A master of business administration (MBA) provides graduate-level training in management, decision-making, and leadership. An MBA helps professionals pursue higher-level jobs and increase their earning potential.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that business-related master's degrees are the most popular graduate degree in 2020. There are several reasons students might choose an MBA. The degree may offer a strong return on investment for professionals. With an MBA, professionals can move into management careers that pay median salaries in the six figures, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Students and working professionals often prefer the flexibility of an online master's degree. During an online MBA, learners complete coursework in a virtual classroom while meeting internship requirements in their local area. Many of the best online schools offer flexible MBA programs.

Completing an online MBA takes 1-2 years, depending on the program. Many online MBA programs design their curriculum for professionals, allowing degree-seekers to continue working while earning an MBA.

What Can I Expect From an Online MBA Program?

An online MBA program educates students in organizational management, leadership theory, and strategic decision-making. During an online MBA, graduate students complete rigorous courses in a flexible format. Most online MBA programs take two years for full-time students, while part-time programs generally take three years.

During the MBA program, learners complete 30-60 credits, depending on the program. MBA students focus their studies by choosing a concentration. Many programs offer a general MBA or specialized courses of study. While a general MBA provides a well-rounded education, concentrations educate learners on specific career paths. Common MBA concentrations include:

In addition to core business classes, electives, and concentration classes, MBA students often complete an internship to gain hands-on experience. During the internship, learners connect with professionals in their field. The connections students foster during an MBA internship may turn into job offers after graduation.

The most successful online learners have strong organizational skills and self-motivation. MBA students draw on their analytical and problem-solving abilities to evaluate case studies and recommend solutions. These skills help online MBA students complete their degree and succeed in the workplace.

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How Do I Know If an Online Program Is Popular?

Several factors make an MBA program popular, including the program's size, graduation rate, job outcomes, and name recognition.

Before applying to an online program, be sure to research these indicators. Business schools can provide details about enrollment statistics and graduation rate. You can also seek out student testimonials from current or former students. Ask your network for introductions to former students, or make new connections on social networks.

Keep in mind that a school's popularity can be regional. An online MBA program might have a strong reputation and solid industry connections in its area without a large presence in other states. Use tools like LinkedIn to learn more about what graduates do with their online MBA degree.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online MBA Program?

Global Management

MBA students explore the management and leadership issues for global organizations. Topics include business structures, economic issues, and cross-cultural challenges. Learners strengthen their leadership skills with a focus on global business.

Marketing Management

Marketing plays a key role in many organizations. Learners explore the relationship between marketing and production while also gaining advanced marketing skills. This course helps students make research-backed decisions.

Managerial Finance

Managers rely on financial information to make decisions. This course provides an advanced look at budgeting, financial decision-making, and long-term goal setting. Case studies provide hands-on experience.

Business Analytics

Data analysis provides a strategic advantage. In business analytics courses, MBA students learn how to examine business intelligence and create data-supported policies.

Strategic Management

Learners explore the manager's role in strategic decision-making. Taking an executive perspective, the course emphasizes setting strategic objectives, corporate social responsibilities, and management problems.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online MBA Program?

When evaluating applicants, online MBA programs look at several factors. They assess applicants' prior degrees and work experience, their future goals, and potential contributions to the program.

When applying for an online MBA, make sure you meet the admission requirements and submit all required materials. In addition to the material listed below, some online programs also conduct interviews.

Application

Prospective MBA students submit a graduate application to gain admission. The application typically asks about work history, educational experience, and other background information. Most programs accept online applications, though prospective students may be able to submit hard-copy applications.

Test Scores

Business graduate programs often require standardized test scores. The GMAT is the most common required test, while some programs also accept GRE scores. Some MBA programs make standardized test scores optional. Applicants may also qualify for a test score waiver.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants typically submit 1-3 letters of recommendation. These letters should come from former professors, mentors, or supervisors. Letter writers should explain the candidate's preparation for an MBA program and their strengths. Make sure to ask for letters of recommendation 1-2 months before the application deadline.

Essays

MBA programs request essays or statements of purpose from applicants. These application essays showcase your critical and analytical thinking skills. They also provide an opportunity to explain your prior experience and reasons for pursuing an MBA. Check out our resource on common MBA essay questions for more information.

