5 Best Online Executive MBA Programs of 2022

| OnlineMBA.com Staff Updated on May 31, 2022

5 Best Online Executive MBA Programs of 2022

Are you ready to discover your MBA program?

Midcareer professionals often seek higher education opportunities that allow them to continue full-time employment, such as executive master of business administration (MBA) degrees. These programs, designed for business leaders with 8-10 years of experience, help students gain the leadership skills necessary for career advancement. Executive MBA programs create cutting-edge leaders who can adapt to a rapidly changing business world.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in management fields to grow by 9% from 2020-2030. People with MBAs compete for many of these positions.

Our executive MBA rankings provide prospective students with a snapshot of the best available programs. This page offers information about admission requirements, accreditation, financial aid, curricula, and careers after graduation.

What Is an Executive MBA?

Harvard University offered the world's first MBA in 1908. Thirty-five years later, the University of Chicago enrolled students in the inaugural executive MBA program, aiming to help working professionals maintain their family and career responsibilities while studying to advance American business.

More than 75 years later, business schools across the world continue that vision by offering executive MBA programs to midcareer business leaders. Service-oriented professionals with a desire to make an impact on the world excel in business school. These learners prepare to lead teams in corporate settings, healthcare environments, educational institutions, or government agencies.

Consulting firms, technology companies, and accounting organizations often hire new MBA degree-holders, but other industries seek out those with executive MBAs to provide leadership, management, business, and financial skills.

Some of the fastest-growing job fields include financial management and public relations management. Of course, nearly anything relating to technology can expect a steep growth curve as well. No matter the industry, business professionals can find work in management, operations, marketing, finance, and more.

Typically, business leaders who earn executive MBAs continue in the same field after graduation, just in more advanced positions. In some cases, however, career switchers can use the executive MBA to transition from one role to another.

Online MBA Programs for You

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

Why Get an Executive MBA?

An MBA is the keystone business degree for aspiring professionals. A traditional program focuses on business fundamentals. An executive MBA, by contrast, helps current leaders better understand the tools, technologies, and environmental changes of modern business. By earning this degree, experienced professionals can position themselves for greater responsibility, new leadership roles, or higher salaries.

Once enrolled, a degree-seeker can align their educational experience with their career goals by selecting a general executive MBA or a specialization.

  • Abbreviated Timeline: Students in executive MBA programs can complete their degrees in just over one year. Very few graduate schools in other fields compress their programs so tightly that students can finish in such an abbreviated timeline.
  • Career Growth: Research from EMBAC, an organization that centralizes information on executive MBA programs, found that 40% of graduates reported receiving a promotion. In addition, 53% of EMBAC's respondents said they had shouldered more responsibility at work.
  • Salary Increases: Executive MBA graduates earn 13.5% more after graduation than they did upon enrollment, on average. An executive MBA can open top executive positions and other high-paying roles in the corporate world.

What the Best Executive MBA Programs Have in Common

While every school delivers a different experience, the best executive MBA programs share several characteristics. Prospective students can enhance their research by considering each school's accreditation status, affordability, academic quality, and reputation. They are accredited. Prospective students should always seek accredited programs in higher education. Regional and national accreditation apply to entire institutions and ensure that schools meet rigorous standards. Generally, employers and other educators hold regional accreditation in higher regard. Every school in our executive MBA rankings holds accreditation. Executive MBA students should seek program-specific and regional accreditation from:
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

They are affordable. Affordability considers the price for students who receive grants and scholarships, the percentage of students receiving financial aid, and the amount of debt students carry after graduation. Some schools, like Bethel University, offer a low per-credit tuition rate at the outset. Others may provide large percentages of their students with scholarships. Affordability ensures that students can focus on their studies and earn the best return on their investment.
They uphold academic excellence. A program's retention rate, graduation rate, and amount of full-time faculty all indicate academic excellence. When many students continue from one year to the next, this demonstrates that a program meets its enrollees' expectations. A robust faculty with plenty of full-time professors indicates that the school prioritizes the program.
Their MBA programs are reputable and robust. We consider factors like admission rate and yield to measure reputability. When a school admits very high percentages of applicants, they may not demonstrate enough of a competitive edge. Conversely, when many of the admitted students enroll in the program, this can signal their high expectations for the school. A robust program offers extensive concentration options, like those in University of North Carolina Wilmington's MBA. These schools also feature customizable electives, good career services, and international programming.

