Following a decline in interest in 2019, management degrees, including Masters in Management (MiM), globally witnessed a rise in demand amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Financial Times (FT) said in its analysis of the 2020 Masters in Management ranking

Although reasons vary, experts believe that prospective students consider Masters in Management as cornerstones in their professional development. As Tim Mescon at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business said, “The pandemic has only increased interest in the MiM. Globally, we are seeing the phenomenon we saw in 2008-09 when the financial crisis caused the last global meltdown. Many people are looking at their situation, saying maybe this is what I need to do for the next year to work on polishing my credentials.

Top performers and trends

The FT 2020 ranking revealed some familiar names as well as new surprises and trends. St. Gallen (Switzerland) topped the ranking in 2020 with its MA in Strategy and International Management. With the highest weighted salaries three years after graduation and student gender diversity, the Swiss record-breaker had managed to stay on top for a whole decade. The top three also included two French schools - HEC Paris and Essec Business School.

The year 2020 was a turning point not only from economic but social justice perspectives. Given the rising inequalities during the pandemic, the need for diverse cohorts has become evident. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that with 97% of enrolled students being from overseas, London Business School ranked #4. London’s Imperial College Business School, on the other hand, ranked #10 – with 96% of full-time permanent teaching staff from overseas.

Interestingly, the top newcomer for 2020 was the joint Masters taught by McIntire (US), Lingnan (China), and ESADE (Spain). Asian schools have also witnessed an increase in demand as applicants were more reluctant to study abroad due to concerns over Covid-19. Although Antai College of Economics and Management (China) was down nine places compared to the previous ranking, the school ranked #23 as the top salary booster.

Read more: Business School Rankings and Accreditations: How to Use Them

Ranking criteria and response rates

The FT 2020 MiM ranking was the 16th edition of the ranking, with a record 114 MiM programmes included in the process. The list is built upon17 criteria – with alumni responses accounting for seven criteria or 58% of the ranking’s weight, and school data accounting for the remaining 10 criteria or 42% of the total weight. Criteria include weighted salary, value for money, career progress, gender diversity, and international course experience.

The information needed to calculate the ranking was collected via two surveys, one completed by the schools and the other by alumni who graduated in 2017. For programmes to participate, they had to cover the following main criteria:

  • To be full-time
  • To be cohort-based
  • To have a minimum of 30 graduates per year
  • To be accredited by either AACSB or EQUIS

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, response rates were lower than in previous years. The FT considered this unprecedented circumstance and included business schools with lower response rates as well.

In the end, regardless of the unique challenges business schools went through last year, some applicants admitted being excited about the prospects of completing a MiM degree. Aiman Saeed from Pakistan, who secured a place on ESMT Berlin’s MiM, was quoted as saying by the FT: “It is a blessing that I can focus on my studies for the next two years, even if some of that is online. I can then face the world better equipped.”