The Best Online MBA Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleMaster'sin Business Administration2017
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The master of business administration, or MBA, is one of the most highly sought-after graduate degrees in the country. The versatile curriculum prepares students to work in a wide range of industries, and the degree offers a strong return-on-investment (ROI) due to the high earning potential among graduates.

Entry-level workers with an MBA earn up to 22% more than peers with only a bachelor’s degree.

Job prospects for students holding MBAs are strong and continue to grow; according to a recent report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, around 88% of corporate recruiters said they planned on hiring recent MBA grads in the year 2016 — up 8% from the year before.

While many follow a traditional track and earn their MBA from a brick-and-mortar business school, a growing number of students are choosing to enroll in online MBA programs. This convenient, cost-effective alternative is ideal for learners who wish to pursue an advanced degree but are forced to juggle their education with other major commitments, such as employment or childcare.

Learn more about what you can do with an online MBA and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE MBA PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

The best online MBA programs build on the foundational knowledge of undergraduate studies and introduce more advanced concepts related to business management and administration. In order to earn a degree specialization, students must complete entire course sequences in the niche area of business that most interests them. Many programs also culminate in a master’s thesis or capstone course; these final projects allow students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired over the course of their MBA studies. Internships are widely available to MBA students, as well.

WILL AN ONLINE MBA WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

MBA online programs are designed to be flexible and easy to access. Students can download course materials, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with their professors any time of day from the comfort of their personal computer. Additionally, they will be able to study away from home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other device with Wi-Fi capabilities. Course faculty will also offer consultations for students who are composing a master’s thesis or capstone project.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MBA?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that a bachelor’s is considered the minimum education requirement for many management titles. These include high-salary roles like top executives, financial managers, and human resources managers. MBA graduates are often considered top candidates for these positions, as well as top-level jobs reserved for applicants with an advanced degree. On the other hand, those who earn an MBA with a specialization in entrepreneurship will be qualified to launch businesses of their own or provide their services to a startup enterprise.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online MBA programs in the United States. If you are considering an online MBA, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 University of Florida 88.62 53% Gainesville, FL

UF’s online MBA, offered through the school’s Warrington College of Business Administration, offers four concentration options: entrepreneurship, international business, finance, and marketing. The program takes two years to complete for students entering with any bachelor’s degree, and only one year for students with a business bachelor’s. This online MBA program is an affordable option for students who already hold an undergraduate degree in the field.

The one-year option requires 32 credits, while the two-year options requires 48 credits. Students with another graduate business degree or an undergraduate business minor may also be eligible for the one-year program, and UF can review student transcripts to determine credit equivalencies. Students must have earned their degree in the past seven years to qualify for admission to the one-year program. UF also offers an accelerated MBA pathway for students who first earn an engineering master’s degree through the school’s Outreach Engineering Management Program. Students can complete the engineering program in 20 months and then enroll in the one-year online MBA program, reducing the amount of required coursework to complete both degrees.

All courses are offered completely online, but students must attend campus for an orientation session at the beginning of the program and for weekend campus residencies every four months. UF holds proctored exams in Gainesville once each semester, typically concurrent with campus residency sessions. For students able to attend campus more regularly, UF offers a special immersive campus format, allowing students to complete courses through one week of intensive study, rather than four months over a full online term. Students can also participate in a one-week global immersion experience as part of the MBA curriculum, allowing them to gain business experience by studying abroad.


Program Overview
Department: Hough Graduate School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, international
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $48,000

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with proctored exams on campus each semester)
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in business
Credit requirements: 32 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 1 year
Program start dates: Fall, spring

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - July 1; spring - December 1
GPA: 3.4 minimum
Standardized tests: GMAT
Work experience: 2 years of full-time, post-baccalaureate experience

Contact
Department phone: (352) 273-1836
Department email: naz.erenguc@warrington.ufl.edu (Naz Erenguc, Admissions Contact)
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 85.74 11% Chapel Hill, NC

UNC, established in 1789, ranks as one of the oldest public colleges in the country, and the school is a major part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, a center of education and innovation in the region. The school’s online MBA degree offers courses in a flexible and personal manner. The program offers four start dates per year, and online courses have an interactive component that brings students face-to-face for weekly discussions. Classes are capped at 15 students per professor to offer individualized attention and encourage networking between students and faculty.

The online MBA curriculum consists of 66 credits, and students typically complete the program in 18-36 months, depending on scheduling and course load. UNC’s MBA program offers eight concentrations, including corporate finance, data analytics, entrepreneurship, and global supply chain management. Students can tailor their degree to fit their academic pursuits and career goals, allowing them to gain specialized skills and pursue wider employment opportunities after graduation. Each MBA concentration includes one to two required courses that introduce foundational information for a subject, along with suggested elective courses to help students gain deeper knowledge in the field. All students take a selection of core courses, covering important business concepts such as management and leadership, economics, financial accounting, and operations management.

Online students can pursue a wide selection of cross-university courses, offered online through partnerships with other prestigious colleges around the country, including George Washington University, American University, and the University of Southern California. Using the school’s cross-university program, MBA students can take relevant courses offered in areas such as public administration, international relations, public health, and law.


Program Overview
Department: Kenan-Flagler Business School
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Corporate finance, data analytics & decision-making, entrepreneurship, global supply chain management, investment management, management consulting, marketing, sustainable enterprise
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,728/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 66 credits
Field education requirements: Quarterly 3-day immersion weekends on campus

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 18-36 months
Program start dates: January, April, July, October

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT (only if fewer than 7 years of full-time work experience)
Work experience: 2 years

Contact
Department phone: (888) 986-2622
Department email: OnlineMBA@unc.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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3 North Carolina State University at Raleigh 83.15 35% Raleigh, NC

NCSU, a member of the North Carolina Research Triangle, is a major public institution with an annual enrollment of more than 34,000. The school offers 85 online degrees, including an accelerated online MBA program that can be completed in 21 months. The program is delivered in a primarily asynchronous format that offers flexibility for working students. There are two start dates per year. While the accelerated program is completed through intensive full-time courses, NCSU allows part-time students up to six years to complete their MBA. Students must complete a pair of three-day residencies on campus in Raleigh. Active duty military students can waive the campus requirements in favor of additional elective courses.