What To Expect From an Executive MBA

An executive MBA prepares midcareer professionals to advance in leadership roles in businesses, public agencies, or nonprofit organizations. The degree was established in 1943, when business schools began to consider how they might help strengthen post-war American enterprises. Today, the executive MBA has grown into a widely recognized degree.

In general, each enrollee takes about 60 credits in just over one year of study. Accelerated online coursework helps facilitate this compressed timeline.

An executive MBA applicant usually needs 8-10 years of professional experience and a bachelor's degree to receive acceptance. They may also need to show support from their employer since these programs can be both pricey and academically demanding.

The executive MBA provides an education similar to the general MBA but with more emphasis on general business management and fewer electives.

The MBA Admission Process

An online executive MBA candidate must possess a bachelor's degree, preferably in business or a related field. While prospective students benefit from strong undergraduate GPAs, those with lower undergraduate grades do not necessarily need to worry.

In executive MBA programs, an applicant's background and experience matter more than their grades. As a rule of thumb, business schools expect applicants to an executive MBA program to bring 8-10 years of professional experience from the business world.

Some schools require students to submit scores from standardized tests. Institutions may not include a minimum score, but they want to know if an applicant demonstrates academic potential. Some executive MBA programs do not require GRE or GMAT scores.

Once an applicant has submitted their transcripts, test scores, resume, and essays, they may receive an invitation to interview with the admissions committee. Before offering a place in the program, some institutions also expect each candidate to send a letter of support from their employer.

Comparing Executive and General MBAs

Is an executive MBA the same as a general MBA? If not, which degree best suits aspiring business professionals?

In general, a traditional MBA serves younger, less-experienced students with a longer timeline from enrollment to graduation. Executive MBA programs cater to midcareer professionals who need an abbreviated time frame.

Some schools only admit applicants with 10 or more years of professional experience to their executive MBAs. In some cases, applicants decide based on their qualifications. Similarities and differences between these two business degrees include:

Comparing Executive MBAs to General MBA Programs
Executive MBA General MBA
Admissions Process Sometimes requires a standardized test for admission Often requires GMAT or GRE scores
Program Length Students can typically complete the program in 12-18 months Full-time requires about two years, which may stretch to 3-4 if taken part time
Student Demographics Often return to school as professionals Many have 1-3 years of experience
Pace of Classes Courses usually run in an accelerated format Courses often follow a traditional semester calendar
Tuition May cost less as a shorter program, but cost per credit may be higher May cost slightly more due to program length
Specializations Less likely to offer many specializations More likely to offer several specialization options

Popular Executive MBA Courses

Executive MBA programs usually combine a core curriculum with electives and at least one practicum course. The core courses cover topics such as leadership, analytics, and the foundations of business. While coursework varies in executive MBA programs vary among institutions, degree-seekers commonly encounter classes in:

Enrollees in this course foster their negotiation skills. These learners participate in mock events that address making deals and resolving disputes between organizations. Students highlight effective negotiation strategies in multicultural and multiparty settings. Topics include planning strategy, process management, and quality evaluation of negotiation strategies.
While completing their practicum, learners receive a first-hand glimpse at the challenges faced by companies in a growth stage. Each enrollee completes a study on one issue their host company faces.
In this course, learners focus on the elements and factors involved in leading a multinational company in a changing global environment. Instructors combine lectures, readings, and case studies for students to discuss and debate what's involved in establishing and managing a transnational company in the modern era.
Degree-seekers delve into the theories and concepts that support decision-making in marketing. Students learn to evaluate the considerations behind all the components of marketing management. The course may include hands-on simulations that highlight strategic issues in modern marketing. In addition, learners discuss, analyze, and evaluate real-life examples of marketing strategy.
Students explore the legal and ethical challenges of leading multinational, publicly traded companies. Course topics include the fundamentals of ethical analysis frameworks, including virtue-based, consequentialist-based, and right-based reasoning, along with inconsistent interpretations of organizational responsibility. Learners also receive an introduction to the legal and ethical norms that guide the global economy.

How Much Will an Executive MBA Cost?

