Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The 25 Top Online MBA Schools 2009

In my earlier article I discussed the different types of MBA programs in terms of how to earn them. This article ranks the 25 best, in my opinion. So to start, let me explain why I believe I have any business ranking online MBA programs. The short answers are one, no one else is really doing it to any serious effort; and two, there are some reasonably objective criteria by which such programs can be measured against one another. I will also say that a great deal more information is available now than in 2006, so my rankings will be a bit different, as they now use ten types of data to reach the results. That data was provided by the websites of the schools evaluated, as well as information from the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business(AACSB), the largest international accrediting body for business schools.

I’d like to stop here and go over some information about the AACSB, and its member schools. The AACSB has 1,081 accredited colleges and universities for business worldwide. Of those, 512 schools offer a Masters degree of some type of business major, and 498 offer the MBA degree. But only 3.4 percent of MBA students earn their degree online. Consequently, I only found 77 AACSB-accredited schools which actively offer an online MBA at this time. That cuts down the field considerably. There are a handful of schools which also advertise an online program, but have no participating students at this time, and there are also a few schools which are just starting up online MBA programs – I left them off because there is not enough data at this time to say how well they are doing with their new programs. So later there may well be more schools to consider, but for now we are looking at a field of 77. And in case you’re wondering, none of those for-profit schools you see advertised on TV are AACSB-accredited; schools like the University of Phoenix, Devry, or Capella may or may not give you a good education and may or may not be worth the money, but they are none of them accredited with the AACSB, and that’s a serious problem you should know about before signing up with them. Those schools will be discussed in a future article.

So, how to rank the online schools? When I started looking up the data, I found eight relevant types of information, plus two rankings I could use to leaven my subjectivity somewhat. First is the question of how many concentrations the school offers, second is the general and scholarly orientation of the school, third is the average GMAT score earned to enter the program, fourth is the overall student-to-faculty ratio for masters programs, fifth is the in-state tuition, sixth is the out-of-state tuition, seventh is the proportion of MBA students to the total student population, and eighth is the graduation percentage per year. I initially planned to use those categories in equal weighting, then add balance from BusinessWeek’s rankings for Part-Time MBA schools and Get Educated’s value rankings. I realized, after looking more closely however, that this resulted in a skewed ranking, one that might look good on paper but would not really serve the student’s best interests. So here is how I redid that data:

First and foremost is the variety of concentrations available. Schools which only offer one type of MBA, and only one focus, do a disservice to the professional. For instance, I am pursuing my CPA license and so a program which focused on Accounting was important to me, but other MBA candidates might take more interest in Finance, Marketing, or Entrepreneurship. Therefore, whether a school offered multiple choices of concentrations became significantly more important in points, now weighted at 35.0% of the total value. The in-state and out-of-state tuition also weighed heavily, at 15.0% and 12.5% of the total score respectively. The school’s average GMAT score was also important, worth 12.5% of the total. The proportion of masters students to the overall population weighed 10.0% of the total score, the student-to-faculty ratio weighed 5%, the proportion of MBA students graduated each year weighed 5%, and the rankings from BusinessWeek and GetEducated each counted for 2.5% of the score. So, with that weighting, here are the top 25 Online MBA programs for 2009. I will write up brief capsules of the top 10 programs in future articles:

1. Auburn University (Alabama) 95.60%
2. Drexel University (Pennsylvania) 94.75%
3. East Carolina University (North Carolina) 94.67%
4. University of Colorado at Denver 94.58%
5 (t). Tennessee Technological University 94.50%
5 (t). University of Houston at Victoria (Texas) 94.50%
7 (t). Morehead State University (Kentucky) 94.33%
7 (t). Wayne State University (Michigan) 94.33%
9. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 94.25%
10. University of North Dakota 94.17%
11 (t). Georgia Southern University 94.08%
11 (t). University of Texas at Dallas 94.08%
13 (t). University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh 94.00%
13 (t). University of Wisconsin at Whitewater 94.00%
15. Texas A&M at Commerce 93.92%
16. University of Michigan at Dearborn 93.42%
17. Nicholls State University (Louisiana) 92.75%
18. Suffolk University (Massachusetts) 92.25%
19. Georgia College & State University 88.00%
20. Colorado State University 87.92%
21. University of Florida 87.17%
22 (t). Florida State University 87.00%
22 (t). University of Nebraska at Lincoln 87.00%
24. University of Wyoming 86.75%
25 (t). Durham University (UK) 86.67%
25 (t). University of Texas at Arlington 86.67%
25 (t). University of Massachusetts at Lowell 86.67%
25 (t). University of North Texas 86.67%


Doug said...

