By Steve -

Competition between the top MBA programs is hot. As a student, you want to know you’re getting the best education money can buy – especially when the quality of your qualification has such a big impact on your future earnings. So, to make your choice easier, we’ve broken down the top MBA programs in the USA and around the world.

Top MBA Programs 2011, Globally

INSEAD, the London Business School and Queen’s University all rank highly alongside the well-known American universities like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. In Canada, Ivey and Rotman both tend to rate highly for their MBA programs. Financial Times ranks the London Business School first equal in the world with Wharton in the world as an MBA institution.

The Hong Kong UST Business School is another non-US school which ranks in the Financial Times’ Top 10 MBA schools, along with the IE and Iese Business Schools in Spain.

It pays to be careful when you’re checking out rankings for top MBA programs, because ranking criteria can differ a lot depending on who’s doing to ranking. Look at what each school is actually being ranked on before you make a decision on whether a certain set of rankings really mean anything. For example, some ratings are based on student opinions, whereas others are slanted towards the actual value employers place on the qualification from a particular school. Still others give more weight to things like graduate employment rates and average salaries. (This explains why rankings can be quite different between, say, Business Week and the Financial Times – they use different ranking criteria).

Likewise, to save time rankers often leave large numbers of schools outside of their ranking reports anyway. In other words, rankings can be a good general guide but shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Looking at what employers actually say about various schools and programs may give you a better idea of which ones will give you the best edge in the job market.

Top MBA Programs in USA

Harvard and Wharton (Pennsylvania State University) business schools have long been recognized at top quality institutions when it comes to MBAs – although you often won’t find them on ranking lists, because they tend to refuse to cooperate with the publications that create these lists.

Some US MBA providers you will often see on lists of business school rankings include:

  1. LeBow College of Business at Drexel University
  2. Booth School of Business at University of Chicago
  3. Northwestern
  4. Stanford
  5. MIT
  6. Boston University School of Management
  7. Columbia Business School at Columbia University
  8. University of Arizona
  9. Dartmouth
  10. Cornell
  11. Duke University
  12. Washington University
  13. Texas, Austin – McCombs Business School

This is not an exhaustive list, but you will find most of these names on the top ranking lists of big publications like Business Week and the Financial Times. These aren’t ranked in order, because ranking order tends to differ greatly from list to list.

Top Online MBA Programs

A recent report from the Financial Times highlighted some of the biggest providers of distance and online MBA programs. The University of Phoenix came in at the top in terms of enrollment numbers, way ahead of any other institution with 40,000 students enrolled in their online MBA program. University of Phoenix’s major advantages are its advanced multimedia technology and

In terms of the top programs globally, however, many regard the IE Business School in Spain as the world leader when it comes to online MBAs.

Executive MBA Rankings: The Top Executive MBA Programs

Executive MBA programs are often seen as the crème de le crème of business education and highly valuable in the MBA job market. When it comes to MBA programs designed specifically for executives, Business Week ranks its top 5 as follows:

1. Northwestern
2. Chicago
3. Pennsylvania (Wharton School)
4. Duke
5. NC University (North Carolina)

The Wall Street Journal also lists Wharton and Northwestern in their top 5, along with the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the University of Southern California and Washington University in Saint Louis.

Others on the Wall Street Journal list include Cornell University, New York University, Columbia University, University of Texas, Austin, and Notre Dame.

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