Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

by Doug Wintemute

Updated October 6, 2022

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MBA degrees can provide graduates with a competitive advantage, and affordable online MBA programs can help make this training more accessible.

Earning master of business administration (MBA) degrees can help graduates build professional networks, pursue leadership positions, and earn higher salaries. However, they can be pricey.

Affordable online MBA programs reduce costs by expanding school options, minimizing travel expenses, and offering in-state tuition for out-of-state learners. Furthermore, the best online MBA programs offer flexible asynchronous study options, access to innovative technologies, and more diverse and globalized classrooms.

This guide examines online MBAs, explores available career pathways, and ranks the most affordable online MBA programs.

Featured Online MBA Programs

The Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

#1 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

  • Edinburg, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in business management degree at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, located in Edinburg, prioritizes flexibility. The master of business administration program emphasizes advanced practice skills, training graduates for leadership roles and an increased earning potential. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum explores business management research and methodologies. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants without a background in business management may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. The program encourages professional development activities, including networking events, so graduate students can expand their professional connections.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 80%

Total Online Master's Programs: 17

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,959

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,555

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,664
Out-of-state
$16,792
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
29,113
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Texas A&M International University

  • Laredo, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in business management program at Texas A&M International University, located in Laredo, offers a flexible online format. The master of business administration in management program emphasizes advanced practice skills, training graduates for leadership roles and an increased earning potential. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. The master's program recommends a background in business management before applying to the program.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

Texas A&M International University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 54%

Total Online Master's Programs: 8

Program Name: Master of Business Administration in Management

Graduate Tuition In State: $3,350

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,946

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,818
Out-of-state
$13,946
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
8,305
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Fayetteville State University

  • Fayetteville, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in business management degree at Fayetteville State University, located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, prioritizes flexibility. The master of business administration program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the business management field and related industries. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum explores business management research and methodologies. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in business management or a related field.

Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

Fayetteville State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 69%

Total Online Master's Programs: 4

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $3,438

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,503

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,982
Out-of-state
$14,590
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
6,551
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

California State University, Stanislaus

  • Turlock, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California State University, Stanislaus, located in Turlock, offers a flexible online master's in business management. The master of business administration program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the business management field and related industries. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to business management. Learners prepare for the job market by choosing a specialty through electives. Applicants without a business management background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. The program encourages professional development activities, including networking events, so graduate students can expand their professional connections.

California State University, Stanislaus at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 89%

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,176

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,680

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
10,974
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

  • Durant, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in business management program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, located in Durant, offers a flexible online format. Graduates prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous master of business administration in general business program. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in business management. Learners specialize their course of study to prepare for the job market. The master's program recommends that applicants bring a background in business management or a related field.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 74%

Total Online Master's Programs: 11

Program Name: Master of Business Administration in General Business

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,716

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,872

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,240
Out-of-state
$14,880
Retention Rate
62%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
5,049
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Cameron University

  • Lawton, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's degree in business at Cameron University, located in Lawton, Oklahoma, offers high academic quality. The master of business administration in business administration program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners specialize their course of study to prepare for the job market. Applicants without a business background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees work with the program to find internship opportunities in their local area. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

Cameron University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of Business Administration in Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $3,564

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,278

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,740
Out-of-state
$14,160
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,142
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Northeastern State University

  • Tahlequah, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Northeastern State University hosts a top-rated online master's in business management. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the master of business administration in business administration program. A master's degree can also train candidates for roles in new industries.

