B School Ranking 2020

It is important to find the right B-School among the most aspired and reputed. One that offers an excellent track record, high quality education, and a pick at one of the best corporates.
Hand looking into business ranking diagram concept

Every single business school in the world, that is on the top schools’ list, has a section on their website solely dedicated to the various ranks they have been given by publications every year. Every single MBA student has, at least once during their MBA journey, checked a leading publication for business school rankings.

That’s the kind of power a simple list of business schools yields in the world of MBA.

A great man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Not every list that is put out on the internet has credibility. When selecting a business school, you simply cannot risk reading a list that might contain a sponsored school or a school the list makers collaborated with.

To avoid this problem, use sources that are transparent about their ranking methodologies and have detailed facts and figures present to support the placement of each school. the most reliable sources for business school rankings currently are:

  1. Financial Times
  2. US News
  3. The Economist
  4. Bloomberg Businessweek
  5. Forbes

But rankings are much more complicated than they seem. Simply running after the dream of getting into the business school ranked #1 in either of these publications would also be idiotic. Although these rankings do provide a good base to help one search for their perfect fit with a business school.

Before addressing that head-on, there are some basics that one needs to know about business school rankings.

The psychology of business school rankings: Why people follow them

Humans love rankings! We only want the best of everything. Google’s algorithm proves my point. Try a few google searches for random things like actors, or salad, at least one article on the landing page (the first page of search results) will be a ranking of some sort.

The same goes for business schools. Rankings, with all of their flaws, are an integral part of an applicant’s search. The circle of MBA consists of applicants, business schools, and recruiters.

Recruiters would, more often than not, go for an applicant from a #1 business school rather than an applicant from #25 business school. It’s simply because the rank disparity creates a sense of lack of skill in an applicant from a much lower-ranked school. Which might not be true.

Since recruiters would prefer a top school, applicants do the same to reap better opportunities and ROI post-MBA.

This forces business schools to maintain their ranking or improve it, to have a positive effect on the applicant pools’ quality and quantity. A higher rank also brings goodwill associated with the business school’s brand name. This in-turn makes fundraising for the school much easier. Which ensures a better infrastructure, and faculty.

This feeds the ranking system again and brings it full circle with the recruiters favouring schools with higher ranks.

