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MBA programs teach foundational business concepts through courses in key subjects like accounting, finance, and leadership. Students pursuing online MBA programs often continue working full time while completing their studies, enjoying the benefits of a prestigious education without the hassle of moving to a new location.
MBA graduates can use their credentials to pursue advancement opportunities in a healthy job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 7% growth for business and financial jobs between 2021 and 2031, which is about the average growth rate for all occupations.
Our ranked list of the top online MBA programs in the United States highlights five leading business schools. To learn more about our ranking methodology, follow the link below.
Choosing Between Top Online Business Schools
Choosing the right program depends on each student’s individual goals. Degree-seekers should consider some of the following factors before committing to a program.
- Accreditation: In the U.S., schools earn accreditation by submitting to a thorough qualitative review of their programs, faculty, and resources. All U.S. accrediting agencies should hold membership with the Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.
These bodies recognize two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation applies to entire schools, while programmatic accreditors assess individual programs or departments. Business students can seek out programmatic accreditation from organizations like AACSB International and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
- Affordability: Higher education carries a cost, but the best affordable online MBA programs make their offerings worth the price. Many students can also access scholarships, grants, federal aid programs, and support from their employers to help cover costs.
- Alumni Network: Networking with other professionals is an important component of the MBA. Schools that boast strong alumni networks, with graduates working in diverse industries, can help students land future jobs.
- Concentration Options: The best MBA programs in the U.S. serve more than one kind of student. These schools offer specializations in diverse subfields, including healthcare administration, accounting, and supply chain management. Choosing a program with a concentration provides valuable specialized training.
- Robust Curriculum: Top online MBA programs promote professional and personal growth by mixing practical courses in accounting and managerial finance with classes in leadership and ethics. These schools also equip students for the data-driven business world through courses in analytics, quantitative methods, and decision-making.
- Successful Graduates: Prospective students can identify the most successful online MBA programs using two metrics: graduation rate and job placement rate. High graduation rates show that schools provide their students with the resources to complete their degrees. Job placement demonstrates the rate at which recent graduates land full-time jobs.
- Student-to-Teacher Ratio: Choosing a school with a lower student-to-teacher ratio may increase students' opportunities to connect with faculty members. Personal attention from professors can help students find internship and job opportunities.
- University Resources: Online students may wish to investigate what resources schools offer to distance learners. Important resources can include tutoring, career centers, library access, and disability services.
Why You Should Get Your MBA Online
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning has grown more popular each year. Accredited online MBA programs are an excellent option for many students, especially self-motivated learners with good time management skills.
Many online MBA degrees make use of asynchronous coursework. In this learning format, students engage with lectures and discussion boards on their own schedules. Some classes may run synchronously, with live webcam sessions that more closely resemble an in-person experience. Online programs may also require occasional campus visits for residencies or immersion events.
Part of online programs' appeal is their cost-saving opportunities. Schools may offer reduced or in-state tuition for all online learners, regardless of residency. Online programs also do not require students to relocate. Many do not include any in-person components, which eliminates commuting costs.
There are many reasons why an online program may be the ideal solution. Each student should evaluate their own situation to decide if remote learning is the right fit.
What to Expect From Online MBA Programs
A typical online MBA program entails around 35-60 credits. Students can complete many programs within two years. However, requirements and timelines differ depending on each student's academic and professional background. Learners can also take advantage of part-time and accelerated pathways.
Online MBA tuition rates vary widely. Students can find accredited online MBA programs that cost from under $13,000 to over $145,000. Some schools offer reduced rates for distance learners. Others charge the same tuition for online and in-person programs.
While the particulars differ by school, MBA core courses often include strategic management, financial accounting, managerial economics, and marketing. With many concentration options available, prospective students can seek out the schools that best align with their goals. Common specialization tracks include entrepreneurship, analytics, finance, project management, and technology.
Pursuing higher education is a sizable financial investment. Degree-seekers may wish to look for funding opportunities and compare program costs against potential return on investment.
Capstone or Thesis
A capstone project can be a meaningful resume-building experience for MBA students. Online students should consider whether they need a capstone, and how the online MBA structures this requirement.
Some students thrive in face-to-face environments. Others enjoy the relative flexibility of online programs. When considering an online degree, students should factor personal preferences into their decision-making process.
Students hoping to gain professional experience should consider a degree with internship opportunities. Distance learners should find out how online programs structure their internships.
Networking is an important aspect of the MBA. Prospective students may want to ask how an online program handles alumni connections and networking events.
Common Questions About The Best Online MBA Programs
Is an online MBA difficult?
Online MBA programs are as challenging as in-person programs. However, learners also face the unique challenge of self-motivated learning when pursuing an online MBA. Therefore, online programs may feel more difficult for some students than others.
Which is the best type of online MBA program?
Top online MBA programs hold institutional accreditation. They have excellent reputations and meet rigorous academic standards. The best online MBA program for each learner should meet their interests and career goals with relevant course content for their intended specialization.
Which MBA is most in demand?
MBAs in management and accounting may lead to the most career opportunities. According to the BLS, 9% of people with business degrees worked in accounting and auditing roles as of 2019, followed by 6% in management positions.
Which online MBA has the highest salary?
Technology and engineering management are among the MBA specializations with the highest potential salaries. BLS data lists the median annual salaries for computer and information systems managers and engineering managers as $159,010 and $152,350 respectively as of 2021.
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