In this year's ranking, Kelley's Online MBA stands alone at the top of the list, a slight improvement from 2023 where it ranked joint first with the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Kenan-Flagler Business School.
This year, Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business came second, rising up three places in the ranks, while third place was split between three schools: Kenan-Flagler, the University of California Marshall School of Business, and the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
The US News Best Online MBA Ranking uses five categories to determine each program's place: Engagement (30%), Peer Assessment (25%) Faculty Credentials and Training (15%), Student Excellence (15%), Services and Technology (15%).
Within these larger categories are metrics including graduation rate, preparedness to teach distance learners, acceptance rates, and support services.
So far, the US News list is first major Online MBA ranking of 2024.
Best Online MBA programs in the US
There was a significant rise in interest in Online MBAs during the pandemic. While they are not as popular as they once were, online programs, particularly at elite institutions such as The Wharton School and University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business, continue to grow.
However, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council 2023 Corporate Recruiter Survey just 27% of US employers valued online and in-person degrees equally, down from 29% in 2022.
But during Online MBAs students do develop a wide range of skills including those that can be adapted to the modern workplace, such as remote communication and leadership.
The presence of the Kelley School of Business at the top of the Online MBA ranking can be explained by various indicators, including a student excellence score of 100, a 27% acceptance rate, and an average of nine years of teaching online courses among faculty.
The school also comes out on top in specific Online MBA rankings, scoring first place in the best Online Finance MBA and the best Online MBA in Marketing.
The number two in the ranking, Tepper, earned a student excellence score of 90 and first-placed finish for the best Online MBA in Business Analytics.
US Best Online MBA Ranking | winners and losers
The biggest winner in 2024 is Indiana Kelley, which retained its 2023 title of the best US Online MBAs. Carnegie Mellon Tepper was also a big winner this year moving up three places from its rank of fifth last year to second.
Meanwhile, Kenan-Flagler slipped to third place, having shared the top place in 2022 and 2023.
Washington Foster was also a winner this year, moving from fifth place to third. However, the University of Florida Warrington slipped from fourth place to sixth.
Despite the slight reordering, the schools in the top 10 stayed largely the same with only Wisconsin MBA Consortium dropping down to 12th after finishing joint ninth in 2023.
Is an Online MBA worth it?
Online MBA programs are usually significantly cheaper than traditional MBAs.
Students can also benefit from the flexibility to continue working while studying for an Online MBA from the comfort of their own home.
With the rise in Online MBA programs, recruiters are becoming more and more accepting of hiring those with an online qualification.
The rise in the number of AACSB-accredited business schools offering fully online MBA programs over the years also shows that many online MBA programs provide high-quality education.