On June 27th, QS published the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2018. Featuring 50 of the world’s top online MBA programs, this ranking is the biggest global ranking of its kind and will be an invaluable resource for anyone considering an online program.
With the publication of the full results, here are some lessons QS learned from speaking to schools in order to compile the rankings:
1. 40-to-50% of work done within online programs is group work
Studying online may mean you spend less time in the same room as the rest of your MBA cohort, but it doesn’t mean you’re working in isolation. Nearly half of the programs QS surveyed featured some sort of group work, allowing students to experiment and find the most effective ways to communicate digitally—a vital skill in the modern workplace.
On the Online MBA offered by the University of Southern California’s (USC) Marshall School of Business, students enjoy self-paced coursework combined with real-time class sessions conducted over webcam.
The program—ranked among the top 10 in the US by the US News & World Report—is designed for the digital era professional, with the curriculum covering how to manage remote employees and how to best communicate online.
In general, anywhere between 30-to-50% of the work on USC Marshall’s Online MBA is completed in teams. Those student teams—which typically consist of four-to-five people—are switched each semester, so students gain experience working with people from a wide range of backgrounds and industries.
2. 95% of online MBAs offer students the ability to complete their degree on slower or faster tracks
Flexibility has become a fundamental part of the online MBA with schools allowing their students to complete the program in anything between nine and 120 months.
3. 96% of online MBAs provide students with the opportunity to choose electives or specializations
Customized academic paths are also being made available to today’s online MBA students, as shown by the extraordinarily high proportion of programs which now offer electives or specializations. Consequently, an online MBA can be adaptable enough to provide you with whatever skills you’re seeking.
4. 64% of online MBAs include required in-person meet ups
As well as a growing focus on group work, today’s online MBA programs are also insisting on in-person meet ups, with nearly two-thirds of programs incorporating face-to-face connections between students.
On USC Marshall’s Online MBA, a one-week residential intensive sees students solve real-life business problems for real firms, network with business leaders, and attend various business conferences and networking events.
Not so on Birmingham Business School’s Online MBA—a ground-breaking, 100%-online MBA program. The program ramps up the flexibility of online learning to the max, with no residential component, or additional travel expense, required.
Birmingham’s was also the first fully-online MBA program to be accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), a testament to its interactive online learning platform. The program takes approximately two-and-a-half years to complete.
On both USC Marshall and Birmingham’s online MBA programs, students receive the same degree certificates as those on the schools’ respective full-time MBA courses.
5. Nearly 80% of programs offer international trips
When it comes to getting online MBA students together in the same place, one of the most attractive ways to do so is through a perspective-gaining international trip. As well as providing students with an invaluable educational experience, these visits can also be a valuable bonding experience for the cohort.
6. 65% of course content on online MBA programs is now offered through asynchronous learning
Nearly two-thirds of online MBA teaching now occurs on a truly flexible, asynchronous schedule. Synchronous online learning, where students and teachers get together in real-time’ makes up 28% of content delivery, while face-to-face encounters are the final 7%.
On Birmingham’s Online MBA, fortnightly, two-and-a-quarter-hour long live sessions bring groups of up to 25 students together with tutors and lecturers in an immersive online learning environment.
This article, originally written by Craig O'Callaghan, was updated by BusinessBecause with the sections on USC Marshall and Birmingham Business School on June 22nd.
Want to find out which online MBA programs are the best in the world? Check TopMBA.com