Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

10 Best Online MBA Programs | Financial Times MBA Ranking 2020

Online MBAs provide flexibility, great teaching technology and career outcomes. So what are the world's best Online MBA programs, according to the FT MBA rankings?

Tue Mar 3 2020

Online MBA programs are on the up. Applications to a wealth of schools are increasing, driven by a growing desire for flexibility, better teaching technology and good career outcomes. So which online MBAs are the best?

See the latest FT Online MBA Ranking news

Each year, the Financial Times ranks the world’s best online MBA programs. In 2020, Warwick Business School retained its crown at the top of the Financial Times MBA rankings for the third successive year. 

The UK school did so thanks to the strong salary of its alumni, who earn an average of $204,799 three years from graduation, up 40% in this time. What’s more, Warwick came highest for career progression and for its proportion of overseas professors: 78%. 

The FT ranked 10 schools around the world, based on a range of factors, but primarily the alumni salary after three years and the salary increase, reflecting the main aims of...

ts: personal development and cultivating career opportunities, mostly in the finance sector. 

Despite the proliferation of digital degrees, there was scant change in the FT’s seventh annual list of the top online MBAs, other than Italy’s MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management breaking into the ranking in ninth place. It came second on corporate social responsibility and third for online interaction. 

Spain’s IE Business School was in second place for the third consecutive year, with the highest proportion of international students at 91%, and a board that is 96% international. Diversity is important, with a broad range of perspectives useful when analyzing a corporate challenge in a group — the case method. 

Alumni also rated IE’s global exposure and networking opportunities highly. In addition, the school has the highest score for CSR.

Meanwhile, the University of Massachusetts’ Isenberg School of Management held third place for the third year running. It had the largest salary increase three years after graduation, 46%, and the highest proportion of female faculty, 46%. 

FT Online MBA Ranking: Limitations

The rigidness of the ranking could be attributed to the way in which the FT collects data, surveying schools and alumni who completed their online MBAs in 2016. While 22 schools took part in the ranking this year, the alumni response rate was too low for some schools to qualify. 

This may suggest that schools have not engaged online students to the same degree as their campus cohorts. Schools have long been criticized for a lack of interaction online, but technology has improved digital discussion, though it has yet to fully replicate the campus experience. 

The FT ranking suggests that business schools have raised online interaction, with the percentage of graduates that gave schools the highest mark for contact with fellow students rising from under 30% to just shy of 55% since 2014. 

But the FT data may only suggest that students, many of whom grew up with the internet, are simply more comfortable with digital delivery these days. 


What’s the future for Online MBAs?

The relatively small FT list also highlights how novel the online MBA market is, despite its growth in recent years. The first digital MBA was introduced as recently as 1987, but last year 35% of schools accredited by AACSB offered an online MBA, up from 20% of 862 institutions five years ago. 

Many of the world’s most elite schools have not launched an online MBA, despite falling application volume to their full-time courses, especially in the US. This may be because the application declines have not yet ballooned into a fully-blown crisis at the top schools. 

However, demand is rising for online MBAs, with applications outstripping all other professional MBA program types in the US last year, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. 

Digital degrees may be cannibalizing campus courses, especially part-time MBAs, but they are also improving access for people who would otherwise not consider an MBA, because of the cost or time commitment required.

Next read: How Much Do The Best Online MBA Programs Cost?