Financial Times Master in Finance Ranking 2021


These are the
top 10 Master in Finance programs in the world, according to the Financial Times.

  1. HEC Paris
  2. ESCP Business School
  3. Skema Business School
  4. ESSEC Business School
  5. EDHEC Business School
  6. University of St.Gallen
  7. SDA Bocconi
  8. IE Business School
  9. London Business School
  10. University of Oxford: Saïd

In the next few sections, we’re going to take a look at how the ranking is compiled, as well as the ingredients of a top-ranked program. If you would prefer to head straight to our analysis of the 2021 list, scroll to the bottom of the article.

What is the Financial Times Master in Finance Ranking?

The Financial Times Master in Finance Ranking is an annual list of the top Master in Finance programs in the world. The ranking is divided into two: pre-experience and post-experience. The pre-experience list covers programs that do not require work experience as an entry requirement, while the post-experience list includes programs that do require candidates to already have some related work experience.

For the purposes of this article, we will just be looking at the pre-experience list. That’s because the post-experience ranking only contains four different programs at the latest count.

What are the criteria of the ranking?

The Master in Finance programs are ranked based on 17 different criteria. Seven of these criteria are based on alumni surveys, making up 58% of the ranking, while the remaining 10 are based on school data, which make up the remaining 42% of the ranking. The criteria are divided into these four categories:

Career progression (50%)

The career progression category holds the most weight in the ranking and comprises current salary (20%), salary increase (10%), career progress in terms of seniority (5%), percentage of students that achieved their aims (5%), quality of the careers service department (5%), and the percentage of alumni employed three months after graduation (5%). 

Program assessment (12%)

The online program assessment category ranks the components of each program. It is made up of value for money (5%), the percentage of faculty that holds a doctorate (6%), the number of extra languages students must learn to graduate (1%), percentage of students that completed an internship during the program, and the overall alumni satisfaction. 

Diversity assessment (22%)

The diversity assessment measures the percentage of students (5%) and faculty members (5%) that are female, percentage of international students (5%) and faculty members (5%), percentage of women on the advisory board (1%), and percentage of internationals on the advisory board (1%). 

International opportunities (16%)

The final category is international opportunities. This is made up of just two datasets. International mobility (8%) measures the location of alumni before, during, and after the program. International course experience (8%) measures the number of international opportunities students had during the program, such as exchanges, internships, and workshops. 

Analysis of the 2021 list

The most notable aspect of the 2021 ranking is the continued dominance of French Master in Finance programs in France. Their schools have taken the top five places on the list for three years in a row, with HEC Paris claiming the number one spot for nine out of 10 years. That’s largely down to the salaries of the program’s graduates, which average $156,583. It’s the second-highest post-graduate salary of any program in the ranking, and the salary increase of 92% is also the second-highest increase.

Alexei Ovtchinnikov is the Academic Director of the Master in Finance program at HEC Paris. He attributes the success of the program to its mix of academic credentials and post-graduate career opportunities for students.

“The Master in Finance program at HEC is an applied master’s program. Because of that, we offer a good blend of theory and practice in our curriculum, where the core courses are taught by top academics and the elective courses are taught by world-class practitioners,” he explains. (01:09)

“In addition to the strong academic curriculum, what the HEC Master in Finance program offers is exposure to a wide and deep alumni network of HEC graduates and access to top-notch employers in Europe, London as well as in Asia.” (01:49)

The biggest riser in the ranking was another French school – Emlyon Business School – which climbed 12 places to the 15th spot. Although it’s difficult to put this French dominance down to any one reason, these French programs consistently rank highly for post-grad salaries, job placement, and international mobility. Their tuition fees are also very competitive when compared with other leading study destinations.

Across the channel, several UK schools climbed the ranking despite gloomy post-Brexit forecasts for the country’s higher education sector. Spain’s IE Business School rose four places to 8th, while Esade went from 18th to 15th. Similarly impressive results for the likes of Germany, Portugal, and Switzerland suggest not just a French, but a Europe-wide dominance of the ranking.