Best Online MBA Programs with High Admission Rate

by Doug Wintemute
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Attending top MBA programs with high admission rates can help boost an applicant's career, opening up more educational and professional opportunities.

Earning a degree from one of the top MBA programs can transform a professional's career. The advanced training can qualify graduates for management positions — which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects will grow by a rate of 5% from 2019-2029 — and work for some of the biggest and best organizations in the country.

However, the application process can be daunting, time-consuming, and expensive. Before applying to just any school, prospective students should do some research to find the top MBA programs with high admission rates. A well-researched application strategy can help improve admission chances.

Ranking Methodology

We identified the top MBA programs based on the quality of the program, the range and types of courses offered, student-faculty ratio, quality of faculty, graduation rate, accreditation status, awards, and reputation and ranked those who admit more than 75% of applicants.

Top 10 Online MBA Programs with High Admission Rates in 2021

Florida State University true Tallahassee, FL

FSU's business school opened in 1950 and currently features one of the top MBA programs in the country. Its 39-credit MBA offers multiple formats, including full-time accelerated and part-time evening or online options, along with specializations like real estate, finance, and marketing.

For admission, each prospective student needs a bachelor's degree, GMAT scores, and work experience. Applicants with minimum 3.2 GPAs may receive GMAT waivers. The full-time programs begin every fall, while part-time programs begin in the spring, summer, and fall terms.

Florida State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

true Rice University Houston, TX

Founded in 1974, Rice Business offers several programs for graduate students, including some of the top MBA programs in the state. With full-time, professional, executive, and online options, Rice's 54-credit MBA emphasizes data-driven and STEM techniques and strategies. The program also features specializations, such as energy, strategy, and healthcare.

All degree tracks feature practical training components, including campus residencies for online learners. Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree, GMAT or GRE scores, and a minimum of two years of work experience for admission.

Rice University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

true University of Wisconsin La Crosse La Crosse, WI

UW-La Crosse partners with two other UW schools to deliver a top MBA program. The 36-credit MBA runs entirely online with no campus visits and teaches students to oversee diverse organizations and identify opportunities with analytical and critical thinking.

Classes of approximately 25 students start in the fall, spring, or summer, with most degree-seekers graduating in less than three years. For admission, a prospective student needs a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA, along with a GMAT score of 475.

University of Wisconsin La Crosse is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

true Clemson University Clemson, SC

Founded in 1889, Clemson offers some of the top MBA programs in the nation, including full-time, part-time, and online options. The online MBA features 36-49 credits and delivers ethics, leadership, and organizational behavior training. Enrollees collaborate with real-world organizations on business projects.

Classes start in the spring, summer, and fall, and degree-seekers can study synchronously or asynchronously. Each applicant needs a bachelor's degree, GMAT scores, and a minimum of two years of work experience for admission.

Clemson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

true American University Washington, DC

AU's Kogod School of Business offers four online graduate programs in business, including one of the top MBA programs for online learners. The 48-credit program provides interdisciplinary training in business and politics with a global perspective. Learners can pursue several focus areas, including business analytics, consulting, and cybersecurity.

The online classes run synchronously, and students can complete the training in 12-24 months. Additionally, learners attend residencies in Washington, D.C., and an international location. For admission, each prospective student needs a bachelor's degree.

American University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, LA

UL Lafayette, the second-largest school in the state, offers one of Louisiana's top MBA programs. The 33-credit online program provides training in analytics and organizational dynamics, along with eight specializations, including global management, project management, and hospitality management.

UL Lafayette's online courses run asynchronously, and enrollees can take advantage of more than five annual start dates. For admission and a GMAT waiver, a prospective student needs a minimum 3.0 GPA or a 2.75 GPA and three years of professional experience.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Southeastern University Lakeland, FL

Since its founding in 1935, SEU has grown its offerings to more than 100 programs, including one of the top MBA programs around. The online MBA features between 36-39 credits, focuses on ethical business management practices, and offers specialization options in executive leadership, healthcare administration, and sport management.

SEU's online classes run asynchronously in eight-week sessions, and enrollees can choose from multiple start dates. For admission, each prospective student needs a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a GMAT score of 450.

Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

California State University, San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA

Established in 1965, CSUSB offers its 20,000 students access to more than 70 programs, including an MBA program that offers traditional, executive, and online options. The training also includes MBA bootcamp and culminating experience modules.

The programs typically start in the spring and fall terms, with classes running in 5-6 week sessions. Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA for admission.

California State University, San Bernardino is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

University of West Georgia Carrollton, GA

Established in 1906, UWG has grown to offer more than 85 programs to over 13,000 students. As one of the top MBA programs in the state, UWG's 30-credit on-campus and online MBA delivers a strategic, ethical, and global management focus.

UWG's program begins in the fall or spring with a two-day, on-campus orientation, and learners can complete their degrees in approximately 18 months. For admission, each applicant needs a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GMAT scores.

