Most Affordable Online MBA Programs of 2022
Updated September 20, 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
Affordable Online MBA Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.
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.
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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.
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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|
|MBA in Entrepreneurship||
|MBA in Finance||
|Master's of Healthcare Management||
|MBA in International Business||
|MBA in Management Information Systems||
|MBA in Project Management||
|MBA in Sustainability||
|MBA in Marketing||
|MBA in Consulting||
|MBA in Human Resource Management||
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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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