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U.S. News’ 2017 Ranking Of The Best Online MBAs

Photo by Kelley School of Business at Indiana University/Josh Anderson

MORE STABILITY AMONG THE TOP 10 ONLINE PROGRAMS

Yet at the upper reaches of the ranking, especially the Top Ten, the movement among schools is negligible, with most schools changing rank by just one or two places. Temple is two index points ahead of No. 2 Carnegie Mellon, but five index points ahead of Indiana and seven points over UNC, the two schools it shared first place with only three years ago.

Temple entered the online MBA market in 2009, enrolling just 18 students in its inaugural class which then had a price tag of $70,000, more than $10,000 more than current pricing. The program grew slowly to an intake of 22 students in 2010 and 35 in 2011. The school is now up to three intakes a year, with the latest cohort of 93 students starting the program this past Sunday. Fox expects to move to five intakes, each with a maximum of 100 students, by year-end. “The model is built for scale,” says Kapanjie, managing director of online and digital learning at Fox. “The plan is to continue to grow. We just need to deepen our faculty bench and we’ll have more intakes. You just need to offer the courses more often.”

Asked why he thinks Fox repeated its first-place finish, Kapanjie says, “first and foremost, it’s the caliber of student we attract to the program. In an MBA program, students bring their professional experiences into the classroom so it’s important that you have students with significant work backgrounds. And the program is attractive to the busy working professional.”

AVERAGE TIME TO COMPLETE THE FOX ONLINE MBA? 30 MONTHS

Students can finish the Fox MBA in as little as 20 months–something 40% of the students do–or can stretch the program out up to five years. The average time Fox students take to complete their MBAs is 30 months. Some 75% of the courses are in the required core, with the remaining time devoted to electives that can build into one of eight concentrations, ranging from entrepreneurship to strategic management. A ninth concentration in supply chain management will be added this fall.

Fox’s program tends to draw students with more work experience than rivals. The latest cohort, with an average 13 years of work experience, looks more like an Executive MBA program than an online MBA.

The Fox program, which features a week-long residency with hotel accommodations included, allows students to take one course at a time over four-to-fice week periods. Each online class at Fox meets live with a faculty member every Thursday night, and quizzes are assigned after each required video. The program concludes with a capstone experience. Last year, the school ran 59 projects involving 350 students, with a seven-to-one student faculty ratio for the capstone presentations that are delivered virtually or in-person.

A VIDEO VAULT OF 2,500 VIDEO-TAPED LECTURES

A video vault stuffed with 2,500 lectures by Fox profs can be tapped into for mini-tutorials on everything from emerging markets and the power of feedback to Excel proficiency and multiple regressions. Students can search the video database at any time for a quick refresh or when assigned specific lectures in a class.

There’s no doubt that the school’s three-peat at No. 1 will make it easy to grow the program to an annual intake of roughly 500 students from the approximately 270 incoming online students in the past three intakes. Over the past year, the school already has been able to lower its acceptance rate to 45% from 66% as total enrollment climbed to 351 students from 240 students.

“Marketing used to be our biggest issue,” concedes Kapanjie. “I thought we were the best kept secret but the ranking has helped to bring a lot of attention to our program. One metric is peer reputation and each year we have gone up in that. We are really establishing our brand in the place.”