Indiana University’s Kelley Direct Online MBA program has once again proven its excellence by securing the top spot in Fortune Education’s 2024 ranking of U.S. online MBA programs. This achievement adds to its impressive list of accolades, including top rankings from Poets&Quants and U.S. News & World Report.

Key Takeaways

  • Kelley Direct Online MBA ranked No. 1 by Fortune Education for 2024.
  • The program also topped Poets&Quants and U.S. News & World Report rankings.
  • Kelley beat out 91 other U.S. online MBA programs.
  • The ranking methodology includes some controversial metrics.

Consistent Excellence in Rankings

For 2024, the Kelley Direct Online MBA program has not only topped Fortune Education’s list but also secured the No. 1 spot in Poets&Quants’ proprietary ranking and U.S. News & World Report’s list. Additionally, QS ranked Kelley as the fifth-best program globally and the highest-ranked U.S. program, although this ranking has faced some scrutiny.

Competitive Landscape

In Fortune’s 2024 ranking, Kelley outperformed 91 other U.S.-based online MBA programs. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) and the University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) followed at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. These schools also featured prominently in Poets&Quants’ and U.S. News’ 2024 lists.

Fortune Education’s Top 10 Online MBA Programs of 2024

Rank School P&Q 2024 Rank U.S. News 2024 Rank
1 Indiana University (Kelley) 1 1
2 Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) 5 2
3 University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) 7 3 (tie)
4 University of Washington (Foster) 2 3 (tie)
5 University of Southern California (Marshall) 9 3 (tie)
6 Arizona State University (Carey) NR 7
7 Rice University (Jones) 6 18 (tie)
8 University of Iowa (Tippie) 34 29 (tie)
9 University of South Florida (Muma) 23 22 (tie)
10 University of Texas at Dallas (Naveen Jindal) 3 12 (tie)

Controversial Metrics

Fortune’s ranking methodology has raised some eyebrows. The magazine assigns a 20% weight to the number of B-school alumni in high-level jobs at Fortune 1000 companies, without distinguishing the type of MBA degree. Another 20% is based on the monthly Google search volume for the business schools, which is not specific to their online MBA programs.

These two metrics account for 40% of the total score. The remaining 55% is based on data points collected from the schools, including:

  • Size of 2022–2023 graduating class: 5%
  • Out-of-state annual tuition: 5%
  • Graduation rate (2020–23): 8.5%
  • One-year retention rate (2022–23): 8.5%
  • Acceptance rate (fall 2023): 7%
  • Yield (fall 2023): 7%
  • Average undergraduate GPA (fall 2023 enrollees): 6%
  • Average years of work experience (fall 2023 entrants): 8%

Other Rankings

Fortune is one of several publications ranking the growing online MBA market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. U.S. News & World Report ranks 345 U.S. programs based on unaudited data and peer assessments. Poets&Quants ranks 51 leading U.S. programs using a methodology based on admission standards, academic experience, and career outcomes.

The Financial Times and QS also compile rankings, but both have faced criticism for their methodologies and transparency. The Financial Times ranked only 10 schools in 2024, while QS has been called out for its vague methodology and potential conflicts of interest.

Despite the controversies, Kelley Direct Online MBA’s consistent top rankings across multiple platforms underscore its reputation as a leading program in the online MBA landscape.



  • William C Miles

    I earned my MA in US History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I also hold a BA in East Asian Studies. My educational journey equipped me with deep knowledge in diverse cultural and historical contexts, particularly those shaping higher education trends. Presently, I work as a freelance writer and consultant specializing in online colleges across the USA. Over the past eight years, I have collaborated with various educational platforms and e-learning organizations. This role involves creating insightful content that helps potential students make informed decisions about their education paths. Throughout my career, I've had the privilege to contribute articles to notable educational websites and online journals. My work is frequently cited for its clarity and helpfulness, aiding students and educators alike. I've taken part in over 50 webinars as a speaker, sharing my expertise on online education dynamics in the United States. My passion goes beyond writing; it's about making a tangible impact through my words and advice. With over 1,000 articles published under my name related to online education, my aim is clear: to provide readers with reliable information that supports their educational pursuits and career objectives. You can find more details about my professional background and contact me on LinkedIn or through my personal website.

    View all posts