FT Ranks IE Business’ Online MBA First

IE Business School

IE Business School

For the third consecutive time since the Financial Times began ranking online MBA programs, IE Business School emerged at the top of the list. The new ranking, published today (March 7), named Warwick Business School in the U.K. as the second best program with the University of Florida’s Hough School third.

Though U.S. programs fared well in the ranking, several of the very best programs were absent from the list, including online offerings from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Indiana University’s KelleyDirect online MBA came in fifth, Babson College’s blended MBA program came in sixth, Northeastern University’s online MBA turned in a seventh place finish, while the University of Massachusetts’ program was ninth and Arizona State University’s Carey School was tenth. All told, only 15 programs were ranked, with nine of them based in the U.S. That compares with the 147 ranked online MBA programs in U.S. News’ online ranking.


The Financial Times measures online MBA programs using 17 different metrics, including many that have little to do with the quality of an online experience. The British newspaper, for example, gives the most weight–20%–to purchasing parity-adjusted average salaries three years after graduation reported by alumni. It assigns a 10% weight to alumni increase in salary from pre-MBA days and another 10% weight to research published by the faculty of a business school with an online program. The ranking even puts 10% weight on the importance of doctoral programs at a business school, both in measuring the full-time faculty with doctorates as well as the number of doctoral graduates in the past three years.

One of the more relevant online MBA measures, an alumni rating of the interaction between students, the quality of teamwork and the availability of faculty in the online program, assumes less than half the importance as the adjusted salary data and is equal to faculty research and salary increases. If you measured schools merely on “online interaction,” eight of the top 10 programs are all based in the U.S. Florida comes in first, followed by No. 2 Northeastern, No. 3 IE, No. 4 Indiana, and No. 5 University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Warwick, the No. 2 school overall, drops to tenth place.

Another highly relevant metric-program delivery, which is based on alumni ratings of online teaching and exams–is also given short shrift in the methodology. It accounts for just 5% of the ranking. On this measure, the top five programs are all U.S. based, led again by the University of Florida (see table below).

How The Online Programs Rank On The Most Relevant Metrics

Online Interactive Rank & SchoolProgram Delivery Rank
  1. University of Florida (Hough)1
  2. Northeastern University (D’Amore-McKim)2
  3. IE Business School6
  4. Indiana University (Kelley)5
  5. University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg)3
  6. Babson College (Olin)10
  7. Florida International University (Chapman)4
  8. University of Nebraska-Lincoln8
  9. Arizona State University (Carey)9
10. Warwick Business School7
11. Australian Graduate School of Management13
12. Drexel University (LeBow)12
13. Centrum Católica11
14. University of Bradford School of Management14
15. Durham University Business School15

Source: The Financial Times 2016 online MBA ranking 

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.