The 40-credit online MBA degree offers an integrated curriculum that combines studies in business process, technology, and practical applications. The degree includes 35 credits in core business courses, building advanced knowledge in topics such as data-driven management, managerial accounting, and people management. Online students can concentrate in a depth area, gaining specialized knowledge through six credits of study in subjects such as marketing management, innovation management, biosciences management, and entrepreneurship. Students can further customize their degree through nine elective credits, with options such as planning and control systems, consumer behavior, international finance, and fraud management.

Students in the 21-month accelerated program are typically unable to choose a depth concentration area and, depending on availability, may be required to complete some courses on campus. Accelerated students often choose to earn credit through NCSU’s Global Experiences program, which allows MBA students to gain hands-on experience by studying abroad. Available during the spring and summer semesters, these immersion experiences give students the opportunity to learn in international cities such as London, Shanghai, or Munich.


Program Overview
Department: Poole College of Management
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,124/credit in-state; $1,864/credit out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with two 3-day residencies on campus)
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 40 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 21 months full-time; up to 6 years part-time
Program start dates: Fall, spring

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GRE, GMAT, or MAT
Work experience: 2 years of full-time, post-baccalaureate experience

Contact
Department phone: (919) 515-5584
Department email: mba@ncsu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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4 University of Virginia-Main Campus 82.80 4% Charlottesville, VA

The University of Virginia, established in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, is a historic public college that serves more than 22,000 students from its main campus in Charlottesville and through distance education programs. For students looking to develop their leadership skills, UV’s online MBA degree trains managers to act analytically, ethically, and decisively in the business world. The program emphasizes general management, helping students develop skills in decision-making, communication, and leadership. Rather than lectures, business courses at UV utilize case studies that demonstrate relevant, real-world business problems and solutions to students. These case studies vary in topic, including entrepreneurship and business sustainability, and students examine more than 500 throughout the course of the program. Students work with a learning team of five to six peers, giving them the communication skills necessary to reconcile different perspectives and increase organizational efficiency.

The MBA online requires 60 credits for graduation and is typically completed in two years. During the first year, students gain an overview of business management concepts, such as accounting, marketing, and finance. The curriculum for the first year features mostly required core courses, though students do have some elective options during the final quarter. The first-year course sequence forms a cohesive program that gives students an integrated perspective on business concepts and prepares them for the freedom of the second year of study. The second year consists mainly of elective courses, giving students the chance to focus their studies to match personal and professional aspirations. Students also choose one leadership class from an approved group of courses. Distance learners also have the option to take continuing education classes outside of the MBA program, and those able to travel can participate in numerous business study abroad programs.


Program Overview
Department: Darden School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $155,000

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with monthly residencies in Charlottesville or D.C. area, at least 1 international residency)
Instruction style: Synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 60 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GMAT or GRE

Contact
Department phone: (434) 924-7281
Department email: darden@virginia.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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5 Babson College 80.95 9% Wellesley, MA

Babson College, based in Boston, Massachusetts, emphasizes the individualization of student degrees, offering an online MBA program that combines students' professional and academic goals with flexible curriculum options. Learners can choose from five concentrations: business analytics, global management, marketing, entrepreneurship, or finance. Babson offers one-year and two-year program options, ideal for students of varying schedule requirements. Students who choose to complete the MBA degree through online courses typically enroll as part-time students and complete the program within 21 months.

Babson is unique for its emphasis on experiential learning, and the MBA offers a range of innovative course options unavailable in most business programs. The program’s intensity tracks are a series of courses combined with learning experiences that allow students to gain deeper knowledge in a specific area. The entrepreneurship intensity track is a two-course series that offers mentorship, resources, and leadership training for aspiring entrepreneurs who plan to pursue business ventures after graduation. The managing the technology-intensive enterprise track draws students from the campus and online MBA programs into a semester-long cohort that explores topics in technology, biotechnology, marketing, and tech management. Not all intensive tracks may be available to online students.

Babson also offers signature learning experiences: courses that apply class learning to real business situations. In the managing talent: your own and others course, students learn to assess their own professional strengths and skills while also building the ability to better assess and develop the skills of others. The signature learning experience courses allow students to practice entrepreneurship and decision making while also drawing connections between business theory and practice.


Program Overview
Department: F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Business analytics, entrepreneurship, finance, global finance, marketing
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $90,025

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with residencies every 7 weeks)
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 46 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: 21 months
Program start dates: March, September

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: Extensive work experience

Contact
Department phone: (781) 239-4317
Admissions email: gradadmissions@babson.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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6 Johns Hopkins University 77.65 28% Baltimore, MD

Johns Hopkins, founded in 1876 in Baltimore, Maryland, made strides in education by combining teaching and research, creating the model for the modern research institution. The school has translated this focus on educational innovation into a strong selection of distance education programs, including an online MBA degree. Online students receive strong support from the college, with access to library resources, student services, academic advising, and technology support.

Johns Hopkins students earning their MBA online can choose from three concentrations: financial businesses, health care management, and leading organizations. The degree, which requires students to earn at least 54 credits, offers self-paced courses in an eight-week format that combines synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students take 30 credits of business foundation courses, covering topics in negotiation, business law, corporate finance, and operations management. The remaining 24 credits are dedicated to electives and concentration courses, allowing student to customize their program.

Although offered primarily online, MBA students must attend a three-day residency component on campus. The residency includes in-person classes, institutional activities, and meeting and networking opportunities with current students, alumni, faculty, and other business leaders. Students with more flexible schedules can earn their degree in a hybrid format that includes online and campus courses. Regardless of course format, most students complete the program in about two and a half years; the school allows students to take up to six years.

Johns Hopkins also offers several dual degree options, allowing students to combine their MBA with master’s programs in related fields, such as design leadership, applied economics, government, and environmental engineering.


Program Overview
Department: Carey Business School
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,330/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 54 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2.5 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: GMAT or GRE

Contact
Department phone: (410) 234-9200
Admissions email: carey.admissions@jhu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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7 George Washington University 76.95 15% Washington, DC

GWU is the second-oldest college in the District of Columbia, with a history that dates back to 1821, when it was founded in accordance with President George Washington’s will. The school ranks as the largest in the D.C. area, with an annual enrollment of more than 27,000 students served by three campuses and online programs. Offering start dates in the fall, spring, or summer, the school’s online MBA requires 55 credits and is only available in a part-time format. The coursework is entirely online, and the school also offers a hybrid option. GWU’s online courses use synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods, offering live lectures and class meeting sessions along with digital assignments that students complete at their own pace. Live class meetings require one hour of commitment each week. Students can also meet with faculty during office hours through the school’s virtual learning platform, allowing students to ask questions about courses, receive academic support, and develop informal relationships with teachers. GWU’s accredited online MBA offers six concentration options, including consulting, finance, global management, and government contracts. Students can choose up to two concentrations or none at all.

