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Online master's in management programs focus on developing strong strategic and leadership skills. Many programs cater to students with an interest in pursuing a career in management, but who don't currently possess extensive professional experience. Pursuing a master's in management can help students gain the skills they need to launch a new career or advance in their field.
This guide breaks down the best online master's in management programs. It explores common program components, courses, and admission requirements. It also describes several career paths you can consider after earning a master's degree. For more information, consult our Master's in Management Program Guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Management Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||Harvard University||Cambridge, MA|
|2||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL|
|3||George Washington University||Washington, DC|
|4||University of Texas at Dallas||Richardson, TX|
|5||Pepperdine University||Malibu, CA|
|6||Webster University||Saint Louis, MO|
|7||Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI|
|8||University of Colorado Denver||Denver, CO|
|9||University of St. Francis||Joliet, IL|
|10||The University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa, AL|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology here. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Management Programs
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|Cambridge, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 98%||
Harvard University offers an online master of liberal arts degree in management through its Extension School. Courses in this hybrid program are available online and in person, though students must complete at least four courses on campus. Weekend options are available for those who work during the week.
Students can complete this 48-credit master's degree in 2-3 years. Coursework includes managerial accounting, organizational behavior, finance, and enterprise management. After completing core courses, students choose between a capstone track and a non-capstone track. For the capstone project, students are required to assess a current problem and provide a well-researched solution. Non-capstone students take two additional three-week summer courses on campus.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and complete three graduate-level prerequisite courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Harvard is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
University of Florida
|Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 90%||
The University of Florida offers an online master of science in management for students who do not have previous education or experience in business. Students have the option of completing a combined bachelor's and master's in management where 12 credits count toward both undergraduate and graduate requirements. This program can also be completed concurrently with others master's or doctoral programs.
This 32-credit degree can be completed in one year. Courses cover topics such as managerial economics, international business law, organizational behavior, and global strategic management.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in a non-business major, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and competitive GMAT or GRE scores. Business majors are not eligible to apply. UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
George Washington University offers an online master in management degree designed for liberal arts or STEM students who do not have an undergraduate background in business. This program can be combined with GW's 4 + 1 program, which allows individuals to earn their bachelor's and master's in five years.
This master's in management requires 24 credits and can be completed in one year. The curriculum covers business ethics and public policy, financial accounting, organizations and human capital, and strategic management. Students can also complete certificate courses as electives and obtain a graduate certificate in conjunction with their master's degree.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have competitive GMAT or GRE scores.GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
University of Texas at Dallas
|Richardson, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
The University of Texas at Dallas offers a master of science in management science with electives available in 15 concentration areas. Learners can tailor their program by taking classes in topics like healthcare management, finance, and real estate. This STEM-focused program is available entirely online.
This 36-credit degree can be completed in 18-24 months. Core courses include business analytics, database foundations, and statistics and data analysis. Out-of-state learners pay nearly double the tuition rates of their in-state counterparts.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit GMAT or GRE scores. A GMAT/GRE waiver may be available for some learners. The average GPA of admitted students is 3.3. UT Dallas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|Malibu, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
Pepperdine University offers an online master of science in management and leadership that prepares graduates for administrative and executive roles at large-scale companies, nonprofit organizations, and smaller startups. This program is delivered primarily online but requires on-campus immersions in the first and last terms.
This master's in management requires 36 credits and can be completed in one year on an accelerated schedule or two years on a part-time basis. Courses include managerial creativity and innovation for leadership, talent management, organizational dynamics and managing change, and psychology of conflict communication.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and some work experience in management. A minimum of two years work experience is recommended but not required, and GRE/GMAT scores are not required. Pepperdine is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
|Saint Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Webster University offers an online master of arts in management and leadership. Students learn to analyze business problems and make effective business decisions. Webster also features a dual-degree option where students earn a master of business administration and an MA in management concurrently.
Students earning a master's in management and leadership complete 36 credits. The curriculum covers organizational behavior, human resources, management strategy, managerial leadership, and organizational development and change. Students can customize their degree by choosing from several emphasis areas, including cybersecurity, digital marketing management, and project management.
Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited business program. Webster is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Michigan State University
|East Lansing, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Michigan State University offers an online master of science in management, strategy, and leadership that focuses on five major areas: strategy, human resource management, leadership, decision-making, and team management.
