For its biennial rankings the magazine surveyed schools and alumni from the Class of 2012 regarding their pre- and post-MBA compensation, career choice, and location. Responses are then used to calculate the five-year MBA gain, or the net cumulative amount the typical alumni would have earned after five years by getting their MBA versus staying in their pre-MBA career.
LBS tops two-year MBA ranking
The two-year international MBA ranking was topped by London Business School (UK), with alumni of its Class of 2012 realising a five-year gain of USD 119,100, the highest of any two-year programme in the world. The typical LBS graduate took 3.4 years to pay back their investment.
LBS has held the top spot in the Forbes ranking on five consecutive occasions out of the ranking’s 10 publications. The median salary for the LBS Class of 2012 when it entered was USD 73,000, and total compensation five years out was USD 212,000. IESE Business School (Spain) followed at No. 2, with a five-year gain of USD 97,100. Next up was CIEBS (China), with a five-year gain of USD 95,000. HEC Paris took fourth (five-year gain, USD 85,300), and ESADE Business School (Spain) rounded out the top five (five-year gain, USD 58,700).
IMD No. 1 for one-year MBA programmes
Leading the way among international one-year MBA programmes was IMD (Switzerland), with a whopping five-year gain of USD 194,700. Of course, the opportunity cost associated with attending a one-year programme is significantly lower than a two-year programme given that tuition is less and lost income is also minimised by less time out of the workforce. Second among international one-year programmes was INSEAD (France), with a five-year gain of USD 150,400, followed by IE Business School (Spain) (five-year gain, USD 145,400), Cambridge University’s Judge Business School (UK) (five-year gain, USD 140,000), and Italy’s SDA Bocconi (UK) rounding out the top five, with a five-year gain of USD 138,100.
Wharton tops US ranking
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (US) claimed the number one spot in Forbes’ 10th biennial ranking of US business schools. The Philadelphia school shot up six spots from its seventh-place 2015 finish to claim first for the first time ever in a ranking that focuses primarily on return on investment for MBA graduates. Wharton did rank second twice before, in 2001 and 2005.
Wharton took top honours with a USD 97,100 five-year MBA gain, coming in more than USD 4,500 above the next highest school. Wharton’s Class of 2012 grads also reported the highest total compensation of any other school—USD 225,000 five years post-MBA. As for where the Wharton grads went to work, 79% took finance or consulting jobs, with 53 out of 805 Wharton graduates going to work for McKinsey. Other major employers for the Class of 2012 included the Boston Consulting Group, Bain, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs. Top employers for the most recent Wharton graduating class were largely unchanged, apart from Amazon.com replacing Goldman Sachs. Stanford Graduate School of Business (US) fell one spot from the past two rankings with a five-year MBA gain of USD 92,500 and total compensation of USD 215,000. So what explains Stanford’s drop for this Forbes ranking? It has to do with the high cost of living in the Bay Area. When the Stanford Class of 2012 salaries were adjusted for living costs, the five-year gain took a considerable hit given that 60% of Stanford grads stayed in the Silicon Valley area after graduation. Harvard Business School (USA) came in at third with a five-year gain of USD 89,600. In the last biennial ranking, HBS didn’t even make it into the top 10. Holding HBS back, historically, has been the school’s notoriously expensive tuition and fees, which reached USD 154,000 for the Class of 2018.
Required tests and scores
Gaining admission to these schools, as you would expect, is hard. Here are the exams that candidates eyeing the three top ranked business schools should take.
London Business School
The school accepts both the GRE and the GMAT. Its average GMAT score for the Class of MBA 2018 is 707. The minimum score is 600.
Candidates whose native language is not English, or if they have not been studying fully in English or living in an English-speaking country for at least two years, should submit IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge CPE, CAE or PTE Academic scores. Other tests will not be accepted.
MBA candidates must provide a GMAT score. The school says that 80% of its MBA participants score between 620 and 750. The minimum score is 600.
IMD also asks candidates to provide proof of a strong command of written and spoken English, without specifying which exams are accepted. At least one language in addition to English is required.
All applicants must submit GMAT or GRE results that are no more than five years old. For the Wharton incoming class of 2017, the average GMAT score was 732.
TOEFL or the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE) is required for non-native English speakers with limited exposure to English. All international applicants whose native language is not English, or who did not complete a degree from an institution where English was the language of instruction, are required to take the TOEFL or PTE. For applicants who have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction, the test may be waived.
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