Europe's top business schools are currently outstripping their North American counterparts when it comes to the reputation of their online and distance MBA programs, a new global ranking shows.

Seven of the top ten schools in the QS Distance Online MBA Ranking are European, with Spain's IE Business School beating the UK's Warwick Business School to the top spot. The UK takes six of the top ten spots, with Warwick joined by Manchester Business School (5), Imperial College (6), Oxford Brookes (7), Henley Business School (8) and University of Strathclyde Business School (10).

The world's only ranking dedicated exclusively to online and distance learning MBA programs, QS Distance/Online MBA Ranking is based on eighteen indicators:

Employer reputation; average work experience; applicants per place; average GMAT score; students with 1st degree; establishment year; accreditation; students enrolled; faculty student ratio; percentage of full time faculty; completion rate; physical meet-up opportunities; compulsory attendance; regular online classes; availability of group work; percentage of assessed group work; diversity of nationalities and percentage of female students.

Global Top Ten

The latest QS Applicant Survey research shows that the proportion of prospective MBA applicants interested in online and/or distance learning programs stood at 23.5% in 2013, up from just 4.4% in 2008.

IE Business School by Mikhail Bakunin

By Mikhail Bakunin

"The increasing sophistication and variety of online and distance learning options means a growing number of candidates are now pursuing the opportunity to gain a world-class business education without the need to relocate or take a career break," says Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of QS.

"This ranking offers candidates a level of assurance about the relative quality of these programs that has been unavailable in the past," Quacquarelli continues. "This year's results show that employers are increasingly considering candidates from the top online and distance programs as part of their recruitment strategies, with European schools having developed a particularly strong reputation compared to their transatlantic counterparts."

A total of 30 schools are included in the ranking, reflecting the relatively narrow range of schools that are currently targeted specifically by international MBA employers.

The top North American schools are Indiana University Kelley School of Business and Thunderbird School of Global Management. Of the 30 schools ranked, 17 are based in North America, with the remaining 13 all from Europe.

The full QS Distance/Online MBA Ranking 2014 can be viewed on alongside an additional list of blended, distance and online MBA programs.

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