Official Transcripts

Applicants provide official transcripts noting their bachelor's degree, undergraduate GPA, and prior coursework. Many MBA programs set prerequisite requirements for admission. Your transcripts show your preparation for an MBA program. Transcripts can also help you receive transfer credits toward your degree.

What Can I Do With an Online MBA Degree?

Career Outlook

Business is the most popular major. A graduate degree can lead to many business career opportunities.

An online MBA degree prepares graduates for management occupations. These careers report stable demand and high salaries. According to the BLS, management professionals earned a median salary of $102,450, one of the highest wages for all occupational groups.

In addition, management careers report average job growth. The BLS projects 9% growth from 2020-2030, or the equivalent of more than 900,000 new management jobs.

The top MBA jobs include management consultant, project manager, business intelligence analyst, and product development manager. The BLS reports that many business and finance career paths offer six-figure salaries with stable job prospects.

Career Paths

Financial Manager

Financial managers oversee the financial health of organizations to make sure they reach long-term goals. They manage investment activities and create financial statements and forecasts. Financial managers also oversee employees who create budgets and financial reports. By analyzing market trends, they help organizations increase their profits.

Median Annual Salary: $131,710

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers help organizations increase their profits and expand their market share. They analyze data on customer demand, pricing strategies, and customer satisfaction. Marketing managers also analyze trends to identify gaps in the market and develop new products and services. They also coordinate with product development and sales managers.

Median Annual Salary: $133,380

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers oversee hiring, benefits, and other HR needs for organizations. They help executives make strategic decisions about staffing and consult on HR issues or disputes. Human resources managers also manage staff that carries out the recruitment and employee benefit programs.

Median Annual Salary: $126,230

Healthcare Manager

Healthcare managers, also known as healthcare executives, oversee the non-clinical side of healthcare organizations. They research ways to improve quality and efficiency. Healthcare managers also monitor compliance with regulations. As managers, they oversee staff who create records on the organization's services and finances.

Median Annual Salary: $101,340

General Manager

General managers act as decision-makers for departments and organizations. They create policies, oversee daily operations, and manage staff. General managers also manage the budget and create schedules to make sure teams complete projects on schedule. The tasks of a general manager vary widely depending on the industry.

Median Annual Salary: $98,980

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Continuing Education

An MBA degree helps graduates move into management and executive positions in diverse industries. After earning their MBAs, professionals may continue their education with an online doctorate in business administration (DBA). As a practice-focused degree, a DBA builds the decision-making and research skills necessary for advanced business careers.

Continuing education also helps professionals stay current in their field and add to their skill set. Professionals may pursue voluntary certifications to showcase their skills. Certification in finance, human resources, or another field allows professionals to demonstrate proficiency for specialized roles.

Should I Choose a Popular Online MBA Program?

Are the most popular online MBA programs the best programs? Reputation may matter when it comes to business schools, but make sure to consider other factors, such as accreditation, cost, and format. A popular program that does not offer your top MBA concentration will not serve your needs.

In addition to popularity, make sure to consider the following factors when choosing an online MBA program.

Additional Program Factors to Consider

Cost

An MBA degree can easily cost over $100,000. Comparing online vs. on-campus tuition rates helps applicants find a program that fits their budget. Generally, online programs may cost less than in-person MBAs since students can save on commuting costs. But, the total cost of an MBA varies depending on the school. Carefully research total costs and fees when choosing a program.

Program Format

The most popular MBA programs offer different format options. Students can enroll in full-time or part-time MBAs. A part-time format may appeal to busy students and working professionals. Business schools may offer classes synchronously or asynchronously. Learners can also choose an accelerated MBA to graduate in less time.

Location

Location is an important factor in the online and on-campus MBA experience. Even if you choose an online MBA, you might prefer a local business school. With a local university, you can more easily visit campus for networking events. Schools in your area may also cultivate relationships with local employers.

Accreditation

Accreditation is critical for MBA students and graduates. As a result, applicants should always choose an accredited university and an accredited business school. Accredited programs meet educational standards and follow best practices for educating business students.