GWU also offers an MBA in healthcare management, which trains students to serve as leaders in healthcare organizations. The degree is available completely online and offers students the opportunity to complete one of six graduate certificates along with the degree, with options including clinical research, regulatory affairs, health sciences, and healthcare quality. For students with the ability to travel, the healthcare MBA also offers several options for studying abroad, allowing students to gain professional experience and an international perspective on the healthcare field.


Program Overview
Department: School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,765/credit

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 55.5 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: Varies
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GMAT or GRE

Contact
Department phone: (202) 994-1212
Department email: business@gwu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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8 University of Maryland-College Park 75.52 6% College Park, MD

UM is a public college that ranks as the largest in the D.C. metro area, enrolling more than 38,000 students annually. UM Is committed to the entrepreneurial spirit, and the school’s Dingman Center is one of the country’s largest angel investment networks and one of the few investment centers housed in a business school. Students earning their MBA online can select from concentrations including accounting, finance, information systems and business analytics, marketing, supply chain management, and a generalist track. The program begins with several foundation courses that explore advanced concepts in business, which includes financial management, leadership, managerial accounting, and strategic information systems. Students also take elective courses (referred to as “selectives” at UM) that allow them to further concentrate their studies.

The school emphasizes experiential learning, and students have several opportunities to apply classroom concepts to real-world scenarios, including two campus residencies and multiple action learning projects. The residencies occur at the beginning and end of the program and require three days of attendance at the College Park campus. The opening residency introduces the program and gives students the chance to meet with peers and faculty members. It also includes introductory coursework and teambuilding exercises. The closing residency takes the form of a capstone course, stressing the interconnectedness of course material and challenging students to synthesize their overall learning. In between these two residency experiences, students complete several action learning projects, which builds skills and knowledge through professional experiences outside of their current jobs. Students complete their action learning projects in the D.C. area or within their own communities, and UM can help arrange projects at businesses in the region.


Program Overview
Department: Robert H. Smith School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Finance, accounting, marketing, information systems & business analytics, supply chain management
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,555/credit

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with two 3-day residencies)
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 54 credits
Field education requirements: Two 3-day residencies

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: January, April, July, September

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: January - November 1; April - February 1; July - May 1; September - August 1
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: 2 years (recommended)

Contact
Department phone: (877) 807-8741
Admissions email: admissions@onlineprograms.umd.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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9 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 75.10 18% Minneapolis, MN

UMN, a public research college that spans two campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is the oldest and largest member of the University of Minnesota System, serving a student body of more than 48,000. The school offers an accredited online MBA that’s ideal for students based outside of the Twin Cities area or those who need the flexibility of an online program.

The 57-credit program includes 29 credits in core courses, introducing students to important concepts such as marketing management, data analysis for managers, IT solutions, and business ethics. Students fill the remaining 28 credits with elective courses, allowing them to gain deeper knowledge in areas such as corporate venturing, business writing, team management, healthcare, and international marketing. The degree can be completed in two and a half years of part-time study, which equates to eight semesters. Students with previous relevant business coursework may be able to apply up to nine credits toward their MBA, allowing them to complete the degree even faster.

The MBA degree is offered primarily online, but students must complete two campus experiences before graduation. An orientation session at the beginning of the program fulfills one of the requirements, and students have several options to complete the remaining experience. This includes an intensive campus course, a regular evening or weekend campus course, or one of UMN’s many student development events. Events include professional conferences, career workshops, and case competitions. Students who choose to complete a campus course have several unique elective options that are unavailable online, including business of social media, cross-cultural negotiations, harnessing consumer irrationality, and management of innovation. Eligible students may also use a study abroad program to fulfill the campus requirement.


Program Overview
Department: Carlson School of Management
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $37,100/year in-state; $47,500/year out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 48-65 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall full-time; spring part-time

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.8 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: 2 years (recommended)

Contact
Department phone: (612) 625-5555
Department email: mba@umn.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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10 Carnegie Mellon University 74.90 3% Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon, founded by industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1900, has always focused on technical and professional education, so it’s appropriate that the school is home to one of the top MBA online programs in the country. CMU’s MBA is a hybrid program that mixes primarily online coursework with required weekend campus meetings that are held six times each year. Online courses also require one synchronous virtual classroom meeting each week, which allows students and faculty to interact through a live video format. All other coursework is available in a synchronous format that includes readings, recorded lectures, group work, and research.

CMU’s online curriculum is arranged into modules or “mini-semesters,” which consist of two courses each. Campus meetings occur at the end of each mini-semester, serving as a bridge between academic terms. These intensive weekend sessions allow faculty to provide an overview of the previous semester’s work while introducing students to new concepts for the coming semester. Students engage in group work and team-building exercises throughout the sessions, allowing for closer connections between peers and faculty members. Campus sessions also provide opportunities for students to take advantage of CMU’s prestigious global alumni network, which offers professional development sessions and workshops.

Students earning their MBA can choose from five professional tracks: business analytics, energy business, entrepreneurship, management of innovation and product development, and technology leadership. These tracks provide professional preparation for different industry sectors, requiring a selection of core courses and relevant electives. Students can also choose from a dozen concentrations, which build deeper knowledge in widely applicable areas, such as communications, economics, ethics and social responsibility, operations research, and organizational behavior. All students are required to choose at least one concentration; most choose three to four.


Program Overview
Department: Tepper School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Accounting, communications, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics & social responsibility, finance, business technologies, marketing, operations management, operations research, organizational behavior, strategy
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $16,000/semester

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with 6 weekends on campus each year)
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 96 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: 32 months
Program start dates: September

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: 2 years (recommended)

Contact
Department phone: (412) 268-2268
Admissions email: mba-admissions@andrew.cmu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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11 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 74.24 22% Champaign, IL

UI is the flagship school of the University of Illinois System and has an annual enrollment of more than 44,000 students. As one of the largest colleges in the Midwest, UI is a major provider of online education. Known as the iMBA program, UI’s online MBA uses “virtual study teams,” which allow students to learn about various business-related topics in a collaborative environment. The online MBA curriculum focuses on the managerial and leadership components of business, making this master’s degree relevant to students looking to obtain and grow in a leadership role. Online MBA students pay the same tuition regardless of residency, and the program draws business students from all over the world, creating unique opportunities for cross-cultural interaction. Depending on course load, students can complete the degree in 23-36 months.

