Wisconsin may only be the 25th largest state in the U.S., but with its diverse geography, cultural hubs, and innovative, forward-thinking industrial spirit, it makes a big impact. Located along the Great Lakes coastline, America’s dairyland was aptly named for its favorable farming conditions, which make Wisconsin one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of cheese and other dairy products. Over 68% of Wisconsinites live in urban areas, such as the state’s largest city, Milwaukee, and its capital, Madison, home to the flagship site of the University of Wisconsin, comprising more than 26 campuses statewide and one of the nation’s largest college systems. UW and UW extension programs help drive economic growth in the state by providing traditional and online programs aligned with the top industries in the region, including manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, and information technology. Graduates of an online MBA in Wisconsin are qualified for a range of local careers specializing in business operations, healthcare, or global supply chain management, just to name a few.

Higher education in the state of Wisconsin is centered on flexibility and workplace preparation. The state’s largest college network, University of Wisconsin, offers an AACSB-accredited online MBA through its Eau Claire and La Crosse locations, with 10 intensive concentrations which prepare graduates for high-level management positions in local industries after graduation. Cardinal Stritch University, Concordia University, and Edgewood College also offer online MBA programs in Wisconsin, though they are accredited by other non-AACSB business agencies.

While online degrees are generally more affordable and flexible, and can be completed in less time than a traditional degree, online MBAs in Wisconsin can be especially convenient for state residents, as many schools offer discounts for those living in the area but studying online. Students who live near the above-mentioned colleges can easily fulfill any campus requirements or complete their coursework through hybrid study, if they prefer. While costs vary by program, AACSB-accredited programs tend to cost more than degrees accredited by other business-specific agencies. Even so, UW’s online MBA boasts a total cost of $20,000 for a high-quality program that can be completed entirely online. The online MBA at UW requires GMAT scores for admission, while comparable programs at other schools in Wisconsin do not.

Percentage of Students Enrolled by Distance Education
Percentage of students enrolled at Title IV institutions in Wisconsin, by distance education enrollment status, Fall 2012

MBA Concentrations for Wisconsin Students

MBA concentrations typically offer options for all types of students, from those aspiring to pursue a career in general management to those seeking targeted training in a highly specialized field. For students earning an online MBA in Wisconsin, programs offer concentrations that are aligned with major industries in the area, including manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare. All of these programs provide graduates with the advanced management and leadership skills they need to succeed in any business. Concentrations in IT-related and human resources management are especially popular in Wisconsin’s urban industrial areas like Milwaukee and Madison, where IT jobs are on the rise and human resources firm ManpowerGroup is the state’s second-largest company.


  • Operations and Technology Management: The operations and technology management (OTM) specialization of the online MBA is ideal for business-minded students with an interest in pursuing an engineering, science, or technology career. The program prepares graduates in Wisconsin for upper-level OTM positions within local manufacturing and healthcare-related corporations, including Harley-Davidson, SC Johnson, and Kerry, Inc.
  • Strategic Human Resource Management: A concentration commonly found in MBA programs nationwide, strategic HR management is especially lucrative for Wisconsinites aspiring to a position within one of the state’s largest employers: ManpowerGroup. Graduates who have earned their online MBA in Wisconsin with advanced HR management skills are qualified for in-demand positions at their choice of companies, including local conglomerates Cisco and General Mills.

Accreditation in Wisconsin

Institutional accreditation is a key component of any reputable college or university program. While either national or regional accreditation is acceptable for institutions of higher learning, regional accreditation is more common, as the process is widely regarded as more stringent and thorough than credentialing by a national agency. In Wisconsin, regional accreditation is awarded to prominent schools such as UW, Concordia, Marquette, and Cardinal Stritch by the Higher Learning Commission.

In addition to institutional accreditation, all online MBAs in Wisconsin received programmatic accreditation specific to business programs, through the AACSB (University of Wisconsin), the ACBSP (Cardinal Stritch University and Edgewood College), and the IACBE (Concordia University Wisconsin). While programmatic accreditation may not seem important, especially if a school holds institutional accreditation, this can make a difference to employers when applying to top jobs in the field after graduation. Students with an MBA specifically recognized by a business accrediting agency have an edge over the competition in local industries, including the ones listed below.

With a favorable tax climate and a wealth of diverse employment opportunities for business graduates, Wisconsin’s economy counts a highly skilled workforce among its key strengths. Though the state is historically primarily dependent on manufacturing and trade industries, it made a commitment to enhancing all job training initiatives over the past four years through an investment of $214 million, aimed at broadening job skills for a variety of industrial and executive careers. Today, Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry is as strong as ever, and growing, alongside technological and scientific innovations in the state’s other top fields, including aerospace, bioscience, energy, agriculture, and forest product production. As the state’s largest city, it’s no surprise that Milwaukee is home to one of Wisconsin’s largest companies, ManpowerGroup, as well as an area of high employment for recent MBA graduates. However, cities like Menomonee Falls, site of the state’s largest corporation, Kohl’s, as well as Appleton, Eau Claire, and Green Bay, are increasingly expanding their urban workforce in local industries.

Top Employers in Wisconsin

Company Industry Headquarters City Number of Employees
ManpowerGroup Human Resources Milwaukee 28,000
Kohl’s Corp Retail Menomonee Falls 32,000

As employment opportunities for online MBA graduates are most plentiful in highly populated areas, large companies and prominent employers in the region’s urban hubs like Madison and Milwaukee also tend to lead the state in salary growth. Read on to learn more about earning potential for MBA-trained job seekers across the state of Wisconsin.

As with any advanced degree, earning an MBA can set students on the fast track to better job opportunities and a higher salary. While some degrees in niche disciplines offer only marginal advantages to graduate students, employers around the globe recognize the prestigious reputation of an MBA. Graduates of an accredited MBA program are not only highly sought-after for their business savvy, leadership abilities, and specialized professional skills, but they are also compensated accordingly. On average in the U.S., MBA graduates can earn a starting salary of 50-60% more than the national rate immediately after graduation, and 80% more five years post-MBA. Likewise, graduates with online MBAs in Wisconsin hold a distinct advantage over their counterparts with an undergraduate degree.

Average Salary by Degree
Search Programs by Concentration

Careers for MBAs in Wisconsin

Human Resources Manager

An in-demand role at one of the state’s largest companies (ManpowerGroup), aspiring HR managers in Wisconsin with an MBA are poised for a lucrative career in the industry. Students can earn an MBA in strategic HR management from UW, which prepares graduates for executive positions within their choice of local companies and corporations, especially in Milwaukee and Madison, where the largest number of employment opportunities exist. The base salary for this position in those cities is nearly $100,000 a year.

Healthcare Consultant

MBA-trained professionals with specialized healthcare consulting and management skills will find many opportunities available to them in Wisconsin. As the state’s healthcare, IT, and life sciences industries continue to thrive, there are thousands of available jobs for local business-minded healthcare consultants, managers, and administrative professionals at some of the region’s largest companies, such as Medical College of Wisconsin and GE Healthcare. Healthcare consultants in Wisconsin earn an average annual salary of $76,923.

Financial Manager

Finance managers across the state of Wisconsin draw a high salary for their specialty skills in this area of business administration, earning well above $100,000 a year on average. MBA-trained professionals with financial management skills in Milwaukee are eligible for employment at some of the state’s most prominent corporations, including bio-medical, pharmaceutical, and industrial manufacturing entities. Aspiring financial managers in Wisconsin can broaden their prospects in this area by choosing the corporate finance and investment banking concentration of the MBA at UW to gain specialty skills in the field.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

As a rapidly growing field not just in Wisconsin but nationwide, computer and information systems management is a popular concentration offered by many online MBA programs. At UW, the MBA specialization in this area covers both operations and technology management, preparing graduates for a lucrative career at one of many local tech companies. As information technology continues to climb the list of the state’s most prominent industries, IT management positions continue to be in demand, earning MBA-trained IT professionals an average salary of more than $120,000.

Supply Chain Manager

Supply chain management is an in-demand specialty among students looking for a variety of job opportunities spanning nearly every industry worldwide. Supply chain managers are especially sought after in Wisconsin, where manufacturing is among the top industries in the state. A popular MBA concentration at many colleges and universities, UW offers a supply chain management concentration, preparing students for positions at local tech and manufacturing facilities. MBA-educated supply chain managers can earn an average salary of more than $105,000.

