Best Online Strategic Management MBAs

Updated August 15, 2022 | OnlineMBA.com Staff

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Through an online MBA in strategic management, students build leadership skills in negotiation, financial decision-making, and human resources. Aspiring business professionals who hope to advance to high-level executive positions or guide corporations as management consultants can pursue online strategic management MBAs.

According to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management analyst employment will increase by 14% from 2020-2030, outpacing the national average for all occupations. Graduates can qualify for jobs with lucrative salaries, executive titles, and organization-wide influence.

On this page, readers can explore the top five online MBA programs in strategic management, offering a strong starting point for prospective students to guide their research. This guide also includes typical education requirements, common tuition costs, and available career paths.

Why Get a Strategic Management MBA?

Graduates with MBAs in strategic management qualify for leadership roles across industries. By focusing on strategy, business professionals can boost their advancement opportunities to roles in executive leadership and consulting. Effective leadership helps companies maintain financial health, make changes when markets shift, and ensure positive work environments for employees.

The top employers for general and operations managers include retail, wholesale trade, and construction. Chief executives enjoy similarly diverse work environments, such as professional, scientific, and technical services, manufacturing, and healthcare. Other potential benefits of pursuing an online MBA in strategy include:

A Diverse Knowledge Base
A typical MBA prepares students for success by providing a core business curriculum in finance, accounting, and organizational structures. Enrollees delve deep into focus areas, like strategic management, to cement their niche expertise.
Earning Potential
According to BLS data, management jobs make up the highest earning occupational category at a median annual wage of $109,760 as of 2020. With a strategic management MBA, graduates can pursue lucrative positions as chief executives.
Flexibility
With an MBA in strategic management, graduates can forge new paths by running their own businesses. Whether self-employed or working for a large firm, they may also pursue careers in management consulting.

Online MBA Programs for You

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

What to Expect From an Online MBA in Strategy

A strategic management MBA typically focuses on overarching methods for promoting organizational growth. The degree presents strategy within the context of U.S. and global economies, addressing policy development, negotiation, and change management.

Degree-seekers typically complete 35-60 credits, depending on their academic history. Some programs offer a more intensive business core, while others dive deeper into the specialization. Students generally complete online strategy MBAs in 16-36 months. Certain schools expect learners to proceed through the curriculum as a cohort, while others offer part-time and other flexible options.

Prospective distance learners can also expect to encounter different program structures. Many online MBA programs require in-person experiences, such as on-campus residencies or international experiences. Some schools make these events optional or online.

The MBA Admission Process

A prospective student applying to an MBA in strategic management should hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some programs require prior coursework in business, while others accept all majors. Where specified, minimum GPA requirements fall in the 2.8-3.0 range. Depending on the program, students may also need two or more years of professional work experience, though many schools accept learners from all career stages.

Most schools require students to submit GMAT or GRE scores when applying for MBAs in strategy. Programs may recommend or require minimum scores in the neighborhood of 520-570 GMAT, or 153 verbal/154 quantitative on the GRE.

Degree-seekers should plan to prepare materials to accompany their online applications. Most schools require a resume, 2-3 letters of recommendation, and an essay outlining the candidate's career plans. Programs may also request professional portfolios or an interview. Application fees for online strategy MBAs typically cost $75-$100.

Strategic Management Degree Options

Strategic management degree-seekers can pursue several options. Often aimed at those with five or more years of work experience, the MS in strategy generally requires about 30 credits. As with the MBA, students can find MS programs with flexible programs that run for 15-36 months.

However, an MS in strategy curriculum typically focuses on topics like business sustainability and negotiation. Students looking for a wider breadth of business knowledge might choose to pursue MBAs to underpin their strategy studies with skills in accounting, finance, and human resources.

Students may find the strategy concentration listed under different titles. Some schools use "strategy" and "strategic management" interchangeably, while others carry slightly different focuses. For example:

Strategic Leadership or Strategic Management

These specializations emphasize executive roles, focusing on best practices in management, global business, and leadership theory.

