Wharton drops from No. 1 EMBA spot in world rankings

United States executive business schools show prowess in research and career outcomes, according to QS report.
By: | June 23, 2021
Adobe Stock

Nine of the top 20 Executive MBA Programs in the world are based in the United States, according to a new report released by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, but the top ranking belongs to a new school for the first time in four years.

Though HEC Paris did not rate first in any of the qualification categories considered by QS, its collective work in all areas—including its near-perfect score in Employer Reputation and its improvements in Diversity—earned it the No. 1 spot in 2021, just ahead of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Spain’s IESE Business School. HEC Paris won top honors by just 0.3 percentage points.

“Cultivating a strong understanding of diverse perspectives, cultures and customs is crucial to success,” said Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO and Founder at QS Quacquarelli Symonds. “It is therefore neither an accident nor a surprise that the world’s leading programs have made high levels of international diversity a central pillar of their offering—HEC Paris being foremost among them.”

Boasting a recent cohort comprised of students from 48 countries, HEC Paris also received high marks in other key categories. It edged Wharton on Employer Reputation score—99.7 to 98.7 in a survey of employers—and also beat Wharton by nearly five points on Having a Superior Executive Profile, or the level of “work experience, management experience, and C-Suite experience typical of this program’s students.”

Despite slipping a position, Wharton’s stellar reputation and reach landed it in the No. 2 spot and ahead of all American-based EMBA programs, four of which were rated in the top five in the world for research in 2021, according to QS.

Other U.S. schools to appear in the overall Top 10 include MIT’s Sloan School of Management (4), the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (6) and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley (which tied for 9th with ESADE Business School in Spain). The UCLA Anderson School of Management fell out of the top 10 and into 12th position.

Internationals took the other three spots in the Top 10, as the EMBA program at Oxford University rose to No. 5, while the London School of Business and France’s INSEAD tied at No. 7.

Aside from factoring in diversity and employer reputation, QS rated 202 programs on career outcomes and thought leadership, or how well-regarded they’re considered among the EMBA community. The Yale School of Management, which ranked No. 11 on the overall list, had the best career outcomes score of any program (98.5).

MIT Sloan was the top-rated school in terms of thought leader, earning a perfect 100 score, while Berkeley Haas and Wharton finished second and third. MIT Sloan also was the top-ranking U.S. school in terms of diversity, placing No. 7 overall. The University of Maryland Smith was the top performer in terms of career outcomes in the U.S., ranking No. 4 overall.

Northwestern University’s School of Business fell four spots to No. 11, while Columbia Business School (17) and New York University’s Stern School of Business (18) remained in the Top 20. NYU’s partnership with HEC Paris and the London School of Economics and Political Science called TRIUM topped the list of the world’s top Joint Executive MBA programs.

Despite a pandemic-afflicted year, QS noted that Executive MBA programs are drawing renewed interest. “We have found no evidence of a slowdown in demand for the Executive MBA; application numbers increased by 14%,” Quacquarelli said. “With compensation remaining robust, it is clear that employers continue to place a premium on the unique skillsets and experiences offered by the qualification.”

One area that could continue to be improved is gender diversity. Still, only one-third of all enrollees in EMBA programs are women.