Review - 2015 FT Global MBA Ranking Methodology

Review FT Global MBA Ranking 2015No matter what experts say about FT Global MBA Ranking, the publication gives a global perspective on Top MBA programs in the world. US News MBA Ranking gives a myopic view about Management Education with US as the central focus. Agreed, US hosts most top MBA programs but there is a world outside the US – a much economical, faster and cost efficient way to upgrade your skills and associate yourself with a worthwhile brand.

The review of FT Global MBA Ranking by Poets & Quants made me wonder how experts infuse their biases when they see ranking fluctuations. Somehow, they feel any ranking that defends the status quo means great ranking. Picture this reasoning - “The most recent informal survey of MBA applicants by mbaMission, a leading admissions consultant, found that only 10.2% of the respondents considered the FT their most trusted source of business school rankings. The most trusted? U.S. News & World Report which was cited as most trusted by 46.1% of the respondents.”

What P & Q is saying is that an informal survey by one of the MBA Admission consultants is a better source to review a ranking than the actual survey that received a 47% response rate while other ranking publications received below 30% response rate. The questionnaire was sent to 153 schools where 10,986 Alumni completed the survey. We can create our own survey in F1GMAT and come up with another skewed result based on our audience. But that would confuse MBA aspirants. As experts, our job is to look at the priority of each ranking factor and question them.

Enough preaching! Let us look at each ranking factor and the points allocated to each factor in brackets.

Weighted salary (20), Salary increase (20), FT research rank (10), International mobility (6), Faculty with doctorates (5), FT doctoral rank (5), International faculty (4), International students (4), Value for money (3), International course experience (3), Career progress (3), Aims achieved (3), Placement success (2), Employed at three months (2), Alumni recommend (2), Female faculty (2), Female students (2), International board (2), Women board (1) and Languages (1).

Post-MBA Salary

When you discuss your post-MBA plan with a Business School team, you will hear two kinds of response. The ready-made – you will have a great learning experience, camaraderie between classmates and lifelong relationships answer and an answer that quotes statistics on how many MBAs have increased their salary by 80-120%.

If you cut the nicey nicey talk and ask yourself this question – Why are you doing an MBA? Most applicants will say, “To increase my salary,” not as a side goal but an essential goal to recover the investment in Tuition Fee and Cost of Living.

If you are a career switcher or want career advancement, the primary goal will be to gain the acceptance of the Employer with the new MBA attached to your name, but without recovering the cost through competent Salary (80-100% Increase), the loan interests can force you to a post-MBA job that you hate. Any ranking that undermines the importance of post-MBA Salary should be discarded. It should take 60% of the ranking priority in some form – short-term (Immediate) increase or mid-term(3 Years) increase in Salary.

Has the Financial Times given enough priority to post-MBA Salary?

Weighted salary (20)
Salary increase (20)
Value for money (3) and
Employed at three months (2)

The total points allocated to factors that directly influence your ability to recover the cost and double your salary is 45.

The percentage employed within three months is given just 2 points and Value for Money just 3. Without looking at any fluctuation in MBA ranking, we know the ranking is flawed. Ideally, Employed at three months should have been allocated 10 points and Value for Money another 10 points, taking the total points of factors that influence return on investment to 60.

International Mobility and Career Service

International mobility is a major factor in a globalized economy like ours, but when we see it in a ranking publication, the question should be - was the mobility forced or volunteered? Most ranking publication won’t divulge whether the MBA aspirant was forced to search for job outside the host country or the region due to lack of demand for their skills or the lack of competency of the Career Service team. When career service team is not a major ranking factor, the ranking loses credibility.

In the case of FT Global MBA ranking, placement success is allocated only 3 points. If the program you shortlist is not in the Top 10 ranking in all major publications, you should scrutinize the effectiveness of career service team. Without an attractive offer, immediately post-MBA, your chances to double your salary or choose the career path you aspired before an MBA will remain a dream. Ask the Alumni, not the one listed by the Business School marketing team but the ones, not in regular touch with the Alma matter. They will give you an unbiased view of the MBA program. The Alumni recommend ranking factor is allocated 2 points, Career progress 3, and Aims achieved 3. The combined ranking factor deserves at least 10 points. If an Alumni cannot endorse their MBA program, there must be some truth to the quality of the learning experience and the goals achieved.

Quality of Learning Experience

Another major contributor towards your experience in a Business School is the quality of the faculty. Does a Ph.D. guarantee that the Faculty will be great at moderating a class or directing the class towards learning new management fundamentals? Not necessarily. Just search YouTube and compare the talks given by the Business School faculty – the Ph.D. s, and the Guest Speakers who had done something with their life more than the Academics, and you will see a sharp contrast in how they approach each topic, and explain it in simple terms. The more the ranking relies on Ph.D. as a qualifier, the more cautious you should be. FT MBA ranking allocated 5 points to Faculty with doctorates, 3 points more than it does deserve.

Another absurd ranking factor is FT Doctoral Rank (5) which evaluates the number of doctoral graduates during the past three years from each Business School. We fail to understand how that will help an MBA Student. This ranking factor should not be part of the Global MBA ranking.

A better measure of the quality of the faculty is the number of articles published by the school’s faculty in major academic journals. FT overcompensates here by giving 10 points for this factor through FT Research Ranking. International Course experience through exchange programs, consulting projects, and other travel experiences deserve higher points, but FT has allocated only 3 points for International Course Experience in 2015 Global MBA ranking.

Gender Equality

Ranking schools based on the percentage of Female students makes sense but allocating 2 points for Female faculty, and 1 point for Women board, takes the focus away from factors that influence a great learning experience and value in an MBA program. Faculty who is good for the job should be the only criteria regardless of the Gender.

Career Growth

FT Global MBA ranking has factored in Career Progress(3) that is based on the change in level of seniority and company size. The change in company size seems absurd. What if the MBA candidate switched from a Fortune 100 to Fortune 500 Company in a senior position? The company size shrunk, but her career advancement goal was achieved. With a confusing definition of Career progress, this ranking factor deserves only 1 point.


FT Global MBA Ranking has given priority to Post-MBA Salary, but the focus on return on investment, learning experience through International projects and Quality of the Faculty beyond the Ph.D.s have not been factored.

If we were part of the FT Global MBA ranking team, we would have prioritized the ranking factors like:

Weighted salary (20), Salary increase (20), Employed at three months (10), Value for money (10), Placement success (5), Quality of the Faculty (5), International course experience (5), Aims achieved (5), Alumni recommend (5), FT research rank (3),  Female students (3), International mobility (2), Faculty with doctorates (2), International faculty (2), International students (2), and Career progress (1).

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