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Chicago Booth tops ranking of world's best exec MBA programs

After making a significant overhaul to its executive MBA program last year, the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business emerged as Poets&Quants' best EMBA in the world.

By John A. Byrne

After a significant overhaul to its executive MBA program last year, the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business emerged as the best EMBA in the world, according to the new 2014 composite ranking by Poets&Quants.

Chicago, which was second last year, nosed out the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School for first place honors. Wharton had held a tight grip on the top spot since began ranking EMBA programs four years ago.

Rounding out the top five are No. 3 Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, No. 4 IE Business School, the highest rank ever achieved by a non-U.S. school in the ranking, and No. 5 Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Though there were many changes up and down the list of the 48 ranked programs, the biggest surprise was Chicago's emergence at the top. At a time when many institutions are lightening the workloads of their executive MBA programs and awarding the degree for less work, Chicago continues to have one of the most rigorous and academically challenging programs in the world.

The school last year increased the international exchange portion of the program to five weeks from four, doubled the number of required electives so that students can specialize in a discipline, and tossed into the program a full menu of leadership exercises that had long been an entry hallmark of its full-time MBA experience.

Booth also added a three-month-long capstone course that provides the opportunity for students to integrate concepts and tools from much of the curriculum in a multi-round simulation culminating in presentations to a panel of investor-judges. The simulation requires competing teams of students to maximize revenue for a fictitious company.

Booth's 21-month program is taught at campuses in Chicago and London, and the school has more than 500 students studying in its executive MBA program on campuses in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Still, the school maintains unusually tight control of the program's quality. Booth doesn't partner with other schools, preferring instead to fly its professors from Chicago to London and Hong Kong to teach. Though costly and hard to scale, the practice allows Booth to parade its most seasoned faculty before its most experienced students.

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