The cost of education varies considerably depending on institution of higher education, location, type of program, length of time in school, and living and other expenses. Even though the method of distribution is different, online MBA programs’ costs also rely on many of these same factors, in terms of tuition/fees and books/supplies.
Online MBA programs usually do not have the same fees as on-campus ones have, and many traditional fees are waived. Some fees, however, are required. The technology fee is often the most prominent as no online program can function without hardware and software. Whether it’s charged per course or per semester, this fee covers the cost of providing technical support services, distance education software and course management systems. There may also be an instructional support fee that covers technology, unusual staffing, supply or facility costs associated with an online course. Additional fees may be associated with student services such as an online library, interactive tutoring, virtual academic advising or online career services.
Although all course work is completed on a computer, you still may be required to purchase textbooks and other types of educational materials. Some online MBA programs include the price of books in course tuition, so it’s important to read the fine print when comparing school costs. Students may have to purchase textbooks or e-books associated with each course, but most programs do include class material and software. Class material may be available to download or view in the course management system such as PowerPoints, PDFs or articles. Special software specific to a course will likely be available for download at no additional cost.
It is also important to take into consideration that as an online student it is your responsibility to furnish your virtual work space. The online student’s list of must-have supplies include a computer, printer, scanner, external hard drive, software, and most important, Internet service. Each school will have minimum requirements concerning computer specifications and you may be looking at additional costs to upgrade your computer hardware or Internet service. Having an adequate computer and Internet access speed is vital in online education so that students can stream video and audio, participate in live chats, work on assignments and complete online course work in a timely manner.
Online Versus Campus Costs
Online MBA students are not required to attend lectures on campus, so they will save a substantial amount of money when it comes to travel expenses such as gas, parking and car wear and tear. They also won’t have to worry about costs associated with campus life such as student housing and meal plans and activity fees for student health or recreation centers.
The cost of online MBA programs compared with on-campus ones varies by school. Some cost less than a traditional format and some more.
Residency and Tuition
One of the good things about distance programs is that the cost of tuition is generally the same whether you live in state or out. If you want to earn an MBA from a particular out-of-state school, the online route will likely be much less expensive in the long run than relocating to participate in an on-campus program as a nonresident. For example, if you want to earn an MBA from Colorado State University, you may want to consider its online MBA program, which is known for its quality and affordability. The online program is identical to the on-campus one in terms of faculty and curriculum, but tuition is less. Although tuition and fees for CSU’s part-time, on-campus program are $29,000 for residents and $53,000 for nonresidents, it costs $26,000 for the online MBA program no matter where a student is located. Additionally, Northern University charges residents $78,268 for its full-time, on-campus MBA program but only $62,500 for its online MBA program. The MBA program at Portland State University is also less expensive for online students ($38,088) than the full-time on-campus one is for residents ($42,144).
Be aware though that distance doesn’t always mean more affordable, as some schools charge more for their online MBA programs than for their on-campus ones. Pace University, as a private school, charges residents and nonresidents $56,560 in tuition and fees for its on-campus MBA program; those enrolled in its online MBA program pay $78,000. As a public institution, the University of Michigan at Dearborn charges everyone in its online MBA program $58,936, less than the $65,769 that nonresidents pay for its on-campus program but more than the $39,708 that residents pay.
Some schools like Syracuse University charge the same amount for both on-campus and online programs ($63,243). Regent University also charges equal tuition and fees for its on-campus and online programs ($35,540). Schools that are known for their offerings in online education are often an overall more affordable choice. Tuition and fees for an online MBA program from Walden University are $26,820; Webster University, $23,580; and Drexel University, $58,000. For comparison, here are the costs of online MBA programs at some of U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 business schools (in descending rank): Arizona State University, $47,388; University of Texas Dallas, $17,000; University of Florida, $38,500; Northeastern University, $78,268; Auburn University, $24,048; and Florida State University, $17,515.
Many online students do not pay the “sticker price” when it comes to their education. There are plenty of financial aid options available for distance learners, as you will discover in the next section.