If you want to delve into a specific area of study in your online MBA program, this may very well affect your decision to enroll. American News publishes specialized rankings that distinguish online MBA programs known to offer better options in areas such as business analysis, finance, marketing, and general management.
This year’s winners? Carnegie Mellon won first prize for Business Analytics. Indiana University Kelley School of Business earned it for finance and general management. The University of Maryland won for marketing.
But before the celebrations begin, it’s worth noting that these specialty rankings are entirely based on responses to American News‘ peer-review surveys that are sent to deans of business schools with online MBA programs and their program directors. The usefulness of these data is questionable.
US NEWS USES A LOW BAR TO CREATE ITS SPECIALIZED ONLINE MBA RANKINGS
American News does not publish a response rate to this survey, and many deans and directors refuse to complete it. Those who fill it have every interest in promoting their own programs. And there have been reports of collusion where officials from one school agree to scratch the back of another in exchange for a mention in the survey (see Is There a Jesuit Business School Conspiracy?).
Besides, American News sets a low bar for inclusion in these rankings. To be eligible for the ranking, a school only needs five ratings from peer institutions. In other words, it is possible to be ranked if only five deans and directors mention the school. For each specialty, respondents are asked to suggest up to 15 institutions that they believe have strength in those areas. Schools were then ranked in descending order of total scores received by peer institutions. Ranking programs by the number of elective courses in those disciplines or by whether they offer concentrations or specializations in a given discipline would have greater credibility than American News‘ peer review surveys.
Another obvious problem with the methodology is that it does not include schools that are new to the online scene or refuse to participate in the rankings. These include major players now offering online MBA options, such as the University of Michigan, Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley, Stern School of Business at New York University , the University of Illinois Gies College of Business, and Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.
The results may therefore be somewhat peculiar. It’s odd, for example, that Maryland beats Indiana Kelley in marketing because the Kelley School is strong in that discipline, historically sending many MBA graduates to major consumer packaged goods companies, including Procter & Gamble.
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