Strategy and Consulting

Still focused on corporate strategy, this option emphasizes analysis and problem-solving, preparing students to understand management structures.

Comparing Strategic Management and General MBAs

Prospective students may waver between choosing general MBA programs and MBAs in strategic management. Though the two options share many characteristics, including potential career paths, each MBA candidate should know the differences to make an informed decision.

Aspiring or experienced business professionals with a clear career direction in mind benefit from pursuing specializations. Individuals who aim to advance to high-ranking leadership positions or pursue consulting roles can develop their expertise through MBAs in strategic management.

For learners who may not know their ideal job yet, the general MBA can help provide a solid business background without limiting future career options.

MBA in Strategic Management General MBA
Credit Requirements 35-60 credits 55-60 credits
Timeline 15-36 months Two years
Courses Financial reporting, marketing management, managerial accounting, negotiation and conflict resolution, managing the global enterprise, strategy implementation Financial reporting, marketing management, managerial accounting, designing and executing strategies, business ethics, electives
Focus Strong business core with leadership-centric track or group of electives Strong business core that may include more foundational courses or allow for flexible elective choices
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree, resume, essay, interview, GMAT or GRE scores Bachelor's degree, resume, essay, interview; scores from GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or executive assessment (EA)

Popular Strategic Management Courses

While curriculum varies depending on the school, prospective students can expect to encounter similarities among management MBA programs. The typical MBA requires a set of core business foundations, followed by electives or track-specific courses. Many MBA programs culminate with practical capstone projects, where learners demonstrate their skills by solving real-life business problems.

Common strategy MBA program courses include:

Financial Reporting and Analysis

This staple MBA core class prepares managers to understand accounting presentations and make decisions based on their findings. The course provides a vocabulary for investments and other tools for discussing financial issues.

Business Economics

Coursework covers microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, supply and demand, cost analysis, and competition, preparing students to analyze situations in which an economic shift can affect managerial decision-making.

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

This strategy-specific course prepares organizational leaders to negotiate contracts and navigate disputes through a lens of psychological and emotional understanding. The course may involve practical applications through role play. Topics include negotiation strategy, communication, and methods for mediating conflicts that may arise during the course of business.

Management and Organizational Consulting

This course may appear as a part of a leadership or a consulting-specific strategy concentration to bridge the gap between organizational theory and practical application. Students delve into various organizational structures, management techniques, and methods for guiding large-scale organizational change. Subjects also cover client relationships and specific case studies.

Field Project

Many MBA programs require students to complete final capstone projects involving hands-on work with business partners. For a strategic management MBA, the capstone often involves analyzing a real-world business problem and presenting a strategy to help solve it. Students may work individually or in teams.

How Much Will an MBA in Strategic Management Cost?

Prospective students seeking online MBAs in strategy encounter a spectrum of tuition rates. Generally speaking, tuition ranges from about $35,000-$67,000, with some programs topping $100,000 or more. The total cost differs based on the number of credits in a program, the timeline, and other included fees relating to immersion events.

Online students can often take advantage of a wealth of cost-saving measures. Many schools offer flat-rate tuition for distance programs, where everyone pays the same rate, regardless of location. Other schools may still differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students, so degree-seekers should make sure to read the details carefully.

To help fund an MBA, prospective students can seek out scholarships from professional organizations and local associations. Degree-seekers can also qualify for government grants and low-interest loans. Follow the links below to find more information about financial aid.

Jobs for MBAs in Strategic Management

With an MBA in strategic management, business professionals can qualify for advanced positions with strong salaries. Because a strategy MBA emphasizes big-picture thinking, graduates can advance to management jobs within many different industries. As of 2020, top executives earned a median annual salary of $107,680, while architectural and engineering managers took home a $149,530 median salary.

Top employers include retail and wholesale trade, construction, manufacturing, and healthcare. According to BLS data, management analysts often work in professional, technical, and scientific services, government, and finance.