Top 100 Business Schools in the world

Rank Business School Location
1. Harvard Business School Boston, Massachusetts, US
2. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton Vance Hall, Philadelphia, US
3. Stanford Graduate School of Business Stanford, California, US
4. Insead France, Europe
5. Ceibs Pudong, Shanghai, China
6. MIT: Sloan Cambridge, US
7. London Business School London, US
8. Columbia Business School New York, USA
9. HEC Paris France, Europe
10. University of Chicago: Booth Chicago, US
11. Northwestern University: Kellogg Evanston, US
12. University of California at Berkeley: Haas Berkeley, US
13. Iese Business School Barcelona, Spain
14. Yale School of Management New Haven, US
15. National University of Singapore Business School Singapore, Southeast Asia
16. Dartmouth College: Tuck Hanover, US
17. Duke University: Fuqua Durham, US
18. University of Virginia: Darden Charlottesville, US
19. University of Cambridge: Judge Cambridge, UK
20. HKUST Business School Hong, Kong
21. University of Oxford: Saïd Oxford, UK
22. New York University: Stern New York, US
23. Cornell University: Johnson Ithaca, New York, US
24. Esade Business School Barcelona, Spain
25. IMD Business School Lausanne, Switzerland
26. UCLA: Anderson Los Angeles, California, US
27. Indian Institute of Management Bangalore Bangalore, India
28. Indian School of Business Hyderabad, Telangana, India
29. SDA Bocconi School of Management Milano MI, Italy
30. University of Michigan: Ross Ann Arbor, US
31. Georgetown University: McDonough Washington, DC 20057, US
32. Carnegie Mellon: Tepper Pittsburgh, US
33. Fudan University School of Management Yangpu District, Shanghai, China
34. University of Florida: Warrington Gainesville, US
35. Nanyang Business School, NTU Singapore Singapore, Southeast Asia
36. University of Southern California: Marshall Los Angeles, US
37. Shanghai Jiao Tong University: Antai Shanghai, China
38. Renmin University of China Business School (RMBS) China
39. University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler Chapel Hill, North Carolina, US
40. The University of Texas at Austin: McCombs Austin, Texas, US
41. Indiana University: Kelley Bloomington, US
42. Indian Institute of Management Calcutta West Bengal, India
43. Warwick Business School United Kingdom
44. Washington University: Olin St. Louis, US
45. Alliance Manchester Business School Manchester, UK
46. Vanderbilt University: Owen Nashville, US
47. Shanghai University of Finance and Economics: College of Business Shanghai, China
48. Emory University: Goizueta Atlanta, US
49. University of Washington: Foster Seattle, US
50. CUHK Business School Hong Kong
51. City, University of London: Cass London, UK
52. IE Business School Madrid, Spain
53. Georgia Institute of Technology: Scheller Atlanta, Georgia
54. Sungkyunkwan University GSB South Korea
55. Imperial College Business School London, UK
56. The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
57. Rice University: Jones Houston, Texas, US
58. University of Notre Dame: Mendoza Notre Dame, US
59. Pennsylvania State University: Smeal Pennsylvania, US
60. Babson College: Olin Wellesley, Massachusetts, US
61. Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad Ahmedabad, Gujrat, India
62. Durham University Business School Durham, UK
63. Singapore Management University: Lee Kong Chian Singapore, Southeast Asia
64. WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management Vallender, Germany
65. The University of California at Irvine: Merage Irvine, California, US
66. Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
67. Boston University: Questrom Boston, US
68. University of St Gallen St. Gallen, Switzerland
69. Northeastern University: D'Amore-McKim Boston, Massachusetts, US
70. George Washington University Washington, D.C., US
71. Mannheim Business School Mannheim, Germany
72. Ohio State University: Fisher Columbus, Ohio, US
73. University of Maryland: Smith Maryland, US
74. University of Pittsburgh: Katz Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
75. SMU: Cox Dallas, Texas, US
76. University of Rochester: Simon Rochester, New York, US
77. University of Connecticut School of Business Mansfield, Connecticut, US
78. University of Minnesota: Carlson Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
79. EMLyon Business School Ecully, France
80. Melbourne Business School Melbourne, Australia
81. ESMT Berlin Berlin, Germany
82. The University of Texas at Dallas: Jindal Richardson, Texas, US
83. Brigham Young University: Marriott Provo, Utah, US
84. The Lisbon MBA Católica | Nova
85. Purdue University: Krannert Lafayette, Indiana, US
86. Texas A & M University: Mays Texas, US
87. Western University: Ivey Canada
88. Edhec Business School France
89. AGSM at UNSW Business School Kensington, Australia
90. Essec Business School Cergy, France
91. McGill University: Desautels Montreal, Canada
92. Wisconsin School of Business Madison, Wisconsin, US
93. Miami Herbert Business School Florida, US
94. University of Toronto: Rotman Toronto, Canada
95. University of Edinburgh Business School Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
96. University of California at San Diego: Rady San Diego, California, US
97. Macquarie Business School Sydney, Australia
98. City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
99. University College Dublin: Smurfit Dublin, Ireland
100. University of Georgia: Terry Athens, Georgia, US

What makes the Top 10 Business Schools different?

Business schools across the board have faced a “slowdown” in the past couple of years. As tier 3 or 4 business schools face challenges due to the slowdown, the top 10 Business Schools stay unfazed.


Have you ever stopped to think why a business school in the top 10 business school list is different from the ones in the top 20 or the top 30? How is it that a “slowdown” affects the tier 3 or 4 schools and hardly makes a dent in the acceptance rates at top tier schools?

The answer is more than just the brand that the top 10 business schools have created for themselves.


Yes, the top 10 business schools receive a better recruiter group than the remaining business schools. Just like top recruiters get to choose the cream of the class at a top school, a top school also gets to choose the cream of all recruiting organizations. But that isn’t the only way that recruitments make the top 10 business schools special.

Career Impact staff at top US business schools have been noted to maintain close relations with top recruiters. The activeness of the CI staff doesn’t end here. They are known to pay close attention to each student by prepping them for recruitment and helping them network with the alumni since the very first day of school.

Firms like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley are some of the top MBA recruiters with the highest paying jobs. These firms, tend to teeter between the top 10 schools every year, leaving only a few slots for the top 20 or top 30 business schools.

Recruitments are also easier for international students at a top business school. Finding organizations that sponsor a work vise like the H1B Visa for the United States, becomes much easier due to the volume of recruiters and the active Career Impact cells.


I feel just reading the list of things that set a top 10 school apart from the rest of the business schools would make one guess what the explanation could be.

