How Much Does an MBA Cost?

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October 6, 2021

Reviewed by Krystal Covington, MBA
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Every year, many undergraduates choose to further their education and enroll in an online MBA program. Earning your MBA can help advance your career in business or qualify you to pursue leadership positions within a company.

Investing in an MBA degree can help you earn a higher salary and a more senior job title. The average tuition for in-person MBA programs ranges from $82,650-$97,010 depending on a student's residency status.

Learn more about what affects the average cost of an MBA and what to consider when funding your degree.

How We Collected MBA Tuition Data

To collect online MBA data for average tuition calculations, we pulled information for the top 100 best online MBA programs from BestColleges' rankings. Check out our ranking methodology.

To determine each program's total MBA cost, we multiplied the cost per credit by the number of credits required for graduation to arrive at the total cost of each program. For programs with a range of costs per credit and/or a range of required credits, we used the average values for each of these ranges. We then calculated the average value from those 100 schools to arrive at the average cost of online MBA programs.

To collect traditional, in-person MBA data for average tuition calculations, we looked at MBA programs at 100 schools, including a representative mix of Ivy League, public, and private universities.

To determine each program's total MBA cost, we multiplied each program's full-time annual tuition costs across two years. We then calculated the average value from those 100 schools to arrive at the average cost of traditional, in-person MBA programs.

To determine the average cost of top-ranked online MBA programs, we used the average total cost of the top 25 online MBA programs, as ranked by BestColleges. To determine the average cost of top-ranked traditional, in-person MBA programs, we used the average total cost of the top 25 traditional, in-person MBA programs, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

What Factors Impact MBA Program Cost?

Enrollment Status

When pursuing a business degree, you can enroll in a part-time or full-time MBA program. Typically, schools require master's students to enroll in at least nine credits per semester to be considered full-time students. Learners who enroll on a part-time basis may pay per credit, which could be more expensive.

A degree-seeker who resides in the same state as their public university will often receive a cheaper tuition rate. On the other hand, a learner who attends an out-of-state college may have a higher tuition rate. However, some public schools charge all online learners the same rate.

Program Type

There are different program options for people considering MBA degrees. While deciding on an MBA program, you may want to consider whether an accelerated program, in-person program, or online program is the best fit.

Cost may also impact the type of program you choose. Some online MBA programs are less expensive and allow students to save money on room and board and other fees. Additionally, some colleges offer the same flat tuition rate for online students, regardless of their residency status.

School Type

Generally, attending a public college costs less than enrolling at a private college. However, you should consider your financial aid award status for each school you're considering. Private colleges may offer grants and scholarships that can offset the higher costs.

Regardless of whether the program you choose is at a public or private college, top-ranked MBA programs often cost more. This is true for both in-person and online top-ranked programs.

How Much Does an Online MBA Cost?

The average cost of an online MBA ranges from $37,610-$38,580, depending on your residency status. Generally, the cost of an online MBA program is lower than that of an in-person program. However, there are several factors to consider when calculating the true cost of an online program.

Although you may save money on room and board since you can access an online MBA program from anywhere, you may have extra technology costs. The flexibility of an online program can also allow you to continue working while completing your degree.

How Much Does a Top-Ranked MBA Program Cost?

If you want to attend a top-ranked school, you should expect to pay top dollar. On average, top-ranked programs are more expensive than others.

For a traditional, in-person MBA at a top-ranked school, the average tuition ranges from $131,940-$138,160, depending on your residency status. However, the actual cost will be more when you factor in expenses like room and board, textbooks, meal plans, and even health insurance.

The cost is significantly lower for top-ranked online MBA programs, which average $69,140-$70,340, depending on residency. However, this is still much more than the average cost of an online MBA program.

Obtaining an MBA degree is an investment. Depending on your long-term career goals, the cost of completing an MBA program at a top-ranked school may be worth it.

How to Pay for an MBA Program

Part of preparing for graduate school is understanding how you are going to pay for your MBA. If you can't cover all of your costs upfront, you may need to consider financial aid and other types of assistance.

Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants

The best way to pay for college is with free money. Fellowships, scholarships, and grants do not have to be repaid and can help students reduce out-of-pocket costs.

You can search and apply for a variety of scholarships and fellowships. Depending on the award, this money can be used for tuition, fees, books, and housing. Fellowship and scholarship amounts vary, as do the funding sources. Fellowships often designate funding for a specific purpose, like a research project.

While any qualified individual can apply for fellowships and scholarships, grants are generally reserved for students with financial need. Grants may be awarded by the state or federal government, as well as by colleges. To see if you qualify for federal grants, you can fill out the FAFSA. Filling out the FAFSA is free, and you should do it each year that you're a student.

Loans

You should exhaust all your free options before taking out loans. However, by filling out the FAFSA, you can also qualify for federal loans. Many federal student loans require you to be a full-time student. You will also need to attend a school with appropriate accreditation to qualify. If you still need financial assistance after applying for fellowships, scholarships, grants, and federal loans, you may need to consider private student loans.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

Some employers offer incentives like tuition reimbursement to encourage employees to pursue an MBA. Companies like Bank of America, Apple, and Ford all offer tuition reimbursement opportunities to their employees.

Each company has specific regulations defining how its programs work. Employees may need to complete a certain amount of service years at the company before enrolling, work for a certain number of years at the company after graduating, or maintain a certain GPA in their program.

Employers may also offer educational assistance programs, including scholarships or tuition assistance. In a 2019 Society for Human Resource Management survey, over 50% of employers confirmed they offered tuition assistance programs.

Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Programs

Is an MBA worth it? true
  • Depending on your career goals, an MBA can be worth the time and costs. MBA programs can lead to senior administrative roles, which typically include a higher average salary. However, you should consider your goals and the total commitment before pursuing an MBA degree. If you are not seeking to further your career or are undecided in your career path, an MBA may not be worth it.
Why is an MBA so costly? true
  • Although there are ways to decrease the cost of an MBA, the programs tend to be expensive. This is especially true for top-ranked MBA programs, which generally pay their faculty more.
  • Likewise, schools and programs must maintain the appropriate technology, software, and hardware to keep their MBA programs innovative and current with advances in the field. These platforms and licenses can be costly.
  • Many business schools hope to justify the high cost of their programs by highlighting the potential benefits of an MBA degree, such as higher earning potential, career advancement, and a positive return on investment.
How much does an Ivy League MBA program cost?
  • Getting into an Ivy League MBA program is challenging, but it could set you apart from other applicants when applying for jobs. However, you will most likely pay more for an Ivy League degree.
  • The average total cost of in-state tuition at the top 25 in-person MBA programs is $131,940, while the average out-of-state tuition for these in-person programs is $138,160. However, the total cost of an MBA at an Ivy League institution can be above $200,000.
How much does an MBA increase your salary?
  • The top careers for MBA graduates do not necessarily require applicants to possess MBAs. However, having an advanced degree can show employers you have strong communication and leadership skills. An MBA can also increase your salary. According to a survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, respondents with MBAs reported making 75% more than those with bachelor's degrees alone.
  • Earning an MBA can increase your salary, but there are many other factors that impact the amount of money you make. Your work experience, location, and career concentration can all affect your salary. For example, a marketing management position could pay more than a business analyst role.

Reviewed by:

Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Her company, Go Lead Consulting, provides clients foundational tools to build new client and customer relationships.

Covington founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills, and connect with other high-achieving women. Covington received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.

Krystal Covington is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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