QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2015: Methodology

Methodology for the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2015

Ranking the world’s best online MBA programs is a very different proposition to ranking the qualification’s full-time counterparts.  

An online MBA represents an altogether different student experience and, therefore, programs can only truly be held up in comparison to those within the same format, regardless of the institution from which they are offered.  

The QS Distance Online MBA Rankings were created with exactly this distinction in mind – to assess online MBA programs across a number of factors that are particular to a distance or virtual learning experience. However, as with QS’s full-time MBA rankings, there is still an emphasis on the reputation of an online MBA program among international employers.

Assessing online MBA programs across six areas

Broadly, a total of six areas come under assessment in the methodology for the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2015, each of which is given a weighting towards a program’s final score.

This is detailed in the infographic below. As you will see, a number of different indicators fall under each area of assessment in the online MBA rankings – to learn more about these and to see their individual weighting towards the overall total, simply scroll down.

QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2015 methodology


1. Employability (Total of 30%)

  • The measure of a program’s employer reputation comes from a global survey, in which international employers identified the schools from which they recruit candidates.

2. Student Quality (Total of 15%)

[Indicators in this area are designed to measure the strength of an online MBA program’s cohort.]

  • Years of work experience (class average) – number of years of previous work experience of most recent intake (5%)
  • Applicants/Place ratio – number of applicants for each admitted student in most recent cohort (2%)
  • GMAT score (class average) – for most recent cohort (6%)
  • % Students with first degree – percentage of students entering program with at least a bachelor’s degree (2%)

3. Established in Online MBA Market? (Total of 15%)

  • Establishment year of program – number of years for which the program has been running (7%)
  • Accreditation – Has the online MBA program received accreditation from a reputable body? A score is formulated from the school’s accreditation status with the following four bodies: AMBA, EQUIS, AACSB, and EPAS (4%)
  • Number of students enrolled – size of most recent cohort (4%)

4. Faculty and Teaching (Total of 15%)

  • Faculty/student ratio – size of cohort divided by number of academic staff engaged in the program (5%)
  • % Full-time faculty teaching online program – the proportion of online MBA faculty who also teach on the school’s full-time MBA (5%)
  • Degree completion rate – proportion of admitted students who complete the course (5%)

5. Class Experience (Total of 15%)

[Indicators in this area reward online MBA programs that look to make students feel part of a cohort and recognize the importance of interaction with classmates.]

Does the online MBA involve? (Yes/no answers)


  • Physical meet-up - full score given to programs that offer in-person meetings during the course (2.5%)
  • Compulsory attendance – full score given to programs which include compulsory attendance at a set time/date for some of their online classes (2.5%)
  • Regular online classes – full score given to programs for which there is an online class held at a regular time (2.5%)
  • Group Work – full score given to programs in which students are required to complete work in groups (2.5%)
  • How much of the Program is assessed using Group Work? – percentage of assessed coursework where students interact directly with one another (5%)

6. Diversity (Total of 10%)

  • Nationalities enrolled in program – Number of nationalities represented in most recent cohort (5%)
  • Class % of female students – in most recent cohort (5%)

The data behind the scoring system of the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings has two main sources. Employer reputation data comes directly from a survey of actively-hiring international employers. Additional data is sourced directly from schools, and independently verified by the QS Intelligence Unit.

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Written by Tim Dhoul

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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