Many factors can influence program cost. For instance, the best executive MBA programs often charge higher prices, thanks to the prestige of their alumni networks. Online programs usually cost less than on-campus degrees, and public schools typically charge less than private institutions. In-state schools generally provide substantial discounts to state residents.

Most degree-seekers, however, do not have to pay the whole cost entirely out of pocket. Aspiring enrollees can access private scholarships, grants, government-backed loans, or teaching or research assistantships. Executive MBA students often work while attending school, which can partially or fully fund their programs.

These enrollees may also access funds for school through their employers. Some companies pay a portion or all of their employees' tuition, provided that learners maintain strong grades. The following links provide more information on public and private sources of income for MBA students.

Jobs for Executive MBA Graduates

An MBA can help open the right doors to new career opportunities. Graduates can also command higher salaries across a spread of corporate sectors and industries. For working professionals with about 10 years of experience and a desire to advance professionally, the executive MBA can offer the education they need to succeed.

Business is one of the fastest-growing and highest-paying fields in the modern American economy. The BLS reports that management professionals earned a median annual salary of $109,760 as of 2020, and people working in business and finance earned a median salary of $72,250 -- more than the median salary for all occupations.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers create and distribute material that builds broad awareness of an organization's work and industry. Fundraising managers hold a similar role in the nonprofit community, except that their emphasis lies in acquiring and managing donations. Some positions require bachelor's degrees, but many employers prefer applicants with master's degrees.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's required; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +13%
  • Median Annual Salary: $118,430

Human Resources Manager

These managers oversee organizations' culture and administrative functions. Besides serving as a link between management and employees, these professionals help recruit, hire, promote, and fire staff. In addition, they play a key role in strategic planning. Most human resources managers hold a related degree and several years of professional experience. Some companies also require these experts to earn industry certifications.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's required; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +9%
  • Median Annual Salary: $121,220

Financial Manager

Financial managers prepare reports for top executives, help set financial strategies, and direct corporate investments. They work in many industries, but the finance and insurance sectors hire the most financial managers. These managers hold extensive business education and at least five years of relevant experience in preparation for their roles.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's required; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +17%
  • Median Annual Salary: $134,180

Top Executive

Top executives hold titles such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and chief marketing officer. These professionals serve in the corporate world, at public agencies, or in nonprofit or educational settings. With its leadership emphasis, an executive MBA offers an excellent academic background for aspiring top executives.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's required; master's preferred
  • Job Outlook (2020-30): +8%
  • Median Annual Salary: $107,680

Selecting Your Executive MBA Program

Midcareer professionals should carefully consider several important points when researching the best executive MBA programs. Online rankings offer a critical snapshot of top degrees, but prospective students should also consider factors before investing in online MBAs, such as:

  • Accreditation: Prospective students must limit their options to regionally accredited schools to ensure they can receive financial aid, maximum credit transferability, and a rigorous education. Many of the best executive online MBA programs also hold programmatic accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
  • Prestige: Part of an MBA's value lies in the curriculum, but the school's brand, reputation, and alumni network also contribute to the strength of a program.
  • Cost and Financial Aid: Top-billed schools often charge steep prices for executive MBAs. For some students, those prices represent a valuable investment. For others, a regional school with lower costs offers the same benefits at a more affordable price.
  • Earning Potential: How much do recent graduates of the school's executive MBA program earn? Does that figure represent a significant increase over the average salary of a student just entering the program?

Why You Should Get Your Executive MBA Online

Online learning first emerged in 1982, when a single school started offering computer-delivered courses to business executives. A few years later, accredited schools began offering full degrees over the internet, and by the mid-1990s, online education had begun to take off. It took a few more years, however, before online education reached widespread parity with brick-and-mortar programs.

Employers now value online education as much as traditional learning systems. The executive MBA easily translates to an online education model due to its practical emphasis and collaborative style.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 26% of college students enrolled in at least one online class before 2020. With the pandemic of 2020, however, nearly every student from kindergarten through postdoctoral study has completed at least some coursework online.

Many working professionals prefer taking classes in distance programs. The online MBA offers flexibility, diversity, accessibility, technology, and access to on-campus resources. For most midcareer professionals, the clincher comes from the ability to maintain full-time employment while earning a degree online.

