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Written by Kathleen Swed


Students looking to pursue an MBA may worry about the expense of pursuing the degree, taking on loans to pay for the program and whether the investment can help them find better jobs with higher salaries. Jobs requiring MBA degrees, like medical and health services managers, can earn graduates over $100,000 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In this regard, MBAs can certainly improve career and income prospects.

But what about the costly investment of a master's degree? Fortunately, opportunities abound for prospective students seeking inexpensive MBA programs. Some of these are affordable online MBA programs, while other schools might offer cheap in-person degrees. The association between "affordable" and "low-quality," however, can scare some applicants off. To that end, we've compiled a list of some of the best affordable, high-quality MBA programs to help students in their search. We designate an MBA program "affordable" if it has low tuition, excellent financial aid resources, and/or cheap online options.

Here Are the 10 Best Affordable Online MBA Programs for 2020:

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  2. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, Maryland
  3. University of Florida - Gainesville, Florida
  4. Creighton University - Omaha, Nebraska
  5. Purdue University - West Lafayette, Indiana
  6. St. Bonaventure University - Saint Bonaventure, New York
  7. Saint Joseph's University - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  8. University of St. Francis - Joliet, Illinois
  9. Citadel Military College of South Carolina - Charleston, South Carolina
  10. Indiana University - Bloomington - Bloomington, Indiana
See Program Descriptions

Top Affordable Online MBA Program Rankings for 2020

Best Affordable Online MBA Programs 2020

The programs ranked below are the 25 most affordable online MBA programs for 2020, providing a great resource for students beginning their online MBA program search. This list breaks down the most affordable online programs and provides additional details on what students can expect if they enroll.

Affordability should factor into students' MBA decisions, but learners should also consider their career aspirations and which concentration options would best suit them. For more information on each school's program offerings, click to expand its respective boxes. Additional information includes available concentrations for each school's MBA program, plus admission requirements.

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description
1
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location Chapel Hill , NC Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 67 Student Population 30,011 Tuition $125,550 School Type Public

Established in 1795, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranks among the oldest public universities in the nation. UNC-Chapel Hill's strong academics consistently garner the university awards, and the school's continuous success earned it distinction as a Public Ivy.

Kenan-Flagler Business School

Focused on developing strong business leaders in a global context, UNC-Chapel Hill's online MBA groups students into cohorts, allowing distance learners to build leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. Students can tailor their 62-credit curriculum to their interests, choosing from five concentrations and more than 25 elective courses.

Kenan-Flagler reports the average student completes the program in two years and enjoys a 24% increase in salary post graduation. Online students must complete two in-person summits on campus or in cities around the world.

UNC-Chapel Hill's Affordability

To make the online MBA more affordable, Kenan-Flagler considers each accepted student for partial-tuition fellowships. Students can also seek external financial support through scholarships, employer sponsorship, and veterans benefits.

Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB

Concentrations
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2
Johns Hopkins University
Location Baltimore , MD Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 68 Student Population 26,152 Tuition $76,140 School Type Private

As the first research university in the United States, Johns Hopkins University continually sets the bar for academic achievement and research. Johns Hopkins boasts some of the best academics in the nation.

Carey Business School

Johns Hopkins' Flexible MBA program requires 54 credits of traditional and project-based courses; most students complete the degree within three years. Students can take courses online or in-person in Baltimore or Washington, D.C. Johns Hopkins offers six concentrations leading to high-demand careers, and learners complete all online courses in accelerated eight-week terms.

Johns Hopkins' Affordability

Johns Hopkins charges a per-credit tuition rate, keeping program costs the same regardless of the length of a student's degree path. Part-time and online MBA applicants with strong academic merits are eligible for merit-based scholarships.

Accreditation: MSCHE, AACSB

Concentrations
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3
University of Florida
Location Gainesville , FL Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 94 Student Population 52,218 Tuition $57,984 School Type Public

A top-ranked public research university located in Gainesville, the University of Florida boasts cutting-edge research that plays an important role in the local economy.

Warrington College of Business

Aimed at offering MBA students a work-life balance that fits their needs, UF's online MBA can be completed in two paths: a one-year, 32-credit program or a two-year, 48-credit program. To enroll in the one-year program, applicants must meet particularly rigorous requirements.

