Warwick Tops FT 2020 Online MBA Ranking

Warwick Business School

Warwick Business School

For the third consecutive year, the online MBA program at Britain’s Warwick Business School topped a limited Financial Times ranking of the best virtual MBAs. The new 2020 ranking, listing just ten schools, showed a familiar cast of online offerings with Spain’s IE Business School coming in second place, also for the third consecutive year.

In all, the list of schools is remarkably stable, particularly when compared to other FT rankings. There was only one newcomer to the top ten: Politecnico di Milano School of Management which entered the ranking in ninth place. The Italian school replaced last year’s No. 9 program at the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales which fell off the 2020 list.

Five of the ranked programs this year are based in the U.S., including No. 3 University of Massachusetts-Amherst, No. 4. University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, and No. 5 Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. The University of Florida’s online MBA came in sixth, while Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business was eighth.


Compared to other online lists, the Financial Times ranks a tiny fraction of programs. In comparison, U.S. News & World Report now ranks 321 programs in the U.S. alone, while Poets&Quants ranks 35 programs. On reason for the FT’s puny sample size is the lack of participation by business schools. The FT noted that only 22 schools took part in the ranking and most of them had alumni response rates that were so low the British newspaper could not rank them. Given the limited size of the ranking, there were few significant year-over-year changes. In fact, the top three schools all maintained their 2019 ranks while the fourth and fifth schools simply changed places (see table below).

The FT attributed Warwick’s repeat win to its scores on several of the newspaper’s ranking metrics. Warwick’s online MBA alumni reported average salaries of $204,799 three years after graduation. That’s the highest reported pay for alumni of any of the ten ranked schools, with Kenan-Flagler’s online MBA alums a distant second with an average of $171,665. The salary measure is the most weighted in the methodology, worth 20% of the ranking.

Warwick alums reported a 40% jump in salaries in the three years after graduation, third best behind alums of the University of Massachusetts program who saw average salary increases of 46% and a 41% average jump for alums of the online program at the University of Florida. The FT also noted that Warwick ranked highest for career progression and for the percentage of international faculty — 78%.

Warwick’s two-year online MBA is priced at £33,250, or roughly $42,500. The school delivers its online MBA in eight required modules, with 30 teaching hours, 40 hours of guided self-study and another 30 hours of independent self-study. Students get to choose four electives and have a consulting project in the program.


To rank online MBA programs, the FT uses 18 different metrics culled from both school and alumni surveys. The British newspaper puts the most weight (30%) on compensation, with 20% slotted to average alumni salary three years after graduation and 10% on the percentage increase in alumni salary three years after graduation. While Warwick’s alums came out first this year again, the average pay was nearly $10,000 less than a year earlier when the school’s alums reported average pay of $214,141. The 2020 ranking is based on surveys completed by schools and alumni who completed their online MBA in 2016.

Warwick captured first even though the alumni gave the school the eighth lowest scores for program delivery—a category that includes alumni satisfaction with live teaching sessions, teaching materials and online exams—and for online interaction—a category that rates alumni satisfaction with student interaction, teamwork and the accessibility to faculty. Those two categories are given a 5% and 10% ranking weight, respectively.

Indiana’s Kelley School came out first on program delivery, followed by Florida, Northeastern, Massachusetts and IE Business School. Florida, meantime, ranked first on online interaction, followed by Indiana Kelley, Politecnico di Milano, IE, and Kenan-Flagler.

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