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Temple online MBA kicked out of No. 1 spot in US News rankings; now "unranked" due to data error

U.S. News & World Report revised its rankings of the 2018 Best Online MBA Programs, saying Temple's Fox Online MBA had been removed as the nation's No. 1-ranked program.

A Campus view of Temple University with the well-known bell tower in the background.
A Campus view of Temple University with the well-known bell tower in the background.Read moreSHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer

Temple University's president and its business school dean issued apologetic statements Thursday, saying the school's online M.B.A. program lost its category's top spot in U.S. News & World Report's closely watched 2018 rankings due to a data error.

U.S. News on Wednesday revised its rankings of the 2018 Best Online M.B.A. Programs after about two weeks, saying Temple's Fox Online M.B.A. had been removed as the nation's No. 1-ranked online program due to "unintentionally misreported data," dean Moshe Porat said in a statement on the university's website.

U.S. News released this year's online M.B.A. rankings on Jan. 8. "On the day the rankings were announced, we recognized an error in the data that we had submitted to U.S. News & World Report. We acted immediately to contact U.S. News & World Report to make the publication aware of the error," Porat wrote.

The school's "unranked" status will last until the 2019 publication of the Best Online M.B.A. Programs rankings, conditional upon the Fox School of Business' confirming the accuracy of its next data submission in accordance with U.S. News' requirements, U.S. News said in a statement.

"U.S. News has not modified the ranks of any other programs on in the Best Online M.B.A. Programs and Best Online M.B.A. Programs for Veterans rankings," the report's editor, Robert Morse, wrote.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Indiana University in Bloomington now tie for the top spot for online M.B.A. programs.

Temple said, "It was our hope U.S. News & World Report would recalculate its rankings based upon the submission of revised data. However, we accept the U.S. News & World Report decision."

The Fox School of Business originally reported that all 255 new entrants submitted GMAT scores.

The school discovered the wrong data were submitted, and informed U.S. News that the count of new entrants submitting GMAT scores was actually 50 students, or 19.6 percent.

The U.S. News Best Online M.B.A. Programs methodology weighs test scores lower if fewer than 75 percent of new entrants submit GMAT or GRE scores, saying a lack of data for 25 percent of students or more "likely means the standardized test score is not representative of the entire class." These scores have a weight of 10 percent in the rankings formula.

According to Poets & Quants, Temple has leveraged its No. 1 U.S. News rankings to expand enrollment in the online M.B.A. program, with a price tag of $59,760. In the last year alone, Temple was able to increase student enrollment by 57 percent to 546 students from 351, one of the largest percentage increases of any online M.B.A. offering.

Temple president Richard Englert also issued a statement. "We are doubling efforts to verify our data before it is submitted for rankings purposes, and we have every expectation that the Fox Online M.B.A. program will return to its rightful place among the nation's top programs of its kind in 2019 and beyond," he wrote in a public post.

Temple is hiring an independent firm to review all data reporting processes, although a Temple spokesman, Christopher Vito, declined to say which firm.

"The integrity of our data and reporting are paramount," added Englert. "After consultation with provost JoAnne Epps and Fox School of Business dean Moshe Porat, I have decided to bring in an outside independent analyst to review our data reporting processes, including what occurred in this instance."