Sneak Peek: Top 10 Online MBA Programs Of 2020

For the third year in a row, Poets&Quants will publish its annual ranking of the best online MBA programs in the United States. This year — like last year — 35 schools will be included in the ranking, which will be published in its entirety on Monday, Oct. 14. Along with the rankings, feature profiles on each ranked school will also be published.

Data-driven stories looking at acceptance rates, average GMATs, total cost, average work experience, and all data gathered from the alumni stories will also be released. All data used to generate the ranking is based on school and alumni surveys collected by Poets&Quants between June and September of this year.


Last year, the online MBA program at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business topped the list. The program, which has jumped in price from about $99,000 last year to $106,000 this year was followed by the online MBA program at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, and Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics rounded out last year’s top five programs, respectively.

This year’s ranking saw three new schools climb into the top 10. Worcester Polytechnic Institute participated in the ranking for the first time ever and will debut in the top 10. Plus, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management and the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business climbed into the top 10. Last year, Isenberg placed 13th while Saunders came in 22nd.


This year’s methodology remains the same as last year. Three categories of admissions standards, academic experience, and career outcomes are equally weighted. Admissions standards are based on school-reported data for students enrolling during the 2018-2019 academic year. The data includes average undergraduate GPAs (20%), average work experience (20%), acceptance rates (10%), and average GMATs when considering the percentage of students with at least 10 years of work experience (50%).

Both the academic experience and career outcomes categories are based on an extensive alumni survey of the most recent graduating classes. For the academic experience category, 75% of the score is based on an average of 11 questions scaled one-to-10. Those questions asked about a variety of topics ranging from the satisfaction of consulting projects offered during the program to the responsiveness and availability of the professors to the ability to create new contacts. The remaining 25% was based on the percentage of students that received a raise or promotion as a result of the program.

For career outcomes, alumni were asked if they reached their “primary” (40%) and “secondary” (20%) career goals as a result of the program. Another 20% came from alumni rating any support they received from career coaches or career advisors in the program. And the final 20% came from the alumni rating the career opportunities from the new network built from the online MBA program.

Of course, no singular ranking is perfect and college decisions shouldn’t be made on rankings alone. This is why we suggest digesting all of the articles published with the rankings looking at the various data gathered through the months-long process as well as reading the individual school profiles. Our surveys and methodology were created in collaboration with deans and senior administrators at leading schools. Each year, after the ranking is published, we allow all schools invited to participate in the ranking to also comment and offer suggestions on our methodology and surveys. We then digest all of that feedback and decide if any changes should be made to improve the ranking.

In alphabetical order, here are this year’s top 10 Poets&Quants online MBA programs:

  • Auburn University (Harbert)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
  • Indiana University (Kelley)
  • Lehigh University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (Saunders)
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg)
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
  • University of Southern California (Marshall)
  • Worcester Polytechnic University (Foisie)


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