U.S. News & World Report have kicked off the new year with their most twenty-first century B-school ranking: the best online MBA programs.
Topping their 2017 list of online MBAs is Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Temple is followed by Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
Rounding out the top five are University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as well as Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business and University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business, who tied for the number five spot.
In determining schools’ rankings, U.S. News uses a methodology that looks at several different aspects of programs, including some that are unique to online MBA programs.
For example, 2.75 percent of each school’s score is determined by their program’s “technological infrastructure.” Schools that have learning platforms with features like smartphone apps and streaming video score higher.
The most heavily weighted factor in U.S. News’s methodology is “student engagement,” which accounts for 28 percent of each school’s ranking. This is calculated using data like how many students graduate within three years of enrolling and how small classes tend to be.
Other factors include “admissions selectivity” (25 percent), “peer reputation” (25 percent), “faculty credentials and training” (11 percent), and “student services and technology” (11 percent). Therefore, schools that score well across the board tend to be ranked higher overall.
For example, Temple’s dominance was a result of the program’s high marks on faculty credentials, student engagement and admissions selectivity (97, 100 and 98 out of 100 respectively) combined with a solid score on student services and technology (76).
Carnegie Mellon, meanwhile, moved up to second from sixth last year thanks to the program’s excellent numbers in student engagement (92) and admissions selectivity (96) as well as its respectable score on faculty credentials (82).
In third place, Indiana University achieved above-average numbers across the board with 88 in faculty credentials, 64 in student services and technology, 80 in student engagement, and 89 in admissions selectivity.
On the other hand, fourth-place University of North Carolina had a larger gap between its highest and lowest numbers, scoring 98 on student engagement but 54 on student services and technology.
Besides being used to calculate overall rankings, these numbers can give a sense of schools’ relative strengths and weaknesses. For instance, choosing programs with the most state-of-the-art tech would give a slightly different result than picking ones with the most highly credentialed faculty.
Although online MBAs are a relatively recent phenomenon, some schools have clearly been quick to build up programs that stand out in terms of all the factors U.S. News considers. For a more in-depth look, see the full online MBA rankings.