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Study in the US to become a Fortune 500 CEO, says new Alma Mater index

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Do you aspire to become the CEO of a global brand in the future, making the big decisions and leading large teams positioned all around the world? Are you already considering an MBA course to further your career? Well, then it seems studying in the US should be in your sights when deciding where to study....

Times Higher Education (THE) has published their first ever ‘Alma Mater: Global Executives’ index, ranking universities based on which have produced the most CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. The US dominated with thirty-eight institutions making the rankings, while their closest competitor China came in second with fifteen institutions. Meanwhile, Harvard University came top of the rankings themselves, having seen twenty-five Fortune 500 CEOs graduate from their hallowed halls, with three more US institutions making the top ten.


What this index says about the universities featured

More international students are flocking to the US than ever before, and this index suggests a few reasons why. Career prospects are clearly important to students in this economic downturn; meanwhile this exposure to the inner-workings of the Business world (mentioned above) and what can be achieved, has made students even more eager to succeed. It’s likely that these findings will only further influence international applicants in their decision-making. This index suggests the following of the universities featured:

  • The reputation of these universities goes far
  • They allow for networking and placement opportunities, in order to get a foot in the door with well-known brands
  • Graduates become familiar with international markets, or are able to transfer their skills to new markets (are not limited by geographic boundaries in your career search)
  • Graduates are able to move between several industries, even if they don’t have a background knowledge or education in it
  • Graduates have key core skills, including language expertise and the capacity to manage teams stationed in international offices


Be open to all options

However, if you don’t attend one of the top universities in the index, it doesn’t mean your dreams of being at the helm of a Fortune 500 company are lost. None of the top ten CEOs in the Fortune 500 graduated from Harvard, and only one graduated from one of the top ten universities in the Alma Mater index anyway. So take a look at all US universities, rather than be so dismissive of all but the most well know few.


It’s not all about where you start...

Plus, THE were quick to point out that many CEOs don’t have an undergraduate or Bachelor’s degree from a high ranking university (though it does help) – instead, it is while studying for their (post)graduate degree (e.g. Master’s, MBA and PhD) where these CEOs make the leap to one of these elite universities and really distinguish themselves. So again, it’s not about where you start, but rather where you finish. Work hard throughout your undergraduate degree to keep your hopes of postgraduate study at a more highly ranked university alive. Furthermore, many eventual CEOs choose to make the move abroad to study at postgraduate level.


Who will this index interest?

Worldwide television hit shows like The Apprentice and Undercover Boss have created a whole new entrepreneurial spirit among young people, showing them the inside workings of well known brands; meanwhile the public profiles of young billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg have provided attainable role models for them to look up. This index is sure to make for interesting reading among those students who have dreams to run industry-leading companies in the future.


Go further! Search now for an MBA course abroad!



Find out what Times Higher Education editor Phil Baty had to say about this new Alma Mater Index in our accompanying interview with him.


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About Author

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Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.