University of West Georgia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA

KSU enrolls over 41,000 students and offers more than 150 programs, including some of the top MBA programs in the state. In addition to its full-time and evening programs, the school runs a 30-credit online MBA that students can complete in 20 months.

The training begins in the fall and spring semesters, and classes typically run synchronously with no on-campus requirements. For admission, each prospective student needs a bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience.

Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Featured Online MBA Programs

What Is an Online MBA?

An MBA degree provides leadership skills while helping students build their professional networks and develop business knowledge. These programs typically run for two years and attract experienced business professionals looking to advance their careers.

The top MBA programs offer practical training that improves their students' abilities to plan, analyze, and problem-solve in business settings.

Choosing an Online MBA Program

When selecting from the top MBA programs, prospective students have a few elements to consider. Factors like program cost, admission requirements, and program length can all affect a learner's experience and return on investment. Candidates should always research a program's MBA specializations, practicums, and networking opportunities before enrolling.

What factor is the most important depends on a student's goals. If a prospective student wants a name-brand school, they should consider each program's institutional prestige, faculty reputation, and available facilities. Location is another important factor, and online learning has made distant programs much more accessible. Some of the best online MBA programs even offer in-state tuition to out-of-state learners.

Accreditation for Online MBA Degrees

Regional and programmatic accreditation are mandatory when choosing an MBA program. Accreditation status can affect a student's eligibility for financial aid and employment after graduation. Students should only earn business degrees from regionally accredited schools.

For programmatic MBA accreditation, prospective students should look for recognition from 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). These organizations ensure that MBA programs meet professional educational standards.

What Can I Expect in Pursuing an MBA Online?

Every school offers a unique curriculum, but many top MBA programs have similar courses. Some common topics include data analytics, organizational leadership, managerial finance, and strategic management. Enrollees can also gain more specialized training through a concentration, such as the concentrations listed below.

Common Concentrations in an MBA Program

  • Accounting: In an MBA in accounting, students gain accounting training from a business management perspective. They learn to use advanced accounting methods and techniques to improve business operations through coursework in compensation planning, business law, and stakeholder reporting.
  • Entrepreneurship: In an MBA in entrepreneurship, enrollees learn to identify opportunity and risk, build and defend business models, and handle entrepreneurial finances and marketing.
  • Finance: MBA in finance programs cover subjects related to business, corporate, and entrepreneurial finance. The training typically includes venture capital, financial consulting, derivative securities, and investing coursework.
  • International Business: An MBA in international business teaches students to manage and analyze organizations in a global landscape. Learners study concepts in cross-cultural communications, foreign market development, and international buyer behavior.
  • Management Information Systems: An MBA in management information systems teaches students to use information systems to provide business solutions. Learners explore network administration, data mining analytics, and database systems design.
  • Project Management: Students earning an MBA in project management learn to manage projects and teams throughout project lifecycles. They acquire soft skills in leadership and improving organizational behavior, along with technical skills in budgeting, reporting, and strategizing.
  • Sustainability: In an MBA in sustainability, students learn to connect businesses with environmental initiatives. They explore resource efficiency, clean energy policies, social innovation, and sustainable marketing.

Business Careers

Professionals with MBAs can pursue some of the best business jobs, including management occupations, across many industries. Their advanced business expertise and leadership skills allow them to gain employment in finance, marketing, analysis, and administration roles. Specializing in a subdiscipline can improve a candidate's qualifications and set them apart from the competition.

The following information highlights some career possibilities MBA students can pursue after graduation. While MBA graduates typically qualify for the jobs listed below, some careers may require further training or postgraduate certifications.

Financial Managers

$134,180
Median Annual Salary (2020)

15%
Projected Growth (2019-2029)

Source: BLS

Top Executives

$107,680
Median Annual Salary (2020)

4%
Projected Growth (2019-2029)

Source: BLS

Administrative Services and Facilities Managers

$98,890
Median Annual Salary (2020)

6%
Projected Growth (2019-2029)

Source: BLS

Management
Analysts

$87,660
Median Annual Salary (2020)

11%
Projected Growth (2019-2029)

Source: BLS

Interview with an Expert

Tarla Atwell graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, with a BA in political science in 2004. She furthered her education with an MBA degree from Shorter College in Rome, Georgia, in 2009. For 15 years, Atwell was the vice president of Draga Laboratories, where she oversaw all financial and legal matters. Atwell again furthered her education with a JD, graduating cum laude from John Marshall Law School in May 2019. She was a law clerk with the Piedmont Judicial Circuit before entering private practice in Jefferson, Georgia, in 2021. She currently practices criminal defense, family law, business, trademark, and copyright law.

Where did you get your MBA?

Shorter College, Rome, Georgia — now known as Shorter University.

At what point in your career did you get your MBA, and why then?

