What’s in a Ranking?

Top-ranked, recognized, respected

The Jack Welch Management Institute is recognized as a leading MBA program by well-respected media outlets. These achievements showcase JWMI’s strong reputation for excellence.

JWMI Awards, recognitions and Rankings

How Top Online MBA Programs are Ranked

(Hint: Not all rankings are equal)

Online MBA programs are finally gaining the recognition that they deserve. They match the results and the thoroughness of traditional MBA programs—and they’re flexible and tech-forward to boot: a winning combination.

But while online MBA programs are growing quickly, the way major ranking publications measure and rank them hasn’t kept up. When you see a list of “Top Online MBA Programs” what does that really mean? What are they measuring, and are those metrics things that really matter to you?

Ranking Methodologies: A Call for Change

For years publishers like U.S. News & World ReportThe Financial Times, and The Princeton Review have ranked top online programs using criteria that were insightful and well-reasoned—things like the starting base salaries of graduates, employment rates, and faculty qualifications—all great measures of the overall experience of a school.

But schools have changed. Learning has changed. And we owe it to prospective students to evolve rankings as well. Here are a few examples of ranking factors in use today that no longer speak to the value of an online MBA program:

  1. Standardized test scores

    Many schools are moving away from standardized test scores, or similarly to JWMI, including GMAT waivers and GRE waivers with proof of 5 years of business or professional experience. This year, UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School admitted 86% of its incoming online MBA students without a GMAT. The school noted that online MBA students typically have two times the professional experience as residential students and that the GMAT is a poor predictor of their success.

  2. Time to degree deadline

    A component of the school rankings within U.S. News & World Report is how long it takes students to complete a program. For example: if a program can be completed in one year, and most students complete it in a year, that school receives a high ranking. If a program can be completed in a year and most students finish in two years, that school receives a lower ranking. The problem with assessing online MBA programs this way is that many online MBA students are working full time, with significant professional and familial responsibilities. The flexibility to complete a degree over an extended period is of time is of great value to students. It’s an experience enhancer, not a detractor.

  3. Tenured faculty

    The percentage of teachers that are tenured (or on a tenure-track) contributes to the overall quality ranking of faculty, according to the U.S. News & World Report. The issue, of course, is that tenure flies in the face of customer (in this case student) satisfaction. It takes away a school’s ability to hold professors accountable to the student experience, as student feedback isn’t taken into consideration. Additionally, using tenure as a ranking metric penalizes programs with some of the most qualified teachers: do-ers.

  4. School rankings are a helpful tool and a worthy pursuit—but only to the degree, they stay relevant to student experiences and outcomes.

Here is how we, and some of the more progressive ranking institutions, measure the value of an online MBA program:

JWMI has a student-first approach to higher education. We measure our performance based on our student’s career advancement and their professional success.

  1. Return on investment

    An important consideration, without question. More than 2 out of 3 JWMI students receive a raise or a promotion during their time in the program. A degree from JWMI is a catalyst for career growth that pays financial dividends.

  2. Student opinion

    If students don’t find value in a program, rankings shouldn’t either. We measure student satisfaction dogmatically and take action based on results. To measure student satisfaction, we use the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a metric determined by asking a simple question: “On a 0 to 10 scale, how likely is it that you would recommend our product, service or brand to a friend or colleague?” NPS scores can range from -100 to +100.

    Over the past year, our NPS score averaged above 80, which aligns with the best customer service organizations including Southwest and Apple. A joint LinkedIn and EMBA Council research study reported that student satisfaction represented an opportunity for educators, with a survey of 1,887 MBA graduates reporting an NPS of only 27 for their programs.

  3. Faculty experience

    We believe that the people most qualified to teach business are those that are an expert in business—with the track record to prove it. Our professors and experts of practice aren’t teachers or researchers first—they are industry leaders, entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, and experienced professionals. Their experience and insight are unparalleled, and they aren’t tenured (a ranking factor MBA programs in the U.S. News & World Report). All of our professors are academically qualified, 96% have terminal degrees, and all have extensive professional experience—so they bring students a uniquely valuable perspective: one of academia, research, and practical professional experience.

    This experience and their dedication to excellence in the online classroom is what lead Poets & Quants, a leading business school publication, to rank2 JWMI the following:

    • #2 Overall Quality of Professors
    • #2 in Accessibility and Responsiveness of Professors
  4. Relevance and practicality of the curriculum

    1. Learning that can’t be applied is learning wasted. And with 50 years of business experience, Jack Welch’s leadership and management principles have been proven to work across all industries. Because JWMI’s professors are industry leaders, their insights are uniquely practical. JWMI is a learn on Monday, apply on Tuesday MBA program.

    In fact, Poets & Quants also ranked JWMI #3 in Satisfaction with Ability to Immediately Apply What You Learn to Your Job.

This approach, coupled with our outstanding results, earned the Jack Welch Management Institute a slot on The Princeton Review’s list of Top 25 Online MBA Programs for six consecutive years and on Poets & Quants list of Top 25 Online MBA Programs for five consecutive years.

As you consider the MBA program options before you, match your research to your values, remember, “Best” is subjective. Consider what you hope to gain and what part of the experience matters most to you. Then take charge, apply yourself, and advance your career.


2021 Graduate Survey, based on self-reported data; 579 survey respondents among 607 JWMI students surveyed during the final term of their program during 2021.
2022 Poets & Quants alumni survey—https://poetsandquants.com/2022/11/15/how-online-mba-graduates-rate-their-programs-in-2023/.