This online master's degree in management requires 30 credits and can be completed in 20 months. Core courses include corporate strategy, creating an ethical organization, negotiations, and strategic decision-making.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and have at least three years of work experience in a managerial or supervisory role. Competitive candidates also have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Candidates who meet these requirements generally do not need to submit GMAT scores. Conversely, students with less than three years of experience and/or a GPA below 3.0 are encouraged to submit GMAT scores.
MSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Colorado Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Through its Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Colorado Denver offers an online master of science in management and organization that prepares students for leadership positions in private and public sector organizations. Specializations are available in strategic management and managing for sustainability.
This 30-credit online management degree includes 18 core credits and 12 credits of specialization or general management electives. The strategic management specialization covers topics such as marketing dynamics in the 21st century and financial management. The managing for sustainability specialization covers topics such as business ethics and corporate social responsibility, supply chain management, and global climate change.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. CU Denver is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of St. Francis
|Joliet, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
The University of St. Francis offers an online master of science in management that prepares learners to advance their careers in the business world. Several concentration options are available, including data science in healthcare, human resource management, and instructional design in online learning.
This master's in management degree requires 36 credits and can be completed in 15 months. Core courses include developing personal leadership, performance measurement, and leading continuous improvement. This degree can also be combined with certificate programs in subjects such as accounting, data analytics, and finance.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. USF is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Alabama
|Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
The University of Alabama offers an online master of arts in management with a focus in global business management. This program is available entirely online and is suitable for working professionals seeking a better understanding of global issues in the workplace.
This online master's in management requires 30 credits and can be completed in 18-24 months. Core courses include managerial economics, effective quality management, global business, and statistical methods. Students also complete a thesis or a capstone experience.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have acceptable GMAT or GRE scores. Up to 12 credits can be transferred into this program from a previous institution. UA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Management Program?
Earning an online master's in management helps students develop essential skills and learn how to make business decisions that drive profitability.
Succeeding in management requires a strong grasp of leadership, strategy, and project management. These skills help managers enhance organizational and departmental efficiency and effectiveness. Earning an online master's in management helps students develop these essential skills and learn how to make business decisions that drive profitability.
The credit requirements for master's in management programs vary by school, but it typically takes full-time students about two years to complete their degree. Many online programs use an asynchronous format, which provides increased flexibility by allowing students to complete coursework and watch lectures at any time of day. Some programs feature a synchronous online format, which requires mandatory virtual sessions and class meetings at set times. Additionally, hybrid options combine online instruction and in-person meetings.
Programs may offer concentration options in areas such as healthcare, project management, human resources, finance, and construction management. Choosing a concentration allows students to align their degree with their interests and career goals. Learners also receive industry-specific training.
Some online master's in management programs include a capstone or thesis requirement. These usually require students to complete a business project, either individually or as part of a team. Projects generally require students to use course concepts to solve complex business and management issues. Some programs use simulations in the capstone, while others allow learners to work with real-world clients.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Management Programs
Every online master's in management program possesses its own admission requirements. However, it is common for schools to require students to hold a bachelor's degree and complete prerequisite coursework in core subjects. Many schools also require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT test scores, letters of recommendation, and a resume.
Because requirements vary, prospective students should reach out to a school's admissions department directly to obtain exact information. For more general information, consult our Graduate Admissions Guide.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Management Program?
The curriculum for a master's in management offers a comprehensive overview of several key subjects, including finance, economics, marketing, human resources, and management. Students pursuing a concentration complete additional coursework focusing on their subject area. While each program's curriculum differs, the following list details five common courses.
- Management of Resources
Students learn about the process of aligning resources with an organization's goals. Coursework covers essential topics such as budgeting, resource allocation, and incentives and benefits. Students develop an understanding of how decisions impact an organization's finances and personnel. The course may also include an overview of cost-benefit analysis.
- Leading Change
This course focuses on concepts that drive organizational change. Covered topics may include leadership theories, organizational theories, levels of organizational change, and transformational leadership. Some classes challenge students to create a plan to lead organizational change for a fictitious company. This gives students the opportunity to see how theories can work in practical situations.