The Top 5 Online Executive MBA Programs of 2022

Before you explore the top five online executive MBA programs of 2022, check out our ranking methodology. To discover how we select and rank the best educational programs, click the link below.

#1

California State University-San Bernardino

School Information
Location San Bernardino, California
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 55%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Situated in the foothills of California's San Bernardino mountains, CSUSB enrolls over 20,000 students annually. The institution graduates 4,000 of those students each year. CSUSB offers over 70 academic programs, from undergraduate degrees through a doctorate. 

MBA Online for Executives

Early or mid-career executives advance their business education online through CSUSB's MBA online for executives. Offered through the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, the degree features diverse faculty and an easy-to-access educational platform.

CSUSB's curriculum includes two foundation courses, seven essential core courses, two electives, and a culminating experience. Enrollees take one class at a time, and each class lasts five weeks. 

Program courses include data-driven decision-making, corporate strategy in a global economy, and managing the supply chain. Students get the option of doing an internship as their elective. The program ends with a three-credit comprehensive exam. 

CSUSB's Affordability

CSUSB offers a financial aid program, including loans, scholarships, and work-study options. The American Association of Women also makes grants available. Plus, CSUSB gives a 10% discount for students who refer colleagues to the program. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: WSCUC, AACSB
  • Tuition: $1,200/unit
  • Required Credits: 33 credits
  • Program Length: 18 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
  • Admissions
    • Process: Submit a resume showing two years of work experience. If declared eligible, submit transcripts, statement of purpose, recommendation letters, and another resume. Interview with a program representative.
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Standardized Tests: N/A
    • Cost: N/A
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#2

California Institute of Advanced Management

School Information
Location Alhambra, California
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Founded in 2011, CIAM emphasizes Peter F. Drucker's ideal characteristics for management as a liberal art: responsible, holistic, and compassionate. The school gained national accreditation in 2015 and institutional accreditation in 2018. 

Master of Business Administration in Executive Management

CIAM offers an MBA in executive management for leaders who want to make a social impact through business. The degree requires 12 three-credit courses. Classes include accounting for decision-making, ethical leadership, strategic management, and global business concepts.

CIAM incorporates high-impact practices, such as collaborative assignments, service-based learning, and writing-intensive courses. In the program, students analyze social problems and develop sustainable, business-based solutions. Enrollees also take part in student-led consulting projects and business simulations.

In 2019, 83% of CIAM's graduates looking for work found employment in the business field.

CIAM's Affordability

CIAM charges $24,000 for the entire degree. Students do not pay for textbooks, and all other fees total $187. The school offers scholarships to qualifying students, and counselors help enrollees access other financial aid.

Program at a Glance 

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: WSCUC, ACBSP
  • Tuition: $4,000/term
  • Required Credits: 36 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid 
  • Admissions
    • Process: Fill out the online application and submit required documents, including transcripts. Schedule an admissions interview. 
    • GPA: N/A
    • Standardized Tests: N/A
    • Cost: $75
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#3

University of North Carolina Wilmington

School Information
Location Wilmington, North Carolina
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

UNCW enrolls over 18,000 students across 58 majors, 37 master's degrees, and five doctorates. Besides its on-campus programs, the school awards degrees through off-site, hybrid, and online learning programs.

Executive Master of Business Administration Online

UNCW offers an executive MBA online for students with five or more years of business experience. Degree-seekers complete 30 credits of core courses, six residence credits, and six elective credits.

Core classes include economics, management, marketing, and business law. The two required residences involve one face-to-face weekend in Wilmington and one week-long international business education experience. Students consult with foreign clients and make recommendations.

Each course lasts seven weeks, and the program does not require prerequisite or foundation classes. UNCW welcomes new online MBA students at six different start dates throughout the year.

UNCW's Affordability

UNCW offers a generous discount for North Carolina residents, along with a pay-by-the-course model, making budgeting easier. In addition, students may qualify for financial aid such as loans, grants, or scholarships. 

Program at a Glance 

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB
  • Tuition: $503/credit (in-state); $1,270/credit (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: 42 credits
  • Program Length: 12 months
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid 
  • Admissions
    • Process: Submit a resume, statement of interest, transcripts, two recommendation letters, and qualifying GMAT or GRE scores.
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE
    • Cost: N/A
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#4

Ohio University-Main Campus

School Information
Location Athens, Ohio
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 65%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Athens, Ohio University began in 1804 as the state's first public university. Today, OHIO enrolls students at 10-plus campuses and centers statewide and offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees.

