Top Online MBA Ranking Systems


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Today there are many Online MBA ranking systems featuring lists of what they claim are the best online MBA programs in the nation. All these entities use various criteria to rate business schools and programs. Some ranking systems rely on data from corporate recruiters, while others incorporate alumni survey feedback. Still, others include information from third-party programs, including Google Trends, which reveals data like how often a business school name is searched online. Thankfully, some trusted and proven ranking organizations help future online MBA students find the program they are looking for. Here are the top Online MBA ranking systems:

Financial Times Online MBA Ranking

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The Financial Times exists as one of the world’s leading news organizations, recognized internationally for accuracy, authority, and integrity. FT provides essential news and analysis to organizations and ambitious individuals worldwide, alongside a suite of leadership services that put its content and expertise to practical use. MBA students can stand out from the competition with the Financial Times student offer, which features multichannel access to personalized specialist blogs, videos, news alerts, and infographics. With well over a century of operating as one of the world’s leading information and news organizations, the Financial Times also provides governments, education institutions, and businesses worldwide with award-winning journalism and tools that help them achieve their goals faster. One of Financial Times’ most popular resources is its online MBA rankings. FT gathers its data according to a breakdown which includes a student survey (61%), school data (29%), and research (10%).

By this system, one may think this ranking is primarily based on qualitative data instead of quantitative data, but that is not correct. Most of the student survey includes questions about pre-and post-MBA income, and only a small percentage is qualitative. The qualitative section consists of three questions including, have the alumni fulfilled their stated reasons or goals for pursuing an MBA, how effective is the business school’s careers service considering network events, counseling, personal development, internship search, and recruitment, as rated by alumni, and from which schools would the alumni choose MBA graduates?

Graduates complete student surveys three years after finishing their program. The school data section of the ranking measures how well the business school does on gender equality, how global the school is, and how many instructors have doctoral degrees. FT’s Research category is unique as it measures the number of articles published by faculty members in 50 selected practitioner and academic journals. With a trusted reputation and many resources available to MBA students and organizations, it’s no wonder that the Financial Times is one of the nation’s most trusted ranking entities.

Fortune Best Online MBA Programs Ranking

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Fortune Education is designed to be potential business school students’ guide to navigating the new, rich, and sometimes overwhelming world of education. Its team of experienced researchers is committed to scouring the world of online offerings to rank, rate, offer comparisons, and recommend suitable options for MBA students and their careers. One of the entity’s most popular features is a new ranking of the nation’s Best Online MBA Programs. But its mission will ultimately take it far beyond online MBA degrees.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, MBA classrooms shifted from physical to virtual. While the pandemic’s end will bring back the classroom for some learners, other MBA students won’t want to go back. Fortune’s discussions and surveys of prospective business students and active business leaders, the ranking entity believes online MBA education will only grow. That’s why it built its first-ever ranking of the nation’s Best Online MBAs.

Fortune extended invitations to over 200 online MBA programs to participate in its survey. Once the dust settled, over 100 programs completed their questionnaire. That data, along with information Fortune collected from organizations and executives, was used as the core of its trusted ranking. The organization’s final ranking consists of four components: Brand Score, Program Score, Fortune 1000 Score, and Prestige Score. Fortune is one of the best-ranking systems for prospective students.

Get Educated Best Online MBA Programs Ranking

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GetEducated surveyed over 350 business schools that offer over 370 regionally accredited online MBA programs to create its best online MBA ranking. Its results reveal components of these programs, including the most affordable options in the nation, with tuition differences nearing $100,000. Students use this ranking review and compare substantially beneficial differences before making their final decisions on programs.

Online degree-awarding colleges and universities included on must be accredited by an entity recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the U.S. Department of Education, or an international equivalent. They include private, nonprofit schools, public and state-supported institutions, and private, for-profit colleges and universities. While there is no fee included in the ranking, some learning providers enhance their promotion via sponsored listings.

Get Educated believes that one of the most significant issues facing society today is the mismatch between a student’s education and skills and the specific needs of the marketplace. When properly trained, a student’s career prospects and financial opportunities are much brighter.

Choosing the right business school and online MBA program is essential to an individual’s success in achieving their educational goals. The ranking organization exists to empower students to make decisions with knowledge and confidence through a group of powerful tools that help prospective MBA students better determine their best education path based on career objectives, financial position, prior education experience, and preferred learning methods. Get Educated’s mission is to design the most comprehensive and user-friendly research and comparison tool available for online MBA education opportunities.

Poets & Quants Best Online MBA Programs Of 2021 Ranking

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Over the years, Poets & Quants has established a reputation for publishing well-reported and highly creative stories on topics that matter most to the graduate business education community. Its resources include honest critiques of MBA rankings, in-depth reporting of MBA outcomes, innovative transformations in MBA programming, and technology’s impact on advanced education. No less vital, P&Q frequently releases long-form, magazine cover-length profiles and features that would struggle to get published in mainstream media.

With a substantial team of journalists writing about business schools, Poets & Quants is said to publish more articles, videos, and series on MBA programs than any other media outlet in the world. During any given month, P&Q runs 20 times more stories on business schools and business programs than The Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg Businessweek and ten times more pieces than The Financial Times.