Accreditation ensures employers will recognize the degree and students can apply their credits toward other programs. Always check the school and program's accreditation status before applying.

MBA programs are accredited by three agencies: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.

Student Support

Online MBA students benefit from strong student services. The best MBA programs offer academic advising, career services, and other support services for distance learners. Ask programs about their internship programs and mentorship opportunities. If possible, connect with current or former online MBA students to ask about their experience.

Most Popular Accredited Online MBA Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

#1

Franklin University

School Information
Location Columbus, Ohio
Graduation Rate 28%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $670
Out of State | $670

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) and Higher Learning Commission

FU's online MBA program emphasizes real-world applications. The curriculum combines MBA foundations, economics, strategic management, marketing, and corporate finance. Students can choose from three optional focus areas: human resources, marketing, or organizational psychology. They can also pursue microcredentials.  

This 12-month MBA prepares graduates to take on business leadership roles. Applicants need a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75, except in special cases. FU does not require GMAT or GRE test scores. 

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#2

Brenau University

School Information
Location Gainesville, Georgia
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 46%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $785
Out of State | $785

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Brenau’s online MBA program offers diverse concentrations and emphasizes business fundamentals. Specializations include human resource management, healthcare management, marketing, business analytics, strategic thinking and innovation, public accounting, managerial accounting, mediation and conflict resolution, and finance. 

The accelerated 12-month curriculum combines 27 credits of the business core curriculum with electives like cross-cultural business challenges or international finance. Applicants need a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. GMAT or GRE test scores are not required.

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#3

Campbellsville University

School Information
Location Campbellsville, Kentucky
Admission Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 36%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 77% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $500
Out of State | $500

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

CU's online MBA program covers foundational business strategies and techniques. Students can choose from nine concentrations: accounting, church management, computer science, entrepreneurial leadership, healthcare management, HR management, information technology, international business, and marketing.

The curriculum combines business fundamentals in marketing, management, organizational theory, and business ethics with Christian values. Applicants must submit three reference letters, an essay, and a resume. Applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.5 and do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Lower GPAs may be considered.

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#4

Marquette University

School Information
Location Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 83%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,220
Out of State | $1,220

Credits to Graduate
31.5- 42

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International and Higher Learning Commission

MU's online MBA program focuses on business innovation, societal changes, and ethics. The curriculum combines foundational business leadership knowledge with topics on corporate social responsibility, leadership coaching, risk management, and learning for innovation and creativity. 

This 24-month program with three start times per year helps prepare graduates to lead with confidence and principles.  Applicants need to submit GRE or GMAT scores, a resume, transcripts, and a personal statement. GMAT/GRE waiver available based on experience.

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#5

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $565
Out of State | $565 

Credits to Graduate
36 or 45

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

LU's online MBA offers a flexible program with eight start dates throughout the year. The curriculum combines general business education with business specializations. Students can choose from more than 20 specializations including nonprofit leadership, public administration, executive coaching, economics, tourism management. Alternatively, they can choose a condensed 36-credit general MBA. 

This MBA provides graduates with industry-specific leadership skills. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. GRE or GMAT scores are not required. Lower GPAs may be considered.

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#6

University of Northwestern-St Paul

School Information
Location Saint Paul, Minnesota
Admission Rate 92%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $575
Out of State | $575

Credits to Graduate
42

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

UNW-St. Paul's online MBA program teaches business leadership fundamentals with a Christian worldview that challenges students to invest in others as they grow. The curriculum combines business core topics in managerial leadership, economics, marketing, and data analysis. Students can choose from five specializations: data analytics, finance, healthcare management, management, or a general MBA. 

Applicants must meet application requirements including a resume, academic or professional references, and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. GRE or GMAT scores are not required.

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#7

Seton Hall University

School Information
Location South Orange, New Jersey
Admission Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 73%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,380
Out of State | $1,380

Credits to Graduate
40

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International and Middle States Commission on Higher Education

SHU's online MBA program teaches ethically centered leadership and transforming concepts into business practice. Students benefit from SHU’s strong corporate ties in New York City's business center. In addition to the general MBA track, students can choose concentrations in accounting, finance, or marketing. 

