Five things you don't know about top MBA programs

Top-flight business schools are in high gear from California to Hong Kong. Here are five things to consider from the Economist's study of the top 100 MBA programs.

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British Foreign Secretary David Miliband (center) arrives to deliver his address to MBA students at the China Europe International Business School (ranked 95th in the Economist's most recent MBA program rankings) in Shanghai on Feb. 26, 2008. Here are five things you didn't know about top MBA programs like the China Europe school.

The Economist recently released its annual rankings (subscription required) for the world's top MBA programs. While weighing the relative merits of titans like the Sloan School at MIT and the Haas School at the University of California-Berkeley is tough enough, adding international programs from Spain to Singapore muddies the waters that much more. By combing through the numbers, though, several interesting facts come to light.

1. You've never heard of the most competitive MBA program:

What? Everybody knows it's Harvard/MIT/Chicago/Wharton. Good guesses. All wrong. With 680 applicants for every one of its 297 spots, the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India is the world's most competitive MBA program and 99th best worldwide. While most of its graduates go on to careers in India, its career services placed 8th of all MBA programs and boasts McKinsey Co. and Monitor Group (alongside now defunct Lehman Brothers) as its principal recruiters. With a price tag of just over $20,000 per year (versus over $50,000 at Stanford), maybe even some American MBA students will be looking to a new eastern locale for their graduate education. (Editor's note: This paragraph has been corrected to reflect the correct spelling of the name of the institution.)

2. The best program is ... affiliated with Opus Dei?

The IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Barcelona took home the Economist's top spot. The Opus Dei connection has more to do with business ethics than Dan Brown-esque intrigue, though. While European business students tend to have twice as much work experience as American students, according to the report, IESE came in second on immediately boosting students' incomes from their pre-MBA level. (The Joseph M. Katz school at the University of Pittsburgh was first.) The cost? Writing seven admissions essays and plunking down a cool $99,813 for the 19-month program.

3. Have deep business experience? Go UK:

Ranked by post-MBA salary, five of the top 10 programs are in the United Kingdom. Like Ashridge, the top MBA for salary growth, many top European programs focused on executive MBA training grounds before expanding standard MBA education. Thus, their deep experience working with seasoned managers can take them the extra mile.

4. American business grads take care of their own:

Of the top 25 schools with top alumni effectiveness, 21 are American, led by the Tuck School at Dartmouth College, Stanford University, and the Mendoza College at Notre Dame. Founded in 1900, Tuck has a honed curriculum that focuses on building students' ability to work both within teams and intimately with faculty members. Those personal connections may be something what translates into alumni who will really go to bat for freshly-minted grads. (Editor's note: This sentence has been corrected to remove a reference to Tuck as the oldest business school. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1881 and is in fact the oldest institution.)

5. Head down under for a top student experience:

Monash University in Caulfield East, Australia, claimed the top ranking for personal development and educational experience. It's superlative only in the quality of one's eventual MBA colleagues (where it ranks 3rd). It isn't barn-burning in any other category – 15th in faculty quality, 17th in diversity, and 25th in educational experience – but in aggregate these strong showings build a cohesive whole. The trade-off? Its post-MBA salaries lie in the bottom quarter of schools surveyed.


David Grant is a Monitor contributor. Want to chat about what makes a great business school? Look us up on Twitter. Or read about the ways in which universities are creating networking opportunities for their graduates.

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