Learners complete all courses entirely online in an asynchronous format, though they must attend an in-person orientation. Both programs feature an experiential learning component, which can be completed online, on campus, or through a week-long global immersion.

UF's Affordability

Because the one-year option requires fewer credits, UF charges a lower tuition rate to full-time online students, making it an affordable choice. However, the two-year format allows learners the flexibility to continue working while studying.

Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB

Concentrations
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4
Creighton University
Location Omaha , NE Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 100 Student Population 8,910 Tuition $38,346 School Type Private

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University ranks among the top private institutions in the nation. Founded in the Jesuit tradition, Creighton values holistic learning, community service, and strong community.

Heider College of Business

Available both on campus and online, Creighton's 33-credit MBA features four core courses intended to produce value-based leaders, and typically takes students just over two years to complete. Online courses run asynchronously. While the MBA covers all facets of business, students may choose to specialize their education with one of six concentrations and/or take advantage of Creighton's dual-degree programs or certificates.

Creighton's Affordability

Creighton charges all online MBA students the same tuition rate. Students can reduce their costs through a variety of financial aid opportunities.

Accreditation: HLC, AACSB

Concentrations
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5
Purdue University
Location West Lafayette , IN Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 69 Student Population 44,474 Tuition $54,000 School Type Public

A public research university based in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue holds a reputation as an innovative contributor in the fields of technology, engineering, and science.

Krannert School of Management

Offered 100% online, Purdue's MBA offers a high level of flexibility, allowing learners to complete the 48-credit degree at their own pace, typically over two years. Aimed at developing the skills necessary to make data-backed decisions, the program features a capstone simulation and gives students three concentration options.

Purdue's Affordability

Indiana residents and Purdue alumni receive a tuition discount. All students pay a full-program tuition rate, so finishing the program faster does not reduce the total cost.

Accreditation:HLC, AACSB

Concentrations
6
St. Bonaventure University
Location Saint Bonaventure , NY Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 100 Student Population 2,379 Tuition $32,340 School Type Private

A Catholic school in upstate New York, St. Bonaventure University hosts a small student body of just over 2,000. St. Bonaventure offers comprehensive online programs and features a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

St. Bonaventure's School of Business

Available entirely online, St. Bonaventure's MBA cultivates ethical leaders with interdisciplinary business expertise. The 42-credit program offers four concentrations and various elective courses, letting learners tailor their education toward their desired careers.

While some students complete the online program in 12 months, SBU recommends incoming learners anticipate at least 15 months of study. Applicants with a minimum 3.3 GPA receive GMAT and GRE waivers.

SBU's Affordability

SBU offers competitive tuition rates, and students can help finance their degree through financial aid opportunities. For instance, SBU students can potentially secure a Buffalo Schools Grant or Franciscan Mission Grant to reduce tuition costs by 20% and 30%, respectively.

Accreditation: MSCHE, AACSB

Concentrations
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7
Saint Joseph's University
Location Philadelphia , PA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 98 Student Population 7,589 Tuition $56,975 School Type Private

A private Jesuit university, Saint Joseph's University boasts a global alumni network and offers students personalized attention through low student-to-faculty ratios.

Haub School of Business

SJU's highly customizable MBA allows students to choose from nine concentrations. Depending on a student's academic background, the program requires 33-53 credits, which can be completed online, in person, or both. The MBA program takes 1-2 years to complete for full-time students and 2-2.5 years for part-time students.

MBA students enjoy a low 1-to-18 student-to-faculty ratio and receive career counseling throughout the program. Online courses are typically offered in accelerated eight-week sessions, with one synchronous meeting per week.

SJU's Affordability

Students pay a per-credit tuition rate. The university offers a limited number of competitive graduate assistantships and accepts veteran benefits.

Accreditation: MSCHE, AACSB

Concentrations
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8
University of St. Francis
Location Joliet , IL Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 99 Student Population 3,927 Tuition $28,728 School Type Private

Located in Joliet, Illinois, the University of St. Francis embraces its Catholic-Franciscan history through its emphasis on thoughtfulness, service, and leadership.

St. Francis College of Business and Health Administration

USF's recently restructured MBA adapts to meet the changing requirements of business leaders, shifting its focus to include technology, the value chain, and global business challenges. Students learn from faculty with corporate experience and choose from one of eight concentrations.