The program requires students to earn at least 72 credits, with core courses covering areas such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, process management, and investments. The program includes four required core specialization areas in strategic leadership and management, managerial economics and business analysis, value chain management, and financial management. Students also complete work in two of three advanced focus areas: global challenges in business, innovation: from creativity to entrepreneurship, and digital marketing. Each specialization course includes two parts: the foundational level, which consists of self-paced courses in an asynchronous format, and the advanced level, which is more interactive and includes live online class meetings, team projects, and synchronous interactions with faculty. All specializations culminate in a capstone project that has students synthesize their learning and different aspects of the program.


Program Overview
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Strategic leadership & management, managerial economics & business analysis, value chain management, financial management, digital marketing, entrepreneurship & strategic innovation, global challenges in business
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $250/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 72 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 23-36 months
Program start dates: August, January

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Department phone: (217) 300-2481
Department email: onlineMBA@illinois.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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12 Stevens Institute of Technology 73.60 42% Hoboken, NJ

Stevens Institute, based in Hoboken, New Jersey, is one of the oldest technological colleges in the country, with a history that dates back to 1870. Most of the college’s programs focus on technology skills and the role of technology in various industries, including business. SIT offers an MBA online program that emphasizes engineering, analytics, and other quantitative approaches to business problems, giving students the skills to exercise problem solving and effective leadership. The program, based around the latest research in management, analytics, innovation studies, and marketing, is focused on group work and projects, helping students develop business knowledge, communication skills, and creative thinking.

The 48-credit curriculum includes 36 credits of core business courses, focusing on management from financial, economic, strategic, marketing, and operational perspectives. Students complete an additional 12 credits in one of five concentrations, with options in business intelligence and analytics, finance, information systems, marketing, and project management. These concentrations emphasize the role of technology in business, exploring current and projected developments in each area. Students also examine the ethical questions and strategic concerns inherent to each concentration subject.

SIT is a proponent of experiential learning, and another important program component is the field consulting experience, which matches students with a partner company to examine and solve a real-life business problem. The field consulting program gives students the chance to apply class learning to professional scenarios, gaining hands-on experience at local businesses. Students gain direct access to partner companies, where they communicate with executives, observe company culture and operational practices, build teamwork skills in a professional environment, and use their MBA learning to analyze and solve a problem within the organization. The field consulting experience ends with a presentation to company managers, in which students offer a formal recommendation of business strategies.


Program Overview
Department: School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration or Executive Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Business intelligence & analytics, finance, information systems, marketing, project management
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,554/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 48 credits
Field education requirements: Field Consulting Program

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - June 1; spring - November 1
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Department phone: (201) 216-5000
Graduate programs email: graduate@stevens.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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13 Lehigh University 71.88 6% Bethlehem, PA

Lehigh, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, offers a flex MBA program for students interested in taking online classes at a part-time pace, and it takes two years to earn. Students must have at least two years of business work experience. Learners in the online MBA can choose to take classes either entirely online or in a blended format, which includes some on-campus courses, providing highly flexible options that adapt to students’ schedules and lifestyles. Lehigh’s online platform incorporates several web tools to deliver courses, offering students the flexibility to take classes in synchronous and asynchronous formats. While all course material is available entirely online, students are required to attend one weekend orientation session at the beginning of the program.

The degree focuses on building leadership skills, developing inclusive thinking and problem solving, and understanding domestic and global business. These topics are woven into the curriculum and covered in the different concentrations, which include corporate entrepreneurship, finance, international business, marketing, project management, and supply chain management. The degree requires students to earn at least 36 credits, with 21 dedicated to core courses and 15 dedicated to concentration courses. Students end the program with a three-credit integrative experience that includes business simulations, case studies, and in-depth discussions. The experience has students assume the role of a general manager, applying program learning to issues of strategic management and the business’ internal and external environment.

For students interested in combining their MBA with a related field, Lehigh offers three dual-degree options in engineering, technical entrepreneurship, and educational leadership. While these dual degrees are available through Lehigh’s part-time flex program, it may require students to attend some on-campus courses along with the fully online MBA coursework.


Program Overview
Department: College of Business & Economics
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Corporate entrepreneurship, finance, international business, marketing, project management, supply chain management
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,075/credit

Delivery
Format: Online (weekend orientation on campus)
Instruction style: Synchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Undergraduate coursework in financial accounting, statistics, principles of economics
Credit requirements: 36 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: 24-72 months
Program start dates: August, January, May

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: 2 years

Contact
Department phone (617) 353-9720
Department email: business@lehigh.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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14 The University of Texas at Dallas 71.00 18% Richardson, TX

UTD offers several flexible MBA options. The Naveen Jindal School of Management arranges its MBA programs around working professionals and gives students the freedom to complete the degree on their own terms. Students interested in learning in a part-time, online environment can choose between two online MBA formats: the PMBA flex or the PMBA online. The PMBA flex program allows students to decide which semester they start, how many courses they'll take each semester, and whether they'll complete their studies online or on campus. The online PMBA’s approach is essentially the same, except that students take all courses online, whereas flex students can switch between online and campus courses as it suits their availability. Students typically work full time and take classes on a part-time basis—normally two courses per semester. Students can complete the degree with two years of full-time study, while part-time students can take up to six years.

The MBA is a 53-credit degree that includes 30 credits of core business courses, which include risk and uncertainty management, organizational behavior, and global business. Students fulfill the remaining 23-credit requirement with elective courses, which are selected from any graduate level courses offered through the School of Management. MBA students are encouraged (but not required) to choose one or two concentration areas, which help them develop deeper knowledge of specific business subjects. Concentrations include healthcare leadership, real estate, supply chain management, and internal auditing. Students typically are not allowed to take more than 12 credits in one concentration, though some exceptions do apply. Not all elective courses for concentrations are available online.


