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The rise of the Chinese EMBA in global rankings

graduate business schools
Some of the best graduate business schools for the Executive MBA are based in or connected to China. Source: Shutterstock

A decade ago, an MBA from a Chinese university would not have featured in the upper echelons of global university rankings. That’s no longer the case.

China’s business schools have steadily asserted their place, landing in the top 50 in world university rankings for business education by some of the most respected league tables like QS and Times Higher Education.

In the most recent Financial Times (FT) ranking of Executive MBA Ranking 2019, the Asian superpower was represented by 11 business schools in the top 30 alone:

2019
ranking
School name Country Programme Salary
(US$)
Salary
growth (%)
1 HEC Paris France / Qatar / China HEC Paris International EMBA 406,149 89
2 Kellogg/HKUST Business School China Kellogg-HKUST
Executive MBA
513014 63
3 Trium: HEC Paris/LSE/NYU: Stern France / UK / US / China Trium Global EMBA 451,766 63
4 EMBA-Global Asia: Columbia/HKU/LBS US / China / UK EMBA-Global Asia 338,725 67
5 Ceibs China / Switzerland /
Ghana
Ceibs Global EMBA 446495 73
7 Washington University: Olin US / China Washington University –
Fudan EMBA
371,824 67
9 Tsinghua University/Insead China/ Singapore/
France/ Abu Dhabi
Tsinghua-Insead Dual
Degree EMBA
372808 57
11 Shanghai Jiao Tong University: Antai China SJTU Antai EMBA 410565 117
12 Arizona State University: Carey China Carey / SNAI EMBA 377608 96
24 CUHK Business School China EMBA 296723 59
27 BI Norwegian Business School /
Fudan University School of Management
China BI-Fudan MBA 237888 107

FT assesses 16 metrics for this ranking. Two metrics have a combined weight of 40 percent: increase in alumni pay over pre-EMBA salaries and salaries earned three years after graduation.

One such programme is the joint executive MBA programme by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. After nine consecutive years (2007-2018) in top spot, it fell one spot to second place, though it still trumps all schools in terms of alumni salaries three years after graduation, which averaged a whopping US$513,014.

Taking the crown is HEC Paris International Executive MBA, up five spots from last year. Offered in both France and Qatar, HEC Paris’s programme ranks first for career progress and fifth for work experience – two factors that greatly helped it clinch top honours, according to FT.

Charting a year-on-year rise since the first time it entered the ranking – the first among mainland China-based business schools to do so – is the School of Management at Fudan University. This year, its Washington University-Fudan University EMBA programme ranked seventh and placed No.1 in Research Rank in mainland China, ahead of more established business schools including London Business School, Tsinghua University/Insead,  and Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.

It’s the programme’s eighth consecutive year in the Top 10. In a press statement, the university said: “The remarkable achievements not only demonstrate the school’s leadership in business education and its recognition by international ranking authorities, but also shows the world that management education in China is continuing to make improvements.

“It also serves as a strong testament to the business school’s tireless efforts and achievements in developing talented instructors, training talent and improving the international diversity of teaching staff, board members and students.”

Chinese business schools have certainly recorded big wins in recent years. But like all rankings, the devil’s in the methodology. Schools with student bodies coming from poor countries would do better, according to PoetsandQuants, as “the compensation numbers are adjusted by the Financial Times to account for purchasing power parity (PPP), a factor that favours China”.

Programmes with more senior executives tend to perform better in the rankings, such as Kellogg/HKUST,  as the methodology places heavy weight on alumni pay over pre-EMBA salaries.

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