Between obtaining letters of recommendation, getting college transcripts and taking standardized tests, applying to online MBA programs can be a drag. This is especially true for students who are working full time and have personal obligations at home.
But the good news for many applicants is all the work often pays off.
According to recent US News and World Report data, the average acceptance rate for online MBA programs was 75% for the 2014-2015 academic year.
This would support the general belief that online MBA programs are easier to get into than on campus programs. And yet, many online MBA programs are much more selective than others. US News found 26 online MBA programs accepted fewer than 50% of their applicants.
Featured Online MBA Programs
Arizona State University – AACSB-accredited, GMAT Required
- Ranked #5 for Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
- Acceptance Rate of 57%
- 87% of ASU graduates get job offers within 90 days.
Southern New Hampshire University – ACBSP-accredited, 100% Online, No GMAT Required
- Acceptance Rate of 95%
- Choose from Over 20 MBA Specializations.
- Ranked as ‘Most Innovative University” in North by U.S. News
One of these was Concordia University Chicago, which had one of the lowest acceptance rates at 33.5%. The 10 schools with the lowest rate of acceptance had an average rate of 38%. On the other hand, 15 of the programs that provided data to US News states they accepted 100% of applicants.
According to US News and World Report data, the following programs had the lowest acceptance rates in the 2014 and 2015 academic year.
Their US News and World Report rank is noted in parentheses. This indicates that a program’s selectivity is not necessarily tied to its overall quality as judged by this publication.
- Concordia University Chicago: 33.5% (105)
- Cleveland State University: 34.1% (20)
- Robert Morris University: 36.4% (66)
- Marist College: 36.6% (52)
- Lasell College: 38.5% (not ranked)
- University of North Texas: 39.4% (15)
- University of Tennessee Chattanooga: 39.9% (66)
- University of South Florida St. Petersburg: 40.2% (15)
- Liberty University: 40.9% (110)
- University of Mississippi: 42.2% (22)
Breaking Down Selectivity
As far as selectivity goes, US News and World Report online MBA rankings include a variety of metrics that are given by the schools themselves that provide insight on how difficult it is to be admitted. Data that is used to determine selectivity includes average GPA, GMAT and acceptance rate. US News and World Report also has its own selectivity score which measures how many well qualified applicants are turned away.
Poets & Quants also recently reviewed the selectivity data from US News and World Report and found out some interesting things about how the school-reported metrics relate to how selective the programs are. For example, Temple University is ranked as a relatively selective school at 39%, but its average GMAT score is only 582, which is far down the list in terms of selectivity. The average GPA at Temple is a solid 3.40.
According to Poets & Quants data, below are the acceptance rates for these online MBA programs, ranked from most to least selective. This data is more recent than the above, aforementioned US News list.
- University of Massachusetts Lowell: 34%
- West Texas A&M: 37%
- Washington State University: 38%
- Temple University: 39%
- Carnegie Mellon University: 39%
- Robert Morris University: 42%
- Indiana University: 45%
- University of North Carolina: 45%
- Arizona State University: 46%
- SUNY Oswego: 46%
- University of Florida: 47%
- George Washington University: 48%
- University of Texas Dallas: 54%
- Oklahoma State University: 54%
- University of North Dakota: 58%
- Rochester Institute of Technology Saunders: 60%
- Georgia College & State University: 61%
- Hofstra University: 61%
- Columbus State University: 61%
- University of Michigan Dearborn: 63%
- Penn State University World Campus: 64%
- University of Maryland: 64%
- University of Miami: 64%
- Auburn University: 64%
- University of Southern Illinois: 66%
- Western Kentucky University: 67%
- University of Nevada Reno: 68%
- Arkansas State University: 68%
- Marist University: 68%
- University of Southern California: 68%
- University of Tennessee: 69%
- University of Massachusetts Amherst: 69%
- University of Wisconsin Consortium: 70%
- Ball State University: 70%
- Florida State University: 71%
- Drexel University: 71%
- University of Wisconsin Whitewater: 71%
- University of Cincinnati: 72%
- University of Delaware: 72%
- Georgia Southern University: 75%
- North Carolina State University: 76%
- Northeastern University: 77%
- University of Utah: 77%
- University of South Florida: 78%
- Tennessee Tech: 78%
- Clarkson University: 79%
- Mississippi State University: 80%
- Pepperdine University: 81%
- Lehigh University: 83%
- James Madison University: 83%
- University of Central Michigan: 83%
- Florida International University: 84%
- Syracuse University: 86%
- Louisiana State University: 87%
- Cleveland State University: 88%
- Portland State University: 88%
- Creighton University: 89%
- Kansas State University: 89%
- University of Nebraska: 89%
- University of Mississippi: 89%
How Online MBAs Are Changing
Online MBAs have been around for years, but only the last decade or so have major business schools entered the online market. Some of the most attractive parts of online MBA programs are their convenience and sometimes lower cost, but these factors are mostly taken for granted. These days, it is important for online MBA programs to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. Many business programs are adding face to face learning sessions several times per year, more experiential learning opportunities, and even career coaching remotely that can lead to better career progress.