Without a doubt, the top 10 business schools enjoy the best faculty for business education. The faculty at such schools is generally a mix of academics and top-level executives from various fields who either take guest lectures or hold seminars.

These are schools that pioneer teaching methodologies, and projects such as MIT Sloan’s Action Learning Labs. These methods then trickle down to other business schools.

Other than the faculty, the diversity of the MBA class is also an additional resource. Since the top schools enjoy their pick of the applicants, creating a diverse (culture, race, religion, lifestyles, social experiences, etc.). Dealing with a diverse set of individuals in their MBA education stimulates students to be innovative in their solutions while keeping “diversity in ideologies” as a factor.

Another resource whose quality declines as business school ranks get higher is networking. Since top schools ensure the maintenance of a strong alumni network and have alumni placed in high-level jobs at corporate giants, the quality of networks that students get to make is much higher than a tier 3 school.

Scholarships and fundraising

Since the Top 10 business schools have created a brand for themselves, fundraising for scholarships is much easier. Most top schools, though do not provide full-ride scholarships, provides scholarships to about 50% of their students.

At schools like Harvard, about 90% of the students get some form of scholarship. With tuitions for top business schools going over $200,000, these schools do not rely on the applicant to pay, in full, for their education.

The sense of community and school spirit these schools instill in their students, many alumni also donate to the schools often. Just a few years ago, Ratan Tata donated $50 million to his alma mater Harvard, a top 10 US Business School.

Top 10 Business Schools Vs Top 20 Business Schools Vs Top 30 Business Schools

To make the comparison of the Top 10 Business Schools Vs Top 20 Business Schools Vs Top 30 Business Schools easier, we have selected one middle-ranked school from each section.

From the Top 10 Business Schools, we have MIT Sloan. For the Top 20 Business Schools, Dartmouth’s Tuck is the middle school. And UCLA’s Anderson will be used as the comparison school for the Top 30 Business Schools.

Here are the main differences between the top 10, top 20, and the top 30, business schools.

Criteria Top 10 Business Schools (MIT Sloan) Top 20 Business Schools (Tuck) Top 30 Business Schools (UCLA Anderson)
Rank #6 #16 #25
Acceptance Rate 11.6% 20% 12.7%
Tuition $85,807 $75,108 $65,114
Average GMAT score 727 723 719
Average GPA 3.6 3.5 3.5
Median Compensation $170,000 $170,000 $150,000
International students 42% 38% 33%
Job offers 3 months post-graduation 95.7% 90% 90%

Top 10 European Business Schools

Rank Business School Average Salary Average GMAT Score
1. INSEAD $179,661 711
2. London Business School $169,675 701
3. Cambridge $163,508 691
4. HEC Paris $142,622 690
5. IESE Business School $148,480 681
6. Saïd $151,944 690
7. IMD $161,443 680
8. IE Business School $153,547 670
9. Mannheim $96,000 675
10. SDA Bocconi $130,628 665

Top 10 Business Schools in Asia-Pacific

Rank Business School Average Salary Average GMAT Score
1. INSEAD (Singapore) $179,661 709
2. CEIBS $174,115 682
3. National University of Singapore Business School Singapore $153,216 Couldn’t find
4. HKUST Business School $156,202 (median) 660
5. Indian Institute of Management: Bangalore $31,910 699
6. Indian School of Business $35,051 709
7. Fudan University School of management $110,062 650
8. University of Hong Kong $131,386 650
9. Renmin University of China Business School $100,003 (range) 400-700
10. Indian Institute of Management: Calcutta $27,339 706

hand putting wooden stars on blocks of wood

Ranking methodologies for Business Schools

Everything up to this point in this blog was basic information. Noob stuff!

If you’ve spent even a day wondering about MBA or business schools, you had a rough idea about business school rankings.

Now comes the time to dive deeper into them. To optimize the use of business school rankings for ourselves, understanding the methodologies behind them becomes inevitable.

The “Why”, behind the rank that each school received is crucial to the result we’re trying to create. To keep the essence of this blog, let’s look at the methodologies for the sources that we believe to be the most reliable in regards to business school rankings.

1. Financial Times

The Global MBA ranking by Financial Times is the one that is used as the staple “Business School Ranking” across the globe. While they do curate a list of the best business schools in Europe, best EMBA programs, and the likes, they do not have a designated business school ranking list.

