The Most Affordable Online MBA Programs of 2023

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Published December 23, 2022

Not all MBA programs are expensive. Discover the most affordable online MBA programs and how you can save money while getting your graduate degree.

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Earning an MBA can be costly: Some programs charge upwards of $80,000 per year in tuition. With extra costs for books, fees, and travel, the total expenses can reach well over $100,000 annually. Many graduate students earning an MBA rely on financial aid options like scholarships and federal loans to help cover these costs.

However, not all high-quality MBAs are so expensive. Applicants should consider affordable MBA programs, including those offered online. Many schools charge lower tuition or reduced fees for their online MBA programs.

We compiled a list of some of the best affordable MBA programs of 2023 to help students in their search. We designate an MBA program as "affordable" if it offers low tuition, excellent financial aid resources, and/or cheap online options.

Learn more about the methodology we use to evaluate them.

Why Get an Affordable Online MBA?

MBA applicants often have 3-5 years of professional experience before joining their chosen programs — and many prefer to maintain that steady income while studying.

Affordable online MBA programs provide students with the necessary flexibility to balance work and school. This way, enrollees can immediately apply the business principles they learn to their workplaces.

Other benefits of pursuing an affordable online MBA include:

  • Access to More Options: Before the online age, students who wanted to continue working while studying were limited to pursuing only programs at nearby institutions. The internet, as well as shifts in work and study that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated, has increased access to a full array of programs for distance learners.
  • Graduating with Less Debt: Business schools often have a reputation for high tuition rates. Affordable online MBA programs reduce costs, enabling students to graduate with lower debt while reaping the benefits of increased earning potential.
  • Engaging with Emerging Technology: Some business schools use cutting-edge technologies to deliver lectures and course materials to online students. Companies use many of the same resources when engaging remotely with clients and stakeholders.
  • Viewpoint Diversity: Because of their increased accessibility, online MBA programs may appeal to students with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, bringing a deeper, more enriched pool of ideas to the virtual classroom.
  • International Opportunity: As affordable online MBA programs become more popular and prestigious, they draw more interest from international business communities. Enrollees can use their online MBA programs to network on a global scale.

What to Expect From Affordable Online MBA Programs

Most MBA degrees take 1-2 years of full-time study to complete. Many programs also offer part-time enrollment options that help students accommodate their personal and professional obligations. These part-time programs often take learners 3-5 years to complete.

Course load varies by program and may depend on how a school structures its credit system. General MBAs can comprise as few as 10 courses, while others — including programs with concentrations or specialized degrees — may require 24 or more courses.

Each school also maintains its own admission requirements. In addition to GMAT and/or GRE scores, academic transcripts, personal statements, and recommendations, many institutions also require applicants to hold relevant professional experience.

Specialized MBAs

Many of the most affordable online MBAs offer concentrations. Students often choose these paths when they have specific career objectives in mind. The targeted knowledge of specialized MBAs can give workers a competitive edge in the job hunt and help them qualify for niche positions, which frequently pay higher-than-average salaries.

Traditional specializations cover finance, international business, accounting, and supply chain management. Concentrations like technology management, big data and business analytics, and digital marketing are designed to impart skills relevant to contemporary trends in the field.

Cheap Online MBA Programs That Do Not Require the GMAT

Some online MBA schools use the GMAT as an admissions benchmark to determine which applicants they accept. For students who struggle with standardized testing, there exists an array of online MBA programs with no GMAT requirements.

In addition to the pressure of performing well on these tests, graduate school entrance exams can create an extra financial hurdle due to preparation expenses and testing fees. For example, though some practice tests are free, others cost around $30, and GMAT preparation books often range from $30 to $50, with more expensive price tags approaching $250 for more comprehensive preparation.

Financial Aid Options for an Online MBA Program

Even the cheapest MBA programs can be a big financial investment. Many students may seek additional financial aid to help fund their degrees. Check out the articles below to learn more about funding options, tips on accessing financial aid, and an in-depth guide on completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

How to Save Even More Money on Your Affordable MBA

After choosing an affordable MBA program and taking advantage of financial aid options, here are a few more money-saving choices:

  • Credit Overload: Some schools let online MBA enrollees take more classes than the typical maximum number of credit hours. By overloading enrollment each semester, students can complete their degrees more quickly and save money.
  • Cheaper Textbooks: Instead of purchasing new physical textbooks, consider renting the required materials or buying digital copies.
  • Employer Reimbursement: Research whether your employer offers partial or full tuition reimbursement for MBAs.

Common Questions About Affordable Online MBAs

How do people afford MBA programs?

MBA students often apply for scholarships, grants, or federal loans. Many continue working while completing their MBA, and some employers offer partial or full tuition reimbursement for these programs. Learners may also save money by taking more classes each semester or renting textbooks.

How much should I save for an MBA?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for all graduate programs in the 2020-21 school year was $19,749. Typical MBA programs last two years, so using this figure, the average tuition cost for the full degree would reach nearly $40,000.

Is it worth it to get an expensive MBA degree?

Better quality often comes with a higher price tag, although the two are not mutually exclusive. Many affordable MBA programs also offer a high-quality curriculum. For some students, the prestige of expensive MBA degrees is worth the price. Others prefer more cost-effective options, especially when they provide the flexibility of studying online.

What is the most affordable online MBA degree program?

Many institutions offer affordable online MBA programs. For example, as of December 2022, Western Governors University charges $4,530 per six-month term. Students can finish their MBA within 12 months, paying a total of $9,060. The California Institute of Advanced Management charges $667 per credit. Its hybrid MBA program includes 36 credits, which totals $24,012 for the full degree.

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