sustainability programs
United Nations Sustainable Development 17 Global Goals banner displayed across Dublin's Rosie Hackett Bridge over the River Liffey. Source: Shutterstock

Most MBA rankings assess criteria narrowly confined alone the lines of alumni salaries after graduation, how they compare to their pre-MBA earnings, employment rates or career progression. Hardly any emphasis is given to their potential impact on the planet or the integration of sustainability programmes in their course or research, despite being an issue deeply cared about among students today.

Corporate Knights’ recently published Better World MBA ranking is one ranking that bucks this trend. Assessing what are termed as “Sustainable” or “Green” MBAs, the Toronto-based B Corp looks at how programmes are prioritising environmental and social impacts first, before profits.

For this particular ranking, business schools are measured on how they encourage future business leaders to contribute to building a better, more sustainable world through the following five indicators:

1. How core courses integrate relevant sustainable development themes. Accounting for 30 percent, this is determined by looking at the course description available on the programme’s website. List of topics considered as part of “sustainable development” include those containng keywords such as Agro-Biodiversity, Carbon Markets, Eco-Citizen, etc.

2. The number of research institutes and centres “that are fully or substantially dedicated to areas of sustainable development”. This makes up 10 percent.

3. The number of peer-reviewed publications in academic journals in 2018 (calendar year) that was authored or co-authored by a faculty member of a business school and the number of citations that are considered as part of “sustainable development”. These account for 30 percent and 20 percent respectively.

4. Gender diversity: The percentage of faculty members who are women out of the total number of faculty members, accounting for five percent.

5. Racial diversity: Percentage of the school’s faculty members who can be identified by photo, name and or biography as clearly not part of the country’s majority race or ethnic group. This accounts for five percent.

By these measures, Warwick Business School takes the top spot again this year, the second consecutive time it has done so. Canada’s Schulich School of Business and the UK’s University of Bath School of Management round up the top three.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), ranking 21st globally, is Asia’s best performing MBA programme on this ranking.

Frederik Dahlmann, associate professor of strategy and sustainability at the Warwick Business School said: “Now more than ever is the best time to be involved in this area.”

The earlier generation of scholars were “groundbreakers,” according to Dahlmann, who raised sustainability as a legitimate topic for leading academic journals.

“They have been championing research on sustainability directly as editors of those [academic] journals or through special issues,” he says. “I think there is a two-way recognition now that mainstream management journals have to be a bit more responsive to those wider needs, beyond what is typically seen as management issues.”

Below are the top 20 business schools in the Better World MBA Ranking 2019:

Rank –
Rank –
Business School Country Final Score
1 1 Warwick University – Warwick Business School UK 94.23%
3 2 York University – Schulich School of Business Canada 89.90%
15 3 University of Bath – School of Management UK 86.13%
5 4 University of Vermont – Grossman School
of Business
US 85.00%
4 5 Griffith Business School Australia 84.86%
10 6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology –
MIT Sloan School of Management
US 84.04%
27 7 Durham University Business School UK 83.56%
12 8 TIAS School for
Business and Society
Netherlands 83.04%
6 9 Georgia Institute of Technology –
Scheller College of Business
US 82.80%
8 10 Saint Mary’s University – Sobey School
of Business
Canada 82.72%
18 11 University of Nottingham United Kingdom 82.46%
11 12 Fordham University – Gabelli School of
United States 81.66%
19 13 University of Victoria – Peter B Gustavson
School of Business
Canada 80.76%
16 14 McGill University – Desautels Faculty
of Management
Canada 79.53%
14 15 Copenhagen Business School Denmark 79.38%
22 16 University of Edinburgh Business School United Kingdom 79.35%
20 17 University of Manchester – Alliance
Manchester Business School
United Kingdom 79.00%
9 18 University of Guelph – Sustainable Commerce Canada 78.86%
2 19 University of Exeter Business School United Kingdom 77.76%
7 20 INSEAD France 75.67%

The 146 business schools assessed were drawn from the most recent Financial Times list of top-100 MBA programs, the schools that made Better World’s top-40 roster last year, and business schools accredited by AMBA, AACSB or EQUIS and signatories to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).

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