The 36-credit program covers general business and advanced leadership concepts, and students can complete the program in 12-18 months. USF only accepts applicants with a bachelor's in business and two years of relevant full-time work experience.

USF's Affordability

MBA learners pay a flat online tuition rate. The program allows students to transfer up to nine credits toward the degree, and students can take advantage of USF's Corporate Partner Education Program to help make their tuition more affordable.

Accreditation: HLC, ACBSP

Concentrations
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9
Citadel Military College of South Carolina
Location Charleston , SC Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 88 Student Population 3,763 Tuition $21,420 School Type Public

Though the Citadel Military College of South Carolina is primarily a military school, the public college's graduate and online programs serve both military service members and civilian students.

Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business

The Citadel's 100% online MBA provides plenty of flexibility, ideal for current business professionals and active-duty military members. Despite the online format, students regularly engage with one another, forming a strong network. The Citadel also offers some optional hybrid courses.

Learners complete 36 credit hours and finish the program with a capstone project. Most courses follow an accelerated format, and students may enroll either part or full time. Students typically take two years to complete the program, though full-time students can finish in one year.

Citadel's Affordability

Students can take advantage of a variety of financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of tuition, such as scholarships and grants.

Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB

Concentrations
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10
Indiana University - Bloomington
Location Bloomington , IN Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 77 Student Population 43,503 Tuition $67,830 School Type Public

Founded in 1820, Indiana University ranks among the best public institutions in the nation. With over 94,000 current students, IU offers extensive degree options.

Kelley School of Business

IU's online MBA boasts a flexible curriculum, allowing students to select one of seven majors and to complete electives that make up 50% of their coursework. The 54-credit program requires an in-person component that facilitates networking and career coaching opportunities.

IU's Affordability

Indiana residents receive a tuition discount. IU also awards merit-based scholarships, various fellowships, and assistantships to further increase affordability.

Accreditation: HLC, AACSB

Concentrations
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11
City Vision University
Location Kansas City , MO Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 100 Student Population 137 Tuition $9,600 School Type Private

Created to provide online learners with a Christian education, the private nonprofit City Vision University aims to provide affordable degrees that focus on community service.

City Vision University Online MBA

City Vision University's unique 36-credit Christian MBA typically takes 15 months to complete. The program uses accelerated eight-week courses, and students can further accelerate their degree with transfer credits.

Aside from an accredited bachelor's degree, City Vision University sets no admission requirements. More than 70% of City Vision University alumni accept roles at nonprofit or ministry organizations post graduation.

City Vision University's Affordability

City Vision University charges a low, flat tuition rate per course, making it an affordable option for working students. The university also extends a 15% tuition scholarship to military members and veterans, Salvation Army workers, and ministry partners.

Accreditation: DEAC

Concentrations
12
Messiah College
Location Mechanicsburg , PA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 100 Student Population 3,375 Tuition $24,840 School Type Private

A small Christian University located just outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Messiah University's faith-based education extends to its online programs.

Messiah University School of Graduate Studies

Messiah University's 36-credit MBA features five optional concentrations, all of which teach students to become ethical leaders in business and their communities. Courses run entirely online and last 6-8 weeks. Students typically complete the program in two years. Messiah boasts small class sizes and mentorship opportunities with faculty.

Messiah's Affordability

All graduate students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Before asking for a commitment to the MBA, Messiah estimates the total program cost for candidates, helping new students ensure the program aligns with their budget.

Accreditation: MSCHE, ACBSP

Concentrations
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13
Baker University
Location Baldwin City , KS Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 100 Student Population 2,769 Tuition $19,800 School Type Private

A private university located in Baldwin City, Kansas, Baker University encourages students to form life-long connections with students, faculty, and staff. These strong connections create an extensive alumni network that helps graduates find positions.

Baker University School of Professional and Graduate Studies

Offered entirely online, BU's MBA blends technical skills with communication and leadership training. Learners select one of four concentrations, and the concentration constitutes 12 of the 30 required credits.

Most students complete the program 18-20 months, though some learners finish in one year. Students may complete courses at the Overland Park campus, giving students the benefit of in-person peer and professor interaction.

BU's Affordability

BU students pay the same per-credit tuition rate for all courses, and online learners pay an additional educational resource fee. However, many students secure financial aid through scholarships and loans.

Accreditation: HLC

Concentrations
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14
North Carolina State University
Location Raleigh , NC Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 69 Student Population 35,479 Tuition $46,160 School Type Public

North Carolina State University at Raleigh boasts excellent student outcomes in its renowned STEM, education, and business programs.

Poole College of Management

NC State's online MBA boasts a flexible structure designed to meet the needs of its students. Learners can follow an accelerated or flexible track, taking between 21 months and six years to complete their degree.

Aside from two required three-day residencies on-site in Raleigh, graduate students can complete the entire program online and asynchronously, with the option to take in-person courses. Instead of a concentration, NC State's 40-credit MBA requires a six-credit area of emphasis.

NC State's Affordability

As a public school, NC State extends in-state tuition to North Carolina residents. NC State considers applicants for merit-based scholarships, and students can seek assistance through loans and employer support.

Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB

Concentrations
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15
Bethel University
Location Saint Paul , MN Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 99 Student Population 3,692 Tuition $30,366 School Type Private

A Christian school located in St. Paul, Minnesota, Bethel University aims to prepare graduates to serve as community leaders through action.

Bethel University Graduate School

Bethel's online MBA focuses on holistic student development to enable students to become ethical leaders in their field. The 42-credit program features a 30-credit core curriculum, 12 credits from one of eight concentrations, and a capstone project.

Bethel offers each concentration as an entirely online or hybrid format with some courses in St. Paul. As a Christian school, Bethel integrates faith into its MBA courses.

Bethel's Affordability

Bethel uses a variable tuition rate, charging different amounts depending on the concentration students choose. Students can help finance their education through financial aid opportunities.

Accreditation: HLC, ACBSP

Concentrations
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16
Norwich University
Location Northfield , VT Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 100 Student Population 3,986 Tuition $29,088 School Type Private

The oldest private military college in the U.S., Norwich University is located in Northfield, Vermont. Civilian students, including graduate students who study online, also benefit from Norwich's connections and traditions.

Norwich University Online

Norwich's online MBA begins with a one-week residency on campus in Northfield, but learners complete all remaining courses online. The 36-credit MBA consists of six 11-week courses, which boast a personalized environment and small class sizes. The curriculum includes three core courses and three concentration courses, taken one at a time.

The program culminates with a comprehensive exam. Most students graduate within 18 months.

Norwich's Affordability

Norwich offers several graduate scholarships, including awards for alumni and active-duty military. All students pay the same per-credit tuition rate.

Accreditation: NECHE, ACBSP

Concentrations
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17
Stevens Institute of Technology
Location Hoboken , NJ Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 98 Student Population 6,929 Tuition $74,340 School Type Private

Located in the college town of Hoboken, New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology hosts over 7,200 students annually and ranks among the best schools for return on investment.

Stevens School of Business

Stevens' MBA emphasizes data's impact on business decisions. The program's focus on technology and analytics complements its core business courses. Students can complete elective courses or select one of four concentrations. Throughout the program, Stevens emphasizes collaboration between students, faculty, and businesses.

Stevens' Affordability

Students pay full-time or part-time tuition rates, depending on their format of study. However, online students avoid some of the fees charged to on-campus students. Many of Stevens' MBA students also secure financial aid.

Accreditation: MSCHE, AACSB

Concentrations
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18
Villanova University
Location Villanova , PA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 64 Student Population 11,030 Tuition $64,800 School Type Private

A top-ranked private Catholic school, Villanova University is the only Augistinian institution of higher education in the United States.

Villanova School of Business

Created for working business professionals, Villanova's online MBA builds leadership and communication skills while connecting students with peers, faculty, and a vast alumni network. Learners complete 48 credits over six semesters, and most students graduate in two years.

The program facilitates networking through an in-person residency, an optional international immersion experience, and two collaborative capstone courses. Learners can customize their degree with one of five concentrations.

Villanova's Affordability

Graduate students enjoy access to various types of financial aid and financing options. Villanova charges a flat per-credit tuition rate for the online MBA.

Accreditation: MSCHE, AACSB

Concentrations
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19
University of Southern California
Location Los Angeles , CA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 64 Student Population 47,310 Tuition $99,705 School Type Private

Based in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California ranks among the nation's top private research universities.

USC Marshall School of Business

Designed for the technology-driven business world, USC's online MBA teaches important digital skills including remote team management, virtual communication, and data analytics. The program features a set 51-credit curriculum.

Learners begin the program with a one-week on-site residency, then complete the rest of the degree online. USC aims to facilitate camaraderie in its virtual courses, integrating a combination of recorded asynchronous instruction with weekly sessions conducted over webcam.

USC's Affordability

USC charges a total tuition rate for the online MBA. Learners can take advantage of employer payment programs, financial aid opportunities, and various payment plans.

Accreditation: WSCUC, AACSB

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20
University of Virginia
Location Charlottesville , VA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 56 Student Population 24,639 Tuition $130,000 School Type Public

Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia ranks among the nation's top research institutions.

Darden School of Business

The 42-credit online MBA offers two tracks: a Business Executive MBA and a Global Executive MBA. Offered in hybrid formats that provide both schedule flexibility and personal interaction, both tracks feature synchronous online courses and several required on-campus residencies.

While UVA does not offer concentrations, students can complete 12 elective credits to specialize their expertise. Most students complete the MBA in two years.

UVA's Affordability

UVA charges the same tuition rates to all students regardless of state residency. Many students reduce the cost of the MBA through financial aid opportunities.

Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB

Concentrations
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21
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location Champaign , IL Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 64 Student Population 49,702 Tuition $36,576 School Type Public

As one of the top public schools in the region, the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign holds itself, and its online students, to high standards.

Gies College of Business

Among the most innovative online MBAs, U of I's iMBA offers a completely virtual education at an affordable price. The program's asynchronous, self-paced mode of instruction maximizes flexibility and allows learners to complete their program quickly. Though the program does not offer concentrations, students can earn certificates while completing the MBA.

U of I's Affordability

U of I boasts a low tuition rate. Learners can cut costs even further by applying for financial aid opportunities.

Accreditation: HLC, AACSB

Concentrations
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22
College of William and Mary
Location Williamsburg , VA Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 54 Student Population 8,817 Tuition $63,700 School Type Public

A Public Ivy based in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the second oldest institution of higher education in the nation, William & Mary boasts an alumni community of creative leaders.

Raymond A. Mason School of Business

W&M's 49-credit online MBA consists of 12 courses centered on design thinking, a framework meant to foster innovative and iterative problem-solving. While the curriculum doesn't feature concentrations, students select a recurring problem to focus on throughout their coursework, developing specialized expertise.

Most students graduate in under two years. Students can take additional courses to earn a foundations in business analytics certificate.

W&M's Affordability

Virginia residents receive a tuition discount at William & Mary, but all online MBA students can take advantage of financial aid opportunities.

Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB

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23
Lewis University
Location Romeoville , IL Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 99 Student Population 6,440 Tuition $28,800 School Type Private

Based just outside of Chicago, Lewis University ranks among the most affordable private schools in the country.

Lewis University College of Business

Lewis' online MBA features six concentrations and accelerated eight-week courses. Online courses include live sessions via webcam once per week during the evening, ideal for working students. Students can complete the program online or in a hybrid format, attending courses in Romeoville and Oak Brook. To reduce the time and cost of the program, select applicants can waive some of the required foundation courses.

Lewis' Affordability

To increase affordability, LU offers various endowed scholarships, a partner employer tuition discount, and an installment payment plan. Learners working with their employer to finance their degree may defer payments until after they complete the program.

Accreditation: HLC

Concentrations
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24
Dominican University
Location River Forest , IL Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 100 Student Population 2,990 Tuition $41,400 School Type Private

Dominican University, a Catholic institution based in River Forest, Illinois, ranks among the best-value private schools in the Midwest.

Brennan School of Business

Available entirely online and in a blended format, DU's MBA requires 30 credits. Learners can complete the program either part time or full time, and regularly connect with peers and faculty through small class sizes and collaboration opportunities.

Thanks to DU's close connection with various Chicago businesses, learners can gain hands-on experience through the MBA Gateway program. Full-time learners can graduate in 15 months.

DU's Affordability

By waiving or covering the program's foundation courses, DU limits the number of credits students need to pay for, making it a particularly affordable option. DU also offers MBA scholarships based on academic achievement and graduate assistantships.

Accreditation: HLC, AACSB

Concentrations
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25
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Location Utica , NY Tuition $$$$$ % Receiving Financial Aid 96 Student Population 3,023 Tuition $30,000 School Type Public

With locations in Albany and Utica, New York, SUNY Polytechnic Institute reaches students across the state and extends that reach through its robust online program.

College of Business Management

SUNY Poly's MBA offers a unique focus on leveraging technology and data in business operations. The 48-credit, fully online program takes about two years to complete. In addition to core courses, students complete nine credits of concentration courses and an optional internship.

SUNY Poly's Affordability

New York residents receive a discounted full-time tuition rate, but all online students receive a tuition discount. The university also offers graduate assistantships and scholarships to help offset the cost of tuition.

Accreditation: MSCHE, AACSB

Concentrations
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How We Rank Online MBA Programs

Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, online flexibility, and student success.

Quality (30% of total score)

A low student-to-faculty ratio, a wide breadth of specialized MBA programs, and a high retention rate of students returning after their first year are all indicators of a quality university.

Affordability (10% of total score)

The amount of financial aid offered factors into a school's net price; this, paired with a low loan default rate, indicates that students may find a school's tuition within their budget.

Online Flexibility (20% of total score)

Scores for online flexibility focus on schools that have a high percentage of fully online students, but consideration is also given to schools that enroll partially online students using hybrid programs.

Student Success (40% of total score)

Both strong hallmarks of student success, we look for programs with high graduation rates whose students go on to have higher-than-average median earnings.

Evaluating the Cheapest Online MBA Programs

The chart below offers a starting point for students seeking affordable MBA programs, detailing the mean prices of in-state, out-of-state, international, and distance learning options. Program prices vary significantly, but online degrees generally cost less.

Many top MBA programs share similar characteristics. Students can find similar curricula, concentration options, prestige, and crucial university resources among the cheapest MBA programs.

Accreditation
Students seeking affordable online MBA programs should make sure their chosen institutions are accredited. Regional accreditation is the highest standard of excellence, reserved for nonprofit institutions. National accreditation typically applies to for-profit institutions. Prospective students may also seek programs boasting programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education. Programmatic accreditation evaluates specific degrees to ensure they prepare students professionally.
Affordability
Top programs ensure that students can graduate without incurring overwhelming debt or personal hardship. They may offer low tuition rates or reduced rates for online students. Some schools bridge the affordability gap by offering financial aid to online MBA students; at Creighton University, for example, 100% of online MBA students receive some amount of financial aid.
Post-Graduation Success
MBA programs often advertise their graduates' success by detailing alumni salaries, promotions, employment rates, and impressive employers and/or job titles. Prospective students can also assess graduate success by researching each program's graduation rate. Schools with graduation rates of 70% or higher tend to reflect a positive student experience.
Online Resources
The best affordable online MBA programs ensure that distance learners benefit from access to university resources, like career centers, libraries, tutoring, and networking opportunities. Online students can also research student-to-teacher ratios -- low ratios often indicate more personal attention from professors. Programs with large percentages of online students often prioritize distance learners and devote significant resources to their experience.
Robust Curricula
Prospective students should seek programs offering rigorous curricula and ample opportunities for program and community involvement. Whether pursuing affordable online MBA programs or on-campus experiences, students should compare degree offerings to ensure they can graduate with the expertise to succeed in the job market. Course offerings vary, but the best MBA programs provide foundational business knowledge and in-depth coverage of any concentration topics.

Prospective students should consider their individual situations, including their educational background and career goals. Some factors, like accreditation, always matter. Learners aiming for high-level executive positions in major companies may also emphasize student outcome data and alumni networks. Those with business backgrounds might look for curricula focusing more on specializations than on MBA core courses.

Students seeking affordable online MBA programs can count on plenty of opportunities to match their goals with prospective schools.

Making Affordable MBA Programs Even Cheaper

Prospective students can potentially decrease MBA program costs by considering some of the following factors and weighing them against their personal goals.

  • Required Travel: Whether considering traditional on-campus learning or online studies, students may need to account for travel expenses. Some online programs require participants to visit campus for orientation, immersion events, or residencies. These options can provide excellent networking opportunities, but students should weigh travel costs against potential gains.
  • Class Size: Smaller class sizes can offer personalized attention and direct access to faculty, though programs with low student-to-faculty ratios tend to be more expensive. Prospective students should consider their own learning styles and whether they could potentially thrive in larger classes.
  • Institutional Prestige: Some employers prioritize job candidates with degrees from prestigious institutions, making school reputation important to consider. These schools know the value of their reputation, and they may charge higher tuition rates as a result. Prospective students should carefully consider whether paying higher rates for prestigious institutions would actually help them achieve their goals.
  • Online vs. On-Campus: Affordable online MBA programs often offer reduced tuition rates to distance learners, including opportunities for out-of-state students to pay resident rates. With the flexibility of online programs, learners can study from home and potentially continue working while earning their degrees.

Cheap Online MBA Programs That Do Not Require the GMAT

Online MBA schools use the GMAT as a benchmark to select prospective students for program admission. The GMAT acts as a great tool for the admissions process, but many students do not feel comfortable taking such a high-pressure test. For those learners, many online MBA programs do not require applicants to provide GMAT test scores.

This relieves some stress from the application process and saves applicants some money. Graduate school entrance exams, such as the GMAT, can create an extra financial hurdle due to the expense of preparation and the fee for taking the test. GMAT preparation books often cost around $50, and practice tests cost around $30. It costs $250 to sit for the GMAT exam, and some students may need to take it more than once. Applicants can save by attending programs that do not require GMAT scores.

The Most Affordable Online MBA Programs that do not require the GMAT

Financial Aid Options for an Online MBA Program

Even the cheapest MBA programs can be a significant financial investment, and many students may seek additional financial aid to help fund their degrees. The following articles describe various funding sources and tips on how to access them, plus an in-depth guide on qualifying for aid by completing the FAFSA.

How to Save Even More Money on Your Affordable MBA

After choosing the most affordable MBA programs available and taking advantage of financial aid options, learners can continue making money-saving choices. The list below describes the advantages of accelerating a degree through overloading credits, choosing textbook alternates, and making loan payments during school to lower overall interest.

  • Credit Overload: Many schools let students apply to take more courses in a semester than are usually allowed. Learners can submit credit overload requests to complete their degrees more quickly and save money.
  • Summer Classes: Using the summer term to complete coursework also helps students save money, allowing them to complete their degrees in less time.
  • Cheaper Textbooks: Instead of purchasing expensive physical textbooks new, consider renting the required materials or buying them digitally to reduce costs.
  • Loan Payments: Learners who make loan payments while in school accrue less interest, because their loan balances are smaller upon graduation. With this strategy, students owe far less at graduation than they would if they waited until graduation to start making payments.

Will Getting My MBA Pay Off?

Even students attending affordable programs want a positive return on their investment.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports strong demand for MBA graduates in the U.S. and overseas. In the U.S., 77% of employers sought to employ more MBA graduates as of 2019, with a high concentration in demand among Fortune 500 and other large corporations. Startup companies also reported an increase in demand. With opportunities rising abroad, too, MBA graduates can enjoy a strong job market around the world.

In addition to job security, students may consider researching potential compensation to help calculate how long it would take to see a return on their MBA investment. According to the GMAC, U.S. employers paid a median annual wage of $115,000 to recently hired MBA graduates in 2019. Students may consider issues like salary-to-debt ratio, plus their school's graduate employment records, when estimating how long it takes to see a return on investment.

MBA graduates enter the job market qualifying for a diverse variety of career opportunities. Whether specializing in health management, technology, or sales, or preparing a career trajectory toward executive management, MBA graduates can advance at rapid rates -- or pivot to more desirable areas when necessary.

Affordable Online MBA FAQs

Is an MBA online worth it?
Graduates with accredited online MBAs can qualify for lucrative job opportunities, which typically pay well above the median annual income for their states of choice.
How are online MBA programs accredited?
Accredited online MBA programs meet the same standards as in-person programs. Regional, national, and programmatic accrediting bodies set these standards. Regional accreditation typically ensures the most rigorous academic expectations.
How long does it take to complete an online MBA?
Students can complete most online MBA programs in two years. Some programs offer expedited options, which allow students to graduate in one year, depending on whether they study full or part time.
How does accreditation affect affordability?
Accreditation indicates a quality MBA program. Unaccredited schools may provide cheap online MBAs, but their degrees hold less value. By that same token, accredited programs may cost more at the outset, but their benefits outweigh the cost.
Are online MBAs cheaper?
Online programs offer more affordable MBA options, as many schools allow online students to pay in-state tuition or even lower prices. Some schools make no distinction, however, and students should research tuition expectations before enrolling.

Further Reading

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