Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
Cornell Johnson | Mr. FinTech Startup
GMAT 570, GPA 3.4
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Analytics Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Hopeful Philanthropist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.74
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Future Angel Investor
GMAT 620, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Ms. Software Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. PE Strategist
GRE 326, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Cal Poly
GRE 317, GPA 3.2
Darden | Ms. Business Reporter
GMAT 2150, GPA 3.6
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Harvard | Ms. IB Deferred
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Harvard | Mr. Amazon Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Kellogg | Mr. Military In Silicon Valley
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. E-Sports Coach
GRE 323, GPA 5.72/10
Wharton | Ms. PMP To MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.72
Columbia | Mr. CPA
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Health Clinic Founder
GRE 330, GPA 3

IE Tops New FT Online MBA Ranking

onlinembaIE Business School in Spain topped the inaugural ranking of the world’s best online MBA programs published today (March 10) by The Financial Times. IE was followed by Warwick Business School in Britain, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School in Boston, the University of Florida and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

The highest ranked U.S. business schools with online MBA degree programs, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, don’t show up on the FT‘s list of just 15 programs. Presumably that’s because they have not been around long enough for FT to survey alumni three years after graduation or because they declined to cooperate. The British newspaper said 17 programs supplied data for the ranking, though two were obviously excluded from its ranking.

In any case, the FT follows U.S. News & World Report in cranking out a new list to rank online MBA degree programs. The FT list is comparatively skimpy and its methodology mimics the approach it takes for its full-time global MBA ranking. Through U.S. News only ranks U.S. business schools, it assigns numerical ranks to 172 online programs–more than 150 more than the FT. Because only 17 programs provided the FT with data, the list is not nearly as comprehensive and several schools appear to rank highly largely because of the absence of  competition.


Thunderbird School of Global Management, embroiled in a contentious fight with alumni who are against a tie-up with a for-profit education provider, finished  eighth in the new FT ranking. But when U.S. News crunched the numbers on its second consecutive ranking of online MBA programs, Thunderbird did no better than a tie for 51th place with Northeastern, which the FT ranks third in the world.

Regardless, Poets&Quants believes that a separate ranking for an online program is superfluous because the value of the degree is largely based on the overall reputation of the business school granting the degree. That reputation is typically a function of the school’s ranking for its flagship full-time MBA program (see American’s Top Online MBA Programs).

The FT methodology weighs 18 different metrics, ranging from a school’s “research rank,” based on the number of articles published by faculty in selected journals, to the percentage of women faculty at the school. The most heavily weighted metrics are compensation: the average salary of an alumnus three years after graduation accounts for 20% of the methodology, while the percentage increase from pre-MBA salary counts for 10% of the weight.


Interestingly enough, only two of the 18 metrics of the methodology bear more directly on the online experience: program delivery, which is how alumni rate the online delivery of “live teaching sessions, other teaching materials and online exams,” and online interaction, which is how alumni rate the “interaction between students, teamwork and the availability of faculty.” Those two measures account for only 15% of the methodology.

Looking at online program delivery alone, the winners of the FT’s alumni survey would be the University of Florida’s Hough School of Business, Indiana University, Syracuse University’s Whitman School, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Centrum Católica in Peru, Babson College, Northeastern and IE Business School, in that order.

Isolating the “online interaction” alumni survey results, the winners would be Florida, Thunderbird, Indiana, Syracuse, IE, Babson, Northeastern and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, in that order.

For a school’s online MBA program to be included, the school must be internationally accredited and the online program had to run for at least four consecutive years. A minimum of 70% of the program content must be delivered online, either synchronously or asynchronously. Finally, participants must pass a selection process before enrolling and an examination process before graduating.

The FT said that at least 20% of a program’s alumni had to respond to its survey for the school to be included, with at least 20 completed responses. A total of 844 alumni completed the survey, a response rate of 35%.

(See following page for table of ranked schools and comparison to U.S. News’ ranking)

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.