'Management' is a catch-all term for administrative leadership roles in private companies and corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Regardless of their specific workplace, management professionals occupy three different organizational tiers. 'Senior managers' include presidents and vice presidents, chief executive officers (CEOs) and other top-level executives that develop strategic goals for their organization and evaluate overall employee performance to ensure these objectives are met. Middle managers typically oversee one of their organization's branch or regional offices. And lower managers — such as supervisors or team leaders — are responsible for select groups of their organization's personnel.

What are the best management programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
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

Students who graduate with a master's degree in management will leave school prepared for a wide range of top-level managerial jobs.

Management is a highly popular field of study for graduate students in the United States. Many students pursue Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees with a management specialization. According to a 2016 survey by Poets & Quants, 8.6% of male MBA students and 7.2% of female MBA students chose 'general management' for their specialization in 2015-16. Most MBA programs are designed for students with at least two or three years of experience working in the corporate sector; comparatively, many colleges and universities offer Master of Science (M.S.) in Management programs geared toward students that have little to no professional experience. A growing number of MBA and M.S. in Management programs allow students to focus their studies on niche areas of this field, such as human resources, marketing or operations management. Many of today's grad students are choosing to earn their master's degree in management online. Most web-based management degree programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of employment opportunities for successful graduates. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and convenient study-from-home format of online learning is also conducive for students with part-time jobs, childcare responsibilities and other commitments that may interfere with on-campus learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online master's in management and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

Choosing a Program

Will an Online Master's in Management Program Provide Me With the Skills I Need to Advance My Career?

Master's in management online programs prepare students to take on supervisory roles in a wide range of workplace settings. The curriculum often incorporates topics such as organizational development and psychology, behavioral science, decision theory, human resources and project management. Many online management master's programs culminate in a capstone project, allowing students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained as part of a comprehensive, research-based presentation. Internships are widely available; these onsite opportunities enable students to receive supervised training from experienced management professionals.

Will an Master's in Management Program Work With My Schedule?

Online master's in management degree programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college education. Students can download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their personal computer. Current technology also enables them to study away from home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online management master's students can usually coordinate internship opportunities at sites that are reasonably close to their current residence.

What Jobs Can I Get With My Master's in Management?

Students who leave school with a master's in management will be qualified for a wide range of top-level roles. The majority of these graduates will go on to pursue careers in the corporate sector. Others lead non-business organizations like nonprofits, government agencies, healthcare facilities and educational institutions. Some of the most common occupational roles for management master's recipients include top executives, financial managers, marketing directors, project managers and supply chain managers.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Management 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 master's in management programs in the United States. If you are considering an online master's in management, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

Accredited Online Master's in Management Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Harvard University

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

Pepperdine University

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.

6

Webster University

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.

7

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.

8

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.

9

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.

10

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 Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Management Program?

How Long Is an Online MBA Program? 18 months to 2 years
Program Costs $25,000 to $50,000
Concentrations Business Administration, International Business, Finance, Economics, Marketing and Advertising, Human Resources, Project Management, Healthcare Management, Nonprofit Management, Organizational Development
Accreditation Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Employment Outlook for Master's in Management

Job Placement: Master's in Management

Due to the high demand for qualified professionals in corporate leadership roles, the employment outlook for management degree-holders is quite favorable. The following table lists unemployment rates for some of the most common management-related occupations. All of these roles were included in the 'Best Business Jobs' list published by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

Occupation Unemployment Rate
Logistician 1.6%
Financial Manager 2.6%
Management Analyst 3.0%
Human Resources Specialist 3.1%
Business Operations Manager 3.7%
Operations Research Analyst 3.8%
Executive Assistant 3.9%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Of the six professions listed on the table, the average unemployment rate is 3.4%. By comparison, the national unemployment rate for all industries is currently set at 4.6%.

