What are the best business schools?

This article paints a picture of the best business schools around the world, according to various different ranking systems.

Business schools are university-level institutions that provide business administration degrees to their students.

Top business schools are typically accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

An AACSB accreditation “ensures students and parents that the business school is providing a top-quality education” as well as ensuring employers that “AACSB-accredited business school graduates are ready to perform on day one.”

Rankings are crucial for business schools across the country.

A good ranking not only allows the institution to recruit top students, but it also attracts recruiters from top companies.

This in turn results in a high ranking business school producing students who go on to have high ranking positions in the industry.


Whether top-tier business schools are worth the money, time and lost income (you lose your salary while you study), is a controversial subject. Some people say it is definitely worth it, while others believe it is a waste of time and money.

The different business school ranking systems

There are generally two different types of rankings:

Rankings that take a long-term view – these typically look at the career progresses of the graduates.

Rankings that take a short-term view – which are more based on student satisfaction and recruiter feedback.

The most cited business school rankings are by: U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, Financial Times, América Economía, CNN Expansion, Business Insider, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Here is a breakdown of how some rankings differ:

The Financial Times ranking – This method of ranking is more of a long-term view. It uses compiled data from surveys of alumni three years after they’ve graduated business school. The FT also includes a research ranking, which is “calculated according to the number of faculty publications published in 45 academic and practitioner journals.”

The Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranking – BusinessWeek surveys graduates about their student experience in addition to corporate recruiters. They also include an intellectual capital rating. The intellectual capital rating is based on a formula that incorporates faculty size and academic publications in journals and books.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranking– Every year the EIU releases a ranking based on a survey of business school students and on information given by the institution. This form of ranking is effective at evaluating how well a business school meets the needs and expectations of its students.

The Wall Street Journal ranking – The Wall Street Journal publishes annual National Business School Rankings (US) as well as a Regional Ranking (US). The WSJ surveys MBA recruiters to determine the best schools.

The Forbes ranking – Forbes looks at the return on investment for those who graduated five years after completing business school.

The best business schools are:

Harvard Business School (USA)

Cost: $126,576
Weighted salary: $187,223

  • Financial Times ranking – 1st
  • The Economist ranking – 6th
  • Bloomberg ranking – 2nd 

Harvard Business School is one of the only top business schools in the United States with a self-contained, residential campus. Harvard Business School is potentially the business school with the best reputation worldwide.

Stanford Graduate School of Business (USA)

Cost: $118,020
Weighted salary: $194,645

  • Financial Times ranking – 1st
  • The Economist ranking – 6th
  • Bloomberg ranking – 2nd 

MBA class sizes are half that of other leading schools – averaging about 400 students. The school’s 126 faculty feature Nobel laureates, members of the National Academy of Sciences, and members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

IMD (Switzerland)

Weighted salary: $147,380

  • Financial Times ranking – 19th
  • The Economist ranking – 13th

More than 34 different nationalities are represented in the IMD Faculty and staff. In addition, over 8,000 executives from 98 countries go to IMD each year and 120 global companies chose IMD for their customized programs each year.

New York University: Stern (USA)

Weighted salary: $144,586

  • Financial Times ranking – 19th
  • The Economist ranking – 7th

NYU Stern has three Nobel Prize winners who are active on the faculty. Stern’s global alumni community includes 100,000+ members in more than 100 countries. More than 500 Stern alumni are CEOs in top firms worldwide.

University of Chicago – Booth School of Business (USA)

Cost: $111,587
Weighted salary: $162,363

  • Financial Times ranking – 10th
  • The Economist ranking – 1st
  • Bloomberg ranking – 1st 

Established in 1898 (making it the second-oldest business school), Booth has a global body of nearly 48,000 accomplished alumni and seven of the school’s faculty members have won Nobel Prizes.

University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School (USA)

Cost: $121,610
Weighted salary: $180,772

  • Financial Times ranking – 3rd
  • The Economist ranking – 15th
  • Bloomberg ranking – 3rd 

The world’s first collegiate business school, established in 1881. The school has 92,000 alumni in 140 countries around the world, and 10 academic departments.

Duke University: Fuqua (USA)

Cost: $109,844
Weighted salary: $145,147

  • Financial Times ranking – 18th
  • Bloomberg ranking – 6th 

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Fuqua Business School’s total number of  alumni is around 17,947. Very highly ranked for intellectual capital, a proxy for faculty quality.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Sloan School of Management (USA)

Cost: $108,400
Weighted salary: $160,414

  • Financial Times ranking – 9th
  • The Economist ranking – 12th
  • Bloomberg ranking – 9th

Of the 20,000 MIT Sloan alumni in 90 countries, nearly half are senior executives and more than 20 percent are presidents and CEOs.

Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management (USA)

Cost: $113,100
Weighted salary: $161,269

  • Financial Times ranking – 13th
  • Bloomberg ranking – 5th 

The school was originally founded in 1908 in downtown Chicago as a part-time evening program. Now, the school’s alumni hold revered positions in businesses , governments, and academic institutions all over the world.

Dartmouth College: Tuck (USA)

Weighted salary: $156,765

  • Financial Times ranking – 16th
  • The Economist ranking – 2nd

Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Tuck School of Business is a well reputed business school with a low student-to-faculty ratio. Over half of students live on campus during their first year.

London Business School (UK)

Weighted salary: $160,988

  • Financial Times ranking – 4th
  • The Economist ranking – 11th

London Business School’s 34,000+ alumni are in more than 130 countries. The school is one of only three in the world, and the only one in Europe, to offer a Sloan MSc programme.

Insead (France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi)

Weighted salary: $153,992

  • Financial Times ranking – 6th

With three fully-integrated campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and over 80 different nationalities in the classroom, no other business school offers such a multicultural experience.

Hong Kong UST Business School (China)

Weighted salary: $132,685

  • Financial Times ranking – 8th

Strategically located at the heart of Asia’s economic center, HKUST develops responsible business leaders with Asian perspectives for the world.