Acceptance Rates At The Top Online MBA Programs Of 2022

How has a year of Covid-19 impacted admission standards at the leading online MBA programs? At the 52 business schools ranked in Poets&Quants‘ fifth annual list, the answer is: It depends. Near the top of our ranking, in the elite programs like Indiana’s Kelley Direct and Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School, it’s definitely getting harder to get in; as you move down, your odds of admission increase considerably. And there are more schools, by far, in the latter category.

Across all B-schools, the data makes clear that it’s much easier to get accepted to an OMBA program than a traditional MBA. Many of the schools which saw huge declines in acceptance rate this year — in other words, which became more selective — really had nowhere to go but that direction. Meanwhile, the number of online MBA programs with acceptance rates of 90% or more grew to nine from seven last year, though the ranking itself grew to 52 schools from 47.

Other data support the proposition that OMBAs are becoming easier, not harder, to get into. Year-over-year, between 2020 and 2021, 18 schools out of the 43 for which we have sufficient data saw declines in their acceptance rate — that’s 42%. Between 2019 and 2020, the number was 16 schools out of 33, or 48.5%. Meanwhile, 25 schools out of 43 — 58% — saw increases, compared to 17 of 33 schools, or 51.5%, the previous two-year span.


The University of Southern California Marshall School of Business has the most selective online MBA program with a 26% acceptance rate. USC Marshall shaved 60% off its rate between 2020 and 2021, down from 64.9% in 2020, and more than 54% from 2019, when the program admitted 56.8% of applicants. The 60% was the biggest decline of any ranked school, followed by Indiana University’s Kelley Direct program, which declined 45.8% (65.9% to 35.7%); Indiana also had the biggest three-year decline, at 56.4% (from a rate of 81.9% in 2019).

Last year’s most selective program, the Jack Welch Management Institute — the only standalone business school in the ranking — was second this year, having increased its acceptance rate by 10.0% to 27.3%.

The highest rate in the ranking was reported by No. 46 Florida International University, which admitted 97.3% of applicants; last year’s highest rate, 98%, was reported by Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, which this year climbed to No. 3 in the overall ranking while decreasing its rate to 91.3%. Florida International saw the biggest two-year jump, of more than 76%, from 55.2% to 97.3%.


About those two-year declines: At the 18 B-schools that saw declines in their online MBA acceptance rate between 2020 and 2021, the average decline was 13%; last year, at the 16 schools with declines from 2019, the average was 12.6%. That's fairly steady. It's important to remember that these averages are heavily weighted by a few big-name schools (see details on the next pages). Same goes for the three-year declines: It was 19.5% at 13 schools; last year, looking at 2018 to 2020, it was 16.4% at 16 schools.

The increases are another story. Among the 25 schools with two-year jumps in acceptance rate for which we have sufficient data, the average increase was 15.2%; last year, it was only 6.2% at 17 schools. Over three years, the average rate increase at 19 schools out of 32 was 13.6%; last year, looking at 2018 to 2020, it was 4.8% at 13 schools out of 29. The number of schools with declines in both the two- and three-year window this year was nine; last year it was 12.

And what about the top schools in the ranking? In the top five, the average acceptance rate is 55.8%; all five schools saw declines in acceptance rate year-over-year, averaging more than 26%. In the top 10, the average acceptance rate is 58.1%; several saw increases between 2020 and this year.

All of which is to say that the effect of the novel coronavirus on the OMBA landscape is ... uncertain. Like most things in life, time will tell.

See the next pages for a complete list of the top online MBA programs as ranked by acceptance rate, including four years of data for comparison. 

More About Poets&Quants' 2022 Online MBA Ranking

The Complete Ranking: How each of 52 of the best online MBAs place 

Evaluating Each Online Program: How Online MBA Students Rate Their Programs

What Online MBA Students Get: How Online MBA Students Rate Their Degree's Career Impact

Gaining Admissions: Acceptance Rates For The Top Online MBA Programs

What It Takes To Get In: Average GMATs, GREs and GPAs At Top Online MBA Programs

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