For each ranking, we only considered schools that met the following criteria

  • Based in the United States
  • Offered an online MBA with minimal or no campus requirements (50% or fewer campus requirements)

Preparing Our Metrics

All of the lists we used included types of programs that had criteria we excluded, such as those with non-U.S. schools and exclusively campus-based MBA programs. There were three sources — The Economist, Princeton Review, and PayScale — that do not have rankings specifically for online MBA programs. To provide the most relevant ranking possible, we modified those lists to only consider the schools that did offer their MBAs online and reranked our list accordingly. This ensured that only the most appropriate schools and programs were rated against one another. You may see the modified rankings in each of our publisher pages.

In addition, we felt that the overall cost of an MBA program is an important factor that should be considered in evaluating the best online MBAs. For this reason, we included total average tuition as a metric. For tuition, we used the latest figures provided on the school’s website for a distance online MBA program as an in-state, full-time student. This data was gathered on January 2017.

For schools that did not provide a total cost estimate, we multiplied the cost-per-credit for in-state students with the total number of credits required to determine the total tuition cost. For example, for the University of Wisconsin’s program, the school did not provide a total tuition total, so we multiplied their cost-per-credit ($675) with the number of credits required to complete their online MBA program (30) to come up with the following formula and tuition:

$675 * 30 = $20,250

For schools that did provide a total tuition cost for the entire MBA program, we did not include their cost per credit or credits required in the table below. Only schools that did not provide that total are shown with the cost-per-credit and credits required data for the sake of clarity.

Keep in mind, however, that these tuition figures could vary for different learners, based on previous education credits, financial aid, and unique personal circumstances.

As no one publisher is more valuable than another, and because we believe that tuition is just as important as being ranked by U.S. News and PayScale, all of the metrics we used were weighted equally.

Calculating the Rankings

For each school ranked by our three chosen publishers, we determined how many publishers’ lists it appeared on, and at what rank per list. Each school was then grouped based on how many lists it was featured on; schools that appear in multiple rankings are likely to be more reputable and offer a higher-quality MBA program than those that appear in fewer rankings, so schools that appeared on all four publishers’ lists were ranked above those that appeared on only one or two.

Then, within each grouping, every school was ranked based on the average of their positions on publisher lists, as well as overall tuition. The resulting list is a composite ranking of the best online MBAs according to U.S. News, The Economist, Princeton Review, PayScale, and overall tuition. In this way, our rankings showcase only the most well-recognized and lauded distance MBA programs.

RANKSCHOOLUS News RankEconomist RankPrinceton Review RankPayscale RankCost Per CreditCredits RequiredTuition
1The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill4119$1,58666$104,658.84
2Indiana University3328$1,33051$67,830
3Arizona State University56520----$56,700
4University of Florida65423$1,208.3348$58,000
5Temple University112329$1,24548$59,760
6North Carolina State University1816817$1,054.8839$41,140.32
7Carnegie Mellon University243$64072$46,080
8University of Maryland975$1,48154$79,974
9Unviersity of Southern California12115--51$92,046
10The University of Texas at Dallas71020--53$47,956
11Pepperdine University211713--52$86,840
12University of Massachusetts - Amherst122229$82539$32,175
13Emory University21----$101,700
14Babson College72--46$84,900
15University of Minnesota87$1,33557$76,095
16Pennsylvania State University810$1,18548$56,880
17University of Wisconsin - Madison129$67530$20,250
18Purdue University1410$1,16557$66,405
19James Madison University219$90042$37,800
20University of Miami1515$1,90042$81,800
21George Washington University1318$1,69055.5$93,795
22Hofstra University1419--48$72,800
23Ball State University1223$39430$16,492
24University of Nebraska at Lincoln2115$53148$25,488
25Northeastern University1626$1,47650$73,800

We used the following rankings to help compile our own list of the best schools offering online MBA programs

The rankings provided by U.S. News & World Report are among the most respected and prestigious in the academic community. Since 1983, U.S. News & World Report has conducted annual rankings of colleges and universities in America. Because of its methodology and longstanding history, U.S. News’ ranking has earned widespread recognition and credit as a reputable and reliable resource.

Founded in 1843, The Economist is a renowned magazine that covers news, education issues, economics, and more from a global perspective. Although headquartered in London, The Economist compiled data from online MBA programs from around the world and conducted a ranking of the top schools.

For the past 30 years, Princeton Review has been providing tutoring materials for college and graduate school entry examinations. The publication also has a college admissions expert who helps compile rankings of academic programs and campus features, including the online MBA list.

To compile its ranking of MBA programs, PayScale uses its large database of user-reported salary information to compile the early and mid-career pay of MBA degree holders. This information is then traced back to schools to determine the best business schools based on salary potential.