2020 Best AACSB Accredited Online MBA Programs

By Jennifer King Logan | Updated October 20, 2020

Online MBA programs are available in a variety of specialties including finance, accounting, human resources, and executive MBAs designed for professionals with significant experience in the field. It’s difficult to say exactly how much an online MBA will increase an individual’s earning potential and job prospects, as many factors contribute to a person’s salary. Nevertheless, experts say that across the board, earning an MBA increases lifetime earnings, and there are many ways to obtain an MBA, especially online. The following is information about the top online MBA programs, as well as lists of online accelerated MBA programs and online executive MBA programs. This MBA guide also includes information about accreditation and answers to frequently asked questions about MBA degrees.

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2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Programs

2020 Best Online MBA Programs Badge

This list contains the 25 best online MBA programs accredited by the AACSB. These schools have impressive GMAT scores. The University of Southern California is ranked #1 with a strong average GMAT score of 708. Its MBA program costs $51,480 per year. Students in the MBA program at #2-ranked University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had an average GMAT score of 697.

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AACSB-Accredited Online MBA NO GMAT Requirement

This list of online schools do not require students to submit GMAT scores in order to apply. Instead, students can apply if they meet the program's minimum undergraduate GPA or minimum work experience.

Why are online MBA programs waiving the GMAT requirement?

Many online MBA programs are waiving the requirement for some students to submit their GMAT scores for several reasons. One integral factor is that research has continuously shown how standardized tests do not accurately reflect students' aptitudes and abilities to perform well in the multifaceted MBA environment. Another reason is that many students have years of professional business experience outside of their academic careers. Universities believe that this hands-on knowledge is a better indicator of these students' competencies than the GMAT and are reconfiguring their application requirements to reflect this. Finally, many schools are now offering online MBA programs, which are specifically designed for working students and therefore these universities would rather focus on students with current professional experience.

Who is qualified for a GMAT waiver?

Potential applicants who are considering whether or not to apply without a GMAT score should carefully check each school's requirements because many differ on what they stipulate. For instance, Boise State University will waive the GMAT in cases where students have already graduated from a master's or doctoral program or if they have a cumulative 3.0 GPA from a bachelor's program and extensive experience in business management. Auburn's MBA program, on the other hand, will only waive the GMAT for students who have previously received a J.D. or a Ph.D. Syracuse University has more explicit requirements regarding their GMAT waivers. Syracuse will waive the GMAT if applicants have 5+ years military experience or 5+ years of professional corporate experience.

AACSB-Accredited Accelerated Online MBA Programs

These online schools offer online MBA programs that can be completed in an accelerated format. With completion lengths ranging from one year to 21 months, each MBA program on this list offers students the opportunity to earn a degree in under two years.

What is an Accelerated Online MBA?

An accelerated online MBA program only takes six months to one year to complete, versus the traditional two years. The shortest of these online programs are six to ten months long, with the average accelerated MBA program taking at least one year to complete. Online MBAs offered at an accelerated rate are designed to equip students with the same skills and training as traditional length programs.

Who Should Consider an Accelerated Online MBA?

Accelerated programs may appeal in particular to students with undergraduate degrees in business. Many accelerated online MBA programs provide opportunities for students with undergraduate business degrees to opt out of some graduate classes to further accelerate the program. In general, accelerated online MBAs are a better fit for individuals with a small window of focused time, a desire to earn the degree quickly, and a solid background in business. The traditional online program works best for students with full-time jobs, who need to take one class at a time, or have other obligations to manage.

Things to Know About Accelerated MBAs

Before selecting an accelerated program, prospective students should keep in mind that the faster the program, the more concentrated the material. Online curriculum is somewhat flexible, but a high concentration of content can overwhelm those who are new in the business world. An accelerated online program requires more organization and diligence, with an expectation that students are ready to work hard and submit high-quality work.

There may be financial incentives to completing an accelerated MBA; the cost of accelerated online MBA programs can range from $10,000 to $30,000+ versus the traditional online MBA cost of $20,000 to $70,000+.

It is also important to note that, while technology allows for more personal interaction than one might expect in an online course, there are elements of the full immersion campus-based MBA experience that could be lost in an online program. The business world is all about networking, face-to-face conversations, working as a team, and interpersonal relationships. Depending on a student's personality it might be wise to find an online program with a local school that offers in-person experiences and interactions

Online MBA Degree Overview & Career Information

The standard online MBA takes two years to complete. Students spend the first year completing general business classes and the second year taking electives in their interest area. Examples of general courses may include organizational behavior, principles of accounting, management information systems, principles of finance, or strategic management. Top MBA programs emphasize communication and the ability to network, so students will participate in group projects, case competitions, and group presentations in order to gain interpersonal skills and writing skills. The ability to write and speak concisely yet comprehensively is a highly coveted skill. Students also learn how to develop their leadership abilities through techniques that enhance their analytical and decision-making skills.