Other potential career paths for strategic management MBA holders include:

Management Analyst

Also known as management consultants, management analysts usually work with client organizations to help streamline their processes and increase profit margins. Whether self-employed or working with a larger firm, a management analyst assesses a company's financial situation, structure, and tools to strategize and recommend improvements.

Required Education: MBA often preferred
Job Outlook (2020-30): +14%
Median Annual Salary: $87,660

Chief Executive

Chief executives oversee organizational operations at the highest level, making business strategy a key component of their job. They develop and modify company policies, set goals, and supervise other managers as they implement strategies to meet those goals. They analyze financial records and often answer to a board of directors.

Required Education: MBA often preferred
Job Outlook (2020-30): +8%
Median Annual Salary: $107,680

General or Operations Manager

General and operations managers can take on many roles within their organizations, depending on their expertise. This top executive position typically includes policy development and staff supervision. General and operations managers run departmental or plant-specific budgets and allocate resources, making business strategy an important skill.

Required Education: MBA often preferred
Job Outlook (2020-30): +8%
Median Annual Salary: $107,680

Sales Manager

Tasked with overseeing a company's sales operations, sales managers use their knowledge of business strategy to optimize their organization's selling techniques. They research their customer base and determine the best ways to actively extend their reach through promotions or partnering with other firms. They also handle budgets, manage staff, and plan training sessions.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%
Median Annual Salary: $132,290

2022's Best Online Strategic Management MBA Programs

#1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

One of the nation's first public colleges, Carolina enrolls 18,000 graduate learners. Some attend the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School for its rigorous and customizable online MBA.

MBA With a Concentration in Strategy and Consulting

Carolina's online MBA delivers a well-rounded learning experience. Enrollees receive hands-on training and collaborate with peers. The program requires two immersives held on campus and around the globe. MBA core classes cover finance, accounting, and operations. 

Students take required business strategy and business communication classes. They can tailor the rest of the concentration with electives. Elective classes include managing innovation, global supply chain management, and managerial decision-making. Learners can choose training in a niche such as the design and delivery of healthcare systems. Graduates may work as consultants or corporate strategists.

Carolina's Affordability

Students pay a flat tuition regardless of where they live. UNC Kenan-Flagler participates in the Forté Fellowship Program, which financially supports qualified women pursuing an MBA. Learners can also seek scholarships, student loans, and employer tuition assistance.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $125,589 total
  • Required Credits: 62
  • Program Length: 18-36 months
  • Delivery Format: Hybrid (online and on campus)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and two years of professional experience
    • GPA: N/A
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE
    • Cost: $150
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#2

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Founded in 1867, Illinois is one of the nation's top-ranked public colleges. The school enrolls about 51,000 students. Illinois offers 250 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.

iMBA With a Focus in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Innovation

Gies College of Business offers a customizable and online iMBA with a focus in entrepreneurship and strategic innovation. Students take live online classes divided into four core knowledge areas. Two areas include strategic leadership and financial management.

Enrollees learn how to develop, evaluate, and pitch business ideas. Students explore various business models. They learn how to generate funding and build a team for the enterprise. Degree-seekers show their knowledge through three capstone projects.

Enrollees can take up to five years to complete the iMBA. Each year, iMBA students attend the iConverge campus retreat to network with faculty and peers. 

Illinois' Affordability

Gies offers some need-based scholarships that cover 70% of the iMBA's tuition. Gies also participates in the Forté Fellowship Program, which provides scholarships to qualified women pursuing an MBA. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Tuition: $307 per credit 
  • Required Credits: 72
  • Program Length: 2-5 years 
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants need a bachelor's degree and at least three years of professional work experience
    • GPA: 3.0 (recommended)
    • Standardized Tests: N/A
    • Cost: N/A
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#3

University of the Cumberlands

School Information
Location Williamsburg, Kentucky
Admission Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 44%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Kentucky-based UC is one of the state's largest private colleges. The school emphasizes experiential learning, research, and affordability. Most of the school's 19,000 enrollees classify as graduate students. 