For example, at the selective online MBA program at Indiana University, students are reportedly looking for more face to face interaction with professors and fellow students. Indiana University has selected several locations in North America where the class can meet, so the program has five weeks online and then two or three days with meetings in various parts of the US. For instance, Indiana University recently had its immersion sessions in Silicon Valley where students were able to pitch successful venture capitalists about their business plans.
Eventually, Indiana University wants to have as many as 12 immersion courses available for its online MBA programs. More critically, these are not standalone classes. They are rather tied to developing one’s business career in a particular business segment.
Indiana University reported recently that in four years, the online MBA degree program switched from about 10% career switchers to more than 40%. And they want to enjoy the same benefits and advantages you would see in an in person MBA program. The online MBA program at Indiana University also offers international business experiences through its Accelerating Global Immersion Leadership Education.
University of North Carolina STAR Program
Another good example is the online MBA at the University of North Carolina. This program offers the Student Teams Achieving Results (STAR) program where students can act as consultants for real businesses. Some of the previous corporate clients for UNC students recently have included GE Healthcare, Krispy Kreme and Lowe’s.
Meanwhile, in Arizona State University’s online MBA program, students meet in a face to face orientation only one time on campus and then complete the rest of the courses online. Students work in small teams online with peers in other industries and focus on a single course at a time.
University of Texas Dallas Online MBA Turning Students Away
Another highly ranked and selective online MBA program is University of Texas Dallas, with a 3.60 average GPA and 54% acceptance rate. Like many top online programs, it is offering multimedia lectures, new video clips, online homework submission, group projects and live web conferencing for many of its classes. Most of the exams are online, with some professors offering proctored examinations.
Many educational experts say the UT Dallas program online is setting itself apart because it is able to lend the full force of its highly selective in person MBA program to online instruction. The end result is an excellent online MBA that is every bit the equal of the one that is earned on campus.
More Online MBAs Offered Employer Financial Support
A very good sign of the growing strength of the online MBA market is that more employers are supporting students’ educational efforts. GMAC’s 2017 Application Trends Report found 38% of online MBA students are receiving employer financial support for their studies. Many universities also offer specific need-based scholarships for online MBA students.
As there is more demand for online MBAs, it is natural to expect that some of the best programs will continue to grow more selective.
- 10 Online MBA Programs With the Lowest Acceptance Rates. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/the-short-list-online-programs/articles/2016-03-01/10-online-mba-programs-with-the-lowest-acceptance-rates
- Best Online MBA Programs. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/mba/search?program=mba&online-program-type=online&mode=list
- The Most Selective Online MBA Programs. (2017). Retrieved from https://poetsandquants.com/2017/03/15/selective-online-mba-programs/
- Three Schools in Top US News Online MBA Rankings. (2015). Retrieved from https://poetsandquants.com/2015/01/07/three-schools-top-u-s-news-online-mba-ranking/2/
- 3 Things You May Not Know About Online MBAs. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/mba-admissions-strictly-business/articles/2018-01-19/3-things-you-may-not-know-about-online-mbas