Program Overview
Department: Naveen Jindal School of Management
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Accounting; finance & management; operations management; information systems; organizations, strategy, & international management
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $47,953 in-state; $80,719 out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 53 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: Varies
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Department phone: (972) 883-4235
Department email: mba@utdallas.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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15 Purdue University-Main Campus 70.87 14% West Lafayette, IN

Purdue, based in West Lafayette, Indiana, is the second-largest college in the state, providing traditional and online degrees to a student body of more than 40,000. The school’s robust online offerings include two unique dual degree options: an MS-MBA in food and agribusiness management and a master of science in engineering-MBA. Both degrees teach advanced business knowledge and prepare students for leadership positions in the respective fields.

The agribusiness degree is offered through a partnership between Purdue and Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, with students earning their MS through Purdue and their MBA through IU. This industry-focused program is one of the few in the country that allows students to earn two degrees simultaneously while maintaining full-time employment. The degree takes takes 27 months to complete, and about 85% of the coursework is online in an asynchronous format. Students meet in person for five, weeklong residency sessions throughout the duration of the program. Learners also complete a weeklong international residency that allows them to explore global business and apply class learning to a real business environment.

The MSE-MBA is also offered through partnership with IU, preparing engineers to develop the technical and leadership skills necessary for upper level management positions in the field. The degree requires students to earn at least 60 credits. Coursework is split evenly between engineering and business, and courses are offered primarily online in an asynchronous format. Students begin with 30 credits of engineering work, which allows them to specialize in an area of expertise. The second half of the program focuses on general business courses, and students are required to attend one immersive experience at IU’s Kelley School of Business, allowing for group work and networking opportunities.


Program Overview
Department: Kelley School of Business - Center for Food & Agricultural Business
Program name: Dual Degree Master's of Science in Engineering - Master's of Business Administration (MSE-MBA) or Dual Degree Master's of Science - Master's of Business Administration (MS-MBA)
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $3,254/3 credits in-state; $3,594/3 credits out-of-state

Delivery
Format: MSE-MBA - online; MS-MBA - hybrid (online with residencies)
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 57 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 27 months
Program start dates: August

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Late spring
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: 3 years

Contact
Department phone: (765) 494-4247
Department email: agbusinessinfo@purdue.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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16 University of South Carolina-Columbia 70.79 3% Columbia, SC

The University of South Carolina is home to more than 33,000 students. The school has a reputation for strong business programs, including a flexible professional MBA for students who want to earn their degree while continuing to work. The online MBA degree creates learning options for graduate students by offering classes online and through video conferencing at regional classroom locations. Students complete much of the coursework online, which is available through an on-demand course capture system. This allows them to view lectures in a real-time or delayed format. USC’s Darla Moore School of Business is known for focusing on international business, and as such, students can choose an optional concentration in the field, along with other options in finance, entrepreneurship/innovation, or marketing. Students can also earn a graduate certificate in business analytics, which counts towards elective credit.

The program offers start dates in the fall and spring, following a set course sequence that's designed to guide students through program material efficiently. Students take 16 courses, offered in a series of six, seven-week terms, along with some immersive courses. Students can meet in real time one night per week, either through the school’s online learning platform or at one of the school's many physical locations, including the main campus in Columbia and satellite learning centers in Aiken, Bluffton, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg. Students must also visit the Columbia campus for some daylong intensive courses, which always take place on Saturdays. The MBA program offers several study abroad opportunities for students, offering the chance to observe global business practices firsthand.


Program Overview
Department: Darla Moore School of Business
Program name: Accelerated Master's of Business Administration or Professional Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: International business, finance, entrepreneurship/innovation, marketing
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $705/credit

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with residencies)
Instruction style: Synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 48 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: 2.5 years
Program start dates: January, August

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: 2 years

Contact
Department phone: (803) 777-6845
Department email: libbyh@moore.sc.edu (Libby Hendley, Associate Director)
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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17 Villanova University 70.58 15% Villanova, PA

Villanova, based in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, is the oldest Catholic college in the state, with a history that dates back to 1842. The university maintains a respected School of Business that offers a range of online and campus degrees. The school's online MBA curriculum is constantly being revised based on feedback from students, alumni, business leaders, and subject experts. Villanova’s program has notable community-building aspects, and students must attend a residency and two practicum experiences in addition to their online classes. They also are required to visit the Villanova campus for networking opportunities with faculty, students, and alumni.

The degree consists of 48 credits and typically take two years to complete. Students take three credits of fundamentals, 15 credits of core courses, 15 credits of elective courses, a nine-credit capstone course, and six credits of business “pillar” courses. The pillar courses focus on ethical business practices, the global political economy, information technology, and innovation management. The program offers four optional specialization in finance, marketing, analytics, and strategic management.

Villanova’s capstone courses are a program highlight, allowing students to apply their learning to real-life business situations. A three-credit social enterprise consulting practicum has students use their business skills to assist a nonprofit, offering expert advice on issues such as branding, marketing, logistics, and member retention. Students also complete a three-credit course in global strategic management and a three-credit global practicum, which explores solutions to global market issues. For students who are able to travel, the global practicum includes an optional study-abroad component, which takes the form of a seven-day immersion experience in another country.


Program Overview
Department: School of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Finance, marketing, analytics, strategic management
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,350/credit

Delivery
Format: Online (1 residency)
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 48 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - June 30; spring - November 15; summer - March 15
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Department phone: (610) 519-4500
Department email: gradbusinessinfo@villanova.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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18 Pepperdine University 69.72 2% Malibu, CA

Pepperdine, located in Malibu, California, is a Christian college that offers an MBA degree online. The program is designed for working professionals and has flexible online course offerings that allow students to continue working full time as they complete their degree. The program has a global perspective and focuses on the challenges that characterize modern business, including globalization, technological innovation, competition, and workplace ethics. Students can typically complete the degree in around two years.

The program offers four concentration options: finance, leadership and managing organizational change, marketing, and general management. The finance track emphasizes topics in global markets, investment banking, risk management, and financing entrepreneurial ventures. The leadership track prepares students for management positions, with a focus on company dynamics, business ethics, and value-centered leadership. In the marketing track, students examine the tools, techniques, and concepts for developing and implementing marketing strategies and programs, studying consumer groups, promotions, pricing, and distribution. The general management track allows students to pursue their own customized course of study, creating a degree that suits their professional interests. The general track can be completed in six trimesters, while the other tracks typically take seven trimesters, unless students take additional courses during one term.

