The 25 Best Online MBA Programs For 2016-2017
Over the last few years, the number of online MBA programs in America have exploded. Though there are several online MBA rankings (and a few major publications who list options), many of them still don’t tackle one of the largest concerns of potential students.
Featured MBA Programs
Namely, are online student outcomes as good as those from traditional schools? For this reason we’ve decided to come up with our own MBA rankings at Best College Reviews that are largely centered on student outcomes. A second question we wanted to address in our rankings was the question of whether or not online MBAs limit students abilities to specialize. In short, we’re ranking the most flexible programs, with the largest number of program specializations, and the best student outcomes. Our methodology for ranking the best online MBAs can be found at the end of our ranking.
1. Indiana University – Bloomington (Kelley)
Indiana University’s Kelley school of business was the first top-20 business school in the nation to offer graduate business programs online. With the second highest average GMAT score on our list (636), admissions are competitive. The ability to take between two and five years to graduate, and choose from among 6 specializations lends flexibility to the Kelley Direct Online program that is unmatched in top tier business programs. As far as outcomes, the average Kelley graduate sees their salary rise between 33 and 66%, and all students – whether traditional or online – have access to Kelley’s world class career services. Over $104,000 is the average starting salary for graduates from Kelley Online.
2. University of Texas – Dallas
The University of Texas–Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management’s online program was founded in 1999-2000 and offers two tracks: the global leadership executive MBA, and the project management track. A healthcare management for physicians specialization is also available for qualifying students. The Global Leadership Executive MBA involves three on-campus retreats, one international retreat, and a 10-day international study tour. As far as outcomes, UT Dallas ranks highly, with an average MBA graduate starting salary of $81,037. UT Dallas ranks #9 in our rankings for living alumni, with 7082.
3. Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business is a top ranked business school that entered the online space slightly after Indiana University–Bloomington. With almost 15 years experience, Carey School of Business excels in outcomes, ranking third for average salary at graduation which comes in at $98,093. They also rank third for living alumni, of which they have over 17,000. Classes are taught by the same faculty that teach the full-time and part-time traditional MBA program. A one-course-at-a-time curriculum is offered to online cohorts, and the choice of up to four specializations. Students may also couple an online MBA with another degree to accelerate their education and save money.
4. Thunderbird School of Global Management
The Thunderbird School of Global Management deserves its name, as the #1 ranked school of international business from a number of ranking organizations. Their Global MBA program is blended, requiring some on-campus meet-ups, and lasts for 19 months. It’s also filled with international perspectives, with over half of the class composed of non-US students. Thunderbird ranks highly in outcomes for our ranking, coming in at #1 for living alumni, with over 38,000, and #4 for salary, at $83,200. Admission standards are relatively rigorous with an average GMAT score of 585, and a 62% acceptance rate to the program. An average of 2 years work experience is recommended, but the average student has a good bit more, coming in at 34 years old.
5. Syracuse University
Syracuse University Whitman School of Management’s online MBA was founded in the 2001-2002 school year. The program offers a wide variety of specializations, including accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing management, and supply chain management. Outcomes from Whitman School of Management are good, comming in at #5 for living alumni (9,209), and #4 for starting salary ($90,000 from the full time two-year program, with an average $10,000 signing bonus). The average GMAT for entrants is also ranked #4 at 600. The student-faculty rate for Whitman MBA courses is 11 to 1.
6. University of Florida (Hough)
The Hough Graduate School of Business consistently ranks as a top program by a variety of ranking institutions and metrics, including #4 in the global rankings by Financial Times and–for the online program– being called “one of the happiest online mba programs on Earth” by Poets and Quants. Their Internet MBA falls under their working professional MBA program and is offered with two timeframes: a two-year (27 month) option open to students of any undergraduate degree major, and a one-year (16 month) accelerated option open to business degree majors who have graduated in the last seven years. Both options require two years of professional work experience, and a relatively high GMAT (their average score is 584).
7. Ball State University
Ball State University’s online MBA was founded in the early 1990’s, and is part of a three versions of the same program: main campus, all online, or blended. Outcomes for the program are good, with the second ranked starting salary of $100,000 at three months out, as well as a living alumni network of 2,280. A student-faculty ratio of six to one, as well as competitive admissions with an average GMAT of 533 ensure quality engagement in the classroom. Five specializations are offered (and a more general route), they include entrepreneurship, finance, operations management, sales management, and health economics, policy, and administration.