Hey, just wanted to leave a comment saying I love the list. I can't really judge your methodology, but just getting a nice list of AACSB online schools with links that point to the actual webpage and not some annoying 'request more info' form is awesome. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

This is a great resource for the many people out there looking for an AACSB online mba. Everyone should do their own research, but overall this list is very useful. Personally, I've narrowed my list down to Colorado State, Mississippi State, and Florida State.

Faraz said...

Interesting...I'm surprised University of Indiana didn't even make your cut. I'd be curious to know your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I am also curious on why Penn State did not make the cut?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this list.

"The in-state and out-of-state tuition also weighed heavily, at 15.0% and 12.5% of the total score respectively.

The rankings may pan out better if you left out tuition costs entirely.

Anonymous said...

I've narrowed my list down to Colorado State, Mississippi State, and Florida State. online masters degrees

Anonymous said...

What about Indiana University Kelley Direct, Thunderbird School of Global Management, or Penn State? In my field, international business, the most promising students come from those three schools. We consider online MBA recipients from those mentioned mba schools to be highly motivated.

Scott in Sweden said...

I like your initiative and appreciate what you have done here, but I have to admit that your list is rather curious to me. First off, as others have said, leaving off Indiana and T-bird is inconceivable if you are listing "top-quality" schools. And what about Duke? Cal? Even Isenberg? To list Tennessee Tech, East Carolina, and GA College and State above these others is unthinkable. Yes, they are cheaper, but do they produce better business leaders? I would not bet on that. Since you have Durham on there, I assume you are including schools outside of America. Then you have the likes of Imperial, IESE, the Dutch schools, the French schools, the Spanish schools, Manchester, Henley and all the rest. A school that offers more program options is nice, but it is no measure of quality. And neither, certainly, is lower tuition. Yet 50% of your methodology is wrapped up in lower tuition and program offerings. Many of the schools you mention have several MBA lines to choose from, yes, but this is often designed more with the intent of attracting more students (hence more revenue for the school) than to offer a better MBA program. There is a very real threat that too many options at a lower-tier school with fewer resources can dilute the learning potential for students since the resources are spread thinly across a wide variety of courses. And Auburn, your top school, doesn't even offer a true online MBA. I know, I looked into it closely. They said I would not be accepted because I live in Europe and much of their curriculum is based on DVDs and videos that they pack up and send in the mail a unit at a time. They said that by the time the materials reached me, the unit would be over. Their's is a glorified correspondence course from the 1980s. A true online program is available to any computer in the world with an internet connection. Again, I applaud your effort, but these are by no means the top online MBA programs by a long shot...unless one is looking for the least expensive. I would think that you should consider employment rates after graduation as well as salary rates of graduates. I might save $20,000 by going to Nicholl's State instead of Purdue, but if it bumps my $50,000 annual salary up by only 10%, them I'm not so sure that was a wise investment of my time, money, or effort. School reputation counts for a lot when going for the better jobs and an expensive MBA, even an online one, from a well-respected university is worth its weight in gold.

Anonymous said...

wow. I've had a tough time finding a ranking that wasn't an advertisement till now. thank you for producing one. And Scott, thank you also for the well taken points!

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Anonymous said...

I felt I should respond to your list as it Ranked Drexel #2, it's nice to see Drexel at the top of a list, I am currently a student at Drexel doing the MBA online in Finance and have to say I feel I am getting my moneys worth and anyone considering doing online should also consider this school. It has been an outstanding experience thus far, one year into it, I wouldn't change it for anything. Thanks for the list.

way2 college said...

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Priya Shri said...

Hi, this is a very interesting and informative post. Thanks for sharing a comprehensive list of online
MBA colleges across the globe.

Glad to share the similar list for online MBA colleges in India.

alina mark said...

very interesting blog post, good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog. online learning

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