed by INSEAD, which remained in second place. Columbia Business School and SDA Bocconi School of Management tied for #3, followed by IESE, which dropped two positions from last year to #5. MIT Sloan jumped 5 positions, tying with Kellogg for #6. London Business School ranked much higher this year as well, making it to top ten at #8 (up from #16 last year). Cornell Johnson moved down from #8 to #9 this year, while Chicago Booth jumped up one place to #10.

Looking a bit farther down the Financial Times list of top MBA programs, Harvard Business School ranked #11. HEC Paris and Dartmouth Tuck tied for #12. Duke Fuqua moved down two positions to #14, followed by Yale SOM, which was ranked #15. UVA Darden moved up slightly from #17 in 2023 to #16 this year, followed by Esade Business School. UCLA Anderson, Berkeley Haas and IE Business School rounded out the top 20.

What drove the change in MBA rankings this year?

It is important to note that the Financial Times updated its ranking methodology this year. These rankings now include alumni evaluation of their school’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) teaching to the ESG rank. The school’s carbon footprint is also taken into account this year. Find out more about the Financial Times criteria here.

While these rankings provide beneficicial information to MBA hopefuls, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Havard Business School’s drop to #11, for example, is not likely to change HBS’s desirability. However, seeing a broader list of schools move in and out of the top 20, reconfirms that many MBA candidates can be served by looking outside of the traditional M7 as they develop their school lists.

See below for more tips from Personal MBA Coach on how to use 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.

School selection is part of our Comprehensive Packages. For those planning to apply to business school in September 2024, it is not too early to get started! Personal MBA Coach is already beginning to work with clients on round 1 MBA applications. Reach out today to find out how we can help with our Comprehensive Packages!