THE FIRST MBA was taught at Harvard University in 1908. More than a century later, American institutions still dominate the business-school landscape. This year they claim 16 of the top 20 places in The Economist’s ranking of full-time MBA programmes, and 53 places in the top 100.
The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business regains first place from neighbouring Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. It is the sixth time in seven years that Booth has come top. The rankings weight data according to what students tell us is important. The figures are a mixture of hard numbers and subjective marks given by students and alumni in four categories: opening new career opportunities (35%), personal development and educational experience (35%), better pay (20%) and networking potential (10%).
Students rate Booth’s course the best of the 100 programmes surveyed. They also praise its world-class facilities and faculty, which includes several Nobel laureates. Job opportunities are among the best, thanks to a highly rated careers service and an alumni network of 52,500 people, one of the largest in the world. Employment outcomes are outstanding: 97% of students find a job within three months of graduation. Graduates pocket an average salary of $129,400, a 67% rise on their pre-MBA pay cheques. The relationship with alumni lasts beyond graduation. The school runs refresher courses for former students on subjects such as entrepreneurship.
All this comes at a price. Fees at prestigious American schools in the top 20 now average $123,000, and have risen quickly in recent years. By contrast, European schools are cheaper because courses are generally shorter, so the return on investment is quicker. At IESE, at the University of Navarra, which has the top-ranked programme outside America, students pay $96,000 for its 19-month course. The Spanish school has moved up 11 places to sixth, mainly because of a big boost in the average salary for its graduates to $123,000 and a job-placement rate of 99%. Those looking for a bargain should head to Warwick Business School in Britain. A one-year course costs just $49,400, thanks in part to the depreciation of the pound.