The master's curriculum incorporates theoretical and applied approaches. Learners individualize the program to prepare for focused careers. The master's program recommends a background in business management or a related field when applying.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

Northeastern State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 100%

Total Online Master's Programs: 13

Program Name: Master of Business Administration in Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,500

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $9,999

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,913
Out-of-state
$14,313
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
7,517
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

The University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Fairbanks, AK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in a master's in business management can earn their degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The master of business administration program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on business management. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with prior experience in business management or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internship programs in their local area to gain hands-on experience. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 76%

Total Online Master's Programs: 9

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,414

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $21,904

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,962
Out-of-state
$22,980
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
7,179
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#9 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Texas Woman's University

  • Denton, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Texas Woman's University, located in Denton, enrolls master's students in its online business management program. The master of business administration program emphasizes industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing graduates for decision-making responsibilities. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in business management. Learners specialize their course of study to prepare for the job market. Applicants without a degree in business management or a related field may need to meet prerequisite requirements to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

Texas Woman's University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 93%

Total Online Master's Programs: 10

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,973

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $12,569

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,430
Out-of-state
$15,559
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
93%
Students Enrolled
15,886
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

The University of Missouri–St. Louis

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students interested in a master's in business management can earn their degree from the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The master of business administration program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the field. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum blends theory and practice to provide an advanced understanding of business management. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in business or a related field.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Internships and other practicum activities also provide professional networking opportunities.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 73%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $12,007

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $29,477

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,079
Out-of-state
$29,295
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
15,988
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#11 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Louisiana State University Shreveport

  • Shreveport, LA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's degree in business management at Louisiana State University Shreveport offers high academic quality. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the master of business administration program. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum covers methodological and research perspectives. Learners focus their training by choosing electives based on their interests and career goals. The master's program builds on prior business management experience during a bachelor's program.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

Louisiana State University Shreveport at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 84%

Total Online Master's Programs: 6

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,196

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $6,196

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,656
Out-of-state
$5,656
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
8,579
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
86% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#12 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

New Mexico State University-Main Campus

  • Las Cruces, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University hosts a top-rated online master's in business management. The master of business administration program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the field. With a master's degree, candidates also pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in business management. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. Applicants without a background in business management may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees complete internships in their local community to gain real-world experience. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

New Mexico State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 55%

Total Online Master's Programs: 16

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,844

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,834

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,875
Out-of-state
$21,864
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
55%
Students Enrolled
14,296
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#13 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside

  • Kenosha, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Kenosha, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside hosts a top-ranked master's in business management program. The master of business administration in general management program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in business management. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with prior experience in business management or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees gain hands-on experience during professional internships in their local area. The program encourages professional development activities, including networking events, so graduate students can expand their professional connections.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 66%

Total Online Master's Programs: 3

Program Name: Master of Business Administration in General Management

Graduate Tuition In State: $8,028

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $17,622

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,298
Out-of-state
$14,568
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
4,388
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#14 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

University of Michigan-Dearborn

  • Dearborn, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's degree in business management at University of Michigan-Dearborn offers high academic quality. The master of business administration program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. A master's degree can also prepare candidates for opportunities in new fields.

The master's curriculum emphasizes current research in business management. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with a background in business management typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internships in their local community to gain real-world experience. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

University of Michigan-Dearborn at a Glance:

Type of School: 

Admission Rate: 62%

Total Online Master's Programs: 18

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $12,770

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $22,750

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,729
Out-of-state
$25,845
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
9,191
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#15 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus

  • Portales, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online business management degree can enroll in the master's program at Eastern New Mexico University, located in Portales. The master of business administration program emphasizes industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing graduates for decision-making responsibilities. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum blends theory and practice to provide an advanced understanding of business management. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. Applicants without a business management background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Internships and other practicum activities also provide professional networking opportunities.

Eastern New Mexico University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 58%

Total Online Master's Programs: 7

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,044

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $9,342

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,996
Out-of-state
$5,994
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
5,685
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#16 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

The University of Texas Permian Basin

  • Odessa, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's in business management degree at The University of Texas Permian Basin, located in Odessa, prioritizes flexibility. The master of business administration program draws on a rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for leadership responsibilities. After completing a master's degree, candidates pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. Applicants with prior experience in business management or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internship programs in their local area to gain hands-on experience. The program encourages professional development activities, including networking events, so graduate students can expand their professional connections.