After I graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, I applied to law schools that offered programs where a law school student could obtain a JD/MBA degree. When I applied to 20 schools and was denied acceptance to all of them, I was forced to take a year off between undergraduate school and graduate school (they now call this "gap year").

During my "gap year", I re-focused and realized that I should work on my MBA first, so that's what I did. I studied and took prep courses for the GRE and GMAT and began to apply to schools that offered MBA programs.

What do you do for your career now?

I was the VP for Draga Laboratories LLC, a family-owned hair care and cosmetic manufacturer in Atlanta, Georgia, for 15 years. I am currently an attorney in private practice in Jefferson, Georgia.

What advice do you have for someone considering pursuing an MBA?

My advice is to prepare yourself for the journey. MBA programs are challenging, so I would definitely advise anyone who is considering an MBA program to go ahead and talk to your employer and ask them if you could start shadowing different departments and try to put into practice some of the skills that you are learning in the MBA program. Getting practical experience while working on my MBA was an invaluable experience.

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

The first thing I believe is important when selecting an MBA program is finding a program that fits YOU.

I believe it is important for you to consider who your classmates will be. For example, will your classmates be working adults with various experience levels or students who just graduated from college? In my experience, I found most MBA programs that I was applying to were group/cohort-type programs, so definitely finding out the "experience" level of your classmates was of great importance to me. Additionally, finding out if your program meets on weekdays, week nights, or weekends.

The second thing I believe is important is to find a program that is convenient to where you work or where you live. Commuting to school for class or to meet your group to work on assignments is a small thing but has a big impact on your time. In my opinion, attending a prestigious program does not matter, but rather what does matter is your commitment to pursuing a graduate degree. An MBA is an MBA at the end of the day.

Finally, while graduate school is costly, the cost of the program should not keep you from pursuing your MBA. Consider the cost as an investment in YOU.

How many programs did you apply to (and how many times did you apply to the same program)?

I honestly cannot recall how many programs/schools to which I applied. What I can tell you is that I attended three different MBA programs before finding a program that fit ME.

I started at Keller Graduate School's Decatur campus and after two semesters, I realized that this program wasn't a fit for me.

I studied and took the GRE and GMAT again hoping to get a better score, which I didn't, but that didn't stop me from applying to the Professional MBA program at Mercer University's Henry County Campus. After two semesters there and the long commute time I endured, I realized that this program wasn't the right fit for me either.

Finally, I applied to Shorter College's Atlanta Campus, where classes met one night a week. [It had a] small class size where a majority if not all of the students were experienced, working adults with families. It was a cohort type program and it was 15 minutes away from where I lived. I had finally found the perfect MBA program for ME.

Any advice for prospective MBA students with less-than-stellar GMAT or GRE scores?

I had low GMAT and GRE scores. I also had a low LSAT score, yet that didn't stop me from pursuing my MBA and eventually my law degree.

My advice is to not let a test score define who you are or who you can become. In addition, do not let an admissions counselor or director of admission nor anyone tell you that you won't do well in school because of your test score. Do not let that negativity manifest in your spirit, but rather allow those comments to go in one ear and immediately out the other ear.

My advice is to stay calm, keep your head up, keep the faith, and believe in yourself, for you can and you will achieve your goal. I know all too well how a "less than stellar GMAT, GRE, and LSAT" score tried to keep me from pursuing my goals. I never gave up, and neither should you.

How has the quality of your MBA program impacted your career trajectory, do you think?

The quality of my MBA program has directly impacted my career trajectory. After graduating with my MBA, it gave me a renewed purpose. My MBA gave me the ability to help make improvements at Draga Laboratories in all areas of the manufacturing business. My MBA helped me with managing my time while working full time and attending law school in the evening. My MBA continues to help me today in running a private practice. My MBA continues to be the most valuable degree that I could have invested in for myself.

Popular Questions About MBA Programs

true What Are the Top MBA Schools Known For?

Return on investment is the major metric MBA schools are known for. Attending a top MBA school can provide strong returns for students, as many employers seek graduates from prestigious institutions. These schools usually have exceptional faculties, facilities, and networks, leading to strong employment rates after graduation.

true What Is a Top-Tier MBA Program?

A top-tier MBA program provides access to great resources and programming during their studies. These programs often attract high-quality students and faculties, which improves peer-to-peer learning, networking experiences, and employment opportunities.

true What Is the Acceptance Rate for MBA Programs?

The average acceptance rate among the top MBA programs was 58.9% in 2020, according to U.S. News & World Report. The 10 most difficult programs to get into had an average admission rate of 19.1%.

true What GPA Do You Need for Top MBA Schools?

At least a 3.5 for top-tier MBA programs, although admission requirements vary, and some programs don't have them at all. Prospective students also typically need a bachelor's degree, a minimum of two years of work experience, and GMAT scores for admission.

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.

Header Image Credit: Maskot | Getty Images

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