RANKS TEMPLE’S ONLINE MBA SECOND AFTER IT WAS TOSSED OFF U.S. NEWS FOR CHEATING
So who ranks first in online MBAs? Kenan-Flagler’s MBA@UNC program, the top 2U partner in the MBA arena, and the university that 2U relies upon for nearly 10% of its entire revenue. Kenan-Flagler has one of the best online MBA options in the world and this year was tied for first in the online MBA ranking published by U.S. News.
But if cost is a significant factor in CollegeChoice’s ranking, as the organization claims, it is worth noting that UNC’s online MBA is the second most expensive online MBA in the world at a total cost of $125,589 for students enrolling in the program in the 2019-2020 academic year (even though CollegeChoice falsely lists the program’s tuition at $26,354). By the way, all the tuition rates on the website are wrong: Temple’s tuition for its online offering is listed at $21,042, less than half the actual $59,760 cost of the program.
Right behind UNC is Temple University, which was tossed out of U.S. News’ ranking of online MBA Programs last year after it was discovered that the school’s administrators submitted fraudulent data to U.S. News over several years to game the ranking (see MBA Rankings: Why Schools Are Willing To Cheat). Temple ultimately ousted the dean of its business school in the scandal and in December paid nearly $5.5 million in a settlement of a class action suit brought by students and alumni. Temple, moreover, released the news of its settlement on a Friday at 4:40 p.m. EST right before the Christmas holiday, apparently hoping the news would get buried.
NOT THE ONLY IMPOSTER IN ONLINE MBA RANKINGS
Rounding out the top five programs are No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Arkansas State, and No. 5 University of Florida. While Florida’s online MBA has consistently performed well in other rankings (the school’s program is ranked fourth in U.S. News and seventh in Poets&Quants), the high ranking accorded Penn State and Arkansas State seems outsized. Both those programs are unranked by Poets&Quants and Arkansas State is not among the top 25 programs rated by U.S. News.
Not surprisingly, CollegeChoice is hardly the only sham player in this Google-gaming Wild West of the Internet. In fact, there are at least four other highly suspicious sites with the same look and feel of the CollegeChoice: TheBestSchools.org, AffordableCollegeonline.org, OnlineMBA.com, and BestColleges.com. All five, in fact, have similar “badges” for schools to promote their online MBA rankings on the sites.
All have similarly vague descriptions of methodology, references to data sources that don’t supply graduate school metrics, the same business model to funnel unwitting prospective students into completing referral forms for programs, and no apparent information on the site about the owner of these companies or any concrete ways to contact a specific person in charge. All have domain names registered with GoDaddy and two of them–OnlineMBA.com and CollegeChoice.net, share the same server at Cloudflare.com. HigherEducation.com, moreover, in addition to owning CollegeChoice also owns OnlineMBA.com and BestCollges.com. The firm’s Google-gaming prowess is undisputed: These five sites alone boast seven of the top ten listings in a Google search of the “best online MBA programs.” 2U school partners with every one of these five sites, advertising its online MBA options, at numerous schools, including Pepperdine University and American University.
The bottom line: Even though there are plenty of issues with the big brand rankings from the likes of U.S. News and the Financial Times, users need to be highly skeptical of these lists and the schools that use them to fill their virtual MBA seats. Any business school that participates in this game is as negligent as the owners of these sites.