The University of Texas Permian Basin at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 88%

Total Online Master's Programs: 3

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,594

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $5,220

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,867
Out-of-state
$5,767
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
5,283
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#17 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

The University of Texas at Dallas

  • Richardson, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Texas at Dallas, located in Richardson, enrolls master's students in its online business management program. The master of business administration program builds specialized skills for leadership roles in the business management field and related industries. A master's degree can also train candidates for roles in new industries.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants without a business management background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complete internships in their local community to gain real-world experience. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

The University of Texas at Dallas at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 79%

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,874

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $27,796

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,442
Out-of-state
$38,168
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
29,543
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#18 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Florida Atlantic University

  • Boca Raton, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in business management degree at Florida Atlantic University, located in Boca Raton, uses a flexible distance learning format. The master of business administration program strengthens specialized skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles with a higher earning potential. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in business management. Learners individualize the course of study by selecting electives and concentrations. Applicants with a background in business management typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to find internship opportunities in their local area. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

Florida Atlantic University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 63%

Total Online Master's Programs: 13

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,467

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,695

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,522
Out-of-state
$14,374
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
30,061
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#19 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Excelsior College

  • Albany, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online

Excelsior College, located in Albany, New York, offers a flexible online master's in business. The master of business administration program emphasizes advanced practice skills, training graduates for leadership roles and an increased earning potential. Earning a master's degree can help candidates advance in their current career or pursue a new career path entirely.

The master's curriculum covers theoretical and practical approaches to business. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. Applicants without a background in business may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

Excelsior College at a Glance:

Type of School: Private 

Total Online Master's Programs: 27

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
25,245
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#20 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

Midwestern State University

  • Wichita Falls, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Based in Wichita Falls, Texas, Midwestern State University hosts a top-rated online master's in business management. The master of business administration builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. With a master's degree, candidates advance their current career or move into new career paths.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners take specialized courses to stand out in a competitive job market. The master's program recommends a background in business management before applying to the program.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional network through internships and online events.

Midwestern State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public

Admission Rate: 79%

Total Online Master's Programs: 11

Program Name: Master of Business Administration

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,060

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $5,230

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,567
Out-of-state
$7,516
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
5,969
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Affordable Online MBA

Affordable Online MBA Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

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What Is an Online MBA?

An online MBA offers business professionals a supportive learning environment. Enrollees develop research, communication, and problem-solving skills while building experience in networking, presentations, and leadership. In addition to learning from teachers and textbooks, MBA students learn from each other's experiences.

An affordable online MBA appeals to both aspiring and experienced business professionals. These degrees can open the door to positions within large corporations and provide entrepreneurs with the skills and confidence they need to run successful businesses. In most cases, MBA students already have several years of experience, but need advanced training to take the next professional step.

How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?

MBA degrees typically take 1-3 years to earn, depending on the school, student, scheduling options, and delivery methods. Full-time students can often complete these programs in one year through accelerated pathways, while working professionals may prefer part-time options.

Affordable online MBA programs may offer asynchronous or synchronous delivery, which can also influence how much time a student needs to dedicate to their studies. Some programs even offer transfer credits for prior business training or relevant experience, reducing overall program length.

Choosing an Online MBA Program

Prospective students need to weigh multiple factors when researching affordable online MBA programs. Below are a few things to consider when selecting a program.