Executive MBA

Students in OHIO's executive MBA learn the tools needed to advance their careers. The flexible degree lets students customize their study along one of nine concentrations. Options include finance, healthcare, business analytics, and operations and supply chain management.

OHIO MBA students take nine core and three concentration classes. Core courses include descriptive analytics, strategic use of information systems, strategy, and managerial finance. 

The program ends with an applied business experience. Teams run a fictitious firm, identify problems, suggest solutions, and propose an implementation plan.

Enrollees take one class per seven-week term. Each semester consists of two terms, and the program lasts six semesters.

OHIO's Affordability

OHIO offers discounted tuition to in-state residents. Alumni, student veterans, and active military members get an automatic $5,000 scholarship thanks to a corporate partner. 

Program at a Glance 

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: HLC, AACSB
  • Tuition: $1,028/credit (in-state); $1,047/credit (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: 35 credits
  • Program Length: 20 months
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid 
  • Admissions
    • Process: Submit an application, transcripts, resume, two recommendation letters, and a personal statement.
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Standardized Tests: N/A
    • Cost: N/A
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#5

The University of Texas at Tyler

School Information
Location Tyler, Texas
Admission Rate 83%
Graduation Rate 42%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

One of 13 institutions in the University of Texas System, UT Tyler began in 1973. Today, the school enrolls over 10,000 students across six colleges and offers 80-plus undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.

Business Administration MBA Degree

UT Tyler's business administration MBA degree prepares students for corporate leadership roles in a complex and diverse global society. Learners gain critical skills in decision-making and qualitative controls in a competitive environment.

Students pursue specializations in quality management, organizational development, healthcare management, marketing, or cybersecurity. Some concentrations run on a seven-week schedule, others on a 15-week schedule, and one in an executive model. 

Classes include organizational behavior, global business perspectives, and decision-making in operations management. The program ends with a capstone course. New enrollees do not need to take prerequisite classes, but UT Tyler recommends completing elementary statistics. 

UT Tyler's Affordability

UT Tyler offers financial discounts to in-state residents. In addition, MBA students can apply for private fellowships and scholarships. Enrollees may qualify for military benefits, student loans, or other federal financial aid.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB
  • Tuition: $958/credit (in-state); $1,440/credit (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: 36 credits
  • Program Length: 12-24 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online, on campus, or hybrid
  • Admissions
    • Process: Complete the application at least two months before the beginning of the desired starting semester. Submit GMAT scores and transcripts.
    • GPA: N/A
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT (waived with last 60 hour GPA of 3.25 or better)
    • Cost: $50
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Frequently Asked Questions

Is an executive MBA worth it?

Yes. A professional with 10-15 years of experience and a bachelor's degree can reap significant rewards from pursuing an executive MBA. Executive MBA graduates receive promotions and increased professional responsibilities at work to deliver a strong return on investment for their degrees.

Are online executive MBAs cheaper?

Not necessarily. Top executive online MBA programs often charge high prices. These schools invest in luxury hotels, gourmet meals, and notable instructors. Schools with regional reputations, however, may charge more reasonable prices. The cost per credit for an executive MBA may still be higher, but the total price could be less than a traditional MBA.

Is an executive MBA as good as an MBA?

Some people mistakenly believe that the word "executive" implies a superior program. From an employment perspective, the two degrees offer essentially the same benefits. The differences between an MBA and an executive MBA lie in their form and delivery, not in their outcomes or career advancement potential.

What's the difference between an executive MBA and an MBA?

On-campus and online executive MBA students can maintain their employment while pursuing their degrees. Typically, however, traditional MBA students pursue their studies full time. To facilitate part-time study, executive MBA programs often provide accelerated class schedules and abbreviated curricula. Executive MBA coursework provides an overview of business leadership rather than a specific concentration.

Will an executive MBA help my career?

While no one can ensure professional advancement, executive MBA programs can help midcareer professionals take the next step in their careers. The coursework gives students the tools to advance professionally, the internship helps learners apply fresh skills, and networking with alumni can lead to securing an advanced position.

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