Business schools that have online MBA programs often claim that the long distance versions of their programs are the exact same standards as their full-time residential flagship programs.
Don’t believe it.
While getting an online MBA is now a viable option for professionals who want the flexibility to earn a graduate degree while still keeping a paycheck and a job, they are hardly equivalent to an on-campus experience.
Many schools will issue the same MBA diploma to their online students as they do to their residential students. And many will have their tenure or tenure-track faculty teaching in those programs. But the admission standards for online options bear little resemblance to most full-time programs.
Lowest Acceptance Rates At U.S. News’ Top 25 Online MBA Programs
|Online MBA Program||Admit Rate||Applicants||Accepted|
|Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)||56%||193||108|
|Arizona State (Carey)||59%||494||293|
|Ball State (Miller)||68%||138||94|
AT UNC KENAN-FLAGLER, JUST 10% OF THE LATEST COHORT OF ONLINE MBA STUDENTS SUBMITTED A GMAT OR GRE
Consider these stats from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School At its traditional on-campus MBA, every enrolled student applied to the program with either a GMAT or GRE score. In its online MBA, only 10% of the latest incoming class submitted a standardized test score. The average online GMAT was 661 versus the 697 average for the full-time residential offering.
But there is one big surprise this year: Due to recent declines in the number of applicants to its full-time MBA program, the acceptance for MBA@UNC was actually lower than the acceptance rate for its on-campus MBA. The latest admit rate for the online version was 49% versus 53% for the Class of 2021. Among the top 25 schools, UNC also reported the highest number of applicants: 946.
A Poets&Quants‘ analysis of acceptance rates in online MBA programs show that even among schools ranked in the top 25 by U.S. News & World Report, some programs accept 100% of the people who apply. The topo 25 school with the lowest admit rate is a surprise: it’s the University of Mississippi which admitted only 25% of the 118 candidates who applied in the last incoming class. Ole Miss, however, had less success getting its admitted applicants enrolled because half of the people accepted failed to enroll in the program.
IN THE ONLINE MBA WORLD, KANSAS STATE HAS A BETTER YIELD RATE THAN HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL
The school with the best yield rate–percentage of admitted candidates who enroll as students–was also a surprise. It’s Kansas State University’s online MBA where 97% of the applicants accepted showed up in the program. That is a yield rate better than Harvard Business School’s 90% rate on its two-year, full-time MBA program.
Yield rates for online MBA programs are something of a surprise as well because they are fairly high compated to most full-time prestige residential MBAs. The reason: Most online candidates apply to only one program so they are far more likely to enroll at a school once accepted. Often times, applicants to highly ranked full-time MBA programs hedge their bets, putting in applications to four or more schools.
Among the highest ranked 25 programs by U.S. News, even the lowest yield rate is 34% at the University of Arizona’s online MBA.
Highest Yield Rates At U.S. News’ Top 25 Online MBA Programs
|Online MBA Program||Yield Rate||Accepted||Enrolled|
|North Carolina State (Poole)||80%||129||103|
(See following page for acceptance and yield rates and the percentage of students who submit a GMAT or GRE)