Ranking The Top Online MBA Programs


Ranking the Top Online MBA Programs

It is that time of the year…and that means even more MBA rankings. Last week, The Financial Times published their long-awaited MBA rankings. And earlier in January, U.S. News and World Report released their online MBA rankings. To conclude a busy rankings month, QS Top MBA posted some business school rankings of its own.

QS, which holds business school events for prospective students, uses an 18-point formula for compiling their rankings. The largest component is employer reputation, which is based off a survey and accounts for 30% of a school’s rank. Oddly, some 7% is derived from the number of years a school has existed, while average GMAT has less weight: 6%. There are several factors that each encompass 5% of a score: Average years of work experience, faculty-to-student ratio, percentage of full-time faculty, graduation rate, nationalities, percentage of female candidates, and percentage of group projects. Accreditation and enrollment each count 4%, while other graded components include number of applicants and compulsory attendance.

This methodology differs greatly from U.S. News, which heavily weighs admissions selectivity, peer reputation, interactivity between faculty and students, and faculty credentials. Still, QS offers one of the few rankings that integrate international programs. As you’d expect, the results leave something to be desired, partly the result of its methodology and partly its so-so sample of responding recruiters. Missing entirely from the rankings, for example, are the two most highly ranked business schools in the U.S. that offer online programs–Carnegie Mellon and UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Just as puzzling, it ranks Thunderbird, in the throes of wrenching change and chaos, fourth best in the world. And no less than six of its top ten programs are all in the U.K. where the firm is based. Hmm….

In any case, and with a very big grain of salt, here is the QS top 10 distance MBA programs:

1) IE Business School (Spain)

2) Warwick Business School (United Kingdom)

3) Kelley School of Business (Indiana University)

4) Thunderbird School of Global Management

5) Manchester Business School (United Kingdom)

6) Imperial College Business School (United Kingdom)

7) Oxford Brookes Business School (United Kingdom)

8) Henley Business School (United Kingdom)

9) Florida International Graduate School of Business

10) University of Strathclyde (United Kingdom)

Although the United States placed only three business schools in the top 10, it has six additional schools represented in the top 20: 11) Temple (Fox) 12) Drexel (LeBow), 13)  Penn State (Smeal), 15) University of Texas at Dallas, 19) Arizona State (Carey), and 20) Ball State. What’s more, American schools comprise 8 of the schools in places 21-30: 21) Portland State, 22) The University of Houston (Victoria), 24) Auburn, 25) Syracuse (Whitman), 25) University of Florida (Hough), 27) Northeastern (D’Amore-McKim), 28) University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and 29) University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the University of Indiana’s Kelley School of Business, a pioneer in online MBA education, is ranked #1 among American schools for both the QS Top MBA and last month’s U.S. News and World Report online rankings. However, U.S. News also includes West Georgia (Richards), Nebraska-Lincoln, Washington State, Boston University, James Madison, and Quinnipiac in their Top 10. None of these schools are found in QS Top MBA’s Top 30.

This ranking also differs greatly than the American distance education ranking produced last spring by Poets&Quants. Here, the top two programs were Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) and the University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler), which aren’t ranked in the Top 30 by QS Top MBA. Babson (Olin) and George Washington, which Poets ranked 5th and 9th among American distance education programs, also don’t appear on this ranking. Conversely, Florida International, ranked #9 worldwide by QS Top MBA, does not appear in the Poets ranking. Our take on this is simple: Online MBA rankings are a work in progress. It’s best to go the best schools that have highly ranked full-time, on-campus MBA programs. The halo effect of those flagship rankings has far more impact on the reputation of your online degree than whatever list someone else comes up with. Source: Top MBA

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