Out Now: QS Online MBA Rankings 2021 | Top Universities

Out Now: QS Online MBA Rankings 2021

By Craig OCallaghan

Updated April 21, 2021 Updated April 21, 2021
  • Discover more than 50 of the world's top online MBA programmes
  • Online, flexible study options have grown in popularity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Read more about this year's rankings on our sister site TopMBA.com

The QS Online MBA Rankings 2021 has been released on our sister site TopMBA.com, revealing more than 50 of the world's top online MBA programmes from business schools around the world.

This year's rankings is the largest yet, with 10 business schools featuring for the first time. This growth reflects the rise in interest in online learning options in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking for a flexible way to study an MBA from a prestigious school? Look no further. 

Top online MBA programmes

QS Online MBA Rankings 2021
Rank School Programme Location
1 IE Business School Global Online MBA Spain
2 Imperial College Business School Global Online MBA United Kingdom
3 Warwick Business School Distance Learning MBA United Kingdom
4 AGSM @ UNSW Business School MBAX Australia
5 Alliance Manchester Business School Global Part-time MBA United Kingdom
6 MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business iFlex/Flex EMBA Italy
7 Kelley School of Business Kelley Direct Online MBA United States
8 Marshall School of Business USC Marshall Online MBA (OMBA) United States
9 Vlerick Business School Online MBA Belgium
10 Chapman Graduate School of Business - FIU Professional MBA Online United States

How schools reacted

Pietro Micheli, Professor of Business Performance & Innovation and Course Director for the Distance Learning MBA, Warwick Business School:

"The pandemic has seen demand increase significantly for our Distance Learning MBA. In fact demand and final recruitment numbers have increased significantly for both the Warwick and London formats of our Distance Learning MBA, with the cohort starting in January 30 per cent bigger than last year’s as 249 people accepted a place. We are seeing a similar pattern for our June 2021 intakes with demand continuing to be extremely buoyant.

“Being online is obviously an advantage with our campuses close for much of the pandemic. However, our Distance Learning MBA has two Warwick Weeks, where students come together for lectures, networking, careers workshops and events at the campus or our WBS London base at The Shard.

“This has moved online during the pandemic, though we are preparing to bring them back from the end of May. The my.wbs platform already has a wealth of careers support, workshops, videos, and quizzes to help students online, but we have also moved one-to-one coaching and careers fairs online. With most industries and professionals working from home it has actually helped us secure more speakers from industry to give talks online from all over the world.

"The main reasons Warwick Business School is ranked so highly for online MBAs is because of our my.wbs platform, our experience and expertise in providing blended learning, our top faculty and our network of alumni

“Built and designed in-house, my.wbs has really helped the school during the pandemic, making the move to online teaching for the rest of our courses a lot smoother.

“My.wbs provides a virtual classroom for our students where we run lectures, knowledge groups, online case studies and hold rich interactive learning resources.

“We invest heavily in edtech every year and have a fantastic e-learning department that now has two film studios to record lectures, interviews, webinars and discussions. We are also going to companies to film on site, developing mini-documentaries to help open up the subject even more for students."

Professor Markus Perkmann, Academic Director of the Global Online MBA, Imperial College Business School:

"Our Global Online MBA contains some classroom based courses which are very highly valued by our students because they allow them to get to know their class-mates face-to-face and to mix with colleagues from our other MBA programmes. We also offer “glocal” electives in various global regions.

"During the pandemic we transitioned all these activities to a synchronous online mode but we will changed them back to classroom based mode as soon as possible. From now on, we will also offer many classroom based electives – our Global Online students can take two of these – in “multi-mode”: This will allow students to participate either physically or online in the same class.

"We have been at the forefront of championing the increased use of educational technology for over 15 years. Our Edtech Lab, Imperial’s first digital learning and education group, which was established back in 2005 and since then we’ve established ourselves as a leader in online teaching and learning through the use of innovative technology.

"Our programme offers an immersive, cohort-based MBA experience, taught by our top faculty, designed by our award-winning Edtech Lab and supported by our world-class Careers team. We also offer a large number of elective modules, allowing our students to personalise their curriculum to enhance their studies.

"We are currently introducing new electives in analytics and strategy, complementing the already rich choice of courses we offer in leadership, entrepreneurship and finance."

Federico Frattini, Dean, MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business:

"Even prior to COVID-19, at MIP Politecnico di Milano we recognised that there had already been an increasing demand from students for greater digitalisation, flexibility, and accessibility in learning.

"We call our approach to online learning ‘Smart Learning’, and we have been using this in our master's and MBA programmes since 2014. This is an area where we have achieved great results, with over 550 students studying via our digital programmes since 2014, while our International Flex EMBA has been ranked as one of the top programmes in the world.

"We pride ourselves in having the knowledge that our online MBA students will become experts in dealing with intense situations, and will ultimately master not only hard skills, but also essential soft skills such as empathy, resilience and knowing how to motivate and manage teams in person and remotely. These are all crucial in today’s ever-changing business climate.

"One of the biggest challenges schools face when switching to online teaching is keeping students engaged, motivated, and part of the school community. Therefore, even when teaching online, we make sure that we take the time needed to build and nurture personal relationships with students – even when we do not meet them face-to-face.

"Our faculty engage with students via video calls, on online forums, and by involving them in virtual group work and live Q&A webinars. Beyond the teaching, we also make it essential to develop informal interactions between students. This has been especially crucial during the past very difficult year when students may have been isolated from friends and family."

This article was originally published in April 2021 .

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