The university requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a score in the 30th percentile or higher on the GRE or GMAT test. Applicants may qualify for alternate admission routes or a GRE/GMAT waiver.

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#8

Ashland University

School Information
Location Ashland, Ohio
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 65%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online and Hybrid options | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $980
Out of State | $980

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and Higher Learning Commission

AU's online MBA program curriculum focuses on experiential learning. Core topics include organization design and change management, strategic planning, operations, financial management, and marketing management. 

Students can choose from 12 specializations including sport management, global management, digital marketing, and business analytics. Students can also create a customized specialization with faculty and MBA chair approval. 

Applicants to this one-year accelerated MBA program are evaluated on their resume, educational accomplishments, and workplace experience. All students are encouraged to apply. GMAT/GRE waiver options available.

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#9

Southern Utah University

School Information
Location Cedar City, Utah
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $485
Out of State | $485

Credits to Graduate
33

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SUU's online MBA program allows students to create a customized online MBA. The core curriculum covers managing people and organizations, leadership, economics, finance, marketing, supply chain management, and strategy. Students can choose from concentrations in business analytics, finance, healthcare administration, leadership, marketing, or general business.  

Applicants must submit official transcripts, a statement of intent, references, and GRE or GMAT scores with the application. GRE or GMAT waiver is possible for some students.

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#10

Lewis University

School Information
Location Romeoville, Illinois
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 67%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $820
Out of State | $820

Credits to Graduate
30-39

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and Higher Learning Commission

Lewis University's online MBA program offers students degree customization and industry skills. The curriculum includes fundamentals of business, economics, accounting, and finance, plus critical thinking, communication, and ethical strategic management.  Students earn microcredentials with in-demand business skills. Registered nurses can earn a dual MSN/MBA degree. 

Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or more, or a GMAT score of at least 550.  Application requirements include transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a professional resume.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Popular MBA Programs

Are popular online master's programs more difficult to get into? true

More popular master's programs may have more competitive admissions. However, the difficulty of getting into a master's program depends on several factors. First, the size of the incoming class affects selectiveness. Popular programs that admit a high number of students may offer a higher chance of admission than popular programs with smaller cohorts.

Each program sets its own admission requirements, with some setting higher standards. These programs can be more difficult to get into, because fewer students meet the requirements. When researching programs, look into the acceptance rate, class size, and number of students admitted each year.

What are the most popular graduate degrees? true

Business is ranked as the most popular graduate degree in 2019-20. Other popular graduate degrees included education, healthcare, social services, and computer science. In 2020, nearly 200,000 graduate students earned a master's in business.

Among business graduate degrees, an MBA is one of the most popular degrees. This degree provides education in management and leadership, benefiting professionals in diverse industries. The degree may also offer a strong return on investment, particularly for students who choose affordable programs and programs with strong career outcomes.

How should I choose an online degree program? true

Choosing the right online program will positively impact your education and career prospects. When it comes to choosing a school, prospective students should check for accreditation status, program length, cost, and return on investment. Research the student experience and job placement rates. Many business schools provide information on job placements for recent graduates.

Online learners should also look into support services for distance learners, on-campus requirements, and course formats. These factors will shape the student experience. Finally, look for programs that have a good reputation in your field. These programs will offer the best chance to reach your professional goals.

Are the most popular online programs also the highest quality? true

Popularity and quality are often linked when it comes to online programs. The highest quality programs typically result in stronger student testimonials and job placement records. Applicants considering an MBA degree should look at data on a program's graduation rate and internship placement record.

The best business schools track this data and provide it to prospective applicants. By researching popular online programs, applicants can also ensure their quality.

What jobs can I get with an online MBA? true

An online MBA from an accredited business school helps prepare graduates for many high-paying jobs. For example, with an online MBA professionals work as marketing managers, financial managers, and human resource managers. These management careers all report six-figure median salaries, according to the BLS.

Other career paths include management consultant, business intelligence analyst, and healthcare executive. An MBA from an accredited school can lead to many of the same career opportunities, whether students enroll online or in-person. MBA students can increase their chances of finding good job opportunities by completing an internship and following the best practices for job seekers.

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