The Financial Times (FT) has published its 2022 online MBA ranking, revealing that more students are gravitating toward the degree as overall satisfaction levels grow.  

The total online MBA intake rose to 15,384 in 2022, up from 11,295 in 2020 among the 29 schools that took part in this year’s ranking. Satisfaction also improved, partly because schools are becoming better at encouraging online interaction among their students.

However, the data suggests that some aspects of online business education like networking and salaries still have room for improvement. The average percentage increase in online MBA graduates’ salaries three years post-graduation is just below 70%, or 49 percentage points lower than the average salary increase for full-time MBA graduates.

Warwick retains crown

Warwick Business School (UK) topped the list for the fifth successive year, largely thanks to the remuneration of its alumni. Average salaries three years after completion reached USD 194,864 — a 36% increase from pre-MBA levels. Other factors that contributed to Warwick’s success are its online platform, programme materials, careers service, and the support available to develop start-ups.

Imperial College Business School (UK), which came in second, has the second-highest average salary at USD 192,016 and the best score for international mobility and career progress.

IE Business School (Spain) took third place. It has the highest percentage of international students at 92% and is No 1 in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) category.

Although a total of 29 schools declared willingness to participate, low alumni response rates meant that the final ranking by the FT includes only 10 programmes. Of those 10 programmes, four are from the UK, three from the US, and one each from Australia, Spain, and Italy.

Diversity, online interaction, and value for money

Networking is a major focus for MBA prospects, so it makes sense to take a look at features such as class diversity and online interaction index.

The most internationally diverse programmes in the FT ranking are IE (92% of all students), followed by Imperial (82%) and Warwick (75%). Female representation is also highest at IE (48% of all students), followed by AGSM at UNSW Business School (Australia) (42%) and Imperial (37%).

Online MBA programmes understandably focus on online interaction. Based on this criterion, the top 3 most interactive programmes are University of Florida: Warrington (US), University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler (US), and IE.

In terms of value for money, the highest score goes to University of Bradford School of Management (UK), followed by Durham University Business School (UK) and Warwick. This criterion takes into account alumni salaries, scholarships, fees and other costs.

How is the ranking compiled?

If you are aspiring to attend business school, it is essential to first gain an in-depth understanding of the methodology behind each ranking. Then, you will be able to decide whether what it measures should actually impact your MBA selection.

This year’s online MBA ranking is based on surveys of schools and of alumni who completed their online MBAs in 2018. To be considered for the ranking, business schools must be accredited by AACSB or EQUIS. At least 70% of the content must be delivered online. The participants must also pass a selection process before enrolling and an examination process before graduating.

The Financial Times collected data through two online surveys — the first was completed by participating schools and the second by their alumni who finished their Online MBA in 2018. Some 634 of them completed the questionnaire — a response rate of about 17%.

Alumni responses embracing nine criteria together account for 65% of the total weight. Schools’ responses contribute 25%. The remaining 10% is based on the schools’ research rank. Learn more about the methodology.