8. Norwich University
The nations oldest military college has transitioned to be one of the leaders in the online education space. Their online MBA program was founded in 2000-2001. Norwich offers five specializations for their MBA: construction management, finance, organizational leadership, project management, and supply chain management and logistics. They have a low acceptance rate for an online program, ranking #2 in our rankings with 42% of applicants being accepted. For students with professional experience or prior academic knowledge of business, the program may be accelerated to as little as 18 months.
9. Washington State University
Washington State University Carson College of Business’ online MBA is a relative newcomer to the online MBA scene, being founded 2007-2008. Though the larger University has close to 20 years of experience in the online space, and 50 years in teaching MBA courses. Washington State University’s online MBA is relatively selective, with an average entrant GMAT score of 567 and an acceptance rate of 51% (ranking them #9 and #5 in our ranking, respectivally). Three concentrations, granted through a wider variety of electives, are available at Washington State’s online MBA: marketing, international business, and finance.
10. Georgia College and State University (Bunting)
The Georgia College and Stat University’s Georgia WebMBA offers a highly ranked online MBA course that’s flexible as well as cheap. The online program is currently small, with nearly as many full time professors as there are students. Outcomes are good for the Georgia WebMBA, with starting salaries reported at $71,100 on our list (8th in our rankings), and over 2,000 living alumni (16th in our rankings). Admissions are relatively selective, with an average GMAT for entrants of 544, and an acceptance rate of 62%.
11. University of Nebraska – Lincoln
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s online MBA was founded in 2002-2003, and offers specializations in business analytics, supply chain management, international business, finance, and marketing. Admissions are competitive, with the highest average entrant GMAT of our ranked schools (641), and two years work experience, a 3.0 GPA and 400+ GMAT score as suggestions for applicants. As far as outcomes, the MBA has over 2,600 living alumni, and an average starting salary of $65,873.
12. North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University was founded in 2011-2012, and while still fairly small (with 40 current students), offers some unique choices. An extremely flexible program allows for students to finish in as little as 21 months, or take as long as 6 years to complete the program. Students may also opt into face-to-face Professional MBA Program courses as they wish. Outcomes are good from NC State’s online MBA, with an average starting salary of $67,000 for their graduates, and a living alumni network of 1,422 (ranked 10th and 19th, respectivally).
13. Babson College: Olin
Babson College’s Blended Learning Program lasts for 21 months and –while primarily online– requires face-to-face sessions every seven weekends in either Wellesley or San Fransisco. Outcomes for Babson are great, with an average starting salary of $91,500, and 17,376 living alumni (ranked #3 and #2, respectivally). At undergraduate, graduate, and distance-learning levels, Babson College is recognized as a leader in teaching entrepreneurship.
14. University of Tennessee – Martin
UT Martin’s online MBA keeps student cohorts small, with 20 students grouped together for the 20-month program. A low student-faculty ratio of five to one further ensures individual attention, but only for qualified students. UT Martin’s online MBA has the lowest acceptance rate of any online MBA program on our list, accepting only 42% of applicants. There are no specilizations, but the program is noted for its focus on the financial services and banking industries.
15. Northeastern University
Northeastern University’s online MBA was founded in 2006-2007, and draws from the institution’s experience running a top ranked traditional program. Outcomes are good for the program, with an average starting salary of $73,500, and a living alumni network of over 15,000 (ranking the metrics #9 and #4, respectivally). Northeastern’s online MBA is also tied for first in our ranking for number of specializations offered, including finance, healthcare management, high technology management, innovation entrepreneurship, international management, marketing, supply chain management, and sustainability.
16. University of North Texas
The University of North Texas online MBA program was founded in 2007-2008, and has been highly ranked since. The University offers largely the same courses in either fully online, blended, or traditional settings. Though students must take 100% of classes online to stay in their online program. Online MBA specializations at North Texas include strategic management, marketing, and finance. A lot student-faculty ratio (four to one), and rigorous admissions standards (the average GMAT score is 516, and the acceptance rate is 55%) ensure quality teaching momeents at the University of North Texas.
