Best Online Strategic Management MBAs

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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.
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:

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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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