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2023 Best Online MBA Programs

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/18/2023
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in MBA Badge

An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) is designed for students who are interested in obtaining managerial and executive positions. A business graduate program can help students develop sought-after skills and knowledge for managerial and leadership roles. Many colleges with online MBAs explore topics like finance, decision-making, and economics. Potential courses that students may encounter in an online MBA include Financial Accounting, Role of the Manager, Decision Analytics, and usually a capstone course. In addition, many online MBA programs may require online students to attend an in-person orientation and/or learning residencies. Some online schools offer accelerated MBAs, which are intensive programs that can take less than 24 months to complete. 

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2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in MBA Badge
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Online MBA Master's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online MBA Programs

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 100 100 $135,965
# 2 #2 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor 100 $139,794
# 3 #3 University of Southern California 100 $127,841
# 4 #4 Lehigh University 99 $122,676
# 5 #5 University of Arkansas 99 $122,450
# 6 #6 Southern Methodist University 99 $118,537
# 7 #7 University of Minnesota - Online 99 $117,587
# 8 #8 Golden Gate University 99 $117,549
# 9 #9 University of Massachusetts - Amherst 98 $112,236
# 10 #10 Temple University 97 $109,345

#1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $135,965
  • Locations: Chapel Hill (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is a public institution offering an online Master of Business Administration totaling 62 credit hours. This master's program offers six concentrations, such as Data Analytics and Decision Making. Another option is Management and Leadership. It can take full-time students 18 to 36 months to complete the program.

UNC facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning through Canvas. This program equips students with the skills and knowledge to assume leadership roles in the business sector. Sample courses include Analytical Tools for Decision Making, Financial Accounting, and Strategic Economics. Students must attend a minimum of two Summits, which are quarterly, in-person immersive experiences. Potential career options include business development executives, human resources managers, and management consultants.

#2 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $139,794
  • Locations: Ann Arbor (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (UMICH), a public institution, prospective students can pursue an online Master of Business Administration, which requires 57 credit hours. The program can last 3.5 to 4 years. The program’s UMICH’s Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) partners students with real companies to solve business problems.

UMICH’s online students complete coursework asynchronously through the software Canvas. A master’s of business administration is designed for students who aspire to work in general management, executive leadership, and entrepreneurship. The program’s courses include Corporate Financial Reporting, Health Care Markets and Public Policies, and Entrepreneurship via Acquisitions. In-person learning residencies at UMICH’s campus are required to graduate. Prospective careers include chief executive officers, benefits administrators, and application business analysts.

#3 University of Southern California

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $127,841
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Southern California (USC) is a private nonprofit institution that offers an online Master of Business Administration totaling 51 credit hours. This flexible, accelerated program can take students 21 months to complete. It's designed for working professionals looking to advance their careers.

At USC, online students complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously through the learning management system Blackboard. This online program’s curriculum incorporates real-world scenarios to prepare students for executive leadership roles. Some of the program’s courses are Role of the Manager, Opportunity Recognition and Implementation, and Managing Outside the Firm. Students are required to attend an in-person, week-long intensive on campus. Graduates may pursue careers like senior human resources managers, senior associates, and directors of innovation.

#4 Lehigh University

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $122,676
  • Locations: Bethlehem (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Lehigh University is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online Flex Master of Business Administration that totals 36 credit hours. The program has eight concentrations, which include Business Analytics, Corporate Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Marketing. It can take full-time students two years to complete this program.

Lehigh facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning through a platform called Course Site. A master’s in business administration is designed for students who aspire to obtain managerial leadership roles in the business sector. Sample courses include Decision Analytics, Managing People, and Strategy for Competitive Advantage. An orientation and capstone course are both required for graduation. Potential career opportunities for graduates include marketing analysts, senior vice presidents, and account executives.

#5 University of Arkansas

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $122,450
  • Locations: Fayetteville (AR)
  • Accreditation: HLC

University of Arkansas (UARK) is a public institution that offers an online Executive Master of Business Administration totaling 38 credit hours. The program includes tracks that students can choose from, such as Business Analytics, General Business Administration, and Retail. It can take two years for full-time students to complete the program.

At UARK, online students complete coursework delivered asynchronously and synchronously on Blackboard. The program helps students develop leadership and management skills to advance or transition careers. The program’s courses include Global Business, Leadership and Organizational Behavior, and Financial Statement Analysis for Executives. Students are required to attend a multi-day orientation and monthly gatherings. Graduates of the program may pursue careers like management consultants, program managers, and investment bankers.

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Overview of Online MBA Degrees

One of the oldest graduate degrees available, a master's of business administration (MBA) is designed to equip students with in-depth knowledge of fundamental business concepts and help them develop advanced skills in management, negotiation, and strategic thinking. Online MBA degrees are popular for individuals hoping to become effective business leaders, change professions, or embark on an entrepreneurial career.

MBAs are in high demand, and earning this degree can significantly increase a graduate's employability. Aside from helping applicants land a job, this credential also provides working professionals with opportunities to advance their careers. 