  • Availability of Specializations: Specializations allow learners to focus their training in niche areas of business management. Enrollees who develop specialized skills may have more employment opportunities and postgraduate certification options. Common concentrations include marketing, international management, finance, and consulting.
  • Program Cost: Attending a university in your state is usually the most affordable option, but online learners should also check if other schools offer in-state tuition rates for out-of-state online learners. Earning a degree online can also mean saving on transportation and moving costs, though some programs also include technology fees.
  • Transfer Policies: Generous transfer policies can help reduce tuition cost and program length. Though transferring credit between graduate programs is often more difficult than it is at the undergraduate level, some schools do accept these credits — typically three, six, or nine of them.
  • School Size and Type: The size of a school often determines class sizes as well. Generally, private schools enroll fewer students than public schools, meaning smaller classes. With MBAs, students should weigh the benefits of more personalized learning experiences in smaller classes against the networking opportunities afforded by larger programs.
  • Program Length: MBAs typically require 30 credits (or 60 quarter units), and enrollees typically take two years to graduate. However, accelerated programs can allow learners to progress through courses more quickly. While MBA students usually take one three-credit course per term, an accelerated program may allow learners to double up on their credits, graduating in a year.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid MBA programs require students to attend some classes, workshops, or seminars in person. For students who cannot make the trip, these on-campus requirements may present too great an obstacle. For these students, the best online MBAs are the ones that require no campus visits.

Accreditation for Online MBA Degrees

Prospective students should always ensure that their online MBA program holds the proper regional and programmatic accreditation. Attending a school without regional accreditation may lead to issues with access to federal funding, certification eligibility, and employment qualifications.

For business schools, programmatic accreditation may come from one of three major institutions: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

Online MBA Program Scholarships

While affordable online MBA programs provide learners with access to high-level business training, even at discounted rates, the cost of an MBA can still put the degree out of reach for many. In many cases, prospective students can pursue MBA scholarships to reduce the overall price of their education.

Degree-seekers can research scholarships through online scholarship databases, school and government websites, and local and national organizations. Scholarships may target students from specific locations, schools, or demographics.

What Can I Expect in Pursuing an MBA Online?

Affordable online MBA programs have different curricula and structures, which can alter the learning experience. Many programs offer courses entirely online, with some using asynchronous delivery while others run synchronous classes. Even in primarily asynchronous programs, students should expect some live collaboration elements, such as video meetings, live group projects, and enforced deadlines.

Choosing the right MBA program means finding the most suitable MBA specialization for your educational and professional goals. Concentrations allow learners to hone skills in a specific discipline, qualifying them for niche roles. The following information showcases some of the most popular MBA concentration options and some common courses within each focus.

MBA Specialization Typical Courses
Executive MBA
  • Marketing management
  • Management accounting
MBA in Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurial finance
  • Entrepreneurial sales
MBA in Finance
  • Corporate finance
  • Advanced financial statement analysis
Master's of Healthcare Management
  • Healthcare data and analytics
  • Comparative healthcare systems
MBA in International Business
  • International economics
  • International business law
MBA in Management Information Systems
  • Cybersecurity
  • Enterprise systems
MBA in Project Management
  • Strategic project management
  • Risk assessment
MBA in Sustainability
  • Business strategies for sustainability
  • Ethics and social responsibility
MBA in Marketing
  • International marketing
  • Operations management
MBA in Consulting
  • Managerial quantitative analysis
  • Business communication
MBA in Human Resource Management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Organizational change

MBA Joint and Dual Degrees

In addition to pursuing specializations, MBA students can advance their skills in particular areas through joint programs and dual degrees. Many schools offer accelerated pathways for learners who wish to complete multiple degrees in complementary fields.

Compared to an MBA specialization, which helps students specialize their skills within business and management studies, dual and joint degrees offer more advanced and technical training in secondary disciplines. These degrees can work well for students looking to pursue careers in areas like law, healthcare, and technology.

Dual MBA Degree

A dual MBA degree allows students to earn two degrees through an accelerated pathway, often back to back. Learners usually complete both degrees at the same university, but work through different departments. The second degree often omits general education requirements, and some programs have specific curricula for dual-degree-seekers.

Examples

  • MBA and JD
  • MBA and MD
  • MBA and Master of Public Policy

Joint MBA Degree

Joint MBA degrees offer condensed pathways to studying two disciplines, resulting in one degree with two majors. Joint degrees can occasionally occur through two different universities at the same time, especially when those universities are focused on specific disciplines.

