Online MBA Rankings Methodology: QS vs U.S. News

Online MBA Rankings Methodology: QS vs U.S. News main image

Distance online MBA programs have gained prestige and credibility in recent years, and their importance is set to increase even more during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the full-time format remains the most popular, online MBAs are undoubtedly growing in appeal, with applications to the b-schools that offer this option on a progressive increase.

The main reason for this growth is the convenience of doing an online MBA as opposed to a campus-based course, particularly for people who work full-time and might have care commitments outside of their career.

In these cases, distance learning becomes not only a chance to go to b-school without having to compromise on location, but also to refine and develop skills that are extremely valuable across the workforce.

As with campus-based programs, ranking providers have been evaluating the top online MBAs using different indicators.

Here are the methodologies used by two major online MBA ranking providers, QS and U.S. News.

QS vs U.S. News: Indicators and Weight


QS Indicator




U.S. News Indicator




Faculty and Teaching












Expert Opinion




Class Profile





Faculty Credentials & Training




Class Experience




Student Excellence








Student Services & Technologies




Methodologies Overview and Comparison

Both QS and U.S. News categorize indicators based on the overall student experience and the school’s ability to provide faculty and students with the necessary resources to respectively teach and learn during the program.

QS data on class profile includes key inputs on the different cohorts: the number of students enrolled, the applicant/place ratio, work experience, the proportion of female students and the number of nationalities represented.

Similar indicators between the two rankings are faculty credentials and training, the opportunities in place for students to engage with faculty and classmates, and the technologies and support available for learners throughout the program and upon graduation.

These are all extremely useful factors to ensure that students don’t miss out on the MBA experience despite the distance, ones that candidates are certain to look at while evaluating different options.

QS’ ranking provides some key information for aspiring distance b-schoolers: graduate employability. The results combine data from over 44,000 hiring managers worldwide across sectors and industries – including Facebook, Google, Uber, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. This is particularly useful for those who hope an MBA qualification will revamp their career and are likely to base their decision on their chances of getting their dream job after graduation.

On the other hand, U.S. News’ ranking explores how programs are regarded by high-ranking academic officials at different schools and the extent to which students have the skills and ambition needed to complete high-demand coursework. While these don’t provide clear statistical figures, they’re good indicators of the intangible factors that make each school and student experience unique.

It’s undeniable that both rankings have their own distinctive value. While you might favor certain indicators over others, it’s still important to look at different rankings and crosscheck any key similarities or differences between schools. You might be surprised by how much this will help you narrow down your list.

Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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