What Are The World’s Best Business Schools - Mastersportal.com

What Are The World’s Best Business Schools

If you want a degree that prepares you for business, then you are already thinking about an MBA degree. And if you are hungry for success, you’ll know that an MBA from one of the best business schools in the world will help set you apart from your competitors in the workplace.

We have brought together the best MBA programs in the world in one place, so you can see at a glance where you need to be looking. These schools are recognized as some of the best, and most competitive, in the world; when you put one of these on your resume, you’ll stand head and shoulders about the rest.

MBA programs vary between schools, and many places now offer specialist MBAs with a focus on particular sectors. The Engineering MBA offered by Harvard, for example, equps students with skills particularly suited to the startup sector. However, MBAs provide a general skililset, covering areas like finance, operations, and leadership, preparing the holders for high-level jobs where they need to be able to turn their hand to any part of a business.

American universities dominate the world rankings for business schools. MBAs were first developed in America, before they spread across the world, and the national culture celebrates entrepreneurship and business. However, the benefits of an MBA education are recognized across the world, meaning there are great options everywhere, even in those nations that might not have embraced capitalism to the same degree as the USA.

Our listing uses the top MBA programs in the world as its starting point, but includes the best in each featured region. We began with the Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings, and, from the top twenty, looked at the universities in each region. We choose the THE rankings because we felt they offered a more balanced score, considering not just the purely academic outcomes, but also factors that directly affect students, like student-to-staff ratios and industry links. What sets the best MBA colleges in the world apart is not just the education you get, but the contacts that you make while you are there.

If you would like to learn more about the various university rankings, then take a look at our article on the rankings available and what they offer.

>> Curious about the various jobs and salaries you could get with an MBA, read this article about the 15 Jobs and Salaries You Can Get with a Business Degree.

An American MBA: the original and best

When business school is mentioned, Harvard is the place many think of. It was the first to offer an MBA, and its link with the MBA has entered common culture, even if it’s partly down to business books like What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School!

It won’t be a surprise that American universities dominate the world rankings; thirteen of the THE’s top business schools in the world are in the US. What might be a surprise, though, is that Harvard — for THE, at least — is only in fourth place.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT is more frequently associated with science and technology. However, it also hosts the Sloan School of Management, and offers what is arguably the best MBA in the world.

The school’s origins lay in engineering, beginning with a single course in administration. However, over the years the school has grown to become one of the best business schools in the world, and certainly one of the most influential. It is also one of the most academically rigorous business schools, with a deliberately tough first semester that students must pass, and pass well, to graduate.

However, MIT’s innovation sets it apart. The MBA program includes features like action learning labs, which places students in companies to help troubleshoot problems. And like the rest of MIT, there are gaps in tuition which students have to fill with leadership activities.

The success of the MBA alumni speaks for itself. Top destinations for MBA graduates include big names like Apple and Goldman Sachs and one-in-five of the alumni are company CEOs or presidents. Even without its THE ranking, it’s hard to argue the MIT doesn’t deserve to be considered as the best MBA in the world.

America’s top thirteen!

Usually, we list a top ten for each region that has a university in the world top twenty but that’s not possible for America. The quality of American business schools means we need a top thirteen! Amazingly, each of these are also in the world top twenty, with the first five among the top ten MBA colleges in the world.

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Stanford University
  3. Harvard University
  4. The University of Chicago
  5. University of California, Berkeley
  6. Yale University
  7. Columbia University
  8. University of Pennsylvania
  9. Northwestern University
  10. Duke University
  11. New York University
  12. University of California, Los Angeles
  13. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The UK: where business and academic tradition meet

Given the cultural and economic similarities between the US and the UK, one might expect that it quickly followed the US in offering MBAs. However, it was not until the 1960s, more than fifty years after Harvard had awarded the first MBA, that students at London and Manchester’s business schools could enroll for a UK-based MBA. It is now offered by almost every UK university.

Oxford University

The University of Oxford

Oxford’s academic reputation made it an obvious place to offer an MBA, not least because many who had started successful careers after being an undergraduate at Oxford naturally looked to their old university when they were considering MBA options.

Like all courses at Oxford, students are admitted to one of the autonomous colleges, but the MBA program forms part of the Saïd Business School at Oxford. Like most UK MBAs, the Oxford program is an intensive single-year course, but has the option of combining with another Master’s program. This creates a joint degree course that matches deep specialism with the understanding of business and leadership offered by the MBA.

The school also offers an executive MBA as a part-time option spread over 21 months. Designed for those who already have significant business experience, the teaching largely takes place in 16-week modules at Oxford. However, at least two modules will be delivered in other international markets, making it a popular option for international students looking to gain their MBA alongside their career, but still study at one of the best business schools in the world.