The participating schools for Financial Times’ rankings have to meet the basic criterion of being accredited by either Equis or AACSB. The publication requires a minimum 20% of a school’s alumni to respond to their survey, with at least 20 full responses, for the school to enter the ranking calculations. Those who graduated the school three years ago are the target of this survey.

The data from the three years preceding the year of the ranking carry weightage; 50% for the previous year, and 25% each for the two years before that. The weightage given to the salary figures, however, is 50:50 for only the past two years.

Another factor, “value for money”, is then calculated by dividing the average alumni salary after three years of graduation by the total cost (including tuition, opportunity cost, lost salary, and other expenses). To get a normalized average salary, the highest and the lowest salaries three years post-graduation are removed.

The diversity of staff, board members, and the MBA class are also taken into account. Schools with a 50:50 gender composition score higher. The schools are also given research rank based on the number of full-time faculty published articles in 50 internationally recognized academic journals.

FT uses a relative ranking method to curate the Global MBA ranking list. Schools are given a Z-score for each criterion. The Z-score is the relative position of a school in relation to the mean in that criterion. The scores are then weighted and added for the final score.

The school that ended up in the bottom gets removed and the calculation repeats itself from the Z-score step till the top 100 schools are reached.

2. Forbes

The Forbes list does not include schools for which less than 15% of the alumni answered the Survey, or the alumni responded with a negative ROI after five years. The sole factor driving the Forbes list is the “five-year-MBA-gain” for all the schools that were considered. It is the net cumulative amount that the alumni of a business school have earned post-graduation from the MBA program, in comparison to what they would have earned had they stayed in their pre-MBA jobs.

The net cumulative requires two things, the opportunity cost that the alumni faced, and the earnings in the five years post MBA. Two years of relinquished income, tuition of the MBA program, and other expenses incurred during the program make u the opportunity cost. While, the earning post-MBA is calculated by adding up the salary, bonuses, and exercised stock options.

3. The Economist

The Economists’ Full-time MBA rankings focus on four main criteria with sub-divisions as follows.

  1. Open new career opportunities (35%)
    1. Diversity of recruiters (33.33%)
    2. Placement success (33.33%)
    3. Student assessment of careers service (33.33%)
  2. Personal development/educational experiences (35%)
    1. Ratio of faculty to students (8.33%)
    2. Percentage of full-time faculty with a Ph.D. (8.33%)
    3. Faculty rating by students (8.33%), Average GMAT scores (10%)
    4. The average number of years of work experience (7.5%)
    5. The average salary of students before entering class (7.5%)
    6. The spread of regions from which students hailed (8.33%)
    7. Gender diversity (8.33%), Student rating of culture and classmates (8.33%)
    8. Student rating of program and range of electives (6.25%)
    9. Range of and access to overseas study programs (6.25%)
    10. Number of language courses available (6.25%)
    11. Students’ assessment of facilities and other services (6.25%)
  3. Increase in salary (20%)
    1. Post-MBA salary (excluding bonuses) (75%)
    2. Salary change from pre-MBA to post-MBA (excluding bonuses) (25%)
  4. Potential to network (10%)
    1. Ratio of MBA alumni to current full-time MBA students (33.33%)
    2. Number of overseas MBA-specific alumni chapters (33.33%)
    3. Student rating of alumni network (33.33%)

Leading Critique on Business School rankings

Spencer Johnson said, “If you do not change, you can become extinct”. This can apply to everything in this world. Even Business School rankings. Since their conception, business school rankings have focused on compensation, tuition, and ROI as leading factors in determining business school ranks.

With the change of scene in the professional world, i.e. social skills, ethical responsibility, and emotional intelligence coming more front and center, compensation isn’t the only thing that can entice students. Let me pose another question for you. One that makes this point clearer.

If the business schools, that these rankings judge, are changing, should the criteria used to judge them also change?

Rankings have been done a certain way at each publication, for a long time. While publications may change a couple criteria over-time, the basic ideology and focus behind the rankings remain the same.

The biggest issue is the absence of major unquantifiable factors like Faculty, or Student experience from major business school rankings. while Financial Times does factor in student experience by giving a whopping 59% weightage to the feedback from alumni, there isn’t a direct criterion that deals with the subject.

The credibility of Business School Rankings: Discrepancies

In the middle of 2018 Poets & Quants made a scandalous revelation. Their report revealed that Temple University’s Fox School of Business had been reporting fraudulent data to US News for four years prior to this report.

