business school
For the best ROI, choose a one-year MBA outside the US. Source: Source: Abby Thompson/Unsplash

One-year MBAs in business schools outside the US have the best returns and shortest time to repay costs compared to programmes that are longer or take place in the US, the Forbes 2019 International MBA Rankings 2019 revealed.

Among one-year MBA programmes, IMD (International Institute for Management Development) located in Lausanne, Switzerland tops the list for the second year in a row. IMD graduates make a median salary of US$200,000 five years out of school with a five-year gain of US$168,900.

IMD Dean, Seán Meehan, told Forbes“The one-year [programme] requires we spend a lot of time together, two classes a day, little time off. To that end, we have to see that these are people persons, who understand the power of business to create positive change, have a greater goal than themselves, and are driven to lean in. We then have a formal career coaching system and students meet personally and as a team with a psychoanalyst regularly throughout the course of the [programme].”

IMD is followed by INSEAD and the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. The top 10 are dominated by European business schools, save for the Indian School of Business which is based in Hyderabad, India.

ISB Dean, Professor Rajendra Srivastava, told The Tribune: “We are delighted to be a part of the Forbes’ Best Business School 2019 rankings, and it is a pleasure to see ISB’s Postgraduate Programme in Management gaining more and more recognition globally.”

Rank School Location 5-Year
Years to
1 IMD Lausanne, Switzerland 168,900 2.7 82,000 200,000 85,000 680
2 Insead Fontainebleau, Singapore 154,700 2.6 79,000 195,000 90,000 710
3 Cambridge (Judge) Cambridge, UK 153,000 2.4 67,000 183,000 65,000 700
4 SDA Bocconi Milan, Italy 133,500 2.5 60,000 165,000 57,000 665
5 Oxford (Said) Oxford, UK 127,300 2.8 76,000 177,000 71,000 690
6 IE Business School Madrid, Spain 104,300 3.2 58,000 149,000 79,000 686
7 Indian School of Business Hyderabad, India 90,500 2.4 15,000 62,000 37,000 710
8 Warwick Coventry, UK 83,800 2.9 53,000 138,000 48,000 660
9 Mannheim Mannheim, Germany 83,000 3 51,000 125,000 42,000 680
10 ESMT Berlin Berlin, Germany 81,600 3.4 49,000 118,000 49,000 650

* Five-year total compensation after graduation, minus the sum of  tuition, fees and forgone compensation 

** Total out-of-state tuition and fees

Forbes analysed over 100 business schools and surveyed 17,500 Class of 2014 alumni for the 2019 rankings. Alumni were asked about their pre- and post-MBA compensation, career choice and location.

The rankings this year provide insight beyond which business schools has the highest return on investment. It also shows that duration – specifically, shorter duration – and location result in higher payoff.

Compared with the traditional two-year model, the one-year MBA  in a business school outside the US yielded a higher average five-year MBA gain. Among the Class of 2014, graduates of the one-year programme gained US$91,300, while their peers from two-year business schools and US programmes got US$62,300 and US$$54,500 respectively.

They also managed to recoup their investment (tuition fees and two years of lost salary) the fastest, averaging at 3.1 years. For graduates of two-year international programmes and US programmes, the average payback time were 3.8 years and four years respectively.

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