Students can engage in relevant, hands-on experience with executives from a company, observing a “live” case study taken directly from the business world. The case study allows students to learn by communicating with business experts and by applying their learning to realistic business problems in a professional environment. The connections that come from this interactive learning experience also help students to develop their professional network for career success upon graduation.


Program Overview
Department: Graziadio School of Business & Management
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Available concentrations: Finance, leadership & managing organizational change, marketing, general management
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,715/credit

Delivery
Format: Hybrid (online with weekend residency)
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 52 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: 2-7 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT
Work experience: 2 years

Contact
Department phone: (877) 615-0148
Department email: ptmba@pepperdine.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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19 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 67.85 15% Baton Rouge, LA

LSU, based in Baton Rouge, is the flagship school of the Louisiana State University System, serving more than 31,000 students from around the state through one of the largest online programs in the South. LSU’s Flores online MBA program can be completed entirely online in 18 months, and students taking just one course at a time can graduate in 27 months. The degree is designed for professionals who have been in the business world for a minimum of five years since earning their bachelor’s degree. Students who meet this qualification and who cannot physically meet on campus are eligible to partake in this online program on a part-time basis. The degree requires students to earn at least 42 credits, with 33 credits of core courses that cover topics such as marketing administration, elements of cost management, and understanding behavior in organizations. The curriculum includes nine credits of electives, with courses in business analytics, supply chain management, international management challenges, and project management.

LSU provides a range of online resources to help students throughout their education. Enrollment specialists maintain extended hours to accommodate the schedules of working students, and they can help with applications, registration, financial aid, and strategies for balancing work and study schedules. Dedicated online advisors work to ensure that students make appropriate course selections and complete regular progress toward their degree. The Center for Academic Success Learning Strategies offers comprehensive resources for academic support, including tutoring and study strategies. Online students can participate in individual consultations, learning workshops, and a virtual learning center. Before and after graduation, career services can help students understand how to make the best use of their degree to help determine employment options.


Program Overview
Department: E. J. Ourso College of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,080/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 42 credits

Program Length
Program options: Part-time only
Program length: 18+ months
Program start dates: January, March, May, July, August, October

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT (only if GPA requirement not met)
Work experience: 5 years

Contact
Department phone: (225) 578-8867
Department email: busmba@lsu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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20 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide 67.53 89% Daytona Beach, FL

Embry-Riddle operates main campus locations in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona. The school is a private college that specializes in aviation and aerospace technology. While most of its degrees are centered around engineering and sciences, the school also offers an online MBA in aviation that’s ideal for working professionals looking to specialize in the field of business aviation. The degree emphasizes fundamental business concepts in relation to the aviation industry, preparing graduates to serve as leaders in an increasingly globalized and competitive field. Online classes are taught through the College of Business Worldwide, a globally-accessible college associated with ERAU. This online workplace gives students an array of academic and professional resources, such as a library of aviation-specific reading materials.

This fully-online program allows students to choose from concentration options in accounting, finance, leadership, information technology, marketing, international business, and public administration. The degree requires students to earn at least 33 credits, with 21 dedicated to business core courses. General business topics include managerial finance and business research methods. Aviation topics include advanced aviation economics and strategic marketing management in aviation. Students also take 12 credits of concentration courses, which typically include a mixture of required courses and some electives. A concentration is not required; students can instead take 12 elective credits in any area that interests them. Learners may complete more than one subject concentration, though this typically requires taking an additional 12 credits. The program ends with a capstone course, which includes a comprehensive exam that tests student’s knowledge of the business core curriculum.


Program Overview
Program name: Master's of Business Administration in Business Administration in Aviation
Available concentrations: Accounting, finance, information technology, marketing, international business, public administration
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $640/credit ($540/credit for military)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Knowledge of management, accounting methods, finance, quantitative methods, marketing, economics
Credit requirements: 33 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time only
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: 10/year

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: 2.5 minimum

Contact
Department phone: (386) 226-6100
Online programs email: worldwide@erau.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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21 East Carolina University 67.25 39% Greenville, NC

East Carolina University, located in Greenville, is one of the largest colleges in the state, with more than 28,000 students enrolled annually. For North Carolina residents, ECU’s tuition ranks among the lowest in the state, and the school’s graduate programs are among the cheapest in the region. ECU's online MBA program is entirely self-contained, meaning no prerequisite business experience or coursework is needed. The fully online program offers start dates in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The MBA can be pursued entirely online or in a hybrid format. Students set their own pace and are free to take a semester off if needed. Applicants must have a minimum 2.7 GPA and a minimum GMAT score of 500.

The 54-semester-hour program is made up of two main components: business foundation and business body of knowledge courses. Foundation courses cover major topics such as financial and managerial accounting, comparative management, and marketing management. Some foundation courses may be waived if students can show recent work of equivalent depth (such as professional experience or certificate programs). Body of knowledge courses cover more specialized information, including strategic management, marketing strategy, and operations and supply chain management. Students must also complete three required electives, which are divided into analytical and behavioral categories. Students take at least one elective from each category, unless a program adviser determines that more work is needed in one area. With the approval of the director of graduate programs, students may take some elective courses outside of the College of Business.


Program Overview
Department: College of Business
Program name: Master's of Business Administration
Accrediting body: AACSB
Tuition: $1,109/3 credits in-state; $3,005/3 credits out-of-state

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous & synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 33-54 credits

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - August 15; spring - December 20
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT

Contact
Department phone: (252) 328-6012
Graduate programs email: gradschool@ecu.edu
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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Online MBA degree programs have grown in popularity in the past few years, and each provide the skills and knowledge you need to obtain a leadership position in the business world. While certain details are dependent on the particular school and program you choose, this guide provides a clear framework to work with as you do research and decide which option is best for you.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MBA

Concentration Description Careers This Concentration Prepares For
Entrepreneurship Students learn to create and present business plans, plan venture capital, and learn about the economy of the startup market. This prepares them to build their own business from the ground up or work as consultants to help other people and even companies create and sustain their own projects. Small business owner, startup creator, venture capitalist, business consultant
Marketing This is one of the most popular specialization areas. Students learn about buyer behavior, data mining, product design and development, and the fundamental practices of marketing management. Graduates are prepared to work in brand management and lead teams as social media specialists for pharmaceuticals, retail, and other industries. Brand manager, social media specialist, product developer, marketing manager
Leadership Students pursuing the leadership track learn to manage individuals, teams, and organizations. Coursework includes executive leadership, creative decision making, team building, and human resource management. These courses provide students with the tools they need to motivate and incentivize employees as well as improve efficiency and the bottom line in order to become successful organizational leaders. Business operations manager, compliance officers, sales manager, management consultant

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MBA

Online MBA programs build upon undergraduate business topics and tend to be similar in order to meet accreditation guidelines. Certain courses depend on the history and focus of the school you choose as well as the interests and expertise of the faculty. Below are some classes you can expect to take in your MBA curriculum.