In addition to the standard two year MBA, there are 85 schools offering accelerated online MBA programs that can be completed in under two years. Impressively, West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers an online MBA that full-time students can complete in as little as nine months. Those interested in a specialized program will be pleased with Tennessee Tech University, which offers 6 different MBA degree concentrations.

In addition to acquiring general business skills, students in MBA programs typically focus on one particular aspect of business. This is an important part of the MBA, since many students already have an idea of their strengths and interests before applying to graduate school. Instead of trying to master all forms of business administration, MBA programs have found it beneficial for students to specialize in one form of business, such as organizational leadership, in order to ensure their graduates are competitive in the job market after graduation.

Pursuing an MBA is an important career and life decision, so it's important to take the time to adequately prepare before you begin a program. Be sure to get a financial plan together, and consider your funding options such as scholarships, loans, and savings. Identify your long-term goals, and choose a school that best coincides with your goals, aspirations, and interests. Many of the best MBA programs require either the GMAT or GRE, so be sure to prepare for and take the exams that are necessary for admission to your chosen school.

AACSB Accreditation

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB, is the premier accrediting organization for business degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate level. With approximately 820 accredited members (as of 2018), representing the top 5 percent of the world's business degree programs, attending an AACSB-accredited program ensures that students receive a business education of the highest caliber. AACSB evaluates business degree programs based on the quality of the faculty, the depth and breadth of the curriculum, the level of innovation involved in its academic research, and its ability to graduate highly qualified business professionals. AACSB has the most stringent requirements for both learning environments and learning outcomes. Companies are aware of AACSB's rigorous accreditation process, and many choose to only hire candidates who have attended a business program that has been accredited by the AACSB.

Choosing a Reputable Online MBA Program

The MBA is an excellent degree for professionals to have, whether you’re an engineer moving into a supervisory role or an entrepreneurially-minded college grad looking to start your own business. While researching the top MBA programs, remember to keep your career goals, learning style, and work-life balance in mind, in order to pick the best option for you.

In general, the following criteria can help you evaluate online MBA programs you are considering:

  • Costs and Financial Aid: MBA programs can vary greatly in price. Shop around and make sure that you consider applicable fees and enrollment costs, as well as tuition.
  • Course Structure and Delivery: Part time or full time? Asynchronous or synchronous online classes? Traditional semesters or accelerated classes? All options are available online, but only you can decide which one suits your life and learning style.
  • Graduate Placement: If it is not available on the school’s website, ask the admissions office for information about graduate job placement. Inquire about the percentage of students who were able to find work in their chosen field within three to six months after they graduated.
  • Institutional and Programmatic Accreditation: It is important to choose an accredited MBA. To get accredited, a school or program is evaluated by an impartial accrediting organization. Schools that achieve accreditation have met important quality standards. Institutional accreditation applies to an entire college, while programmatic accreditation applies to individual programs. Anyone considering an MBA degree should focus on schools programatically accredited by the AACSB, which is the premier accrediting agency for business degrees.

Executive MBA

An online executive MBA (EMBA) is a program that is specifically designed for professionals with significant work experience. For this reason, the average age of students enrolled in an executive MBA program is generally higher than students enrolled in other MBA programs. There are several executive MBA programs offered completely online at colleges and universities across the country, and all of these programs are designed to allow students to earn a degree while also continuing to work. Most online executive MBA programs can be completed in two years or less.

Professionals seeking EMBAs come from very diverse backgrounds, including governmental, private and non-profit and a wide variety of industries. EMBA students often hold middle management positions in their respective industries and seek to enhance their leadership skills and further develop their careers. An extensive work history is an asset that helps EMBA students learn from each other, and combine practice with theory. Typical EMBA courses include business related studies, such as finance, marketing, accounting, as well as leadership and management training.

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MBA in Accounting

Students enrolled in an online MBA program specialized in accounting will be focusing their studies on topics such as tax laws, managing financial records, estate taxation and forensic accounting, in addition to core business subjects. Typical courses in an accounting MBA program include, but are not limited to, financial accounting, cost management, auditing, tax planning, problems in financial reporting, fundamentals in managerial accounting, and business strategy.

