Here is how different factors were weighted in the rankings.
• Student engagement (weighting: 28 percent): Quality business programs promote participation in classes, allowing students opportunities to readily interact with their instructors and fellow classmates as is practiced with colleagues in professional business settings. In turn, instructors not only are accessible and responsive, but they also are tasked with helping to create an experience rewarding enough for students to stay enrolled and complete their degrees in normal time.
• Admissions selectivity (weighting: 25 percent): Student bodies entering with proven aptitudes, ambitions, and accomplishments can handle the demands of rigorous coursework. Furthermore, online degrees that schools award discriminatively will have greater legitimacy in the job market.
• Peer reputation (weighting: 25 percent): Industry opinion accounts for intangible factors on program quality not captured by statistics. Also, degrees with strong perceptions of quality among academics may be held in higher regard among employers.
• Faculty credentials and training (weighting: 11 percent): Strong online business programs employ instructors with academic credentials one would expect from a campus-based program, and have the resources to train these instructors on how to teach distance learners.
• Student services and technology (weighting: 11 percent): A program that incorporates diverse online learning technologies allows greater flexibility for students to take classes and simulations from a distance. Outside of classes, a strong support structure provides learning assistance, career guidance, and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.
Corrected 1/28/13: An earlier version of this article did not correctly define the scoring process for the “technologies accessible to students” ranking indicator.