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World's Best Online MBA Programs 2023 | Financial Times Ranking

Find out which business schools offer the world’s best online MBA programs as we break down the FT Online MBA Ranking 2023

Mon Mar 13 2023


IE Business School offers the world’s best Online MBA program—that’s according to the Financial Times Online MBA Ranking 2023. IE’s Global Online MBA tops the FT ranking for the first time since 2017, when it led the table for the four previous years.

Warwick Business School is placed second this year—after five consecutive years in first place—with Imperial College Business School, a new entrant to the FT Online MBA ranking in 2021, coming third. 

The FT’s list of best Online MBA programs in 2023 is dominated by European business schools, with the top three Europe-based programs joined by Durham University Business School in eighth position, University of Liverpool Management School in ninth, and Polimi Graduate School of Management (formerly MIP Politecnico di Milano) in 10th. 

However, US schools take up the middle of the table this year with Carnegie Mellon: Tepper in fourth position, University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg in fifth, University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School in sixth, and University of Florida Warrington in seventh.

Online MBA programs have been having somewhat of a moment since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, with more candidates looking for flexible, affordable online MBA programs that allow them to complete your studies alongside their work.

IE Business School has topped the table again after five years

The methodology of the Online MBA ranking from the Financial Times is based on a range of criteria, with a key focus on the total compensation and salary increases received by Online MBA students after graduation.

Schools ranked by the FT must be accredited by AACSB or EQUIS. Online MBA programs must have run for four consecutive years and at least 70% of the program must be delivered online.

IE topping the ranking, after Warwick’s five-year reign, is likely due to the impressive salaries its Online MBA graduates earn three years after completing the program. Graduates earn on average $205,695 per year three years after the program, with graduate salaries increasing on average by 44% post-MBA. 

IE is ranked second for salary outcomes, however, with Amhert: Isenberg leading the metric as its grads command an average salary of $233,284 three years after graduation. 

Meanwhile, graduates of Warwick’s Distance Learning MBA earn an average salary of $194,903, a slight increase from last year, but the graduates' salary percentage increase has actually fallen from 36% to 33%. 

Graduates from Tepper’s Part-time Online MBA, enjoy a 45% salary increase post-MBA—the highest salary bump among the top 10 schools.

IE also ranks third for career progress, which measures progression in the level of seniority and company alumni work for in the three years following graduation.

Financial Times top 10 Online MBA programs

What else stands out in this year's FT Online MBA ranking?

There have been a few changes in this year's ranking compared with 2022. Most of the schools in last year's top 10 either haven't been included or have dropped position. 

In Europe, along with Warwick falling to second, Imperial has dropped from second to third, Durham is also down from being seventh in 2022, and Polimi GSoM has fallen from sixth to tenth. In the US, both North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler and Florida’s Warrington have dropped two places, from fourth and fifth to sixth and seventh consecutively. 

A number of schools that appeared in the 2022 Online MBA rankings have dropped out of the top 10 this year. AGSM at UNSW, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and University of Bradford School of Management do not appear in the 2023 rankings. 

In their place are Carnegie Mellon: Tepper, University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg, and University of Liverpool Management School. 

Unusually, a US school tops the list when it comes to value for money—Amherst: Isenberg—whose program costs just over $36,000 for three years. Durham University Business School's Online MBA, which costs £28,000 ($33,800), comes in second for cost, and University of Liverpool Management School’s online program, at £19,460 ($24k), comes in third. 

Once again the University of Florida Warrington ranks first for careers service and Kenan-Flagler comes second, while Imperial is ranked third this year. These three also rank top globally for research. 

In terms of diversity, IE once again boasts the most international students, at 92% of the school's Global Online MBA cohort. However, its percentage of female students has dropped significantly to 39%, a 9% decrease from last year's ranking. It does, however, boast the highest proportion of female faculty members at 49%, and ties with Polimi GSoM for women on board with 50%. 

Amherst: Isenberg has the highest female representation in its Online MBA this year, with 41% and Carnegie Mellon: Tepper’s Part-time Online MBA comes second with 40% female students in its cohort. 

IE's impressive performance this year continues in the FT's environment, social, and governance (ESG) ranking. The school sits in top place, followed by Durham and Polimi GSoM.

IE has also improved its performance this year when it comes to student satisfaction. The school's Online MBA recorded the lowest student satisfaction score out of any of the 15 top-ranked schools in 2021, and in 2022 it came fifth. This year, the school jumped up another two places coming in third for student satisfaction, with a 9.3 rating. Students are most satisfied at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper.

Imperial again ranks highest for international mobility, with many Imperial Online MBA students working in different countries after graduation, followed by IE. Imperial also boasts the most international faculty, with 97% of faculty from outside the UK.

The value of an Online MBA

Online MBA programs come in many different shapes and sizes. Online MBA programs ranked in the top 10 by the FT take between one and 3.5 years to complete.

Online learning is no longer viewed as secondary to traditional campus-based classes and so the cost of some online MBAs is increasingly comparable with some full-time MBAs.

Tepper offers the most expensive program in the FT Online MBA ranking, at almost $147,000.

There are more affordable options though. After Massachusetts’ Amherst: Isenberg and the UK universities, Liverpool and Durham, some of the cheapest Online MBA programs in the FT list are offered by and Polimi GSoM in Italy ($39,500) and Warwick Business School ($45k). 

If you’re asking yourself the question ‘Is an online MBA worth it?’, you’ll need to consider your own individual career goals. Online MBA students tend to be more advanced in their careers compared with full-time, in-person MBA students.