The Princeton Review has launched its first annual ranking of b-schools offering the best online MBA programs based on surveys of administrators at the schools and of students attending these MBA programs. The top 25 schools were chosen based on a survey carried out last year of 80 business schools offering online MBA programs, plus surveys of roughly 2,000 students already enrolled in the programs.
The #1 spot on the list was captured by the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by Indiana University- Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business and the IE Business School in Madrid. The latter offers the first online MBA program in Europe [founded in 2000].
Although a two-year MBA program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill costs US$111,000, the same degree is now available online, at a 13 per cent discount [US$97,000]. The Princeton Review has found that the university which offers the best online MBA program has a mean base salary for graduates of US$112,000, while the number three school on the list charges US$58,320 for an online degree and has a mean base salary for graduates of US$113,800.
According to Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Senior VP-Publisher, each of the top 25 schools offers “a first-rate MBA online as well as on campus.” These schools are offering innovative options and, most importantly, the opportunity “to learn from some of the world’s best b-school professors and earn the degree from anywhere in the world.”
The survey of roughly 2,000 online MBA students revealed that 47 per cent of the students considered themselves as “career changers” and 93 per cent reported they were either “very” or “extremely” satisfied with their school choice. Eighty-five per cent said they chose these specific schools thanks to their reputation, followed by convenience [77 per cent], field of study [38 per cent] and price [34 per cent]. Plus, 86 per cent rated the technology platform of their coursework as either “excellent” or “above average,” The Princeton Review concluded.
Forty-two per cent of the students surveyed at the top 25 b-schools said they were receiving financial assistance from their employers to pay for their degree, while 44 per cent said they received a promotion while earning their online MBA. The students’ median base salary upon entering the MBA program was US$84,000, but graduates reported a median 25 per cent salary increase after completing the degree.
So far, Ivy League schools such as Stanford, Harvard, Wharton or Columbia do not offer online degrees, because of their emphasis on the importance of student-professor connections. However, according to The Princeton Review’s director of content development David Soto, 11 of the 25 b-schools require students to participate in minimum one face-to-face immersion experience, Forbes noted. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for example, students must do two immersions. They can choose between international destinations such as Mumbai, where they attend three days of lectures with business people and professors, or San Francisco, where they can choose between studying innovation and entrepreneurial thinking or data analytics and decision-making.
The best Online MBA Programs for 2015 are the following:
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Indiana University-Bloomington
- IE University (Madrid, Spain)
- Arizona State University (Tempe)
- Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
- University of Florida (Gainesville)
- Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)
- Thunderbird School of Global Management (Glendale, AZ)
- The University of Texas at Dallas
- Northeastern University (Boston)
- James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA)
- Auburn University (AL)
- The University of North Dakota (Grand Fork)
- University of North Texas (Denton)
- Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)
- The University of South Dakota (Vermillion)
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Syracuse University (NY)
- The George Washington University (DC)
- North Carolina State University (Raleigh)
- University of West Georgia (Carrolton)
- State University of New York-Oswego
- University of Memphis (TN)
- University of Nevada, Reno
- Washington State University (Pullman)