According to Heather Morgan, an MBA graduate who frequently writes about  topics in leadership and self-development, "MBA holders are the type of leaders that top organizations are looking to promote to positions of greater authority and responsibility." It's, therefore, no surprise that MBA graduates can go on to hold high-level positions, such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and project manager.

MBA holders are the type of leaders that top organizations are looking to promote to positions of greater authority and responsibility.

What Is an MBA?

An MBA explores business fundamentals like finance, marketing, and accounting in depth. Along the way, group projects and case studies give MBA students opportunities to develop valuable soft skills, such as collaboration, communication, analysis, and problem-solving. The ultimate goal of an MBA program is to turn business professionals into business leaders, prepared to guide virtually any type of organization in any industry. 

When choosing an online MBA program, you'll notice that many types of MBA programs are available. This allows you to focus on the industry or aspect of business that interests you most. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council's 2022 Corporate Recruiters Survey, the top job functions that recruiters plan to hire for in the near future include strategy, innovation, general management, marketing, and project management. So general MBAs and those with specializations in management, marketing, or project management will be in demand. 

Types of MBAs

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages to earning a master's in business administration online is that you can choose from a much broader range of programs without having to relocate. Online MBA schools offer many types of MBA degrees, which allows you to select the program that is most likely to help you achieve your career goals. Enrolling in a specialized program may also create more networking opportunities with your peers.

Accelerated MBAs

Accelerated MBA programs are designed for students who already hold a bachelor's degree in business. Although these programs can usually be completed in 6-18 months, the back-to-back courses are fast-paced and fairly demanding. 

Executive MBAs

Executive MBA programs, which typically take two years to complete, are aimed at business professionals who have accumulated several years of work experience in a business environment. Coursework challenges students to apply what they're learning to their jobs as they hone their leadership skills.

MBA in Accounting

An MBA in Accounting program provides a strong foundation in financial and managerial accounting, financial reporting, and strategic decision-making. Many students earn an MBA in Accounting to help meet the requirements for becoming a Certified Public Accountant and position themselves for executive-level management roles in finance. 

MBA in Finance

The curriculum for an MBA in Finance focuses on financial planning, risk management, and investments, while also covering all aspects of business. Coursework prepares students for a wide range of advanced positions within the finance and banking industries, as well as many other corporations and organizations in all types of industries. 

MBA in Healthcare Management

An MBA in Healthcare Management program helps prepare graduates for high-level managerial positions in the healthcare industry, including pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Programs typically combine general business administration courses with specialty classes on the U.S. healthcare system, healthcare regulations, and insurance. 

MBA in Human Resources

Human Resources is an important part of an organization's stability and growth strategy. The courses in an MBA in Human Resources program provide insights into talent management, training, and employment law. 

MBA in Information Systems

An MBA in Information Systems is designed for information technology professionals who want to develop their leadership abilities. The curriculum usually combines advanced courses in IT with business management courses to prepare graduates for higher-level managerial roles. 

MBA in International Business

An MBA in International Business program typically includes specialized courses on global economics, international marketing, and international trade and finance. This degree is particularly useful for prospective high-level managers who intend to work for a multinational or global business.

MBA in Management

An MBA in Management is one of the most versatile types of MBAs because it covers the business fundamentals and leadership skills that can be applied in virtually any organization. Enrollees typically take advanced courses in accounting, finance, and marketing while developing strengths in motivating others, ethical decision-making, and strategic planning.

MBA in Marketing

Another versatile degree, an MBA in Marketing prepares graduates for high-level positions in all types of businesses and industries. The curriculum often includes advanced courses in marketing, such as consumer behavior and branding, as well as selling skills like forecasting and sales force management.

MBA in Organizational Leadership

An MBA in Organizational Leadership is an interdisciplinary program. Students explore business management by viewing it through the lens of psychology and human behavior. Some of the occupations open to graduates with this MBA are corporate trainer, sales director, and organizational management consultant.

MBA in Public Administration

MBA in Public Administration programs demonstrate how business concepts can be applied in public sector organizations. Those who want to assume management roles in state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations may want to consider pursuing this type of MBA.

MBA in Technology Management

Students in an MBA in Technology Management program learn how to generate business growth through the innovative and effective use of technology. Graduates with this type of MBA often go on to become chief technology officers and information systems managers.

Admission Requirements for an Online MBA

Students need to complete 36-60 credit hours to achieve an MBA online. Admission requirements vary by program, but are typically similar for traditional and online degrees. In general, students need the following prerequisites and materials to apply:

  • A bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA

  • 2-3 years of relevant work experience

  • GRE or GMAT scores that meet specific program requirements

  • A resume and personal statement describing a student's interest in earning an MBA

  • Letters of recommendation from mentors or teachers

To learn about online MBA programs in other states, explore our list of AACSB-accredited online MBA programs by state: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.

