FLORIDA, ARIZONA STATE & PENN STATE FINISH IN TOP TEN AGAIN
Another important thing to keep in mind. The ranking fails to include one of the better known business school brands. The University of Southern California’s Marshall School launched its online MBA program with its inaugural cohort last fall, apparently too late to be considered for the new ranking. Besides, Carnegie Mellon, UNC and Indiana, however, USC’s program would be the online offering with the highest brand recognition in graduate management education. The USC price tag is $93,502.
That said, there are a number of schools whose online MBA programs keep popping up as among the best. They include the University of Florida’s Hough School of Business, which repeated its fourth place finish in the ranking, Arizona State, which finished with a rank of fifth, down one from last year, and Penn State’s World Campus, which held onto its seventh place finish of last year.
Like most business school deans, Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean Douglas Shackelford is no fan of rankings. But he believes that online MBA programs might be easier to rank than most educational programs because a “reviewer” could gain access to them via computer. Much like a restuarant reviewer, an impartial observer could simply sample every program from a desktop and assign a subjective ranking to each. However, that would be a time-consuming exercise for most ranking organizations and an unlikely proposition.
U.S. NEWS PUT NUMERICAL RANKS ON 163 ONLINE MBAS THIS YEAR
Still, he acknowedges that potential applicants are paying attention to U.S. News’ ranking. “We had a jump in interest when the rankings came out last year which is not surprising,” says Shackelford. “Given the absence of information in the market, applicants are going to go and check that thing out. We are pleased with our program. We have over 500 graduates and have more than 700 students in the program. I am pretty pleased at the way the market has responded to our students.”
Shackelford views Carnegie Mellon and Indiana as UNC’s signficant competitors. “After you leave the top three of us, there are not really any big name schools who have seriously penetrated the market,” he says. “I remain surprised that more haven’t entered the market.”
While it’s true that few big brand schools are in the game, there are definitely more players in the online MBA market overall. This year, U.S. News put numerical ranks on 163 online MBA programs, with many of them tied. Rutgers University’s online MBA, for example, was tied for the last 163rd rank which it shared with five schools. Last year, U.S. News gave ranks to 147 schools, with the final six tied at 142st.