Acceptance Rates At The Top OMBA Programs Of 2023

Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business saw the biggest jump in online MBA acceptance rate this year of any school in the P&Q ranking: a 130% increase. LeBow photo

Unless you live in the greater Philadelphia area, the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University in Philadelphia is probably not on your radar in your search for the right online MBA program. But maybe it should be, for one big reason: Your chances of getting in have recently skyrocketed.

LeBow offers a fully customizable online MBA that is taught by the same faculty as LeBow’s other graduate business programs. The AACSB-accredited program can be completed in as little as one year or as many as three, with plentiful in-person networking and learning opportunities. It is a program that promises to “improve students’ business acumen, while introducing them to emerging business trends, such as AI and blockchain, and enhancing their leadership style,” offering concentrations in a wide array of topics, from business analytics to “effective leadership” to supply chain management. In short, it is a program that probably has whatever you’re looking for in an online MBA.

The cherry on top is that Drexel LeBow’s OMBA saw the biggest jump in acceptance rate between 2021 and 2022 of any school in Poets&Quants‘ annual ranking of the top online MBAs, going from 37.4% to 86%, a one-year increase of nearly 130%. From 2020 to 2022, LeBow’s acceptance rate grew by almost 175%. The wide open gates partly explain why the school fell from 30th in last year’s ranking to 43rd this year — but they also undeniably make LeBow’s program worth a look for the OMBA-curious.

ALL OF THE 5 MOST SELECTIVE OMBAs ARE TOP-10 PROGRAMS

On the other end of the selectivity spectrum is the Jack Welch Management Institute, the online-only B-school founded in 2009 by the long-time chairman and CEO of General Electric. At 25%, JWMI has the lowest acceptance rate among the 50 schools ranked in the 2023 Poets&Quants OMBA ranking, our sixth annual list. Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, whose Kelley Direct program attained the top overall spot in this year's ranking, is next with a 34.6% rate. Last year's most selective program, the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, is fourth in selectivity at 43.7% acceptance rate.

In fact, all of the five most selective OMBAs in this year's ranking can be found in the top 10 of the overall ranking (see table above). But crucially, many of the costliest and most highly regarded programs saw big jumps in acceptance rate this year, making it easier for students to gain admission on their way to an MBA degree.

And if you're thinking that Drexel LeBow's 86% acceptance rate is the highest in P&Q's ranking, think again. Seventeen schools have higher rates of admission this year, including several big names like Clemson University and the University of Maryland. Overall, 13 schools have acceptance rates over 90%, up from nine schools last year. Two schools — Rogers State University in Oklahoma and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts — offer OMBAs that said yes to every applicant this year, a 100% acceptance rate.

ARE PROGRAMS GETTING EASIER TO GET INTO?

Looking at the data gathered as part of the research for our annual ranking, we find that 14 schools in the ranking out of the 46 that were ranked last year (30%) saw declines in their acceptance rate, meaning they got harder to get into. Two — Texas-Dallas Jindal School of Management (-11.3 percentage points to 34.8%) and Florida Warrington College of Business (-15.6 to 45.7%) — saw double-digit declines. Last year, 18 schools out of 43 had year-over-year declines. See the next pages for complete tables that include the data from every ranked school.

Across the last three admission cycles from 2020 to 2022, 13 schools out of 40 (32.5%) saw acceptance rate declines, five by double digits. The biggest came at Indiana Kelley, which dropped  31.3 percentage points, or 47.5%, to this year's rate of 34.6%. Last year we reported that 13 of 32 schools could boast greater selectivity over a three-year span.

The average two-year rate of acceptance rate decline for the 14 schools for which we have data is 4.3%. Last year the average decline at 18 schools was 13% — which seems to suggest that ranked OMBA programs are, if anything, becoming easier to get into. The three-year window backs this assessment: For the 13 schools for which we have data in this year's ranking, the average acceptance rate decline is 10.5%; last year we reported that it was 19.5% at 13 schools.

Interestingly, the number of schools with declines in both the 2- and 3-year windows this year was eight; last year we reported that it was nine schools.

AVERAGE Y-O-Y INCREASE IN ACCEPTANCE RATE: 7.6%

On the flip side, 31 of 46 schools saw acceptance rate increases from 2021 to 2022, more than two-thirds, and nine saw double-digit increases, with Drexel LeBow leading the group. Last year we reported that 25 of 43 schools, or 58%, had rate increases. Across the last three cycles, 27 of 40 schools (67.5%) saw increases, with 11 growing their rates by double-digit percentages; last year we reported that 19 of 32 schools, or 59%, had climbing acceptance rates over three cycles.

Though Drexel LeBow had the biggest two-year jump in acceptance rate by going from 37.4% to 86%, up 48.6 percentage points or 129.9%, that wasn't the only notable increase. USC Marshall saw its rate increase by 17.7 points, or 68.1%, to 43.7%; and Rogers State reported a 17.9-point increase of 21.8% to 100% admission.

And while LeBow's three-year increase was also the biggest this year (31.3% to 86%, a 54.7-point increase, or 174.8%), other notables included Worcester Polytechnic, up 27.3 points (37.6%) to 100%, and Florida International University College of Business, up 43.1 points (78.1%) to 98.3%. Florida International also had last years biggest three-year jump, of 65.5 points.

The average two-year acceptance rate increase for the 31 schools for which we have data is 7.6%; last year we reported that it was 17.9% at 25 schools. The average three-year rate increase at 27 schools is 13.1%; last year it was 13.6% at 19 schools.

See the next pages for a complete list of the top 50 online MBA programs as ranked by acceptance rate, including three years of data for comparison. 

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