While some smaller publications could be bought by a few business schools for a better rank, bigger publications would never do so for the fear of losing their credibility. But some business schools have clearly found a way around that too.

With the threat of business schools misinforming the rank curators at seemingly reliable sources, in this case US News, one has to question the overall integrity of business school rankings. the more terrifying fact is that Fox wasn’t the first business school to have pulled such a stunt. In 2013, US News discovered that the Freeman School of Business’ data had been inflated for the preceding 5 years.

With an organization like US News, with the resources it has to verify each data point it obtains form the schools, missing to catch these discrepancies a reader can only wonder how many schools have followed the path that Freeman and Fox did without getting caught.

The question isn’t whether the publication issuing the rankings has any obligation to cross-check the data or the business schools have any accountability to provide true figures and facts. They both do.

The question is whether the methodology to curate rankings has become redundant by allowing the business schools such power over the outcome.

A simple solution to this issue has been found in the Financial Times’ ranking methodology which takes into account alumni feedback. That could ensure, to some extent, the credibility of data. However, arguments have been made that alumni have a vested interest in boosting their alma mater to benefit from the brand goodwill thus created.

The Financial Times also gets the data for 25 schools completely audited by KPMG every year. Taking such a step somewhat verifies the quality of the ranking for the reader.

Even though such a scandal shakes up the trust applicants have on rankings (especially by US News). The publication remains a favourite due to the transparency it shows while disclosing the figures and facts it receives form all the schools ranked.

Optimizing business school rankings

Start by knowing that a rank 11 college is as good as a rank 10 college even though it’s not in the Top 10 business schools. In simple terms don’t look at individual numbers. I prefer looking at the ranks in clusters of 5. If you wished to know what group of schools share similar compensation, and faculty to your target business school select two schools before it and two schools after it. For example, if your target school is ranked 16, schools from the rank 14-18 will have similar attributes to your target school.

What works for me might not work for you. Thus, having a more detailed way to optimize a business school ranking is necessary.

1. Know the limitations of the ranking

One very important thing to keep in mind while using a ranking is the limitation it poses. Forbes’ list only takes compensation into account while awarding ranks to business schools. If your inclination is towards a non-profit organization or entrepreneurship, the Forbes’ ranking would be of no value to you.

2. Research a cluster of schools

The cluster of 5 schools that I detailed above can be a great help during school selection. Since rankings generally rely on quantifiable data, things like school value, student culture, school location need to be researched separately. These are leading factors in a student’s success or failure at business school.

If you aren’t a good fit with the student culture or the school values, the chances of the admissions committee rejecting your application would be much higher. Researching the cluster of five will help you find a school that provides the statistical benefits that you were looking for along with the aforementioned unquantifiable factors.

3. Choose a reliable source

The variety of business school rankings available only make the applicants’ work harder. Do not rely on any ranking available to you. Choose some reliable sources as mentioned at the beginning of this blog.

Going to publications like US News, Bloomberg, Forbes, etc. is smarter as their rankings are much more transparent than most others.

man climbing on staircase of books

MBA Programs to look out for in 2020

Since there’s already a plethora of MBA rankings of top business schools available, listing them all in this blog seemed fruitless. Instead, it seems like a better idea to list a few business schools that are getting the press for all the good reasons. These are schools that are adding great value to the MBA community.

London Business School

In 2018 London Business School’s student body organized its first mental health week. The week-long sessions of Yoga and Meditation have now become a tradition with the school moving into the third year of promoting mental health amongst MBA students.


The China Europe International Business School isn’t just rising fast in the business school rankings. Graduate compensation at CEIBS also saw a whopping 147% increase between the years 2015-2019.

Indian School of Business

Founded in 2001, ISB has quickly secured its spot amongst the top 30 business school in the world in Financial Times’ MBA rankings. For a school hardly two decades old, ISB boasts of a pleasantly surprising 98% employment rate for MBA graduates.

Nanyang Business School

Talking of young schools, Nanyang Business School Singapore is also fast becoming an MBA program to reckon with. Founded merely three decades ago, the school has quickly placed itself on the #35 spot on Financial Times’ business school rankings.

Saïd (Oxford University)

Another young school that has managed to mark a permanent spot in the top 25 business schools in the world for three years now is Oxford University’s Saïd. The school has jumped back and forth between the top 15 and the top 25 schools in the past three years and has become a bit of a wild card in the ranking lists.

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