March 9, 2014 10:59 pm

Online MBA 2014: key and methodology

Key to the table

(Weights in brackets)

Salary today US$ (20): average alumnus salary three years after graduation, $ PPP equivalent.

Salary increase (10): percentage increase in alumnus salary in the past three years: between their salary on graduation in 2010 and current salary.

Value for money (3): calculated according to alumni’s salary increase, fees and other costs.

Career progress (4): progression in the alumni’s level of seniority and the size of company they now work for, versus three years ago on graduation.

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Aims achieved (4): the extent to which alumni fulfilled their goals for doing an online MBA.

Career service (4): the extent to which alumni rate the efficiency of the school career service’s in finding them a job after graduation.

Programme delivery (5): the extent to which alumni rate the online delivery of live teaching sessions, other teaching materials and online exams.

Online interaction (10): the extent to which alumni rate the interaction between students, teamwork and the availability of faculty.

Women faculty (2): percentage of female faculty. For the three gender-related criteria, schools that have 50:50 (male: female) composition receive the highest possible score.

Women students (2): percentage of female students on the MBA programme.

Women board (1): percentage of female members of the school advisory board.

International faculty (4): percentage of faculty whose citizenship differs from their country of employment.

International students (4): percentage of current MBA students whose country of residence differs from the country the school is located in.

International board (2): percentage of the board whose citizenship differs from the country in which the business school is situated.

International mobility (5): calculated according to whether alumni’s citizenship and work locations pre-MBA, on graduation and three years after graduation differ from each other.

Faculty with doctorates (5): percentage of full-time faculty with a doctoral degree.

FT doctoral rank (5): calculated according to the number of doctoral graduates from each business school during the past three years. Additional points are awarded if these graduates took up faculty positions at one of the top 50 full-time MBA schools of the pas three years.

FT research rank (10): calculated according to the number of articles published by a school’s current full-time faculty members in 45 academic and practitioner journals between January 2011 and December 2013. The rank combines the absolute number of publications with the number weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

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Methodology

The first annual Financial Times ranking of online MBA degrees recognises the growing importance of online degrees. This ranking replaces a listing which was published between 2006 and 2013.

Online MBA programmes must meet strict criteria to be considered for the ranking. The school must be internationally accredited and their programmes must have run for at least four consecutive years. At least 70 per cent of the programme content must be delivered online, either synchronously or asynchronously. Finally, the participants must pass a selection process before enrolling and an examination process before graduating.

Seventeen programmes took part in the ranking process. Data for the rankings are collected using two online surveys – one completed by participating schools and one by alumni who graduated from their nominated programmes in 2010. For schools to be ranked, 20 per cent of their alumni must respond to the survey, with at least 20 fully completed responses. A total of 844 alumni completed the survey – 35 per cent of those surveyed.

Alumni responses inform six ranking criteria that are common to the FT rankings such as “salary today” and “aims achieved” and two additional criteria specific to the alumni’s online experience: “programme delivery” and “online interaction”. Together, the alumni criteria account for 65 per cent of the ranking’s weight.

Salary today, the most heavily weighted criterion (20 per cent), is based on alumni current salaries. Salaries of non-profit and public sector workers, as well as full-time students, are removed. Remaining salaries are converted to US dollars using purchasing power parity (PPP) rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund. PPP conversion – based on the premise that identical goods should cost the same in different countries – accounts for differences in the relative strength of currencies. The very highest and lowest salaries are subsequently removed, and the mean average “current salary” is calculated for each school. The resulting figure carries 20 per cent of the ranking’s weight.

“Salary increase”, which accounts for 10 per cent, measures the difference in the alumni average salary on graduation and three years after. Half of this figure is calculated according to the absolute increase and half to the percentage increase.

The first criterion specific to online programmes, “Programme delivery”, is based on the extent to which alumni rate the online delivery of live teaching sessions, other teaching materials and online exams. The second specific, “online interaction”, is based on the extent to which alumni rate the interaction between students, teamwork and the availability of faculty.

Information provided by the business schools themselves inform 10 criteria that collectively account for 35 per cent of the final ranking. These measure the diversity of teaching staff, board members and online MBA students, according to gender and nationality. For gender-related criteria, schools that have a 50:50 (male:female) composition receive the highest possible score.

With the exception of the “doctoral rank” criterion (measuring the number and progress of doctoral graduates from each school over the past three years) which is informed by the school surveys, uses only 2013 data.

The FT research rank, which accounts for 10 per cent of the ranking, is calculated according to the number of articles published by schools’ full-time faculty in 45 internationally recognised academic and practitioner journals. The rank combines the absolute number of publications, between January 2011 and December 2013, with the number of publications weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

An FT score is finally calculated for each school. First, Z-scores – mathematical formulae that reflect the range of scores between the top and bottom school – are calculated for each respective ranking criterion. These scores are then weighted according to the weights outlined in the ranking key, and added together for a final score.

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