Online learning has never been more popular. Time and cost pressures mean young managers are shunning traditional campus MBAs for digital degrees — bricks for clicks.
But which are the best?
IE Business School of Spain has trumped all other global schools when it comes to the online MBA. That’s according to the latest set of Online MBA Rankings from the Financial Times, which will be published on Monday (7/3/16).
IE has claimed the top spot for the third consecutive year. It leads continued European domination of 2016’s table. Warwick Business School of the UK is ranked second for third year in a row, and Durham University Business School has claimed fourth for the first time. The US beasts of business education top traditional MBA rankings but Europe’s have an edge in cyberspace.
The 15 programs ranked by the FT provide flexible study options for working executives, who graduate with the same qualification as those studying for an MBA on campus.
“Business schools need to adapt to….A world of work that requires more flexibility. And they need to accommodate the demands of an increasingly global and diverse managerial workforce,” said Dr Richard McBain, head of post-experience programs at Henley Business School, which runs a flexible MBA for executives.
IE’s success can be put down to its high-calibre students — half of whom were senior managers when they enrolled. Three years after graduating, they earned the highest salaries, $179,000. That's $30,000 above the next big earners, who come from Babson College. Babson of the US is ranked no 6 this year by the FT, up one spot.
Babson’s online MBA degree is “blended”, b-school jargon for featuring both face-to-face and digital elements.
“I expect to see more courses and program elements offered via online delivery — though we will always emphasize ‘high touch’ approaches to this — where students meet each other and their faculty members,” William Lamb, dean of the business school, told BusinessBecause.
“Blended learning enhances the student experience,” said Phil Powell, chair of the online MBA at Indiana’s Kelley School of Business, which is ranked no 5 by the FT.
”While the majority of our online MBA program is online, we offer two one-week on-campus experiences.”
The FT said the same seven schools continued to dominate the top half of the ranking. These include University of Florida: Hough and Northeastern University: D’Amore-McKim. AGSM at UNSW Business School of Australia has entered the 2016 ranking for the first time, at no 8.
A minimum of 70% of the MBA programs’ content must be delivered online to be eligible for the FT’s ranking. Yet nine out of the 15 ranked schools had no requirement to study on campus.
Instead, they relied on a wide range of digital initiatives. The calibre of online programs has increased as technologies, from video studios to virtual reality, have enabled greater connectivity between students and their professors.
Peter Zemsky, dean for strategic initiatives and innovation at INSEAD, said: “Being a leader in digital management education is increasingly important.”
It appears to be paying off. Overall online delivery was rated higher than it had been in previous years, showing a greater level of satisfaction, according to the FT.
The publication’s data also show that online MBA programs appeal more to senior professional students, who tend to switch both companies and industries less than their full-time peers.