Examples

  • MBA and MA in International Studies
  • MBA and MS in Biotechnology
  • MBA and MS in Engineering Science

Career Paths With an MBA

MBA graduates can access some of the most promising careers in the business, finance, and management sectors. While MBA degree-holder salaries vary depending on location, employer, and career, the median annual salary for management professionals was $109,760 in 2020, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

When deciding an educational pathway, prospective MBA students should consider the best jobs for MBA graduates. Below are a few industries that value the skills and training developed by MBA graduates.

  • Finance
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business
  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Consulting
  • Marketing
  • Media/entertainment

MBA Professional Organizations

AMA offers solutions and services for management professionals. Members can access educational programs, management development training, and a professional network for sharing and social learning opportunities.

BBPA supports Black business professionals by providing them with access to career resources, higher education, and economic development opportunities. The association also rewards member excellence, promotes community equity, and offers several mentorship programs.

ABWA unites women working in business to help increase networking opportunities and promote their successes. The association offers members access to leadership training, educational opportunities, and career connections.

Founded in 1988, Prospanica seeks to empower Hispanic business professionals through professional development, education, and mentorship opportunities. The organization also offers educational funding, advocacy, and networking events and programs.

ROMBA supports and promotes the LGBTQIA+ business community. Members can access conferences, events, fellowship programs, and community networking opportunities.

Meet an MBA Graduate

Has getting an MBA been worth it?

Yes. Having the marketing undergrad perspective coupled with the communication graduate student perspective has yielded a fulfilling career in both areas of practice. I spent over a dozen years in nonprofit management, and marketing and communications are usually, if not always, lumped together.

What's most important when selecting an MBA program? Program prestige, location, cost, or something else?

Importance is relative. It was important to me that the school be geographically convenient to where I may have gotten a job, manageable in terms of the loans I would take out, and where the coursework was interesting.

On the whole, it has to "feel" like a good fit to the degree-pursuer. If you are comfortable taking two years off to pursue a MBA full time, awesome. If you want to continue working in a full- or part-time capacity, then the school should be geographically convenient to your workplace. If you are concerned with cost, then a public institution may be better suited than a private one.

What do you think has been the biggest advantage to your career from completing your MBA?

There is a lot of competition in the job marketplace. I think that my MBA has been a source of differentiation and has made my resume stand out among others. I also think that the way I talk about the benefits of an MBA has been an advantage in this area — not the coursework, but the general "management" outcomes.

Portrait of Laurie Ehrlich

Laurie Ehrlich

Laurie Ehrlich (preferred pronouns: she/her), founder and chief strategist of Elevate Marketing Strategy, is a 19-year marketing and communications veteran, touching the nonprofit, education, technology, financial, and publishing industries. Her expertise lies in multi-channel marketing strategy and planning, corporate communications, and digital media.

Ehrlich built the marketing department of a $60 million non profit from the ground up, constructed the social media presence of many organizations, led the design and development strategy process for more than a half-dozen websites, and established and grew content channels including blogs, podcasts, and whitepapers. She also led crisis communications and manages ongoing communications strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ehrlich received her MBA from Fordham University - Lincoln Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does the Average Online MBA Cost?

Online MBA tuition often exceeds $60,000 per year. The average total cost to attend a top-25 school for two years is $195,416.

Is It Worth Getting an Online MBA?

MBA degree-holders can access better positions and earn higher salaries than bachelor's graduates. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, MBA graduates earn an average of $29,000 more than bachelor's graduates.

Do Employers Care if Your MBA Is Online?

Many employers do not see a difference between an affordable online MBA and an on-campus program, especially after the shift toward online education in 2020. In fact, transcripts and degrees typically don't note delivery method, so employers often don't know the difference.

Portrait of Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.

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