MBA graduates from these 10 online schools are earning up to R3.9 million

 ·21 Jun 2024

The Financial Times (FT) has published its annual ranking of the world’s top online MBA programmes. Graduates report salaries of between R2.4 million and R3.9 million per annum.

This is the 11th annual edition of the Financial Times ranking of the top online MBA programmes ranked 25 schools that took part in the 2024 edition, and from these participants, a top ten list was compiled.

The FT noted that all participating business schools met FT’s strict entry criteria.

This included being recognised by either the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or EQUIS, and their programs must have been in operation for four consecutive years.

Additionally, at least 70% of the programme content must be delivered online.

Prospective participants were required to undergo a selection process before enrolling and an examination process before graduating.


To measure salaries, the FT said the average wage represents income three years after completion of the course and the salary increase compared with their pay on completion.

Salaries are converted to US dollars using IMF international purchasing power parity (PPP) rates.

Ranking the programmes based on the highest salaries, The Global Online MBA provided by Imperial College Business School in the United Kingdom is on top, with an average salary increase of 29% to $218,315 per annum or R3.90 million.

The Marshall Online MBA programme from the University of Southern California in the United States of America is second, with graduates earning an average of $209,000 (R3.78 million).

Third is the Global Online MBA from Warwick Business School (earning $208,387 or R3.76 million), followed by IE Business School and the Part-time Online Hybrid MBA from Carnegie Mellon: Tepper to round out the top five.

The table below shows these schools and the rest of the top 10, as well as their graduates’ average earnings after three years of taking the courses.

#School ProgrammeAverage salary 3 years after graduationSalary increase
1Imperial College Business SchoolGlobal Online MBA$218,315
(R3.90 million)
2University of Southern California: MarshallMarshall Online MBA$209,000
(R3.78 million)
3Warwick Business SchoolGlobal Online MBA$208,387
(R3.76 million)
4IE Business SchoolGlobal Online MBA$205,088
(R3.70 million)
5Carnegie Mellon: TepperPart-time Online Hybrid MBA$195,304
6Durham University Business SchoolThe Durham MBA (Online)$172,135
(R3.11 million)
7UNSW Business SchoolAGSM MBAX$163,817
(R2.96 million)
8Polimi School of ManagementInternational Flex MBA$160,906
(R2.07 million)
9University of Bradford School of ManagementMBA Distance Learning$146,939
(R2.65 million)
10Birmingham Business SchoolMBA Online$136,926
(R2.47 million)
Dollar-rand conversions are based on the exchange rate as of 18 June 2024.

Tough times for MBA grads

The report noted that while positions in business and management remain among the most in-demand, some jobs in the sector have experienced a drop in demand since 2019.

CarrerJunction noted that senior management—often positions requiring qualifications such as an MBA—is among the roles that have decreased in demand in recruitment activities.

In contrast, the report noted that other jobs in business and management, such as middle department management, team leader and supervisor, were still in very high demand in South Africa.

The FT also noted that demand for business degrees has stagnated.

“The latest survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council in 2023 shows a drop of 5% in MBA applications and a shift away from the full-time, in-person course and towards more flexible, part-time and online alternatives,” it said.

Despite some negatives, the FT also noted some positives for those who completed their MBA, one of which was a notable increase in salaries.

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