The UK’s top ten

The top three in the UK are in the top twenty in the world. Oxford, which placed third in the THE world rankings, places even higher than Harvard.

  1. University of Oxford
  2. University of Cambridge
  3. London School of Economics and Political Science
  4. UCL
  5. University of Warwick
  6. University of Manchester
  7. King’s College London
  8. University of Edinburgh
  9. University of Nottingham
  10. University of Surrey

>> Keep in mind that there are also quite a few excellent online Business Schools, quite a few of them in the UK. See a list of the Best Online Business Schools in the World here. 

Europe: where MBAs aren’t just about business

The first MBA in Europe was offered by INSEAD in 1959, and it pioneered the one-year program that is now common outside the US. However, because of INSEAD’s structure (it is a standalone, graduate-only, private business school) it doesn’t feature in the THE list, although it still regularly tops rankings like the FT’s as one of the best MBA programs in the world.

Unlike the US and UK, where a few universities seem to dominate all rankings, there is more competition among European business schools. This gives international students a broader, if harder, choice when they are looking at Europe’s contender for best MBA colleges in the world.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich has recently transformed their MBA program into an executive MBA, co-designed with the University of St Gallen (whose business school is ninth in Europe), branded the ‘emba X’. The 18-month course is mixed format, with delivery online, in Switzerland at Zurich and St Gallen, and with international partners for some models. The course is delivered entirely in English.

The MBA follows ETH Zurich’s focus on science and technology, seeking to integrate that knowledge with management skill. What, however, sets it apart from many other MBA programs, especially the more business-focused programs in the US and UK, is the consideration given to the wider impact of MBA graduates.

The program features an ‘impact guarantee’ that graduates will not just find that their leadership effectiveness is improved, but that they will also see changes in their personal environment and have a positive impact on wider society. And while personal development is implicit in almost every academic course, the emba X includes a peak performance module that includes self-leadership and integrative leadership teaching.

However, it does not ignore the practical. Alongside more formal teaching and development, students will take part in project-based work, working in social and business projects to deliver innovation and hone the skills they are learning in the classroom.

>> Read this article if you want to know what are the Top 5 Reasons to Study an International Business Degree in Europe.

Which are Europe’s top ten

Only one European university, ETH Zurich, features in the THE top twenty.

  1. ETH Zurich
  2. Erasmus University Rotterdam
  3. Copenhagen Business School
  4. Technical University of Munich
  5. University of Mannheim
  6. University of Zurich
  7. LMU Munich
  8. Tilburg University
  9. University of St Gallen
  10. KU Leuven

Asia: fueling a growing economy

Just as the MBA first developed in America in response to the growing need for management and leadership to support industrialization, the degree is spreading rapidly in Asian universities. In many parts of Asia, this economic growth provides exceptional opportunities for learning on placements, as well as post-graduation career options in companies that are growing faster than would be possible in more established markets like the US or Europe.

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University

Tsinghua has been at the forefront of China’s economic liberalization, with the university brokering several pioneering partnerships to reflect China’s more outward-looking stance. One of the first was its partnership with MIT’s Sloan School of Management, giving it access to one of the top MBA colleges in the world to help deliver its Tsinghua-Sloan Global MBA.

The full-time, 21-month, program covers the management, organization, and leadership topics common to most MBAs. Tsinghua, however, also offers dual degrees, often in partnership with American universities like MIT and Columbia. This allows students to benefit from tuition from two world-leading universities while gaining more specialist knowledge alongside their MBA.

The standard MBA also offers students the opportunity to travel to Massachusetts for courses delivered by MIT, alongside visits to local companies to supplement learning with practical observations.

Perhaps the biggest advantage for MBA graduates, though, is Tsinghua’s position as a leading Chinese university, and the advantages it offers those hoping to develop a career in a country that is rapidly becoming the world’s economic powerhouse.

Asia’s top ten

The Asian business schools top ten includes several from the traditionally liberal economies like JapanSouth Korea and Singapore. However, the transformation of the Chinese economy has seen the transformation of education to match, with several of their business schools making the region’s top ten. The top three of these all feature in the THE top twenty best business schools in the world.

  1. Tsinghua University
  2. National University of Singapore
  3. Peking University
  4. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  5. Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  6. The University of Tokyo
  7. Hong Kong University
  8. Zhejiang University
  9. Yonsei University
  10. Nanyang Technical University, Singapore

>> Learn more about the Best Business Schools and MBA Degrees in Asia.

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