What are the best online MBA programs outside the United States?
That’s a good question that is often hard to answer. The largest ranking of online options is U.S. News’ annual list which assigns a rank on 321 programs, but it is entirely U.S. centric. The Poets&Quants’ 2019-2020 ranking—based on online MBA alumni satisfaction surveys and data provided by the schools—also is a U.S. based list. And while the Financial Times produces a global ranking of online MBAs, it ranks just ten programs.
That’s pretty much why we were intrigued by today’s online MBA ranking from QS in London, the largest admissions event company in the world. We rarely cover QS rankings because the methodologies used by the organization fail to impress us and often cause quirkier results than the normally quirky outcomes of the more influential rankings from U.S. News, the Financial Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and The Economist.
And this new online ranking is evidence of that. Two of the world’s best programs at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School don’t even make the list of 47 programs. And even though the methodology allows for a new program to be included because QS does not gather student or alumni opinion for its ranking, the list also doesn’t include high quality players such as the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the school with the highest ranked residential MBA that has an online option, Rice University or UC-Davis, or the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business disruptive iMBA at one of the most attractive price points in the market: $22,000.
A RANKING WITH THE MOST INTERNATIONAL ONLINE MBA OPTIONS: 22 PROGRAMS IN ALL
But the ranking does the most non-U.S. schools with online MBA offerings, 22 in all. Oddly, the top five are all non-U.S. players led by Spain’s IE Business School, Britain’s No. 2 Imperial College Business School and No. 3 Warwick Business School, No. 4 AGSM in Australia, and No. 5 Politecnico de Milano School of Management in Italy. The only U.S. schools to make the top ten list are Indiana University’s widely acclaimed KelleyDirect program, which came in sixth place, No. 8 USC Marshall, and No. 9 Florida International University.
Three of the international schools in QS’ top ten are also in the Financial Times top ten: Warwick sits at number one in the FT, followed by No 2 IE and Milano in ninth place. So even though we don’t think all that much of the methodology (more on that later) and the serious omissions of several of the best programs out there, the one benefit here is the longer list of international options from which to choose.
THE TOP ONLINE MBAS ACCORDING TO QS
|School||Rank||Cost||Average Length (Months)||Work Experience (Years)|
|IE Business School (Spain)||1||€51,200 ($55,584)||18||10.0|
|Imperial College Business School (U.K.)||2||£37,600 ($46,193)||24||10.5|
|Warwick Business School (U.K.)||3||£40,450 ($49,686)||30||13.0|
|AGSM (Australia)||4||AUD $59,760 ($37,565)||Row:4 Cell:4||13.0|
|Politecnico di Milano School of Management (Italy)||5||€32.000 ($34.745)||21||13.0|
|Alliance Manchester Business School (U.K.)||7||£30,000 ($36,860)||24||12.0|
|Otago Business School (New Zealand)||10||NZ $57,102 ($34,051||36||16.0|
|EU Business School (Spain)||11||€19,800 ($21,498)||15||9.5|
|Vierick Business School (Belgium)||12||€37,500 ($40,716)||25||14.0|
|CENTRUM Graduate Business School (Peru)||14||$23,000||22||10.0|
|Oxford Brookes Business School (U.K.)||15||£18,600 ($22,931)||27||13.0|
|Durham Business School (U.K.)||16||£24,000 $29,597)||24||13.0|
|Birmingham Business School (U.K.)||17||£21,600 ($26,638)||33||NA|
|Deakin Business School (Australia)||20||AUD $51,600 ($32,622)||30||12.0|
|SBS Swiss Business School (Switzerland)||27||CHF 17,250 ($17,756)||24||9.0|
|Aston Business School (U.K.)||28||£20,100 ($24,788)||24||10.0|
|La Trobe University (Australia)||30||AUD $60,300 ($38,743)||24||10.1|
|The Open University Business School (U.K.)||31||£21,290 ($26,254)||36||NA|
|Robert Gordon University (U.K.)||32||£17,000 ($20,962)||33||14.0|
|Amity Directorate (India)||33||NA||24||5.0|
|Bradford School of Management (U.K.)||35||£18,296 ($22,564)||36||13.0|
|Curtin Graduate School of Business (Australia)||40||AUD $61,200 ($38,676)||35||14.3|
U.K. SCHOOLS DOMINATE THE INTERNATIONAL ONLINE MBA OPTIONS WITH TEN OUT OF 22 PROGRAMS
So out of the 22 non-U.S. programs, the business schools in the United Kingdom clearly dominate with ten options, including three in the top ten. Australia is next with four ranked programs, and Spain follows with a pair. Belgium, Italy, India, New Zealand, Peru, and Switzerland each have one online offering on the list.
Where a program ranks may well be less important than the fact it is ranked at all. That’s because the QS methodology leaves much to be desired. Some 30% of it is based on “employability,” though online students are part-time and fully employed. No less bothersome, this part of the ranking is leveraged from an overall survey of employers used by QS and not specific to online programs. Another 30% is based on a school’s class profile, including the percentage of women and internationals in the program (not that these factors have much to do with a program’s academic quality).
Some 35% is based on “faculty and teaching,” though QS does not ask students or alumni to rate the quality of the professors or their teaching skills. And finally, a mere 5% of the ranking is purportedly devoted to “class experience,” a metric that takes into account where there are regular online classes that are live. That is an essential part of any quality online program but QS gives that metric a tiny 0.8% of the rankings’ weight, the same importance as whether you can do online work on a mobile tablet. Seriously?