U.S. News New 2021 Online MBA Ranking Out Jan. 26

Online class

U.S. News & World Report plans to unveil what will be its ninth annual ranking of online MBA programs on Jan. 26th.

The highly anticipated list, which debuted in 2013, included record participation with 335 business schools in the U.S. providing data last year that resulted in 321 ranked programs. At the very top of the 2020 ranking were Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School sharing top honors for the third time. Over the eight years that U.S. News has been ranking online MBA programs, Kelley has racked up the most first-place wins with four, while UNC is right behind with three. Kelley also was chosen as the No. 1 online option in Poets&Quants’ recently released 2021 online MBA ranking.

U.S. News said its 2021 edition will rank the most online degree offerings in its history, assessing 1,641 master’s programs in criminal justice/criminology, computer information technology, MBA, non-MBA business, education, engineering and nursing, as well as overall online bachelor’s degree programs that are aimed at students who earned some college credits previously and are looking to complete their degree. This figure is up from 1,609 the previous year.

U.S. NEWS WILL ALSO RANK 145 ONLINE UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS PROGRAMS FOR THE FIRST TIME

For the first time, U.S. News said it will also rank two popular undergraduate specialties: business and psychology. Both only include institutions that reported to U.S. News offering these baccalaureate-level offerings online and will be computed exclusively from peer assessment surveys administered to these programs during fall 2020. In total, there will be 145 ranked online bachelor’s in business degree programs and 27 ranked online bachelor’s in psychology degree programs.

Last year’s list contained a number of familiar names and a few surprises among the top online MBAs. In fact, the five top leading programs in 2019 finished in exactly the same place on last year’s newly updated list (see below table.) One shocker: Temple University’s Fox School of Business, which was tossed off the list in 2019 after the school acknowledged that it had fraudulently reported data to U.S. News over a number of years, managed a return to the list of the best. But instead of ranking first, as it did for four consecutive years from 2015 to 2018 when it inflated rankings data to secure its No. 1 status, Fox managed to do no better than 88th place this year, tied with six other business schools.

THE TOP TEN ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS ACCORDING TO U.S. NEWS 2020 RANKING

2020 Rank & School2019 RankEnrollmentTotal CostThree-Year Graduation RateOne-Year Retention Rate
1. Indiana University (Kelley)11014$74,52081%99%
1. University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)1799$125,58989%96%
3. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)3126$136,00098%97%
4. University of Florida (Warrington)4504$59,80795%96%
5. University of Southern California (Marshall)5178$106,19797%100%
6. Penn State University–World Campus9486$59,32892%95%
6. University of Mississippi985$31,86087%85%
6. University of Texas-Dallas (Jindal)6303$86,01464%72%
9. Villanova University13298$64,80071%96%
10. University of Arizona (Eller)21345$51,52588%92%
10. University of Maryland (Smith)8436$88,77680%94%
10. University of Washington (Foster)126111$75,000NANA
10. University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium9330$27,90076%96%

Notes: Three-year graduation rates for entering cohorts of at least ten students during the July 2015-June 2016 academic year. Retention is calculated as a four-year average of one-year retention rates.

A TOP-TIER OF ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS EMERGES

Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School blended online MBA offering is again third, while the University of Florida and the University of Southern California respectively fourth and fifth. Because of ties, U.S. Newsnow has 14 different programs in its top ten. They include three schools ranked in sixth place, Penn State, the University of Mississippi and the University of Texas at Dallas. Villanova University is the sole occupant of the ninth spot, while U.S. News has five different programs all ranked tenth. They are Arizona State University’s Carey School, the University of Arizona, the University of Maryland, the University of Washington, and the University of Wisconsin’s MBA Consortium. This year, the Amherst program ranked 28th, down from 17th only a year ago.

The ranking is based on an overly complicated formula that centers on nearly 50 different metrics in five measured categories: Student engagement (28% of the weight), admissions selectivity (25%), peer reputation (25%), faculty credentials and training (11%), and student services and technology (11%). In each category, several metrics are taken into account. In admissions selectivity, for example, assigns a 40% weight to average GMAT and GRE scores of incoming students, 20% on the class’ average undergraduate grade point average, 20% on the acceptance rate, and finally 20% on what U.S. News calls “experience.”

If fewer than 75% of the latest incoming class is admitted without a GMAT or GRE score, U.S. News penalized a school last year.  For the new ranking, however, U.S. News is lowering the standardized test threshold to 25% so it will only discount a program if fewer than a quarter of the incoming students got in without a GMAT or GRE score.

DON’T MISS: THE BEST ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS OF 2021 or THE INSIDE SKINNY: WHAT IT’S LIKE TO DO AN ONLINE MBA