Earning a Living

In addition to strong job security, students who graduate with an online master's in management also enjoy higher earning potential during the early career stages than their bachelor's degree-holding counterparts. The table below looks at entry-level salary expectations for bachelor's and master's graduates with management degrees, as well as the wage premium for those with a master's.

Degree/Professional Field Median Entry-Level Salary for Bachelor's Graduates Median Entry-Level Salary for Master's Graduates Wage Premium for Master's Graduates
Information Technology Management $53,700 $71,100 30.4%
Project Management $49,500 $64,600 30.5%
Operations Management $54,800 $64,400 17.5%
Supply Chain Management $54,500 $63,800 17.1%
Management $45,000 $54,300 20.7%
Marketing and Management $44,700 $52,500 17.4%
Human Resources Management $42,300 $50,100 18.4%

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table indicates, master's graduates with degrees in all seven fields outearned bachelor's degree-holders by at least 17% during their first five years in the workforce. However, career salary growth expectations will depend more on specific job titles that master's degree fields of study. The next table examines 20-year salary projections for five of the most common management-related professions.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Median Annual Salary for Experienced Median Annual Salary for Late-Career
Operations Manager $51,532 $60,791 $67,672 $74,470
Human Resources Manager $54,410 $64,114 $68,783 $70,954
Supply Chain Manager $64,281 $80,850 $88,361 $88,955
Marketing Manager $52,282 $64,098 $73,157 $76,225
Financial Manager $70,554 $89,306 $93,018 $85,373

Source: PayScale

All five occupations listed on the table reported a career salary growth rate of at least 21%. Marketing managers saw the highest growth: a 45.8% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Operations managers placed second with 44.5% salary growth after 20 years in the workforce, followed by supply chain managers with 38.4%.

Career Opportunities

Students who graduate with an master's in management will be qualified for dozens of top-level positions, although individual eligibility will depend on additional factors like company size and city/state of employment. Four of the most common career pathways in professional marketing are detailed below.

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers

These managers are responsible for leading campaigns that promote different goods and services. These campaigns involve various types of activities, including product giveaways, consumer surveys and other promotional materials, as well as billboards, web banners and other advertisements in print, digital and online media. In order to develop effective campaigns, they often collaborate with designers, artists, sales representatives, financial analysts and other personnel in other departments.
Median Annual Salary: $124,850
Projected Industry Growth: 9%

Human Resources Managers

These employees (also known as HR managers) are tasked with managing the administrative activities at companies and organizations. Their day-to-day duties include recruitment, interviewing, screening and hiring of new employees, as well as assisting employees with workplace issues and mediating organizational conflicts.
Median Annual Salary: $104,440
Projected Industry Growth: 5%

Sales Managers

These managers create goals for sales teams and evaluate employee progress to ensure these objectives are met. They may also develop training programs and professional development modules for their personnel, and manage tasks related to organizational finance and budgeting.
Median Annual Salary: $113,860
Projected Industry Growth: 5%

Top Executives

Executives develop strategies and productivity goals for their personnel, and then coordinate programs and initiatives to ensure these objectives are carried out. They are also responsible for recruiting and hiring middle and lower managers within their organizations.

Median Annual Salary: $102,690
Projected Industry Growth: 6%

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to management 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 management 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.

  • National Management Association: Headquartered in Ohio, this nonprofit organization currently maintains six regional U.S. chapters. The NMA is home to the certified manager (CM) credential, and members can also take part in professional development courses and contests.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: Considered the world's largest HR-oriented professional organization, the SHRM boasts 285,000 members in 165 different countries. The website features a vast online resource library, as well as links to continuing education opportunities and an events calendar.
  • Project Management Institute: With roughly 450,000 members in nearly 300 global chapters, PMI is considered the world's largest organization dedicated to project management. Eight professional certifications are available. Members also enjoy continuing education opportunities, invitations to networking events and discounts on various learning resources and services.

Financing Your Online Master's in Management Program

Despite the relative affordability of online 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.