The world of educational rankings is very robust. There are many big names in the rankings game, including Bloomberg Businessweek, US News & World Report, Financial Times, Forbes, PrincetonReview, The Economist, Eduniversal, and Quacquarelli Symonds. These organizations provide news, business and educational information, business school rankings, MBA rankings, and even online MBA rankings. Online MBA programs are only found in a few of these rankings, and today we are exploring the Quacquarelli Symonds Distance Online MBA Ranking.
Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is a large career and education global network that was founded by Nunzio Quacquarelli in 1990. QS was birthed out of Mr. Quacquarelli's MBA studies at the Wharton School while attending the University of Pennsylvania. QS is headquartered in London, with additional offices in New York, Paris, Singapore, Stuttgart and Alicante, and employ a diverse team of over 200 members.
The QS umbrella encompasses career and education activities such as rankings, fairs, conferences, online websites and tools, publications, research, and IT software solutions. Their mission is to "enable motivated people around the world to achieve their potential by fostering international mobility, educational achievement and career development." They can be seen partnering with employers, universities, and students in 50 different countries, carrying out this mission.
In their online platform, they consist of multiple digital channels connecting students and institutions at every education and career transition. Their platforms include:
- TopUniversities.com – home to resources and independent rankings of universities around the world
- QS Global-Workplace -a career platform connecting recruiters to over 55,000 MBA and Master's alumni and professionals
- Social Media – over 240,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+ for information on QS events and updates
- QS Course Finder – home to a comprehensive and up-to-date course directory from universities and business schools from nine mainland European countries, the UK, and Australia
- TopMBA.com – an independent source on business schools, applications, careers, and MBA rankings
QS Distance Online MBA Ranking
The Global online MBA ranking is found on the QS online platform, TopMBA.com. This distance ranking can be seen among their other educational ranking systems: Global Full-Time MBA rankings by Region, Global 200 Business Schools Report, and MBA Rankings in 10 Specializations. The online ranking ranks accredited online, distance, and hybrid MBA programs from around the world by a system designed by the QS Intelligence Unit.
This MBA ranking includes programs in a distance, online, and hybrid format from top business schools around the world. The QS Intelligence Unit states that they collect their data from the US Department of Education, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Common Data Set, and the College Navigator. The list includes 30 total online MBA programs, with 17 hailing from the US.
The methodology for this ranking is detailed below:
- 30%: Employability – Data from a global survey reporting international employers business school recruiting preferences.
- 15%: Student Quality – A combination of data reporting the quality of students in each program, based on the average number of years worked, the applicants/placement ratio, class average of GMAT Scores, and the percentage of students with a first degree.
- 15%: Established in Online MBA Market – Data showing how established a program is in the online MBA market, based on how old the program is, the number of students enrolled in the program, and the accreditation status.
- 15%: Faculty and Teaching – Data showing a school's commitment to teaching quality, based on the faculty to student ratio, the number of full-time faculty, and the degree completion rate.
- 15%: Class Experience – Data based on if students feel invested in a cohort and the level of interaction, base if the program requires face-to-face meetings, compulsory attendance, regular online classes, group work, and how much of the program is assessed using group work?
- 10%: Diversity – Data showing how diverse a program is, equally based on how many nationalities are enrolled and the gender percentage split.
Pros and Cons of the Ranking
What this ranking does well is that it grabs a diverse set of data to give a macro-view of the quality of the program. It considers if alumni can find jobs, the quality of peers within a program, how good the professors are, if the program has a history to give evidence of its quality, what quality of classes it has, and if students will be working in a diverse atmosphere. They also provide an empirical emphasis on employability. This factor is always important to any potential MBA student. Additionally, within much of the data, this ranking wants to make sure that the online MBA students feel involved in the courses and engaged with the professors and peers. QS writes, that what "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 level of engagement and quality is important for each student because it enhances their MBA experience and it can propel them into their future careers and goals.
What this ranking also does, is that it gives students a good picture on how their program ranks globally. Since this ranking includes business schools from around the world, prospective students can gauge how a particular business school is seen from recruiters across the globe. This can be advantageous for the professionals that have their sights on working internationally, or being a member of a global business team.
One of the factors that is lacking, is more information on the exact data used within the methodology. Students are left wondering what the global survey to recruiters contained. If this information, plus the findings of this information were provided, it could give great insight for prospective students.
There was also no data taken from program alumni for this ranking. Alumni can give a great picture on the quality and engagement of a program. While raw data of the number of group assignments and the student to faculty ratio is great data to have, only an alumnus can give breath to that data to let outsiders know if those things were done effectively and added to the depth of the program. Alumni data is sorely missed.
This ranking also qualified the number of face-to-face experiences that students have within a particular program, under the assumption that it produced more engaged students. While many programs utilize this to increase student engagement, many online programs have no required residencies. These completely online MBA programs are thus discriminated against within this particular online MBA ranking.
Notable Online Programs in the Ranking
The top six programs in the QS Distance Online MBA Ranking are as follows:
- 4: Indiana University Kelley School of Business
- 7: University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management
- 11: Drexel University Bennett S. Lebow College of Business
- 12: George Washington University School of Business
- 13: Lehigh University College of Business and Economics
- 15: University of Florida Hough Graduate School of Business
Macro but not all encompassing: While this ranking does a great job at gathering a lot of different data to rank the quality of online programs, the data doesn't gather ever piece of important data that is available. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. As with every person, each ranking has a set of data that it deems as most important. This QS ranking is no different. So, as a prospective student, you must remember to take this ranking not as a complete picture of a program, but a piece of the whole.
Global picture: This ranking is unique from many of the other rankings reviewed, it shows prospective students how a US online MBA is ranked among other programs across the world. This is a great advantage to some students. Those that are interested in business schools around the world can compare these programs side-by-side. Also, students interested in international business can see how their US program might be viewed in the global context.
Take this ranking and use it as a diving board. Check out our online MBA rankings. Dive into the very large, and growing, pool of available online MBA programs. Use it as a tool in your quest to find your next step in your education and career.
Stay tuned for more ranking reviews, and happy hunting.
Other reviewed rankings: