Top 5 Accelerated Online MBAs of 2022

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Updated November 14, 2022

Want to earn an MBA in 18 months or less? Read this guide to find the best accelerated MBA program for you.

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One of the most versatile and in-demand degrees, MBAs help prepare students for careers as sales managers, administrative services managers, top executives, and financial managers. Students learn fundamental business skills in management, communication, marketing, and accounting.

Accelerated MBA programs allow students to earn their degrees in less time and money than traditional MBA programs. An accelerated program typically takes 12 months, while a standard business program takes 24 months.

Those considering accelerated degrees should weigh factors like work-life-school balance, program quality, online vs. in-person delivery, and cost. Review our ranking of the top accelerated MBA programs and explore admission requirements, potential benefits, and typical coursework.

Top Accelerated Online MBA Programs
School Admissions Insights Outcomes by the Numbers
1. California Institute of Advanced Management | Alhambra, California
  • Work Experience: 1 year
  • Online Enrollment: 100%
  • Tuition: $667/credit
  • Average GMAT Score: Not required
2. California State University-Monterey Bay | Seaside, California
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: 2.9
  • Admission Rate: 75%
  • Online Enrollment: 37%
  • Tuition: $41,600 total
  • Average GMAT Score: Not required
3. University of North Carolina Wilmington | Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: 3.0
  • Admission Rate: 65%
  • Online Enrollment: 49%
  • Tuition: $503/credit (in state); $1,271/credit (out of state)
  • GMAT Required
4. Purdue University-Main Campus | West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: 2.5
  • Admission Rate: 60%
  • Online Enrollment: 22%
  • Tuition: $485/credit
  • Average GMAT Score: Not required
5. Mississippi College | Clinton, Mississippi
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: 3.0
  • Admission Rate: 42%
  • Online Enrollment: 56%
  • Tuition: $695/credit
  • Average GMAT Score: Not required

Go to full ranking


Why Pursue an Accelerated MBA?

The fastest MBA programs save students time and money on their degrees while providing the same education as traditional MBAs. Accelerated options require the same types of courses and number of credits, condensing the material into a shorter time frame. A regular business master's degree usually takes 24 months for a full-time learner to complete, while most accelerated options take 12 months.

Students attracted to accelerated MBA programs include working professionals with business experience. They usually hold an undergraduate degree in business and understand business fundamentals. An accelerated MBA program may not offer the best fit for those with undergraduate degrees in non-business fields and without relevant professional experience. One-year MBAs fit a lot of material into a short period, and students need to hit the ground running.


Is a One-Year Online MBA Worth It?

Accelerated MBAs require less time and money than traditional MBAs, but they still require a large investment of time and money. Candidates must give serious consideration to the cost of earning accelerated degrees before enrolling. The amount of time it takes to repay student loans or recover the cost of earning an MBA varies.

New MBA hires receive a median annual base starting salary of $115,000 from U.S. companies, according to a June 2021 report.

Students can calculate their return on investment by comparing the cost of their program, the salary they earn upon entering the workforce, and the speed with which they gain employment. Even when business school tuition is high, so are starting salaries for MBA degree-holders.

New MBA hires receive a median annual base starting salary of $115,000 from U.S. companies, according to a June 2021 report. Many employers also provide significant signing bonuses to business school graduates.

An accelerated MBA offers the opportunity to start earning an impressive salary in less time. However, it also usually makes retaining employment while pursuing your degree exceedingly difficult or even impossible. Consider the cost of going without your normal salary for a year when figuring out if an accelerated program makes sense for you.


Pros and Cons of Accelerated MBA Programs

Choosing an accelerated MBA program offers potential benefits and drawbacks. Only you can decide if a one-year MBA suits your learning style and needs. Below, we outline the benefits and trade-offs of accelerated online MBA programs.

Benefits of One-Year MBAs

  • Save Time: You can enter the workforce, begin earning money, and start making progress toward your career goals more quickly.
  • Save Money: You can sometimes save money on your degree by spending less time in a program. You may pay less tuition and start earning a professional MBA salary sooner.
  • Easier Transition: Shortening the time spent in education and entering the professional business world helps to reduce the stresses related to searching for employment.
  • Same Outcomes: Accelerated MBA students typically receive the same career opportunities and earn similar salaries as those who complete traditional MBA programs.
  • Professional Classmates: Students enrolling in accelerated MBA programs tend to be older and further along in their professional careers than those in traditional MBA programs.

Trade-Offs With One-Year MBAs

  • Less Time to Build Relationships: MBA programs foster deep friendships and help to promote extensive networking opportunities. A one-year MBA reduces the time available to develop these beneficial connections.
  • Can't Work Simultaneously: A one-year MBA requires a major time commitment and intensity, so you probably won't be able to work while in school.
  • Too Intense: An accelerated MBA program may offer too much information in a short period for those who need additional time to process new information.
  • No Internship: You likely won't complete a summer internship. Experiential learning opportunities, like traditional MBA summer internships, often lead to professional connections and jobs after graduation.

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What to Expect From the Fastest Online MBAs

The fastest online MBA programs take 12-20 months to complete. Traditional full-time MBA students usually graduate in 24 months, but part-time learners may take longer. Schools offer different accelerated MBAs, including one-year programs that condense material into just 12 months. Some schools offer five-year bachelor's-to-master's bridge programs, which allow students to earn bachelor's and master's degrees in business in just five combined years.

Traditional and accelerated MBAs usually require the same number of credits, but faster programs condense the curriculum of a traditional two-year degree into one year. MBAs typically require 30-45 credits. Accelerated and traditional MBA programs offer many specializations.

Traditional and accelerated programs both offer several formats, including online, in person, and hybrid delivery. Some online MBAs offer real-time synchronous courses, while others feature asynchronous classes, allowing students to log on to virtual classrooms whenever it fits their schedules.

Comparing Traditional and Accelerated MBA Programs
Accelerated MBA Traditional MBA
Length of Program 12 months 24 months
Specializations General management, strategic leadership, marketing, financial management, human resources management, etc. General management, strategic leadership, marketing, financial management, human resources management, etc.
Types of Courses Leadership, marketing, financial management, information systems, accounting, data analysis, operations, strategic management Leadership, marketing, financial management, information systems, accounting, data analysis, operations, strategic management
Average Credit Load 30-45 credits 30-45 credits
Program Format Online, in-person, hybrid Online, in-person, hybrid
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree in business, minimum 2.7-3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, 3-5 years of relevant professional experience Bachelor's degree, minimum 2.7-3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, GRE or GMAT
Internships Optional Often required
Goal Prepare graduates for well-paying careers in business Prepare graduates for well-paying careers in business
Student Demographics Older students, working professionals Often younger students transitioning from bachelor's degrees

Are Fast MBA Programs Available Online?

Many universities offer accelerated one-year MBA programs online. These increasingly common distance education programs provide learning experiences and opportunities of the same high quality as their on-campus counterparts. Many online accelerated MBA programs feature the same instructors, curricula, cohort structure, and student resources as the schools' in-person MBAs.

People from all backgrounds can appreciate the convenience and flexibility of distance education. Fast MBA programs prosper in an online format, emphasizing the importance of technology skills in contemporary business. An online, one-year MBA program may seem especially appealing now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the status of many on-campus programs in limbo.

Many online accelerated MBA programs feature the same instructors, curricula, cohort structure, and student resources as the schools' in-person MBAs.

Only you can decide if a distance education MBA suits your learning style and personality. Factors to weigh include cost, program structure, and comfort level with independent learning and self-motivation.


The Admissions Process

Admission requirements for accelerated MBA programs vary by college but do not differ significantly from traditional business schools. Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school and a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA. Those without undergraduate degrees in business-related fields may need to complete foundational prerequisite business courses before enrolling.

Students applying to business school typically take an MBA entrance exam and must submit GRE scores or GMAT results. Some programs do not require standardized test scores. Other common requirements include 3-5 years of professional experience, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. Accelerated MBA programs may require applicants to demonstrate professional experience more often than traditional business school programs.

Some admission committees also require in-person or phone interviews. Required application materials may include college transcripts, a completed application, and an application fee.

Online MBA Programs for You

Grow your career, leadership, and business acumen with an accredited online MBA program.


Specialization Options for Accelerated MBAs

Accelerated MBA programs, like their longer, more traditional counterparts, offer specializations that let students zoom in on a particular area of interest. Adding a concentration like finance, management, or marketing allows learners to prepare for more specialized career paths and helps them stand out from other candidates after graduation. An individual looking to keep their options open and develop a breadth of skills may want to earn a general MBA instead.


Popular Accelerated MBA Courses

Accelerated MBA programs explore foundational business issues like organizational leadership, legal and ethical issues in business, marketing, and strategic management. Students take electives like conflict management, corporate finance, and digital marketing. The types and number of classes in accelerated MBA programs vary by school. Most programs include core, elective/concentration, and capstone/internship courses. Below, we describe some typical accelerated MBA classes.

  • Leading People: This core class provides an introduction to managing people in organizations. Learners explore issues like conflict management, change management, diagnosing organizational culture, and leadership strategies. They develop leadership, management, and interpersonal skills.
  • Financial Accounting for Decision-Makers: This core course fosters foundational knowledge of financial accounting. Students learn to record economic events and analyze financial statements and disclosures. The class also explores accounting standards, the financial reporting process, and managerial incentives.
  • Critical Thinking for Managers: Learners gain experience with critically evaluating claims to make the best decisions. Managers use this crucial skill on a daily basis.
  • Research Methods in Marketing: Students learn to use marketing research to make management decisions. This elective class examines customer needs to create new products and services.
  • Human Capital Management: This elective focuses on finding, using, and motivating human talent to improve organizations' competitiveness. Other topics include recruiting and selection, equal opportunity employment, and fair discipline processes. Students gain skills in strategic thinking, goal setting, and communication.

How Much Will an Accelerated MBA Cost?

Students in accelerated MBA programs spend less on their degrees than those in traditional programs. With less time spent in school, they can graduate with lower student loan debt and enter the workforce to begin earning an MBA salary more quickly.

The price tag of an accelerated MBA varies by school. Factors affecting the cost of an MBA include school prestige, learning format (online versus in-person), and school type (public or private).

Typically, more prestigious programs charge higher tuition. Public universities tend to charge lower tuition than private institutions, particularly for students who can pay in-state rates. Out-of-state learners can sometimes receive tuition reductions or pay in-state tuition if they attend online programs.

No matter what one-year online MBA program you choose, look into the school's financial aid opportunities. Students may qualify for loans, grants, work-study programs, and scholarships.


Selecting the Right One-Year Online MBA Program

Our rankings list offers a great place to start, but prospective students should consider several other factors to choose the right accelerated MBA program.

  • Accreditation: Always ensure that your prospective schools hold regional accreditation. Attending an unaccredited college makes it much more difficult to qualify for financial aid, transfer credits to another university, or qualify for professional certifications.
  • Cost: The price of earning an accelerated MBA varies considerably by program. Choosing a public university where you can pay in-state tuition typically provides the most affordable option. Most universities also offer financial aid through scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Location: Even if you choose a one-year online MBA, you may want or need to go to campus at some point in the program.
  • Prestige/Reputation: Attending highly regarded accelerated MBA programs can pay off with better internship and job opportunities from employers who value prestigious degrees. However, MBA graduates from any program can leave their program ready for high-paying careers.
  • Difficulty of Admission: Some MBA programs have lower acceptance rates and a more difficult admissions process than others.
  • Alumni Network: Making professional connections and networking is one of the most important parts of business school. Choosing a program with a robust alumni network can help students get a leg up on internships and jobs.

The Top Five Accelerated Online MBA Programs of 2022

This list of 2022's top five accelerated online MBA degrees can help you find a program that fits your personal and professional goals. Learn about the methodology we use to rank our programs here.

#1 Top 5 Accelerated Online MBAs of 2022

California Institute of Advanced Management

  • Alhambra, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Southern California-based CIAM specializes in graduate training based on the philosophy of management as a liberal art proposed by writer and educator, Peter F. Drucker. The programs use a high-impact learning methodology that combines professional education with hands-on experience. 

Master's in Executive Management

The master of business in executive management, designed to teach responsible business management as a means for social impact and change, comprises 12 courses, typically completed over two years. The hybrid program employs a high impact learning format that includes lectures, experiential learning, individual and group presentations, and consulting projects, with applications to the student's current profession. 

The curriculum features courses based on Drucker's management principles; classes in core areas of accounting, corporate finance, quantitative analysis, information systems, and management and organizational behavior; and a mandatory experiential internship. Students develop practical skills and gain hands-on experience by directing professional philanthropic and social empowerment projects.

CIAM's Specializations

Project Management | Business Analytics 

CIAM's Accelerated Programs

CIAM's accelerated MBA, which can be completed in two years, uses an innovative hybrid distance learning format, providing a convenient and affordable degree pathway for working professionals. Many enrollees receive need-based and merit-based scholarships. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges; California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education; Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  • Tuition: $667 per credit hour 
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid
  • Admissions: 
    • Process: Submit online application, official transcripts indicating bachelor's degree or higher, financial affidavit, and statement of purpose.
    • Cost: $75 application fee
Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
151
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Top 5 Accelerated Online MBAs of 2022

California State University-Monterey Bay

  • Seaside, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

CSUMB prides itself on making higher education accessible to underserved and low income populations. CSUMB, one of the first campuses in the California State University system to offer degrees through Cal State Online, has become an innovative leader in distance learning.

Master of Business Administration

CSUMB offers nine graduate degrees, including a fully online master's in business administration. The program's unique Responsible Business curriculum emphasizes the themes of innovation, responsibility, and impact, based on the "bottom line elements of people, planet, profit, ethics, and equity." 

The MBA comprises 38 credits taken in sequence across 14 individual courses, including classes like global responsible business and doing business in world regions that highlight international connectedness and cultural sensitivity. Distance learners take one course at a time with their cohort. The curriculum requires both a capstone in applied business strategy and a professional development seminar in the final semester.

CSUMB's Accelerated Programs

Students can earn their degree in as few as 18 months, taking three-credit classes that run for five weeks, and one-credit classes over one week. New students who enroll in the spring or summer term qualify for a $2,000 degree completion award. 

Program at a Glance 

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges; Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $41,600 total 
  • Required Credits: 38
  • Program Length: 18 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, both synchronous and asynchronous
  • Admissions
    • Process: Submit online application, official transcripts indicating bachelor's degree, resume, and personal statement.
    • GPA: 2.9 
    • Cost: $70 application fee
Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
7,650
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Top 5 Accelerated Online MBAs of 2022

University of North Carolina Wilmington

  • Wilmington, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Wilmington College, established in 1947, joined the University of North Carolina System in 1969, to become the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Recognized for its academic quality and affordability, UNCW serves a student body of over 18,000 through both on-campus and accelerated online programs. 

Master of Business Administration

Designed for working professionals, the master of business administration at UNCW offers a flexible online format that enables students to maintain their careers while furthering their education. The curriculum covers managerial accounting, financial analysis, managerial decision-making, and information technology. 

Online learners must complete 36 credits, comprising 30 credits of core MBA courses and six credits of electives. Elective offerings include investment management, financial statement analysis, real estate investments, global strategy, and healthcare systems. Professionals planning to move into leadership roles may choose the executive master of business administration option that combines online coursework with international residencies.

UNCW's Specializations

Business Analytics | Finance | Healthcare Management | International Business

UNCW's Accelerated Programs

The accelerated MBA delivers classes in a seven-week format, with no prerequisite or foundational course requirements. Distance learners enter the program at multiple start dates throughout the year, with the option of paying for their degree one course at a time.

Program at a Glance 

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $503 per credit hour for North Carolina residents; $1,271 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Program Length: 12 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, asynchronous
  • Admissions
    • Process: Submit online application, official transcripts indicating bachelor's degree, and statement of interest.
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT
    • Cost: $80 application fee
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,443
Out-of-state
$18,508
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
17,499
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Top 5 Accelerated Online MBAs of 2022

Purdue University-Main Campus

  • West Lafayette, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Purdue Global, part of the top-ranked Purdue University System, tailors online education to meet the needs of degree-seeking adults with work or life experience. This public institution currently administers more than 175 online programs, including associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees. 

Online Master's Degree in Business Administration

Purdue Global's online MBA allows working professionals to advance their careers in leadership and management. The degree requires 60 credits, including a capstone in the final semester. 

Students take core courses in business analytics, financial accounting principles and analysis, measurement and decision-making, and leadership strategies for a changing world. Enrollees may choose to complete four or more additional courses in one of seven concentration areas.

Distance learners at Purdue Global receive one-on-one mentoring with faculty through online discussion boards, faculty office hours, and no-cost individual tutoring. The program offers multiple start dates and convenient six-week long course sessions.

Purdue Global's Specializations

Finance | Global Business | Healthcare Management | Human Resources | Information Technology | Marketing | Project Management

Purdue Global's Accelerated Programs

Purdue Global enables students to finish their MBA faster and reduce costs through prior experience credits, corporate partner and employee benefits, and military tuition reduction. The ExcelTrack competency-based degree option for professionals with three or more years of working experience shortens the time needed to complete the degree while saving on tuition.

Program at a Glance 

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • Tuition: $485 per credit hour 
  • Required Credits: 60-76
  • Program Length: 2.5 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, asynchronous
  • Admissions
    • Process: Submit online application and official transcripts indicating bachelor's degree.
    • GPA: 2.5
    • Cost: $60 application fee
Average Tuition
In-state
$9,208
Out-of-state
$28,010
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
45,500
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Top 5 Accelerated Online MBAs of 2022

Mississippi College

  • Clinton, MS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, this private, co-educational school serves a student population of over 5,000 in undergraduate, master's, and doctoral programs. Founded in 1826, MC is the oldest institution of higher learning in Mississippi.

Online MBA Accelerated Format]

MC's School of Business, established in 1946, offers an accelerated online MBA with formal concentrations in accounting and finance. Unlike many other programs, MC's MBA enables students to earn their degree through a combination of both online and on-campus formats. 

Designed for working professionals, the curriculum provides a framework for Christian-based ethical decision-making. Core courses in accounting, finance, marketing, organizational behavior, law, and international business explore the principles underlying the operation of business and public enterprise, provide tools of analysis, and develop effective ways of thinking about problems. 

Students benefit from networking opportunities with MC alumni and business leaders through its Center for Faith and Business Ethics.

MC's Specializations

General MBA | Accounting MBA | Finance MBA 

MC's Accelerated Programs

MC's fast-paced MBA allows distance learners to complete courses over shorter class sessions than traditional programs. The 30-credit degree, comprising 10 courses, offers classes in eight-week terms, enabling students to save money by completing their degree in 1-2 years. 

Program at a Glance 

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $695 per credit hour 
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Program Length: 12 months
  • Delivery Format: Online and on campus
  • Admissions
    • Process: Submit online application and official transcripts indicating bachelor's degree.
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Cost: $35 application fee
Average Tuition
In-state
$17,550
Out-of-state
$17,550
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
42%
Students Enrolled
4,733
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Online MBA Programs for You

Grow your career, leadership, and business acumen with an accredited online MBA program.


Accelerated Online MBA FAQ

Can you complete an MBA in one year?

Yes. Many universities offer one-year MBA programs online and in person. These accelerated options require learners to take more classes in a shorter period than traditional MBA programs, which often take two years to complete. One-year MBA students spend many hours each week on coursework.

Which is better: A one-year MBA or a two-year MBA?

Both types of degrees present benefits. A one-year MBA allows students to graduate and begin working more quickly. However, a two-year MBA may appeal to working professionals who want to keep their jobs while in school.

How fast can you get an MBA?

The fastest online MBA programs typically take one year to finish and require 30-45 credits. Program length varies by school, the number of required credits, and how many credits you take each semester.

How long do online MBA programs take?

The time it takes to complete an online MBA varies by school. Students who complete accelerated MBA programs online can graduate in as little as one year. Those who take fewer credits each semester can take two years or more to finish their degrees.

Is an online MBA taken seriously?

Yes. Although some employers did not value distance education in the past, online MBA programs now hold the same prestige as in-person degrees. Many schools offer online MBAs with instructors, coursework, and student resources identical to their on-campus programs. Business school diplomas do not specify if the degree was earned online or in person.

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