Call them the party crashers. In the second annual Poets&Quants ranking of the best online MBA programs, three universities surpassed last year’s dominant winner, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. And two of them came out of nowhere.
The University of Southern California Marshall School of Business topped our 2019 ranking with its novel, fully in-house online MBA program. Launched in 2015, the program didn’t have enough alumni to participate in last year’s inaugural P&Q online MBA ranking — but this year it had plenty, and the overwhelmingly positive alumni satisfaction rates helped to propel USC Marshall’s online offering to a first-place finish.
Up next, Auburn University’s Harbert School of Business catapulted from 10th in last year’s ranking to second, passing last year’s first- and second-place finishers. Auburn was followed by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in third and Carnegie Mellon in fourth. Lehigh University rounded out the top five, rising one spot from last year’s sixth-place finish.
Finishing in the top 10 this year were the online offerings from No. 6 University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, No. 7 University of Florida, No. 8 University of Nebraska at Lincoln, No. 9 Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business, and No. 10 University of Dallas’ Jindal School of Management.
Top Ten Online MBA Programs Of 2019
- USC Marshall School of Business, $99,692
- Auburn University Harbert College of Business, $34,125
- Indiana University Kelley School of Business, $67,830
- Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, $132,000
- Lehigh University College of Business & Economics, $42,300
- University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, $124,345
- University of Florida Warrington College of Business, $58,000
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business, $30,240
- Hofstra University Zarb College of Business, $63,435
- University of Texas-Dallas Jindal School of Management, $94,261
SCHOOLS RANKED ON ADMISSIONS STANDARDS, ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE & CAREER OUTCOMES
In all, 35 U.S. business schools met the criteria to be ranked by Poets&Quants. Those 35 schools completed a highly detailed survey, and all — with the exception of Louisiana State University — allowed us to survey their alumni. Given the relative newness of online degree programs and the lack of resources often devoted to them, many schools do a mediocre job of tracking their alumni and following up with them. That makes effectively surveying alumni more difficult and it’s why these top-ranked schools stand apart from the crowd. Among the 34 schools surveyed, 1,297 out of 7,095 alums responded, for a response rate of a little more than 18%.
Like last year’s debut ranking, schools were measured on three equally weighted parts: admissions standards, an alumni assessment of the program’s academic and extracurricular experience, and career outcomes (see How We Crunched The Numbers).
Among admissions data, we examined the average undergraduate GPAs of students, the average work experience of the most recently accepted class, the acceptance rate for applicants, and average class scores on standardized tests, the GMAT and the GRE. This year we also gave schools credit for enrolling students who did not submit a standardized test but who had 10 or more years of experience, a change from the debut ranking that was made in consultation with several schools. The programs with the highest admissions standards were USC Marshall, Indiana Kelley, Texas Jindal, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Carnegie Mellon.
For the online MBA experience, we relied on alumni answers to 11 questions that probed the essence of their education, from the quality of professors and class projects to their fellow classmates (see How Online MBA Alums Rated Their Schools). Topping the list for the best online academic and extracurricular experience were Hofstra Zarb, the Jack Welch Management Institute, USC Marshall, Auburn, Carnegie Mellon, and Indiana Kelley.
For career outcomes, we asked alums if the program helped them to achieve a salary increase or promotion at work, whether it allowed them to accomplish their primary and secondary professional goals, and how well career services worked on their behalf. USC also showed up at the very top for career outcomes, followed by Hofstra, Texas Jindal, Auburn, Lehigh, and Kenan-Flagler.