Since its establishment in mid-2010, Poets & Quants has enjoyed five consecutive years of record-breaking traffic expansion, accumulating over 70 million page views worldwide. Over 350,000 users visit the site within the average month of operation. Analysis of its traffic shows that P&Q reaches over 85% of the MBA applicant market for the top 100 business schools on the planet monthly. P&Q also pioneered the use of social media to reach its audience. Through platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Quora, and Pinterest, its daily social reach nearly ¾ of a million users. With numbers like these, it’s clear why Poets & Quants is a respected name in the online MBA ranking world.

Princeton Review Top 50 Online MBA Programs Ranking

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For over 35 years, future business students have trusted The Princeton Review to help them find their dream schools. Its mission is to provide innovative, best-in-class, personalized test prep, private tutoring, and admission products and services to help online MBA students overcome barriers and achieve academic goals. The Princeton Review operates solely on the side of the student—it is not affiliated with any test developers.

This ranking organization reports the top 50 online MBA programs that feature most of their programs of study through distance learning. Its Top 50 Online MBA Programs list includes student opinions collected through online MBA student surveys and institutional data reported to PR by business school administrators.

The Princeton Review developed its surveys with the help of an advisory board formed in 2014. Advisory board members included administrators and instructors at top universities featuring online MBA programs. The survey for business school administrators evaluated over 30 fields, covering topics like faculty training and credentials, admissions selectivity, graduation and retention rates, student debt, technological infrastructure, and career outcomes, among other topics.

The student surveys also evaluate more than 30 unique fields. They allow students to rate their academics, instructors, fellow students, career preparation, access and use of technology, and overall program satisfaction.

QS Quacquarelli Symonds Online MBA Ranking

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Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is the world’s leading services, analytics, and insight provider to the global higher education sector. Its mission is to enable motivated students anywhere in the world to fulfill their academic and professional potential through educational achievement, career development, and international mobility.

The QS World University Rankings portfolio, introduced in 2004, has developed into the world’s most popular comparative data source reflecting university performance. Its flagship website,, is the home of its rankings. The site was viewed nearly 150 million times in 2019, and nearly 95,000 media clippings mentioning or pertaining to QS were published by media outlets worldwide that same year.

As it celebrates its 10th year, QS Online MBA Ranking is bigger than ever, with over 50 of the world’s top business schools being featured. The global disruption of COVID-19 made online education more critical than ever before, and many of the top-ranked business schools have seen increased enrollment in their online MBA programs.

While greater flexibility in online MBA programs is here to stay, many MBA candidates want to personalize their MBA in terms of the concentrations they pursue and the rate at which they complete programs. QS also takes a close look at factors like business schools with the most expensive prices and the highest percentage of female students in cohorts. With their finger on the pulse of the online MBA, QS is a great source to use in finding an excellent advanced degree.

U.S. News & World Report Best Online MBA Programs Ranking

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Advanced degrees in business administration are by far the most sought-after graduate business degree programs in the nation. Prospective business students often narrow their research to schools that award MBAs. To aid these researchers’ efforts, U.S. News publishes an annual ranking of the best online MBA programs in the United States.

For its 2021 ranking, U.S. News ranked online MBA programs through the lens of five categories: Engagement, Expert Opinion, Faculty Credentials and Training, Student Excellence, and Student Services and Technologies. Engagement includes how online MBA programs promote course participation, allowing students opportunities to interact with instructors and classmates, as is common in a campus-based setting. Expert Opinion includes a survey of high-ranking academic officials within MBA programs that helps account for factors affecting program quality that statistics fail to capture. Faculty Credentials and Training speak to how solid online MBA programs employ professors with academic credentials that resemble those of instructors in campus-based programs. Student Excellence measures if MBA students are entering programs with proven aptitudes and accomplishments that can handle a rigorous coursework’s demands. Student Services and Technologies tests an online MBA program’s ability to incorporate diverse online learning technologies that allow greater flexibility for distance learners. U.S. News and World Report offers a high-quality resource for future online MBA students with its respected national ranking.

Action Plans

The most important thing to remember about MBA rankings is that they reveal some (but not all) information about MBA programs. Online MBA ranking systems can appear confusing and even contradictory depending on the criteria used, so identify your personal needs and goals before deciding which MBA programs to apply to. Here are some things to practice:

  1. Go from Specific to General
    Start by searching for online MBA specializations that speak to you. Look for programs that offer curriculums and course descriptions that sound interesting and engaging. Even accelerated degrees are a long haul, so make sure the program content will keep you focused. From there, look at the business school’s credentials and accreditation. Next, do some research over the university. Being an online student, you needn’t worry about dining hall menus, but you will want to garner a sense of pride for your school, just like on-campus students.
  2. Compare Ranking Organizations
    Suppose you notice some of your favorite programs listed on a few national online MBA ranking systems; great! Be sure to take note of consistencies and inconsistencies between ranking entities. This will help you weed out some that don’t seem as legitimate as others. A promising sign for a business school is if it keeps showing up on reputable rankings for online MBA programs.
  3. Talk to an Alum
    Direct exposure always offers the best perspective. If there is a business school you are most excited about, contact the admissions office and ask for an alum’s contact information. When you call the working professional, ask tough questions to get the best sense of what to expect in business school. An online MBA is one of the toughest but most-gratifying degrees in the business world. A business person who has completed a degree like the one you are interested in will offer much-needed information.

Related Resources:

Top Online MBA Programs
Reasons to Get an Online MBA

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