Affordable Online MBA Programs

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Are you ready to discover your MBA program?

Students looking to pursue MBAs may worry about taking on student debt and whether the degree leads to better jobs with higher salaries. Professionals who typically hold MBAs, like medical and health services managers, earn a median annual salary exceeding $100,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In this regard, an MBA can certainly improve career and income prospects. 

Fortunately, opportunities abound for prospective students seeking affordable online MBA programs and/or cheap in-person degrees. However, some applicants associate “affordable” with “low-quality,” which may deter them from pursuing these opportunities.

To that end, we have compiled a list of some of the best, most affordable MBA programs to help students in their search. We designate an MBA program as “affordable” if it has low tuition, excellent financial aid resources, and/or cheap online options.

The 10 Best Affordable Online MBA Programs

Rank School Location
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
3 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
4 Creighton University Omaha, NE
5 Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
6 St. Bonaventure University Saint Bonaventure, NY
7 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA
8 University of St. Francis Joliet, IL
9 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC
10 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
Advertisement OnlineMBA.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Online MBA Programs for You

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

Why Get an Affordable Online MBA?

Online MBAs grew in popularity even before the COVID-19 pandemic triggered rapid growth in online education. In 2018, Forbes reported a year-over-year increase of nearly 50% in the number of online MBA programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes also found that online MBA grads saw their salaries increase by an average of 29% in their post-business school careers.

While the traditional classroom experience still offers strong value, online learning delivers far more flexibility and convenience. Most affordable online MBA programs use asynchronous delivery formats, allowing you to engage with learning on your own schedule. Busy professionals who want to keep their current jobs while upgrading their education can pursue these degrees.

Data supports this notion, as 91% of respondents to a 2017 U.S. News & World Report survey indicated they worked full time while pursuing online MBAs. Online learners also tend to be older than their campus-based counterparts, suggesting that many turn to the virtual classroom to earn a career-boosting edge without putting their professional lives on pause.

Choosing an affordable online MBA maximizes the return on your educational investment while delivering many other benefits, including:

Access to More Options
Before the online age, students who wanted to continue working while studying could mostly only pursue nearby programs. The internet has eliminated this limitation, opening access to a full array of schools, concentrations, and specializations.
Graduating with Less Debt
Business schools often possess a reputation for their high tuition rates. Affordable online MBA programs reduce costs, enabling students to graduate with lower debt and reap the benefits of their increased salaries.
Engaging with Emerging Technology
Business schools use cutting-edge technologies to deliver lectures and course materials to online students. Companies use many of the same resources when engaging with clients and stakeholders remotely.
Viewpoint Diversity
Online MBA programs tend to draw 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 higher levels of interest from the international student and business communities. Enrollees can use their online MBA programs to network on a global scale.

Top Affordable Online MBA Program Rankings

Best Affordable Online MBA Programs 2020

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.

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  2. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  3. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  4. Creighton University
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  5. Purdue University-Main Campus
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  6. St. Bonaventure University
    Location

    Saint Bonaventure, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  7. Saint Joseph's University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  8. University of St. Francis
    Location

    Joliet, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  9. Citadel Military College of South Carolina
    Location

    Charleston, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

  10. Indiana University-Bloomington
    Location

    Bloomington, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    Concentrations

Evaluating the Cheapest Online MBA Programs

The following graphic 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, concentrations, and university resources among the cheapest MBA programs.

Full-time MBA Tuition (Reflecting the Full Cost of the Program from Start to Finish)


Mean Price

In-State



$36,698

Mean Price

Out-of-State



$43,701

Mean Price

Out-of-Country



$45,269

Mean Price

Online



$20,902


Source: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

  • Accreditation

    Students seeking affordable online MBA programs should ensure each school’s accreditation status. Regional accreditation represents the highest standard of excellence. National accreditation typically applies to for-profit and vocational institutions. Prospective students can 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.

  • 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 should research 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. 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, learners 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 focus more on student outcome data and alumni networks. Those with business backgrounds might look for curricula focusing more on specializations than on MBA core courses. 

Choosing a Quality MBA Program

What to Expect From Affordable Online MBA Programs

Most MBA degrees take 1-2 years of full-time study to complete. With professional and personal obligations, enrollees may take longer to complete their programs, often extending to 3-5 years. Schools understand that many online MBA degree-seekers work full time while studying and tailor their structural flexibility to reflect the practical realities of students’ needs.

Course load also varies, depending on the program’s intensity and how the school structures its credit system. General MBAs can comprise as few as 10 courses. More diversified and concentrated study paths may require up to 24 courses or more. 

Schools also set distinct admission policies, but most require GMAT and/or GRE scores, academic transcripts, personal statements and/or recommendations, and multiple years of relevant professional experience. The number of supported concentrations and specializations also continues to grow, giving online MBA students access to more study options than ever before.

Specialized MBAs

Many of the most affordable online MBAs offer concentrations. Degree-seekers often choose these paths when they have specific career objectives in mind. Professionals with specialized MBAs often command higher salaries, as their targeted credentials give them a competitive edge for relevant job openings.

Business schools collectively host dozens of different MBA specializations, but individual institutions typically offer about 5-8 options. Examples include common and traditional concentrations, along with innovative specializations reflecting emerging trends in modern commerce.

Traditional specializations cover finance, international business, accounting, and supply chain management. More modern options explore technology management, big data and business analytics, and digital marketing, among others.

Popular Online MBA Courses

The specific courses included in a given MBA program depend on the school and the degree’s orientation. For example, concentrated programs typically cover specialized content beyond the scope of a general MBA. The following examples represent courses commonly offered in general MBA programs:

  • Marketing Theory and Practice

    Executive and management roles often demand a thorough grounding in the theoretical and applied aspects of marketing. This course, usually taken in the early stages of an MBA, provides an introduction to the four interrelated principles of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.

  • Principles of Management

    Graduates often earn leadership positions that require strong proficiencies in resource management and decision-making. This course examines crucial managerial principles, including management theory, motivational strategies, and the qualitative and quantitative factors that drive decision-oriented analysis.

  • Business Ethics

    In the age of social media and mass instant communication, businesses need to pay closer attention than ever to the ethical soundness of their practices. This course uses practical examples and dilemmas to examine theories of business ethics in real-world settings. Students learn how to balance and manage ethical concerns against the business’s bottom line.

  • Quantitative Analysis

    Business managers and executives analyze data to minimize costs and maximize profitability. This fundamental course applies data analysis to inventory management, scheduling, project management, and other key operational aspects.

The MBA Capstone or Thesis

Affordable online MBA programs typically culminate with comprehensive projects that demonstrate students’ mastery and synthesis of critical concepts learned throughout the degree. Most programs present this academic requirement as a capstone or thesis.

Capstone or thesis projects usually cover the credit equivalent of two full-length courses. Enrollees normally complete these projects under the supervision of senior faculty members during the final year or semester of their program.

Both formats require extensive research and a thorough analysis of specific issues that professionals commonly encounter in their careers. Thesis projects usually apply theory to an academic hypothesis, while capstones maintain a more practical and pragmatic orientation. For instance, capstones often prompt students to formulate and articulate solutions to actual challenges faced by real businesses.

Use this resource to learn more about MBA capstone and thesis projects.

Making Affordable MBA Programs Even Cheaper

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

Required Travel
Whether considering on-campus learning or online studies, learners may need to account for travel expenses. Some online programs require participants to visit campus for orientation, immersion events, or residencies. These options provide excellent networking opportunities, but degree-seekers 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. Candidates should consider their own learning styles and whether they thrive in larger classes.
Institutional Prestige
Some employers prioritize candidates with degrees from prestigious institutions, making school reputation an important consideration. These schools may charge higher tuition rates as a result. Prospective students should carefully consider whether paying higher rates for prestigious institutions would help them achieve their goals.
Online vs. On-Campus
Affordable online MBA programs commonly offer reduced tuition rates to distance learners, including opportunities for out-of-state learners 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. The GMAT acts as a great tool for the admissions process, but many students do not feel comfortable taking such a high-pressure test. Luckily, 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 test fee itself. 

GMAT preparation books often cost around $50, and practice tests typically charge around $30. It costs $250 to sit for the GMAT exam, and some students may need to take it more than once.

Affordable MBAs That Do Not Require the GMAT

Financial Aid Options for an Online MBA Program

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

How to Save Even More Money on Your Affordable MBA

After choosing an affordable MBA program 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 online MBA enrollees take more courses in a semester than typically 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 and complete their degrees in less time.
Cheaper Textbooks
Instead of purchasing new physical textbooks, consider renting the required materials or buying digital copies.
Loan Payments
Learners who make loan payments while in school accrue less interest.

Will Getting My MBA Pay Off?

The Graduate Management Admission Council 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 among Fortune 500 and other large corporations. Startup companies also reported an increase in demand. With opportunities rising abroad, MBA graduates can enjoy a strong job market around the world. 

In addition to job security, students should research potential salaries to calculate how long it would take to see a return on their MBA investment. The projected median annual wage for new MBA hires in 2019 was $115,000. Students should consider their salary-to-debt ratio and their school’s graduate employment records when estimating their return on investment. 

MBA graduates qualify for lucrative career opportunities in health management, technology, sales, and executive management. The following table includes median annual salary data related to common roles for individuals with MBAs.

CareerMedian Annual Salary
Administrative Services Managers$96,940
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers$135,900
Computer and Information Research Scientist$122,840
Computer and Information Systems Managers$146,360
Financial Analysts$81,590
Financial Managers$129,890
Management Analysts$85,260
Medical and Health Services Managers$100,980
Sales Managers$126,640
Top Executives$104,690
Source: BLS

Affordable Online MBA FAQs

  • Is an MBA online worth it?

    Yes. 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 of full-time enrollment.

  • How does accreditation affect affordability?

    Accreditation indicates a quality MBA program. Unaccredited schools may provide cheap online MBAs, but their degrees carry 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 enrollees to pay in-state tuition or even lower prices. Some schools make no distinction, however, so students should always research tuition expectations before enrolling.

Advertisement OnlineMBA.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Advertisement OnlineMBA.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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