IMD And London Business School Top Ranking Of The Best International MBA Programs

  • Miles
  • September 21, 2019
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IMD campus, Lausanne, Switzerland

Over the last decade the business school market has been disrupted by an increase in shorter, flexible, and inexpensive options. But institutions in Europe, Asia, Canada and Mexico are proving that a traditional M.B.A. – a full-time, campus-based program – is still highly desirable and the gold standard.

Based on school-supplied data given to Forbes for our biennial ranking of business schools, we noted international programs (those based outside the U.S.) saw an average 5% increase in applicants and average 16% increase in enrollment over the last ten years. Comparatively, traditional U.S. programs saw a 16% decrease in applicants and 11% decrease in enrollment over that same period.

The payoff helps explain why. Forbes surveyed 17,500 full-time M.B.A. graduates around the world from the Class of 2014 to gauge the return on investment they received by attending business school versus hypothetically not getting a graduate degree. Graduates from the best one-year international programs produced an average “5-year MBA gain” of $91,300. Those from international two-year business schools had an average 5-year gain of $62,300, while graduates of U.S. programs had a five-year gain of $54,500.

As such, graduates of one-year international programs earned back their investment (tuition and two years of lost salary) in 3.1 years on average, while those from two-year international programs earned back theirs in 3.8 years. It took an average 4 years for graduates of U.S. programs to pay back their investment.

The Best One-Year International Programs

Lausanne, Switzerland-based IMD held on to its No.1 ranking for the second time in a row as the best one-year international business school. Graduates saw an average 5-year gain of $168,900, and had a median salary of $200,000 five years out of school, the highest among all international programs in our ranking. Only nine U.S. programs saw higher median salaries five years post-graduation, led by Stanford, ranked No. 2 among them, whose graduates earned a median $250,000.

IMD is highly selective in choosing more experienced students with an international mindset. Students come in with an average 7 years of work experience and demonstrated progression in their responsibilities and career. The current cohort in the capped class of 90 students is a mix of 43 nationalities.

IMD is intense, beginning with the process to land an acceptance. Successful applicants are required to do an on-campus assessment – a day long interview process in front of a group of 3-10 made up of admissions committee members, faculty, and alumni.

“We value national diversity and our goal is to create an intimate and personal microculture,” said Seán Meehan, who took the helm as Dean of IMD in 2018, having spent the past 20 years at the school including a previous stint as dean from 2002 to 2005.

“The one-year program requires we spend a lot of time together, two classes a day, little time off. To that end we have to see that these are people persons, who understand the power of business to create positive change, have a greater goal than themselves, and are driven to lean in. We then have a formal career coaching system and students meet personally and as a team with a psychoanalyst regularly throughout the course of the program.”

Meehan offered that efforts were underway to achieve gender equality among his students. IMD’s typical cohort is only 30% female, one of the bottom ten lowest percentages among all schools in our ranking.

Part of a solution to this may be found in Forbes alumni survey results. More than half of IMD’s Class of 2014 responded to it and among them, 60% reported backgrounds and prior degrees in engineering, science and technology – globally male-dominated fields.

“We have studied this and are now investing to increase the pipeline and putting our marketing resources behind the efforts to attract women,” Meehan responded. Among those efforts are female alumni-run recruiting events and the creation of women’s scholarships.

Since Meehan has become dean, IMD has introduced a mandatory Digital Analytics Lab, “to prepare students to welcome digital challenges not yet visible,” as he described it. The one-week crash course introduces students to machine learning, big data analytics and includes an introduction to Python, a popular coding language.

“The objective is to give students a basic understanding of what is capable, and get an immersion in the tools and technologies of what is required so as leaders they will be comfortable in welcoming digital challenges,” Meehan said.

Insead, the largest M.B.A. program in the world with 1,032 students in its current cohort, again ranks No. 2 among the best one-year international MBA programs. Graduates had a five-year gain of $154,700, and it took them 2.6 years to pay back their investment. Insead churns out consultants. Half of the graduating class chose the profession; McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company are perennial top employers.

The Best Two-Year International Programs

For the seventh consecutive time, London Business School earned the No. 1 spot among international two-year programs with a five-year gain of $93,100.

In 2017, LBS opened a new building, the Sammy Ofer Centre, which increased teaching space by 70%. As a result, Class of 2020 enrollment grew to 485, a 14% increase over the Class of 2018, and the number of applicants accepted rose from 17% to 19.7%.

Two years ago, in response to recruiters needs for students who are comfortable with digital competencies and digital transformation, LBS told Forbes it added new core courses on digital strategy, technology, and managing responsibly, and added a new elective in FinTech.

LBS remains a hot spot for employers and as a result, 94% of students accepted an offer within three months of graduation. But job placement has yet to follow the course trends. Management consulting firms still nab the most graduates — 42% went to one right of school. McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company landed most of them.

HEC Paris jumped two spots to rank second among international two-year programs with a five-year gain of $79,761. It is one of the more affordable two-year programs in the world at a cost of $70,400. Class of 2018 graduates had the highest median base salary ($127,410) and highest median signing bonus ($28,943) of any international program. Only eight U.S. programs saw higher median base and median signing bonuses. Amazon employed the most graduates, followed by consulting firms McKinsey and Bain.

Methodology

To compile our 2019 ranking of full-time M.B.A. programs, Forbes examined more than 100 schools and reached out to 17,500 alumni around the globe. We compared graduates’ earnings in their first five years after getting their M.B.A. to their opportunity cost (two years of forgone compensation, tuition and required fees) to arrive at a five-year M.B.A. gain, which is the basis for the final rank. We eliminated schools whose alumni had response rates below 15% or a negative return on investment after five years (click here for a detailed methodology).

[“source=forbes”]