MBA in Strategic Management

UC's online MBA program provides a flexible curriculum for working students. Enrollees build managerial skills for career advancement in many fields. Students learn core competencies such as managerial accounting, finance, and management. Degree-seekers explore sustainable business practices. They learn how to effectively use business analytics within an organization.

Students can use elective credits to pursue specialized training in various aspects of strategic management. They learn how to drive competitiveness and execute mergers and acquisitions. Degree-seekers also learn how to manage in a global environment. 

All students culminate the program with a paper or project that highlights their expertise. 

UC's Affordability

Active military personnel and veterans receive a tuition discount. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; International Accreditation Council for Business Education 
  • Tuition: $315 per credit standard rate; $275 per credit for active military/veterans
  • Required Credits: 37 
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and must submit all school transcripts
    • GPA: 2.5
    • Standardized Tests: N/A
    • Cost: $30
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#4

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Virginia-based Liberty runs 15 colleges and schools. The Christian college offers 450 online programs and serves about 100,000 students.

MBA in Strategic Management

Liberty's online MBA program features 20 specializations. The 45-credit MBA in strategic management provides training in functional areas across the enterprise. Enrollees study accounting, marketing, and finance. 

The strategic management specialization develops managers who can ethically lead. Students learn how to implement effective workforce planning and employment strategies. They explore leadership and management theories and best practices. 

Students can choose more than one specialization. Online learners can network with business leaders from across the nation.

Liberty's Affordability

Liberty has not increased tuition since 2015. Students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. They can save money by transferring up to half of the MBA's credits from another program. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $565 per credit for full-time students; $615 per credit for part-time students
  • Required Credits: 45
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants need a bachelor's degree and must complete prerequisite business courses
    • GPA: 3.0
    • Standardized Tests: N/A
    • Cost: $50
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#5

The University of Texas at Dallas

School Information
Location Richardson, Texas
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 70%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Home to 29,000 students, UT Dallas offers 140 undergraduate and graduate programs. The school features top-ranked programs such as STEM and management. 

Professional MBA With a Concentration in Strategic Management

The Naveen Jindal School of Management offers the professional MBA in strategic management. Students complete 53 semester credits entirely online. They can earn the MBA in 21-72 months. Learners develop advanced skills in accounting, business economics, and operations management.

The concentration allows students to choose their training. Enrollees can take classes such as strategic management and strategy implementation. A management and organizational consulting class includes coursework, workshops, and hands-on exercises. 

Enrollees can also pursue hands-on opportunities such as an executive study trip, a private equity project, or a field project.

UT Dallas' Affordability

MBA students can lock in UT Dallas' guaranteed tuition for four years. Students may also qualify for merit-based scholarships.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business 
  • Tuition: $7,249-$7,544/8-9 credits, Texas residents; $13,052-$14,626/8-9 credits, nonresidents
  • Required Credits: 53
  • Program Length: 21-72 months
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)
  • Admissions
    • Process: Applicants need a bachelor's degree and prerequisite classes; prospective enrollees submit school transcripts and test scores
    • GPA: N/A
    • Standardized Tests: GMAT/GRE scores with waivers available
    • Cost: $50
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Frequently Asked Questions About MBA's in Strategy

What can I do with an MBA in strategy?

An MBA in strategy focuses on high-level decisions and policy design. Graduates work as management consultants, chief executive officers, sales managers, and operations managers.

Is it cheaper to earn an MBA with a strategy concentration online?

Online programs often feature lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. Schools commonly offer in-state rates to out-of-state students or charge a flat rate. Degree-seekers should check for in-person requirements and any associated travel fees.

Is an MBA in strategic management worth it?

According to BLS data, professionals across management occupations earned a median annual wage of $105,660 in 2019. With an MBA in strategic management, graduates can qualify for even more lucrative positions, making the degree a solid option for those seeking advancement.

What kinds of strategic management degrees are there?

An MBA in strategic management provides a business foundation and may emphasize organizational leadership or consulting, though most programs cover both areas. A degree-seeker with professional experience might also consider an MS in strategic management.

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