17. Auburn University
The Auburn University Online MBA was founded in the early 1990’s, and today offers a program that mirrors their full-time MBA, and can be coupled with dual degree options such as an MSBA-Finance, Management Informations Systems, and Industrial and Systems Engineering degree. Auburn’s online MBA has an average entrant GMAT score of 539, and an acceptance rate of 72% (ranking it #15 and #13, respecivally). For outcomes, Auburn boasts a starting salary of $62,600 as well as 5,856 living alumni.
18. Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University’s online MBA program was started in 2009-2010 and has been highly ranked since its creation. Besides offering the same instruction and classes as their traditional program, students can specialize in six areas including computer information systems, finance, health care management, international business, management, and marketing. Admissions are selective at Quinnipiac’s online MBA, with an average GMAT score of 540, and a 76% acceptance rate.
19. Hofstra University
Hofstra University’s online MBA program began in 2011-2012, and while small provides a quality educational experience through a low student-faculty ratio and selective admissions. Specializations include strategic business management and strategic healthcare management. A residency requirement includes student interaction with New York City industry leaders and global corporations. Outcomes of the program include a $61,900 starting salary and a 7,500+ network of living alumni (ranked at #15 and #8, respectivally).
20. Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University’s online MBA was founded in 2007-2008, and offers a number of specializations including ERP emphasis featuring SAP Software, human resources management, logistics management, marketing, and value-driven organization. Admissions are selective, with the third lowest acceptance rate (44%) in our rankings. The average GMAT for University of Central Michigan’s online MBA is 495. The average starting salary is $53,200, and there is a wide and varied alumni network.
21. James Madison University
The James Madison University online MBA was founded in 1999-2000, and features specializations in innovation and information security. Both programs are “blended” and require some on-campus study. James Madison’s online program offers one of the best student-faculty ratios in our ranking (three to one). Outcomes are also good, with an average starting salary of $75,000, and a network of living alumni of 1,768 (ranked #8 and #17, respectivally).
22. Arkansas State University
Arkansas State University’s online MBA was founded in 2010-2011, and provides a general track as well as a specializations in supply chain management, finance, healthcare administration, management information systems, and international business. A student-faculty ratio of two to one ranks second on our list. Admissions are selective with an average GMAT score of 561. Outcomes are good with an average starting salary of $59,350, and a strong living alumni network.
23. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota’s online MBA was founded in 2007-2008. The online program meets for live sessions once a week, communicates asychronously, and at a normal course load takes two years to complete. The online program features a good student-faculty ratio of nine to one, as well as an average GMAT score of 536. Though salary data for the school is not tracked, there is a large alumni community of 2,617 graduates.
24. Cleveland State University
Cleveland State University’s Mobile Accellerated MBA is the first online, 1-year MBA accredited by the AACSB. The program was founded in 2011-2012, and features strong outcomes including an average starting salary of $55,800, and a network of 8,950 living alumni. The student faculty ratio is four to one, and though the program doesn’t offer an specializations, it is one of the only accredited one-year programs offering an masters in business administration.
25. SUNY Oswego
The SUNY Oswego online MBA was founded in 2011-2012, completing the schools offerings which include traditional, online, and hybrid MBA programs. The school’s average GMAT score is 511, and offers specializations in both general management and health services administration. SUNY Oswego also offers a large living alumni network, as well as a two to one student-faculty ratio.
Best Online MBA Ranking Methodology
- Selectivity (30%)
- 50% of selectivity is based on GMAT scores.
- 50% of selectivity is based on admission rates.
- Outcomes (50%)
- 50% of outcomes is based on starting salary of business school graduates.
- 50% of outcomes is based on the number of living alumni.
- Number of specializations (10%)
- Student Faculty Ratio (10%)
Note: As the schools in our ranking do not differentiate between online and traditional programs when granting diplomas, salary data is from the traditional MBA programs. For the small number of schools without salary data, the median salary of all reporting institutions was granted. For the small number of schools without exact living alumni data, living alumni values were estimated from the size of traditional and MBA program classes and the number of years respective programs have been in existence. Schools with both salary and living alumni data missing were not ranked.
Curious what other MBA seekers find important in program selection? Check out our article: Choosing an MBA: What Applicants Value