Graduates holding an online MBA degree in accounting may pursue careers in a wide variety of industries, with positions available in financial services, public accounting, corporate accounting or consulting.  Students may go on to become certified public accountants, a career path in which they would be responsible for filing taxes and completing financial and business planning services, among other tasks. Other common career paths include auditors, enrolled agents, become business analysts, cost accountants, tax planners, controllers, and account managers.

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MBA in Finance

An online MBA in finance is a very versatile degree, as it prepares student for numerous career options, both in financial and non-financial institutions. The program helps students learn how to manage the challenges of investments and risk within a business setting and helps them develop analytical and technical skills in all aspects of finance.

Students participating in an online MBA in finance program will study in depth the role that finance has in everyday life. They will also be studying financial planning, cost-benefit analysis, and emerging markets, as part of their core curricula. Often, these programs will also feature courses such as corporate finance and accounting, management information systems, supply chain management, and decision-making for growth and management.

Graduates of an online MBA in finance may pursue jobs as financial analysts, cash managers, credit managers, financial planners, and risk managers, among other options within the corporate finance and investment banking field. They may also pursue positions within other industries such as sales, trading, and research.

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MBA in Healthcare Management

An online MBA in healthcare management helps to prepare aspiring healthcare managers by coupling specialized knowledge in healthcare with a general management education. Students learn the fundamentals of planning, evaluation and operation, as well as the intricacies and complexities of the healthcare system. Prospective students can expect to learn how to manage and lead organizations across the healthcare sector and about the political, economical, and financial environment in which healthcare is currently delivered.

Typical career options include leadership positions in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, insurance companies, long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Online MBA programs in Healthcare Management offer a combination of business and healthcare related courses. Some common classes include health sector economics, health systems management, healthcare law and policy, health economics and evaluation, and biopharmaceutical and medical device strategy, among others. In many cases, applicants are required to have a minimum of one year of work experience in the health care industry, though this varies from school to school.

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MBA in Human Resources

Online MBAs in human resources offer business expertise and knowledge, with a focus on human relations, communication, and team-leading, preparing their students to serve as senior-level managers, company executives and directors, or to occupy different positions in fields such as human resources or payroll managing. Graduates can also continue to Ph.D. programs or get professional certifications to gain further credentials in their line of business.

In addition to classes on the foundational principles of business, these programs will offer the opportunity to learn about various organizational cultures, communicating in a persuasive way, and solving problems competently. Core courses include human resources focused topics, such as conflict management, talent management, foundations of negotiations, and social issues. Other courses focus more on management and business, such as international management, leadership and team management, strategy process, and management consulting. Online human resource MBA programs typically involve theory and applied work, combining informational coursework with advanced level assignments, presentations, reports, group projects, and internships.  

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MBA in Information Systems

Online MBA in information systems programs are designed to combine business knowledge and technical expertise for students seeking to advance their careers in the IT business field. Students take classes about implementing information and communication technologies to raise productivity and innovation, and gain competitive business advantages. The MBA coursework provides students with an overview of various business topics, including marketing, finance, and risk management. In addition, the curriculum may focus on advanced IT software and hardware skills, and information-related subjects, such as network administration, information system design, database systems, client/server applications, and information management tools.

Degree programs may also feature concentration areas, and students can choose to focus on health informatics or information systems development, for example. Possible career options for graduates holding an MBA degree in information systems include IT strategist, corporate manager and systems consultant; graduates may be part of the upper management of a company, and lead the organization in decision making regarding internet technologies, telecommunications, systems and databases.

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MBA in International Business

An online MBA in international business program will help students gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of global business. Depending on the program, students can choose from different specializations available, like marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship. The core coursework of online international business programs focuses on global economics, accounting, international marketing management, global strategy, financial management, international corporate finance, and other related courses that aim to introduce business issues from a global perspective. Courses may also focus on developing cultural skills, which can prove useful when working within the global marketplace.

Some programs offer the option to study and specialize in a particular, high-demand foreign language, such as German or Japanese. Other programs require previously-acquired proficiency in at least one foreign language, or proof of having taken courses in a foreign language. Graduates holding a degree in this field may pursue work as consultants, business analysts, financial analysts, market research assistants, or marketing analysts. They may also seek work within international organizations, as well as in the travel and hospitality industry.