If you’re considering earning an online MBA in Wisconsin, look no further than our comprehensive list of top online MBA programs in the state. We understand the process may seem daunting, so we’ve only included schools that hold institutional accreditation from a reputable accrediting agency; some online MBA programs on our list also include programmatic accreditation specifically awarded to deserving business degrees.

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description

Cardinal Stritch University

Location Milwaukee, WI Tuition Tuition $23,940 % Receiving Financial Aid 74% Student Population 3,176 School Type Private View School Profile

Concordia University - Wisconsin

Location Mequon, WI Tuition Tuition $27,261 % Receiving Financial Aid 67% Student Population 8,268 School Type Private
View School Profile

Edgewood College

Location Madison, WI Tuition Tuition $34,410 % Receiving Financial Aid 75% Student Population 2,678 School Type Private
View School Profile

Lakeland College

Location Plymouth, WI Tuition Tuition $21,780 % Receiving Financial Aid 65% Student Population 3,671 School Type Private
View School Profile

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Location Milwaukee, WI Tuition Tuition $35,550 % Receiving Financial Aid 70% Student Population 2,906 School Type Private
View School Profile

Viterbo University

Location La Crosse, WI Tuition Tuition $20,910 % Receiving Financial Aid 74% Student Population 2,756 School Type Private
View School Profile

University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

Location Whitewater, WI Tuition Tuition $22,932 % Receiving Financial Aid 63% Student Population 12,360 School Type Public
View School Profile

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

Location Eau Claire, WI Tuition Tuition $20,250 % Receiving Financial Aid 59% Student Population 10,592 School Type Public View School Profile

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Location La Crosse, WI Tuition Tuition $20,250 % Receiving Financial Aid 58% Student Population 10,490 School Type Public View School Profile

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

Location Oshkosh, WI Tuition Tuition $29,448 % Receiving Financial Aid 54% Student Population 14,051 School Type Public
View School Profile

University of Wisconsin - Parkside

Location Kenosha, WI Tuition Tuition $15,904 % Receiving Financial Aid 60% Student Population 4,412 School Type Public View School Profile

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Location Madison, WI Tuition Tuition $20,250 % Receiving Financial Aid 36% Student Population 42,716 School Type Public View School Profile

Herzing University

Location Madison, WI Tuition Tuition $28,255 % Receiving Financial Aid 87% Student Population 2,753 School Type Private
View School Profile

There are many important considerations to make before settling on an online MBA program in Wisconsin. These include factors discussed above like cost, accreditation, and available specializations. The following list includes some key steps to follow during the program research process for MBA options in any state.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Student outcomes include graduation rate, year-to-year retention rate, the average debt for a graduate from that school, and overall student satisfaction with their degree program. Student outcomes do not guarantee you will be satisfied with a particular program, but can be useful for pinpointing a school’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • Estimate the expected costs of your programs

    Virtually every accredited college or university posts tuition rates online. Additionally, you should research other college-related costs like living accommodations and meal plans (if you plan to live on-campus), administrative fees, and technology fees (for online students). You should also look into scholarships, grants, and other forms of institutional financial aid that can offset some of the costs.

  • Check that classes will fit in with your schedule

    Scheduling is critical for students with other important commitments, such as childcare or full-time employment. Many online programs are asynchronous, or self-paced; students in these tracks are free to complete course requirements on their own schedule. Synchronous programs, on the other hand, require weekly online meetings with teachers and fellow students.

  • Look for partnerships with local businesses

    A large number of online MBA programs include internship and/or capstone practicum requirements ― and in many cases, students are able to gain on-the-job training and real-world office experience. You should look into the school’s business partnerships, particularly in regard to the industry you plan to enter after earning your MBA.

  • Make sure the program is accredited

    Accreditation status should always be available and easily accessible on a school’s website. In addition to regional or national accreditation, some MBA pathways receive programmatic accreditation. Recognized programmatic accreditors for MBA programs include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the International Accreditation Counsel for Business Education (IACBE).

  • Talk to current students and/or recent alumni

    You should contact the alumni office at each school you are considering and ask to be connected with former students. These individuals can be good sources of information about education costs, life on- and off-campus, local business tips, and other important details for aspiring MBA students.