In what has to be one of the most incomplete rankings ever published by an authoritative source, the Financial Times today (March 14) released its 2022 ranking of the world’s best online MBA programs. Well, sort of.
The British newspaper ranked all of ten programs when there are well over 350 online MBA options available in the U.S. alone. The FT’s list of online MBAs has never been very thorough. Last year, the publication ranked 15 business schools. Then, as now, Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom tops the list. It is the fifth consecutive year that Warwick’s program won this rankings contest.
This year’s list, however, includes just ten schools, half as many as the 20 listed when the FT first began ranking online MBA programs five years ago in 2018. In contrast, the 2022 global ranking of online MBA programs from Poets&Quants ranks more than five times the new FT list. More importantly, nine of the best online MBA programs on the P&Q list are missing in action from the Financial Times. The reason for the omissions? The vast majority of online MBA players, including the 358 programs ranked by U.S. News, declined to cooperate with the FT ranking. Their absence makes the ranking more of an exercise in entertainment than a shopping list for serious would-be applicants. Sadly, with a mere ten programs, the FT ranking lacks any credibility or authority.
The Financial Times’ 2022 Ranking Of Online MBA Programs
|2022 Rank & School||2021 Rank||Salary Increase||Aims Achieved||Cost|
|1. Warwick Business School||1||36.5%||79.6%||$45,743|
|2. Imperial College||3||25.5%||77.3%||$53,973|
|3. IE Business School||2||28.3%||78.0%||$65,264|
|4. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)||4||29.0%||80.8%||$125,589|
|5. Florida (Warrington)||6||30.7%||80.7%||$55,647|
|6. Politecnico di Milano||8||35.6%||75.4%||$48,296|
|7. Durham University||7||18.7%||80.1%||$31,327|
|9. University of Nebraska-Lincoln||14||33.3%||80.7%||$31,200|
|10. University of Bradford||11||21.7%||74.6%||$24,478|
Nonetheless, rounding out the Financial Times‘ list after Warwick are No. 2 Imperial College Business School in London, No. 3 IE Business School in Spain, No. 4 University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flager Business School, and No. 5 University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business.
Italy’s Politecnico de Milano School of Management comes in sixth, while Durham University Business School is seventh followed by No. 8 Australian Graduate School of Management, No. 9 the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and No. 10 University of Bradford School of Management.
While only three of the Top Ten are based in the U.S., all three of those programs received the highest scores from alumni for “aims achieved” as a result of the program. Kenan-Flagler’s MBA@UNC earned the highest score in this category with 80.8% of alums saying the program allowed them to achieve their goals.
Another U.S. school, the University of Florida, achieved the highest overall satisfaction scores from surveyed alumni: a 9.6 on a ten-point scale with ten being the highest possible.
Online MBA Ranking Claims Warwick Graduates Are Most Highly Paid
Warwick’s success in this ranking owes a great deal to the current salaries of its alumni. With average pay of $194,864 (down from $207,725 last year), the alumni earn more than any other school on this list, nearly $3,000 more than the alums of the online MBA program at Imperial, which placed second best on current salary. The FT considers this an important metric because it places a 20% weight on the average salary of alums three years after graduation. These figures, moreover, are adjusted for purchasing power parity.
Current salary of alums is the most heavily weighed of all the metrics used to rank these programs, double the weight given to average increases in salaries from graduation to three years later, or a school’s faculty’s research rank, even though there is no control that the professors who produced that research teach in the online program, or what the FT calls online interaction, the extent to which alumni rate the interaction among students, teamwork and the availability of faculty.
Users of the ranking have to determine if those four metrics–which account for half of the total weight in the ranking–are all that important to them in deciding where to get an online MBA degree. And even then, users have to decide if schools that did not participate would have scored better than those that did. The importance of each measured data point as well as what to measure is made by journalists who often have little to no experience in graduate management education. For many applicants, the program’s standing on metrics that have much less weight could loom larger in a candidate’s decision to choose one school over another. That’s why it is important to parse the ranking to get to the stats that may be more important for you to consider.
Online MBA Deemed Most Value For Money: Bradford
Warwick was able to stay on top because it scored well across the 18 data points used to rank the schools. Warwick alums reported the highest salary increases in the group, 36.5%. But Warwick did fall short on some metrics, including “aims achieved” where it was ranked fifth and overall satisfaction where it ranked fourth.
More telling than a school’s actual rank is how it compares against this small sub-set of programs on the various metrics the FT uses to place its numerical ranks on the programs. The FT asks online MBA alumni a set of questions that attempt to get at a graduate’s satisfaction with their experience.
The program deemed the best value for the money was at the University of Bradford where the price tag for the online MBA is just $24,478, slightly more than either Gies College’s iMBA and Boston University’s new online MBA program. In contrast, Warwick’s tuition and fees comes to $45,743, roughly 86% more than the least expensive offering in the ranking from Bradford.
Alumni surveys found that graduates of Imperial College’s program made the most career progress after getting their degrees, followed by Warwick, Durham, and the University of Nebraska. The University of Florida led all schools for its career services staff which earned the highest marks from its alums.