  • Information Technology: This course provides students with an in-depth look at information systems management issues, including support applications, systems acquisition, best practices in implementation, and other topics needed to thrive in a global economy as a team leader and social media analyst. Students usually analyze case studies to come up with solutions for new or existing business initiatives in order to improve consumer, enterprise, and social technologies.
  • Financial Accounting: A fundamental course in the online MBA curriculum that prepares students to be managers and accountants, among other positions. This course emphasizes contemporary practices in financial accounting and reporting systems, including the evaluation and interpretation of a company’s external fiscal reports. Students also focus on the accounting cycle, profitability analysis, the structure of financial statements, and changes to the field.
  • Strategic Management: In this course, students study the fundamental practices of integrating decisions into functional areas of business, including the formulation of strategy and policy within the organization. Students also learn to develop and implement a specific management plan, using case studies as examples. This course prepares students to be effective team leaders in a variety of business environments and is usually a prerequisite to more advanced management classes.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MBA?

The total number of credits needed to earn the degree vary depending on the program. The majority of online MBA programs require 48 to 62 credits. Students usually finish their degree in approximately two years if they take classes full-time. Part-time students take about three years, and most schools allow students to take as long as five. The length depends on certain degree requirements, including prerequisites and capstone projects.

For online degrees, it’s important to look at what kind of on-campus requirements, if any, are required. This may depend on whether an MBA program subscribes to a cohort learning model, where students work in teams with their peers and progress through the degree together, or if they value the increased flexibility of asynchronous learning.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES AN MBA PREPARES FOR

  • Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Certification: The SHRM is a globally recognized measure of expertise in the human resources field. The exam is divided into two levels: the certified professional or the senior certified professional. The levels are based on the education an applicant has as well as the amount of work experience they wield. The SHRM exams are competency-based, universally-relevant, and backed by the premier professional organization in the field, which means those who earn the credential can use it to pursue a variety of HR positions worldwide.
  • Certified Public Accountant Certification: The CPA license is the oldest and one of the top credentials in the accounting and finance industry. This certification validates your expertise in forensic accounting, compliance, risk management, taxes, and others. A minimum of 150 education hours are needed to sit for the exam, and the cost ranges from $2,000 to $3,000.

While the General Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a standard requirement of many online MBA programs, many schools are offering applicants ways around taking it. While the GMAT is a good indicator of a student’s capability in a business school, it is not an accurate representation of talent, drive, or success after graduation. Applicants with an exceptionally high GPA, another graduate level degree, and/or a long history of work experience, may find that they are automatically exempt from taking the GMAT or that they can apply for exemption based on a case-by-case basis.

Top scorers of the GMAT clock approximately 120 hours of study, and sometimes more. How you divide up those hours is up to you, but you should proceed with a detailed plan for studying, spending the appropriate amount of time on each area. Test areas include verbal competence, sentence correction, statistics, economics, and data sufficiency. The test also measures overall critical reasoning and problem solving skills. Perhaps the best advice is to practice as often as possible in order to get used to the materials and to the computerized test environment. Success may also entail taking the GMAT multiple times, so plan for that as you research MBA program applications.

National recognition is the baseline standard all nonprofit, accredited online MBA programs must achieve in order to have any validity. This designation is conferred by the United States Department of Education (DOE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The next form of accreditation comes at the regional level and is the most important. It means the particular college or university adheres to specific standards set forth by the state or consortium of state in which it operates, a necessary stamp of approval for most employers. There are seven regional accreditation bodies.

The best online MBA programs will have national, regional, and industry-specific accreditation. Business students should look for programs recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the oldest and most well-respected organization in the field. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is another professional organization of this kind. Though newer, the ACBSP is growing in popularity and prominence among the top online MBA programs.

National accreditation is the standard form of recognition for all online MBA programs and is conferred by the DOE and the CHEA. Both organizations work to establish and ensure academic and professional quality that nonprofit colleges and universities must gain, and reobtain every three to five years. The DOE and CHEA are also in charge of establishing the legitimacy of regional accreditation organizations, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Higher Learning Commission. For more information of DOE and CHEA recognized schools, visit their websites.

Job Placement: MBA vs Bachelor of Business Administration

According to the BLS, the management sector is expected to grow by 6% — or roughly 505,000 jobs — between 2014 and 2024. This growth rate is slower than the projected rate for all industries, and those who earn an online MBA enjoy a more favorable employment rate than their counterparts with lesser degrees. A recent survey by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce revealed a significant difference in job placement rates between recent bachelor’s graduates, experienced bachelor’s graduates, and candidates with advanced degrees. Using data from this survey, the table below looks at these differences in five niche areas of business.

Professional Field Unemployment Rate for Recent Bachelor’s Graduates Unemployment Rate for Experienced Bachelor’s Graduates Unemployment Rate for Graduate Degree- Holders
General Business 7.0% 4.8% 4.2%
Accounting 6.8% 4.8% 3.8%
Business Management and Administration 8.1% 5.4% 4.4%
Marketing and Marketing Research 7.3% 6.0% 5.4%
Finance 6.6% 5.2% 4.6%

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

As shown in the table above, the average unemployment rate was 4.5% for MBA-holders all five fields, compared to 7.2% for recent bachelor’s graduates and 5.2% for experienced bachelor’s graduates. The low unemployment rate for candidates with an MBA is partially due to the relatively low number of business professionals who earn a master’s compared to those who complete their studies with an undergraduate degree. According to the BLS, masters-holding employees make up 17% to 23% of MBA-friendly occupations such as marketing and sales managers, financial managers and marketing research analysts, and marketing specialists.

