Online MBA programs have seen a surge in interest in 2020, as working and learning online has become the norm. 84% of online MBA programs saw in an increase in applications this year, the highest increase of any program type, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).
Considerations for choosing an online MBA differ from full-time MBAs. While location may not be as much of a factor, reputation remains as important, as does the program’s selectivity, content, and ability to meet career goals.
Combining student opinion surveys and institutional data provided by schools, the Princeton Review Online MBA Rankings lists the world’s best online MBA programs.
US Online MBAs Dominate
Compared with the increasingly multinational full-time MBA rankings, the Princeton Review Online MBA Rankings are almost entirely dominated by US schools.
Programs from US institutions make up 19 out of the top 20 programs. Clinching top spot is Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, regularly found high in the online MBA rankings.
UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School comes in second, with Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business close behind in third. The rest of the top 20 feature many well-known US business schools, including USC Marshall School of Business, Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School, and UT Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Business.
One unfamiliar name might be the Jack Welch Management Institute, at 15th in the rankings. The school was set up by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and his wife Suzy in 2009, and ever since has ranked highly among online programs.
The only non-US school to feature in the top 20 is IE Business School in Spain, coming in at 10th. IE’s Global Online MBA is the oldest online MBA in Europe.
World's 20 Best Online MBAs | Princeton Review Ranking
The Princeton Review Online MBA Rankings reports on the top 50 MBAs where the majority of the program is delivered online.
The ranking is based on two elements. First, a student survey, which evaluates more than 30 different fields around the studying experience. This includes faculty ratings, career preparation, the technology of the platform, and overall satisfaction.
Secondly, institutional data gathered from the schools. This includes admissions criteria, faculty quality and availability, careers data, and costs and scholarships.
Online MBA graduates earn competitive salaries
One of the main questions for candidates when choosing between on-campus or online programs is whether they’re considered the same after graduation.
In respect of salary potential, online MBAs can be considered to be just as effective. The Princeton Review rankings demonstrate that online MBA graduates can earn highly competitive salaries to match, or even outdo, full time MBAs.
Jones Graduate School of Business online MBA graduates are the highest earners, with an average starting salary of $124,798, while Tepper graduates are close behind on $124,058.
Overall, graduates from nine of the top 20 schools can expect starting salaries in excess of $100k.
Acceptance rates are high, but GMAT requirements remain competitive
You might speculate whether online MBAs are as competitive as full-time MBAs. The Princeton Review rankings shows that acceptance rates tend to be much higher for online programs.
Kelley has a 66% acceptance rate for its online MBA, while Kenan-Flagler’s and Tepper’s are 55% and 56% respectively. Compare this to acceptance rates at top full-time MBAs, which are mostly lower than 20%.
Average GMAT scores, however, demonstrate that the cohorts are just as academically adept in online MBAs. At Jones Graduate School of Business, the average GMAT is 710, higher than many top full-time programs.
Online is becoming less a preference and more a necessity for many students, who demand the flexibility and accessibility you get from remote learning. What’s clear is that opting for an online over a full-time MBA program is no longer a significant trade-off in terms of quality.