The Economist releases 2016 MBA rankings

American schools continue to dominate the top ten

For the sixth time in the past seven years, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business ranks first in The Economist’s ranking of full-time MBAs.

Kellogg School of Management moved up five places to number two. The University of Virginia moved down one place to number three. Harvard Business School kept its place from last year at number four. The biggest mover in the top ten was Stanford, which moved up eight places from last year to number five.

While the ranking continues to be dominated by US schools, this year’s top ten includes two from Europe (IESE in Spain and HEC Paris in France) and one school in the Asia-Pacific region (The University of Queensland Business School in Australia). This is the first time that the top 10 has included at least one school from North America, Europe and Asia.

Further down the ranking, however, there is less good news. Schools on the broader 100-school ranking are struggling to recruit. Applications to MBA programmes in The Economist’s survey have fallen from 17 per available place to 10 over the past five years. Students are increasingly sheltering from the difficult graduate employment market by staying on for masters programmes immediately after earning their undergraduate degrees. And they are hesitant to leave the unpredictable workforce for an MBA once they have landed a job.

Mid-tier business schools are also facing the challenge of executives increasingly opting to take online MBAs later in their careers, which are cheaper and allow for more flexibility in location and timing. Schools closer to the top of the ranking, however, still hold a premium on an MBA education mainly due to their brand names and perceived networking opportunities.

“This year’s Economist Which MBA? ranking is reflective of the uncertain job market that we are still experiencing,” said Bill Ridgers, Editor of The Economist’s Which MBA?  “But as applications to mid-tier schools fall, there is even more value to be had by attending a top MBA programme, because it becomes more important to signal to future employers that you are one of the elite.”

Full 2016 ranking is available upon request or found here from 4pm BST / 11am EDT:

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