- Management Communication
Management communication courses typically teach students how to analyze audiences effectively and develop messaging that targets those audiences. Coursework teaches students to speak, write, and work with individuals and communicate across cultures. Some classes may include an additional overview of sales or marketing techniques to teach students how to shape effective communication strategies.
- Management Research Methodologies
This course provides students with the skills and tools they need to gather and analyze data. The class typically focuses on the traditional qualitative and quantitative research practices managers use to make strategic business decisions. Some courses may emphasize research tools, such as focus groups or surveys, and the role they play in an organization's strategy.
- Foundations of Management
Students explore management basics, such as topics related to marketing and finance, decision-making, and organizational behavior. The curriculum also provides an overview of effective management techniques across different industries and settings. The overall aim of the course is to build the skills, knowledge, and abilities students need to manage teams effectively.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Management Degree?
Businesses and organizations across industries need effective leaders to manage teams, make strategic decisions, and create profitable business plans. Earning a master's in management teaches you the skills you need to qualify for a variety of rewarding career opportunities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in management positions to grow 5% between 2019 and 2029. This is faster than the average for all occupations and translates to the creation of about 505,000 new jobs over the next decade. According to BLS data, management professionals earn a median annual wage of $105,000, which is the highest among all major occupational groups.
Explore what a management job can do for you. Read our guide on business management careers for more information.
- Healthcare Manager
Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate the business activities of healthcare organizations. These professionals work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing and residential facilities, and government agencies. Job titles in this field include healthcare administrator, clinic director, and public health manager.
- Marketing Manager
Management positions in marketing focus on driving consumer interest in products and/or services. Primary tasks include developing marketing and sales campaigns, negotiating advertising contracts, initiating market research studies, and managing a marketing team. Professionals in this field typically hold titles such as advertising, marketing, or promotions manager.
- Manufacturing or Transportation Manager
Logistics professionals determine how to deliver products or services to consumers. As such, they coordinate sourcing, manufacturing, and transportation. Examples of common job titles include industrial production manager and transportation, storage, and distribution manager. Common tasks include implementing production standards, reviewing supply chains, and managing personnel.
- Finance Manager
Professionals in finance evaluate the financial health of individuals or organizations. They complete tasks such as preparing financial statements, generating forecasts, and analyzing market trends. They may also supervise teams of accountants. Finance positions include financial manager, financial analyst, credit manager, risk manager, and chief financial officer.
- Information Technology Manager
Management occupations in information technology (IT) focus on ensuring that an organization's technology functions properly. These managers analyze a firm's needs, recommend upgrades to improve processes, assess the costs of new projects, and oversee the installation and troubleshooting of technological systems. Graduates with a master's in management may qualify for positions such as IT director, chief information officer, and IT security manager.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Management Programs
- Is a master's in management worth it?
Workers can qualify for many management positions with a bachelor's degree and several years of professional experience. However, some employers may consider candidates with less experience if they possess a master's in management. Additionally, earning a master's can prepare students to shift their career to a new area or industry.
- What can I do with a master's in management?
The curriculum of a master's in management program typically covers a broad spectrum of management principles, preparing students for a variety of career paths. Graduates often advance into management roles within their current industry or workplace. Graduates may pursue careers as financial, administrative, human resources, and marketing managers. Wherever your passion lies, there is likely a management position that suits you.
- Is it better to have an MBA or MS in management?
MBA degrees have a long-standing reputation that many employers respect. However, many of these programs cater to students with a business-related bachelor's degree or professional experience. A master of science in management serves both recent graduates with minimal work history and students with a nonbusiness undergraduate degree who want to shift or advance their career. Neither of these degrees is objectively better, but individuals should consider their work history and specific goals before making a choice.
- How much money can I make with a master's in management?
The BLS reports management occupations earn the highest median annual wage of all major occupation groups: $105,000. However, your earning potential varies depending on the industry you choose. For example, the BLS lists the following as some of the top-paying industries for managers: securities and financial investments, monetary authorities, scientific research and development, and computer or peripheral equipment manufacturing.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a master's in management?
According to the BLS, many management occupations boast median salaries above $100,000 annually, but some fields offer even more lucrative opportunities. Some of the positions commanding the highest salaries include advertising or marketing managers, architectural or engineering managers, information systems managers, financial managers, and sales managers.