Earning a Living

In addition to better employment rates, MBA graduates also enjoy higher earning potential than their bachelor’s-holding colleagues. The CEW survey found that business professionals stand to earn an annual salary of roughly $84,000; by comparison, recent bachelor’s graduates make $39,000 per year and experienced bachelor’s graduates pull in $63,000 on a yearly basis. However, the wage premium for an MBA salary will vary by their specific business field. The following table uses data from the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report to compare the average entry-level salaries of these two groups in different areas of business and management.

Degree/Professional Field Median Entry-Level Salary for Bachelor’s Graduates Median Entry-Level Salary for Master’s/ MBA Graduates Wage Premium for Master’s/MBA Graduates
General Business $44,900 $52,500 17%
Business Administration $45,800 $55,600 21%
Finance $51,900 $63,200 22%
Human Resources $41,300 $50,400 22%
Supply Chain Management $53,900 $62,300 16%
International Business $47,200 $54,600 16%
Marketing and Management $44,100 $53,100 20%
Project Management $52,400 $64,100 22%

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

The table above reveals a 19.5% average wage premium for master’s graduates in all eight professional fields. However, it’s important to note that these numbers only reflect entry-level wages — and that an MBA-holder’s salary will increase incrementally over the course of their career. The next table features expected annual salaries for these eight MBA concentrations at five different career benchmarks.

MBA Concentrations Median Salary (1 year or less) Median Salary (1 to 4 years) Median Salary (5 to 9 years) Median Salary (10 to 20 years) Median Salary (20+ years)
General Business $53,030 $58,010 $76,171 $100,208 $120,095
Business Administration $47,364 $56,024 $70,789 $88,105 $103,292
Finance $53,640 $64,055 $82,673 $102,197 $130,948
Human Resources $43,848 $50,569 $61,453 $74,654 $93,057
Supply Chain Management $62,212 $68,008 $81,091 $98,413 $105,404
International Business $54,496 $58,798 $78,276 $99,047 $129,169
Marketing and Management $50,000 $57,323 $79,185 $102,467 $138,754
Project Management $50,251 $58,026 $77,343 $87,660 $95,964

Source: PayScale

MBA-holders with a concentration in marketing and management enjoyed a career salary increase of 178% between the entry-level and late-career marks — the highest wage premium of all eight concentrations listed in the table above. Other MBA concentrations with high salary increases include finance (144%), international business (137%), general business (126%), business administration (118%), and human resources (112%).

Career Opportunities

Graduates from accredited online MBA programs will qualify for dozens of jobs after leaving school, although individual eligibility will depend on their degree specialization. Some of the most common career pathways for MBA-holders are listed below.

Financial Managers: These managers oversee all of the financial activities of a company or organization. They develop short- and long-term budget plans, and often provide guidance to top executives about asset management and investment opportunities. Specific organizational roles for financial managers include chief financial officers (CFOs), controllers, treasurers, and insurance managers.

Human Resources Managers: Human resources managers (HR managers for short) are responsible for their company’s administrative activities. They often lead HR personnel teams in the recruiting, screening, interviewing, hiring, and training of new employees. HR managers also meet with executives to discuss strategies for pursuing top talent.

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers: These managers work with other personnel — including creative directors, financial officers, and salespeople — to help companies generate public interest in the products they sell. They often take the lead in major advertising campaigns, and conduct post-project evaluations to determine areas of potential improvement.

Top Executives: Executives oversee all operational activities of their firm, from finances and budget planning to marketing campaigns. Their day-to-day duties depend on the size of their company or organization. Specific executive roles include the chief executive officer (CEO), the chief operating officer (COO), and operational manager.

Profession Median Annual Salary Projected Growth (2014-24)
Financial Managers $117,990 7%
Human Resources Managers $104,440 9%
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers $124,850 9%
Top Executives $102,690 6%

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to business administration is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for business professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • Association of MBAs: Based in London, AMBA is the only international organization specifically dedicated to educating, supporting, and connecting MBA graduates across different industries. Members are given a platform to network with fellow MBA-holders from more than 200 accredited business schools. Other benefits include continuing ed opportunities through the AMBA career center and access to online webinars.
  • National Association of Women MBAs: This not-for-profit organization is aimed at female business students, established professionals, and entrepreneurs who have earned an MBA. The NAWM specializes in four core areas: education and professional development; mentorship; networking; and collaboration. Members are invited to attend the organization’s annual conference, and local chapter meetings are held throughout the year.
  • National Black MBA Association, Inc.: Founded in 1970, the NBMBAA represents more than 30,000 members in 74 professional and collegiate chapters. With the aim of empowering minorities in the business world, the organization has awarded more than $5 million in scholarship aid to minority high school and college students.
Despite the relative affordability of online MBA programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Related Content

MASTER’S IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS

Supply chain management is a field that encompasses the materials, facilities, finances, and information that comprise day-to-day operations for any business or organization. Be sure to check out or ranking of the country’s top master’s degree programs in supply chain management.

MASTER’S IN FINANCE

Finance — the study of money and asset management — is one of the most popular degree concentrations for MBA students. Learn about the best schools for this area of study with our comprehensive degree guide.

MASTER’S IN HUMAN RESOURCES

Another popular specialization field for MBA students, human resources (or HR) focuses on hiring, new employee orientation and other administrative needs. Visit our guide to master’s degrees in HR for more information.

BUSINESS RESOURCES

Our page dedicated to resources for business students includes links to professional organizations, open courseware, industry publications, books, and business-minded users to follow on Twitter.

BUSINESS CAREERS

Our career page for business degree graduates includes a state-by-state breakdown of business careers and academic options for business students, as well as popular job sites, professional organizations and continuing education opportunities for established professionals.

Best Online MBA Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN
2 Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
3 University of Florida Gainseville, FL
4 University of Texas at Dallas Richardson, TX
5 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
6 University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire Eau Claire, WI
7 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
8 Temple University Philadelphia, PA
9 Auburn University Auburn University, AL
10 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
11 The University of Arizona Tuscon, AZ
12 University of Michigan - Dearborn Dearborn, MI
13 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
14 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
15 Ball State University Muncie, IN
16 University of Mississippi University, MS
17 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
18 Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS
19 University of Tennessee - Martin Martin, TN
20 University of Nebraska - Lincoln Lincoln, NE
21 Washington State University Pullman, WA
22 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA
23 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI
24 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY
25 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD