These are the best executive MBAs in the world – and the skills applicants are most interested in right now

The Financial Times published its Executive MBA Ranking for 2021, a year marked by continued pandemic disruption to work and study globally.

A French, a Chinese and a joint US-Hong Kong programme have held on to the three top spots in the FT’s 2021 Executive MBA Ranking.

HEC’s Paris International EMBA regained top place, having missed out to the Kellogg/HKUST EMBA in Hong Kong, which led the 2020 ranking and fell to joint second, along with the China Europe International Business School (Ceibs) Global EMBA in Shanghai.

“EMBA alumni overall continued to command high pay at a time of business uncertainty, with adjusted average salaries among those who graduated from schools ranked by the FT in both 2020 and 2021 up from $276,655 to $281,089,” the Financial Times said.

The number of students at leading business schools analysed by the FT fell slightly, year-on-year, however. “While many elite business schools have continued to attract a strong global mix of students to multiple campuses that they operate alone or in partnership, some smaller and regional schools have suffered in recent months with falling intakes,” it said.

“We’ve got some schools that have shuttered their doors and some with programmes on hold,” said Michael Desiderio, executive director of Embac, a trade body representing a larger group of nearly 300 EMBA providers, including many in the US. “My gut [says], globally, class size is flat or down, but I don’t see demand falling off a cliff.”

The rankings are based on measures such as alumni salaries and how far courses helped them achieve their aims three years after completion, the diversity of student and teaching bodies and the quality of academic research.

The rise in online learning has increased the scope for students and guest speakers to participate in EMBAs, the FT said.

Schools and alumni reported a strong interest in learning about digital skills and technologies, and applicants wanted to partially learn online to give them more flexibility to balance study, work, and travel.

“The main trend has been the demand for everything digital,” said Andrew Crisp of Carrington Crisp, an education consultancy. “Students want content about digital transformation, leadership, and everything else. They also want some digital delivery, in particular…to prepare before reaching the classroom, [to] reduce the number of days away from work.”

South Africa’s University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business dropped out of the rankings in 2021, from 56th in 2020.

# Institution Country Salary ($)
1 HEC Paris France / Qatar $438 303
2 Kellogg/HKUST Business School Hong Kong $508 964
2 Ceibs China / Switzerland / Ghana $487 372
4 EMBA-Global Asia: Columbia/HKU/LBS US/Hong Kong/UK $347, 828
5 Trium: HEC Paris/LSE/NYU: Stern France/UK/US/China $427 223
6 ESCP Business School France / Germany / Italy / Lebanon / Spain / UK $290 707
7 Iese Business School Spain / US $386 849
8 EMBA-Global Asia: Columbia/LBS US / UK $314 788
9 Arizona State University: WP Carey China $485 946
10 Shanghai Jiao Tong University: Antai China $486 808
11 Tsinghua University/Insead China/France/Singapore/UAE $371,258
12 University of Oxford: Saïd UK $267855

Read: These are the top MBAs in the world – including 2 from South Africa

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These are the best executive MBAs in the world – and the skills applicants are most interested in right now