Ranking online MBA programs is an extremely difficult job, as is ranking any academic program against its competitors. How is it possible to provide accurate and reliable rankings so that prospective students can pick and choose programs that are truly the best? How can somebody even say that one online MBA program is definitively better than another? Is there any truth to the existing rankings of online MBA programs?
The Ranks of Online MBA Programs Are Based on the Specific Factors Analyzed
In order to rank an online MBA program or any program, somebody must come up with a list of variables so that two different schools can be fairly compared. According to oMBA, the magazine The Economist ranks online MBA programs according to three primary factors: the content of the program, the student body, and the combined elements of distance learning. Each of these major categories is likely broken down into subcategories, and those subcategories are compared between the different online programs. On the other hand, U.S. News & World Report ranks online MBA programs according to the primary factors of faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, student engagement, and admissions selectivity. These major categories also probably contain multiple subcategories that are compared between schools. As you can see, it appears that the factors being analyzed are different between the two ranking bodies. In order to see if the ranking can help you, you would need to look at the factors that were used to determine the ranking.
Ranks Given to Online MBA Programs are Opinions, Not Facts
The ranks supplied to schools are nothing more than the opinions of the individuals or bodies doing the ranking. Even after compiling a bunch of statistics such as graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratios, average GPA, tuition costs, and faculty credentials, you still can’t say for sure that one program is better than another because the variables being compared might not even be important to the prospective student. The ranks published are derived from comparing a certain set of statistics chosen by the publisher, and the publisher chooses to define the superiority or inferiority of a program based on having certain stats.
Better Is Subjective
Even when specific factors are used to compare two different online MBA programs, it’s impossible to say that one is better than the other. “Better” is subjective because what one individual looks for in a program might be vastly different from what another individual wants in a program. For example, School A might have a 2:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and School B might have a 4:1 student-to-faculty ratio, but student A might prefer School B because it provides an environment with less individualized attention and puts less pressure on the student to perform in class. It all comes down to personal preference. Before you even look at rankings, ask yourself the following question: What am I looking for in an online MBA program? Jot down your thoughts, and then begin researching rankings and their methods.
In the end, any posted rankings of online MBA programs or any academic programs by reputable sources only serve as a guide to the students who are trying to decide between schools and programs. Never take rankings as fact. There is no definitive truth or accuracy to any ranking as every ranking body rates programs based on a different set of factors. While renowned publications and websites usually do a very good job of comparing and contrasting the many programs available, ranking online MBA programs definitively will remain an improbable, if not impossible task.