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MBA in Management

An online MBA in management is similar in many ways to a traditional MBA program, offering an academic introduction into business and business related topics. However, while a traditional MBA teaches business from a broad perspective, an MBA in management places a greater focus on management. Students in an online management MBA program may choose a concentration, such as accounting, international business, finance, marketing management, information systems, strategic management, or human resources. Coursework introduces students to strategic thinking, and helps them to gain an understanding of organizational culture.

Online MBA in management programs help prepare students to handle business related tasks, such as employee motivation, ethical decision making, business law, and workplace security. Typical program courses include accounting, economics, business law, corporate finance, entrepreneurship, and corporate communications. Graduates may pursue careers in virtually any industry and sector, occupying executive, supervisory, and management positions.

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MBA in Marketing

An online MBA in marketing focuses on the marketing aspects of business decisions. Unlike some MBA degree specializations, applicants for an online MBA in marketing program can and do come from almost any professional background and industry. Some people already working in the marketing field may enroll in an online marketing MBA to gain more experience and help advance their careers. Other people may enroll in an online marketing MBA to pursue work or advance their careers in a wide variety of non-marketing industries including retail, IT, consulting, entrepreneurial management, or independent consulting.

As with any other MBA degree, applicants will be required to have a bachelor’s degree, and will also usually be required to have at least a couple of years of work experience before being accepted into the program. Students can expect to take classes in marketing management, marketing channels strategies, forecasting, modeling, and marketing strategy, sales force management, and operations management. Students might also receive specialized education in consumer behavior, selling strategies, and brand and product promotion management.

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MBA in Organizational Leadership

Online MBA programs with a specialization in organizational leadership are designed to offer further education in business and organization theory for professionals who are already occupying leadership positions, and to academically prepare those who aspire to occupy such positions in the future. Just like a traditional online MBA program, an online MBA in organizational leadership focuses on learning and cementing business leadership skills, but using a slightly different approach.

The curriculum of online MBA programs in organizational leadership includes many aspects of business practice, such as financial reporting, marketing management, data analytics, and organizational leadership, with a strong emphasis on personal approaches to business interactions and person-to-person skills, such as collaboration skills, ethics, communication and coaching. This degree may pave the way for professional paths in various industries.

Popular career options for graduates in this field include, among others, sales director, training director, HR director, project team leader, management consultant, human resources director, organizational management consultant, and executive coach.

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MBA in Public Administration

An online MBA in public administration helps students prepare to solve problems related to business administration and practice. These programs focus on advanced business skills as they pertain to the organization of public sector enterprises. Students graduating from an online MBA in public administration program may pursue work in fields such as criminal justice, business management, or public administration.

Job opportunities and possible positions might also include police chief, prison warden, court clerk and tax assessor. Online MBA in public administration programs will generally include coursework in finance management, human resources management, information management, and organizational theory. Classes cover subjects like business relations, public budgeting, enterprise management, public service ethics, public finance, public policy, statistics, and research methods. These courses aid students in understanding how business and economic concepts apply to public organizations.

As with most master degree programs, applicants are usually expected, and in some cases required, to have some work experience. Applicants who haven’t worked in business or government prior to applying for an online MBA in public administration program may be encouraged to work in an internship to gain relevant work experience.

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MBA in Technology Management

Online MBA programs focused on technology management prepare students to become executives in industries in the technology sector. Graduates holding a degree in this field might go on to become chief technology officers, information systems managers, computer system analysts, or occupy other high-level technology-related positions.

Online technology management programs teach students how to enhance business growth by implementing new technology and digital transformation. Students will take core MBA courses, such as marketing, finance and accounting, as well as technology-focused courses. The curriculum includes database management courses, featuring topics like data mining and database architecture; management technology courses, where students can learn about managerial economics, costs and operations of market, IT project management and technical operations strategies; and technology innovation courses, which present the processes by which companies run research and develop new technologies.

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Comprehensive List of AACSB Accredited Online Schools - MBA Degrees

Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Degrees

How much will I earn with an MBA?

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning an MBA will increase a student's salary potential by about $30,000 annually, although this may vary depending on which business-related occupation the student pursues.

Do I have to take the GMAT to apply for an MBA program?

Many schools and universities offering MBA programs, especially online MBA degree programs, have decided to waive the GMAT requirement for some applicants. They recognize that this standardized test is not always a good indicator of a student's ability to succeed in an MBA program. Instead, they believe that prior work experience may be a more appropriate prerequisite that better reflects a candidate's skills and abilities. However, every program has its own unique set of requirements, so students should check with the schools they're interested in to determine whether they'll need to take the GMAT before submitting an application.

References

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