Methodology for Fortune’s 2022–2023 Executive MBA ranking

BY Meghan MalasOctober 25, 2022, 5:43 PM
Martin Laksman

Executive MBA programs are attractive to experienced professionals who want to advance in their careers—oftentimes moving into upper management or the executive ranks of a company. These students pursue their degree while working full-time, benefiting both from a network of other mid-career peers and the ability to apply what they learn to their work in real time. 

While these programs offer a lot of the same benefits as traditional MBA programs, they are designed for a different type of professional. EMBA students have an average of more than 14 years of work experience before they enroll in their program, according to data collected by Fortune. Meanwhile, even at top-ranked schools like Wharton, traditional MBA program entrants have an average of about five to six years of work experience. The admissions process for these programs differs as well. Notably, many business schools will connect with prospective executive MBA students before they apply to ensure they are a good fit for the program.

For the second year in a row, Fortune ranked the best executive MBA programs, with 55 schools on our 2022-2023 Best Executive MBA Program list. To rank these programs, we used data collected via questionnaires submitted by schools, figures available on school websites, and information collected from companies and executives. 

Program Score (50%)

One of the biggest draws of an executive MBA program is the opportunity to connect with other experienced professionals seeking to become business and industry leaders. Many students have at least a decade of work experience since completing their undergraduate degrees, and they come equipped with invaluable tools and experience to share with their cohorts. When determining the program score, we focused particularly on variables that are descriptive of an EMBA applicant’s professional career rather than those factors that are more indicative of a candidate’s academic performance.

Outcomes data like salary and job information aren’t widely provided by the executive MBA programs we surveyed, as most students are already employed while they enroll in a program. So we considered factors like average years of work experience, average years of management experience, and percentage of students with an advanced degree. Schools without one of these scores could still be ranked, but the lack of that information lowered their Program Score. 

If schools didn’t provide any key metrics, Fortune pulled the information from their websites. This was the case for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan), the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross), and Northwestern University (Kellogg). 

Brand Score (35%)

Fortune partnered with Ipsos to survey thousands of business professionals and hiring managers to get their thoughts on specific B-schools. This metric looks at business school brands, not just their executive MBA programs.

Ipsos deployed a survey methodology similar to what it would use if asked by a consumer brands company to evaluate its brand strength. For this research, Ipsos interviewed a total of 2,500 professionals. These professionals work in a corporate role, have attended college and/or an institution of higher education, and know at least two of the schools in our selection.

Ipsos completed the fieldwork in March 2021. The total length of each interview was 13 minutes. The results yielded a 95% confidence interval, which gives us a maximum ±1.96% margin of error. This analysis was done on a regional basis, the exception being the nation’s top 20 business schools (according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking), which we also measured on a national basis.

The final score produced is a business school’s attitudinal equity (AE) measurement. That tells us, according to Ipsos, “how much a group of people want to recruit from the university. It is the university’s share of mind.” (For more on attitudinal equity scores, go here.)

Fortune 1000 Score (15%)

Good business schools help grads get good jobs, while elite programs help develop the future leaders of business. We sought to find schools with a good track record doing the latter. That’s why Fortune looked at the number of each school’s MBA alumni who are executives (C-suite only) at Fortune 1000 companies. This includes everyone from CEOs to CFOs to CIOs. The more Fortune 1000 C-level placements, the higher the school’s Fortune 1000 Score.

A school’s score includes Fortune 1000 C-levels who graduated with an MBA from the school (regardless of the type of MBA program).

(Note: The Fortune 1000 are the 1,000 largest U.S. publicly traded companies ranked by revenues, as compiled by Fortune.)