Professionals are now spoiled for choice when it comes to online MBAs. So how exactly do they choose one?
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, an MBA is still a key differentiator between an individual and their colleagues. It is also a launching pad into management and senior executive roles and a method of upskilling oneself to create greater chance of business success.
With the great leaps forward in technology, no longer is online learning the poor cousin of face-to-face learning. The online MBA offering has become deeply interactive and highly respected in its own right.
So how can a professional choose the best MBA for their needs? The first point, of course, is to compare the basics of what each course costs, how much time a student is expected to be on campus if at all, and where. Once the choice is narrowed, it comes down to how each online MBA ranks in comparison to the others on the shortlist.
From fees to attendance requirements and from duration to number of enrolled students, online MBA offerings in Australia vary enormously.
One popular option is the Australian Institute of Business online MBA, which has fees of around $36,000, an 18-month duration and 100% online. Another option is the well-respected, circa-$60,000 online ‘MBAx’ offered by AGSM UNSW Business School and run over 24 months, allowing students to specialise in such fields as change, technology and social impact. And there’s the $15,000 online MBA from the SP Jain School of Global Management, focusing on the development of business managers who are also global citizens.
Most offer a 100 per cent online experience while a few require the odd campus visit. Most range in duration from 12 to 24 months, and many allow great flexibility within or outside that timeline, to fit study in with the responsibilities of work and life.
The problem with the various ranking systems is that they’re rarely in sync with each other. A university in number one place on one ranking system may not even make it onto another.
Below, we explain the approaches the various systems take, to help you make sense of the information.
Let’s take a deeper look into the major ranking systems.
These rankings were launched in 2004 by Quacquarelli Symonds, an organisation that describes itself as “the world’s leading provider of services, analytics, and insight to the global higher education sector”. The QS World University Rankings are developed by the QS Intelligence Unit, the business’s research and professional services division.
Now a powerful global indicator of the performance of universities, the annual QS World University Rankings are also split into various ranking categories. These include geographical location, other related matters such as employability rankings, and ranking by 51 specific subject areas. One of the most influential QS lists is the QS Global MBA Rankings.
The QS rankings of universities in general are based on six metrics, each with its own weighting. They are:
Based on research with over 100,000 experts in higher education.
Based on around 50,000 responses with employers around the globe.
This is an indication of an institution’s ability to provide students with access to academics.
This metric is based on the number of citations received as an outcome of all academic papers across the entire university across, over a five-year period. That figure is then divided by the number of faculty members at the institution.
The international faculty ratio, as well as the international student ratio, is likely to change dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. However, both of these metrics are intended to reflect the academic benefit of a diverse, global outlook, and showcases the program’s power to attract students and faculty from around the world.
For online MBA rankings, four metric groups are brought into play. They are:
Includes academic reputation, ratio of students to academics and completion rate.
Directly related to the employment success of graduates.
Includes number of enrolments, number of applications compared to places available, proportion of female students, diversity of nationalities and professional experience of the student cohort.
A measure of the actual learning experience.
|4||AGSM @ UNSW Business School|
|10||University of Otago Business School|
|20||Deakin Business School|
|30||La Trobe University|
|40||Curtin Graduate School of Business|
Twelve months earlier, in 2019, AGSM came in at number six as the best Australian performer, followed by Deakin in 24th position and La Trobe at 32. New Zealand’s Otago rose three spots from 13, in 2019. Curtin fell three spots in 2020. So, for the most part, it’s good news for Australian online MBA programs as they continue their march up the rankings.
Every two years the Australian Financial Review conducts research to publish a ranking of the MBA and EMBA programs offered by Australian business schools. The last such ranking was released in 2019.
The Australian Financial Review, in partnership with a market research agency, conducts two surveys, one with alumni and one with schools. Some questions affect rankings and some do not. Surveys with alumni are weighted at 55 per cent of results.
Certain questions change, survey to survey, as the university and industry environments shift and as MBA providers introduce important changes into their programs.
The great value of the AFR Boss rankings is that it focusses solely on offerings from Australian institutions and, therefore, more closely on results from graduates within Australian industry.
|1||University of Sydney Business School|
|2||Adelaide Business School|
|3||Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business|
|4||University of South Australia Business School|
|5||Griffith Business School|
|6||Monash Business School|
|7||Macquarie Business School, Macquarie University|
|8||School of Business and Law at Central Queensland University|
|9||University of Queensland Business School|
|10||University of Western Australia Business School|
Compared to two years earlier, in 2017, the top position was unchanged. Adelaide leapt three spots in between rankings, to second place, while UQ business school dove from second to ninth. Melbourne Business School, previously in third place, dropped out of the top ten while Griffith Business School, an evergreen amongst ranking providers, stepped up from fifth to fourth.
CEO Magazine targets business leaders and those who aspire to lead.
The CEO Magazine Global MBA rankings cover MBA, Executive MBA and online MBA programs, most recently from 161 schools in 27 countries.
According to CEO Magazine, data points for full-time and part-time MBA programs are judged according to these weightings:
Online MBAs are graded according to the same metrics, except with the removal of delivery method and class size.
|6||Macquarie Business School|
|8||University of South Australia|
|12||La Trobe University|
|21||RMIT University EMBA|
|36||Swinburne University of Technology|
|=41||Victoria Graduate School of Business|
|52||University of Southern Queensland|
|53||University of Newcastle|
One year earlier, in 2019, University of South Australia topped Australia’s list in sixth place, followed by La Trobe in eighth. Macquarie Business School, now leading the Australian charge, wasn’t on the list last year. RIMT’s EMBA program slipped from equal 11th (with Griffith University) to 21st.
Times Higher Education is a weekly magazine in the UK. It does what it says on the tin: reporting exclusively on matters relating to higher education. Originally published in 1971 as part of The Times newspaper, it became a magazine in 2008.
In 2020, Times Higher Education expanded into the area of international student services, with offerings related to student accommodation and placement.
The brand’s university rankings, first reported in 2004, are global and released annually and in 2020 listed close 1400 institutions from 92 countries. MBA programs are not specifically graded and nor are online courses. However, in 2018, Times Higher Education began ranking business schools.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings Balance input across 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas. Those areas are teaching, research, citations, international outlook, and industry income.
According to Times Higher Education, the weighting of each of the 13 metrics are as follows.:
|38||University of Melbourne|
|55||University of Queensland|
|=63||Australian National University|
|85||Queensland University of Technology|
|90||University of Sydney|
|101 to 125||Griffith University|
|101 to 125||Monash University|
|101 to 125||University of Technology Sydney|
|126 to 150||University of South Australia|
In 2019, the highest ranked Australian university, University of Melbourne, was in 43rd sport, followed by ANU in 50th and UNSW Sydney in 70th. There are now four Australian universities in the top 63 spots for business and economics. The best Australian climber in the top 100 was University of Queensland, which leapt from 73 to 55.