General information on ranking

Name of the ranking QS Global MBA Rankings
Geographical scope Global
Name of person in charge of ranking Ben Sowter
E-mail of person in charge of ranking
Website of the ranking
Publication frequency annual
First year of publication 2012
Most recent year of publication 2020
Date of last update 2021-08-26
Ranking organization Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd (QS)
Website of the methodology

The QS Global MBA Rankings 2021 highlight the best MBA programs across the world. Data was collected in early 2020, using three surveys; the QS Global Employer Survey, the QS Global Academic Survey and a survey completed by the business schools themselves. The survey completed by schools covered quantitative indicators such as the salary of graduates, class profile etc. Schools provided career progression information on their alumni using MBACSEA compliant standards. All schools must be accredited by either AACSB, AMBA, EFMD (EQUIS). A total of 13 indicators form the basis of five key criteria that programs were ranked on:


QS Global Employer Survey (35%) 

The backbone of the rankings is the QS Global Employer Survey, which asks employers from which schools they prefer to hire. Between 2016-2020, hundreds of thousands of university and business school nominations were collected from nearly 40,000 global employers. Schools have the option to contribute to the survey by nominating up to 400 employers that recruit their graduates.

Employment Rate (5%)

The total score for this indicator considers the employment rate for students, three months post-graduation, based on MBACSEA standards.


Alumni Outcomes (10%)

The Alumni Outcomes Index looks at the schools associated with over 50,000 CEOs, executives and board members at the biggest companies in the world including Apple, Amazon, UBS, IBM, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, ExxonMobil, AT&T, PepsiCo. This year some of the most successful entrepreneurs were also included using the CrunchBase Database. Schools do not directly provide QS information on their alumni. QS collects it from publicly available sources and validates. Schools can suggest to the QS Intelligence Unit possible lists of successful companies/alumni in order to enhance the quality of the survey.

Entrepreneurship (5%)

This measure is included in the ranking to reflect a growing trend of students interested in setting up their own companies post-graduation. Schools self report this figure based on MBACSEA standards.


10 Year ROI (15%)

QS looked at a 10-year return on investment, mapping average post-MBA salaries against average salaries before enrolment, taking into account forgone salary as well as tuition and cost of living. Salary increases are factored into both pre and post-MBA salary, with the latter increasing at a higher rate, as it would be expected. Ranking also takes into account the percentage of graduates accepting employment within three months of finishing their studies.

Payback Month (5%)

QS looks at the time it takes to pay back the cost.  The shorter the payback month the better score the school receives.


QS Academic Reputation  (10%)

This metric gives us an accurate impression of the reputation of an MBA program and is based on university and business school nominations of academics from around the world between 2016 and 2020.

Research Impact (2.5%)

Elsevier’s Scopus database is used to assess the research intensity of schools.

Percentage of faculty with PhD (2.5%)


The percentage of female students and faculty members (schools with an equal split receiving the highest possible score) + The percentage of international faculty overall at the business school and the international mix of students on the MBA program.

Additional information

  • Type of publication: internet
  • Internet users access to ranking: open access
  • Language of publication: English
  • Main target groups: employers, higher education institutions, policymakers, governments and funding agencies, quality assurance, accreditation, and recognition organizations
  • Level of comparison: study programs
  • Major dimensions covered: employability, internationalization, reputation, research, teaching
  • Structure of presentation: multi-indicator ranking, ordinary presentation (league tables)
  • Data sources: data collected from HEIs by ranking organization, survey conducted exclusively by ranking organization, third-party database (data not provided by HEI)
  • Quality assurance of ranking: advisory board, periodic consultancy
  • Website of the ranking organization:
  • Types of the ranking organization: commercial/for-profit (incl. media)
  • Types of rankings: business