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US News 2021 Online MBA Rankings

See which online MBA programs rank the highest in 2021.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business edges Indiana’s Kelley School of Business to take the top spot on the U.S. News & World Report‘s 2021 “Best Online MBA Programs” list of online MBA rankings.

This year, Carnegie Mellon ties with the University of North Carolina’s Keenan-Flagler for the best online MBA program. While Kelley School of Business came in third in the ranking, it remains the top program for veterans.

The top five universities have not changed in two years, but they have shifted positions. Since USC Marshall School of Business moved up one place, it bumped the University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business to fifth. ASU Carey, one of five schools that tied for 10th last year, moved into sixth. Because of this, Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and the University of Texas at Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management were pushed to seventh.

None of the schools that have appeared in the top 10 ranking for the last two years have dropped off, but new schools are making a showing. Since there are more schools on the list this year, there was room for new arrivals.

Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University leaped from 123rd place to ninth this year. Lehigh University ranked 10th along with six other schools, moving up from 18th place last year.

The University of Mississippi dropped to 10th from sixth place last year. The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management and University of Maryland College Park’s Smith School remained in the same relative positions. University of Washington’s Foster School and University of Wisconsin’s MBA Consortium also stayed in similar spots.

Top 10 Online MBA Programs

The school with the top 10 online MBA programs as ranked by the US News & World Report are as follows:

1. (Tied) Carnegie Mellon University

1. (Tied) University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill

3. Indiana University — Bloomington

4. University of Southern California (USC)

5. University of Florida

6. Arizona State University

7. (Tied) Pennsylvania State University — World Campus

7. (Tied) University of Dallas — Texas

9. Rice University

10. (Tied) Lehigh University

10. (Tied) University of Arizona

10. (Tied) University of Maryland — College Park

10. (Tied) University of Mississippi

10. (Tied) University of Washington

10. (Tied) University of Washington MBA Consortium

US News ranks online MBA programs by weighing five metrics. These metrics include engagement (30%), expert opinions (25%), faculty credentials and training (15%), student excellence (15%), and student services and technologies (15%). US News rankings combine statistical data and peer assessment surveys.

Transitioning to Online Courses

Even though there were slight changes to qualifications for US News rankings, this did not significantly affect the number of eligible schools.

This year, US News updated the definition of an online program because of changes that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. The new definition states, “the vast majority of required coursework for program completion is able to be completed by via distance education courses.” It uses the term “majority” instead of all.

Only programs founded before the 2019-2020 academic year were considered. This is because US News wanted assess recent graduates for the ranking.

According to data from the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, more than 60 percent of 1,442 US institutions held classes remotely instead of in-person because of COVID-19.  All of the programs evaluated are designed to be taken online; so programs that are temporarily virtual or hybrid due to the pandemic are not considered in these rankings. 


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