The Financial Times has released its online MBA ranking 2020, noting that students have grown more comfortable with the format and that business schools have become more successful in promoting online interaction among programme participants.

The ranking, which includes 10 business schools, is based on polls of schools and alumni who graduated in 2016.

Warwick remains on top

Warwick Business School (UK) retained its position as the top online MBA provider for the third year running. The school’s strong performance is largely due to the salaries reported by its alumni. They earn an average of USD 204,799 three years after graduation, up 40% over that period. The school also topped the sub-categories of career progression and percentage of international faculty.

IE Business School (Spain) ranked second for the third consecutive year. Its strong points are the international exposure and the networking opportunities enjoyed by students. It also topped the list in the corporate social responsibility sub-category.

The top 3 remained unchanged from a year ago, with the University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg (US) again occupying the third slot. Its students reported the highest salary increase three years after graduation — 46%.

Politecnico di Milano School of Management (Italy), at number 9, is the only new entrant.

Of the 10 business schools in the ranking, five are from the United States, three are from the UK, and one each from Italy and Spain.

Read: MBA Formats Designed for Different Learning Goals

How the ranking was compiled

This is the seventh edition of the FT ranking of the best online MBA programmes around the world. A total of 22 schools took part but the alumni response rate was too low in some cases so only 10 schools qualified for the final ranking.

Under the FT’s criteria, the participating schools must be accredited by AACSB or EQUIS and programmes must be at least four years old. In order for a programme to qualify, at least 70% of its content must be delivered online.

The ranking is based on two online surveys — the first was completed by participating schools and the second by their alumni who obtained their online MBA degree in 2016. The response rate was 26%, with 650 people completing the questionnaire.

Alumni responses account for 65% of the total weight of the ranking, which has 18 criteria. Student criteria include average income three years after graduation and the salary increase compared with their pay on graduation. School criteria include the diversity of staff, board members and students by gender and nationality.

Different rankings of MBA programmes employ different methodology. Since none is conclusive, Access MBA advises aspirants to understand the methodology behind each one before deciding whether what it measures is important for them.