QS Releases Online MBA Rankings for 2016 | TopMBA.com

QS Releases Online MBA Rankings for 2016

By Tim Dhoul

Updated May 29, 2019 Updated May 29, 2019

Take a look at the latest iteration of this ranking here.


QS has released the 2016 edition of its online MBA rankings – an assessment of the finest distance and online programs available from business schools and postgraduate providers around the world – and there are a few changes at the top.

Changes to the world’s top online MBA programs

Warwick Business School sits atop the 2016 edition of the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings, having switched places with last year’s number one, IE Business School. Beneath these two, the online MBA programs available at Alliance Manchester Business School and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business have also traded places and now sit in third and fourth place, respectively. Oxford Brookes University lies in fifth, having jumped up from seventh place in 2015. The top 10 is detailed in the table below, but you can see all programs making the cut this year simply by clicking here.

Top 10 in QS’s online MBA rankings for 2016

QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2016 top 10

The QS Distance Online MBA Rankings furnishes online programs with scores across six broad categories and 18 individual indicators that range from accreditation status to the average GMAT scores of admitted students and the completion rates of participants. (You can check out a visual representation of the full methodology here.)

The rankings are designed to showcase quality offerings available in a field that continues to expand. The principal aim in this is to provide guidance not just for those who are already looking to study an online MBA, but also those who know they are unable to attend a traditional full-time program on the campus of a business school and are simply seeking alternative options to further their business education.

Conducting due diligence in your research into any form of postgraduate business education is essential, yet you can rest assured that the 30 institutions that make up this year’s online MBA rankings have something of value on offer to prospective students. If you’ve decided the format is for you then, sure, you may be missing out on immersing yourself fully in a school’s campus environment, but advances made in online educational provision mean that a good course of study will ensure you feel connected to a student body and expert faculty from day one – many will also bring you onto campus for parts of the program to help in this endeavor. Besides, the main reason you’ll want an online MBA is because you are unable to relocate or put your job on hold to pursue a full-time MBA.

New arrivals and departures among 2016’s best online programs

There are nine new entries in the online MBA rankings this year, the highest entrants among this group being Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University in 10th position and Lehigh University in 13th.  

There are also four online programs which leave the rankings this year, including that previously offered by Thunderbird School of Global Management, an institution which has since been taken over by Arizona State University (ASU). Royal Holloway’s online MBA also drops out, with the school taking the decision last summer to cease accepting new applications and close its online MBA once all its current students have been given sufficient time to complete the course.

Just over half of the online programs that make the cut this year are based in the US, while nine are offered by institutions in the UK (including six of 2016’s top 10). This means that just a handful stem from institutions outside the US and UK, but among these are representatives from both Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

What to look for from online MBA programs

When ascertaining quality among today’s online MBA programs, there are many differing factors to consider and you’re likely to find one or two that you adjudge to be of particular interest to your circumstances.

You could, for example, be most interested in the average level of prior experience held by a program’s participants. For this latest version of QS’s online MBA rankings, Warwick Business School reports an average of between 12 and 13 years’ prior work experience among its enrollees in 2014, for instance, whereas the average is closer to six years at both IE Business School and Kelley School of Business.  

Another factor might be a program’s international or domestic appeal. In this, we can glean much from the proportion of international versus domestic students a school says is represented in their annual intake – notably, Alliance Manchester reports an 89% proportion of international students among the 2,000+ students who enrolled in 2014, while domestic students make up 95% of the audience for the program offered by Naveen Jindal School of Management, which enrolled around 300 students in 2014.

For those looking at academic ability among students taking online MBA programs, an impressive average of 672 on the GMAT was scored by those accepted into the course available through Peru’s CENTRUM Católica Graduate Business School (ranked 14th this year). Meanwhile, for a strong rate completion rate, you need look no further than the 99% (as of January 2015) reported for the AMBA-accredited offering from the EuroMBA Consortium, based in the Netherlands and 18th in 2016’s standings.  

Wealth of choice in online MBA cost and length of study

In surveying this group of 30 programs as a whole there’s also a great deal of variety to be found in cost and length of study. The cheapest programs ranked here come advertised at a little under US$15,000, while the most expensive numbers scale the US$75,000 mark. Some programs can be completed in as little as 10 or 12 months while others can be spread out across as many as eight years – timeframes that ought to fit in with just about any prospective student’s expectations.

There is however one thing all 30 of these online MBA programs have in common - every single one of them told us that its students complete work in groups and through online group interaction, hammering home the point that a quality online MBA studied by distance is not one studied in isolation. 

This article was originally published in February 2016 . It was last updated in May 2019

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Written by

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).


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