Best Online MBA Programs 2021 | QS

What are the world’s best online MBA programs in 2021? Find out in our breakdown of the QS Online MBA Rankings

The results are out: IE Business School boasts the world’s best Online MBA program, according to the latest QS Online MBA Rankings. 

Leading the QS list of the world’s best online MBA programs for 2021, Spain’s IE Business School beat off the competition to top the ranking for the fourth consecutive year.

UK schools, Imperial College Business School and Warwick Business School, rank second and third, while the UK’s Alliance Manchester Business School places fifth.

When you’re considering online MBA programs, there are various questions you should ask yourself. Where should I study an online MBA? What is the best value online MBA? Is an Online MBA worth the money?

That’s where the annual QS online MBA ranking comes in, breaking down the top online MBA programs worldwide. 

QS ranks the quality of online MBA programs using four criteria that are given different weights to produce an overall score: employability (30%), diversity and access (30%), the quality of the learning experience (35%), and the class experience (5%).

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The Best Online MBAs

With interest in online MBAs increasing since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, rankings like the QS list are a good place to start researching and comparing programs.

In 2021, IE Business School achieved the highest score out of all programs on the list for employability and faculty and teaching while also achieving the joint-third best score for class experience. 

UK business schools are well-represented in the 2021 QS ranking: 11 out of 57 entrants are offered by UK business education programs. Imperial and Warwick retained their second and third positions from the previous year in 2021, while Alliance Manchester climbed from seventh to fifth.

However, business schools in the United States dominate the list overall, with 30 programs in total—and three of the top 10 online MBA programs—offered by US schools.

According to QS, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business offers the best-ranked Online MBA program in the US, ranked seventh overall. Kelley excels in the class experience category, boasting a score of 92.7. 

The Asia-Pacific’s best online MBA program, offered by the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School, comes in fourth.

Elsewhere, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano School of Management offers Continental Europe’s top online MBA program, placing sixth, and Belgium’s Vlerick Business School entered the top 10, climbing from 12th to ninth this year.

Is an Online MBA worth it?

Studying an MBA online allows you to study alongside your work. You won’t miss out on your salary, plus you’ll make savings on living and travel costs.

Compared to the cost of a full-time MBA, Online MBA programs are typically more affordable. Two of the QS top 10 make our list of affordable Online MBA programs.

IE Business School, charges roughly $61,500 for its 17-month program, while the two-year programs at Imperial College Business School and Warwick Business School will set you back around $57k and $47k, respectively.

Kelley School of Business   and the University of Southern California (Marshall), are more expensive, at around $74k and $105k respectively.

The cheapest online MBA programs in the QS top 10 are offered by Florida International University and Manchester Alliance, costing around $42k and $41k respectively, followed by MIP Politecnico di Milano and Vlerick Business School.

With the rise in the number of AACSB-accredited business schools offering fully online MBA programs over the years, there’s no reason why an online MBA can’t provide just as high-quality education as in-person MBA programs.

In deciding whether an online MBA is worth the money, you should consider how the flexible format of the program will help you reach your career goals and whether an online learning environment is something you’d find enjoyable and productive. 

Read: The Most Affordable Online MBA Programs


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Ivy League online MBA

Can’t find an Ivy League online MBA in QS’s global ranking? 

That’s because there isn’t a single Ivy League business school that has officially launched a full online MBA program. However, these super-selective schools do offer online education in a different format.

They mainly deliver to students shorter, online courses at the fraction of the cost of an MBA. Harvard Business School Online runs courses for several weeks at as little as $1,050, covering entrepreneurship, economics, and business analytics. 

In our article on the online education options at Ivy League business schools, we tell you about the opportunities open to students, the pros and cons of distance learning at an Ivy League school, and why there hasn’t been an online MBA launch at any of the Ivy schools. 

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, schools have been forced to push their education online, which begs the question: Will we see an Ivy League online MBA once the crisis has subsided?

Speaking about online education generally, Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO and founder of QS Quacquarelli Symonds, says that “the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is obliging higher education providers to ensure that they are able to offer outstanding teaching and learning experiences in the virtual classroom, and demand for online education is likely to accelerate as lockdowns across the world continue.”

Only time will tell if this pushed the Ivy schools into the realm of fully fledged online MBAs, but it wouldn’t be a surprise given the current circumstances, to see an Ivy League online MBA surface in the coming years. 

QS best online MBA programs: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

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