MBA Program Courses and Curriculum

Students enrolled in an online MBA degree program study business concepts in marketing, finance, information technology, and supply chain management, to name a few. Coursework in an MBA curriculum typically covers foundational business principles by integrating assignments and lectures with practical exercises, such as presentations and team projects. These are meant to give individuals hands-on experience of what it's like to work in a real-world setting. 

Common courses across MBA programs support a curriculum that builds strong leadership, effective communication, and comprehensive management skills. While course titles may vary across programs, the content of these online classes is similar to ensure comparable student outcomes no matter where you graduate with your degree. 

Below are some common courses in MBAs:

Building Effective Teams

Lessons are designed to teach group and team behavior theory and processes. This knowledge about the dynamics of teams can help you successfully manage groups and work within various team settings. Topics may include goal setting, communication, and team leadership.

Negotiation for Managers

Course content aims to give you a competitive edge in negotiations as a manager in a way that reinforces positive work relationships. In addition, opportunities to practice deal-making and conflict resolution can help you understand and apply negotiation theories and concepts.

Sustainable Operations Management

The goal of this course is to familiarize you with the language, concepts, and tools of operations and supply chain management with a focus on integrating sustainability into an organization. You may analyze real-world models of sustainability for context to observe the relationship between sustainable supply chains and local and global economies in terms of their environmental impact and social contribution.

Business Environment and Leadership

In this core course, students strive to understand how they can foster a healthy business. Specifically, they seek to develop the kind of strategic analysis skills that can be used to project profits, take advantage of market opportunities, and identify potential short- and long-term challenges.

Leveraging Global Opportunities

Given the increasing interconnectedness of the world economy, this elective class emphasizes the importance of international business. Covered topics include how to build diverse partnerships, manage large supply chains, and work with individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

What Can You Do With an MBA?

Given that MBAs vary considerably from program to program, not all students graduate with the same job opportunities in terms of employers, starting salaries, or industries. For instance, certain programs can lead to careers with prestigious consulting firms, while others can lead to high salaries or a chance to work in the non-profit or tech sectors. Below is a list of potential career opportunities for graduates, along with job outlook and salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While it is possible to land these careers with a bachelor's, an MBA can improve a candidate's competitiveness and may even be required by some employers.

Financial Managers

Median Annual Salary: $131,710
Job Growth: 17%

Financial managers oversee the fiscal state of an organization. In addition to gathering and communicating financial information, they also identify new investment opportunities to increase profits and lay out budgeting plans. These professionals can work for large firms, private hedge funds, or individual clients.

Human Resources Managers

Median Annual Salary: $126,230
Job Growth: 7%

Human resources managers are responsible for developing and implementing employee programs. Their work involves supervising recruitment, managing compensation programs, and ensuring a business meets state and federal employment standards.

Top Executives

Median Annual Salary: $98,980
Job Growth: 6%

Top executives can take on many roles, such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, or chief operating officer. In these positions, they manage high-level operational affairs and help direct a firm's vision, future strategy, and partnership. Their day-to-day work can involve analyzing detailed reports and meeting with shareholders.

Is an Online MBA Worth It?

The value of any higher education will depend, in part, on an individual's financial circumstances, personal goals, and other commitments. Overall, an online MBA can be a suitable choice for individuals hoping to advance their careers or gain job security. As Morgan continues, "In today's uncertain business environment where cutbacks and lay-offs can be necessary, it is crucial to have every edge available to market yourself." 

However, in addition to a brighter job outlook, students may also want to consider the following potential benefits and disadvantages of enrolling in an online MBA program:

Potential Advantages

  • An MBA may yield a high salary. Based on the 2021 Graduate Management Admission Council's Corporate Recruiters Survey, MBA holders earn a median annual salary of $115,000 per year, which is 77% higher than those with a bachelor's degree.

  • This is a versatile credential that can open employment opportunities in multiple sectors. Employers in a range of industries — such as tech, healthcare, energy, and government — rely on business operations, making the job outlook for MBA holders quite favorable.

  • An online MBA offers students flexibility and the chance to complete coursework at their own pace. Online learning is ideal for non-traditional students, such as working professionals, who need to fit classes around a busy schedule.

Potential Drawbacks

  • This degree can take longer to complete than other graduate programs. Many MBAs require students to have 2-3 years of work experience before enrolling. With an additional two years to finish coursework, it could take up to five years to earn this credential.

  • An online master's may not offer the same networking opportunities as a campus program. Given their limited interaction with peers and faculty, distance learners in an online MBA may be less likely to develop the kind of relationships that can help land a competitive job.  

Is an MBA a Good Fit for Me?

Individuals who enjoy solving complex logistical problems, collaborating with others, and taking on leadership positions may find an MBA program to be both rewarding and fulfilling. In addition to providing advanced training in various business fields,this degree pushes students to build a professional network while also refining their own managerial style. Indeed, the data analytics firm, Burning Glass Technologies, identifies communication, building relationships, and planning as baseline skills that can help individuals succeed in business professions. Given that these are precisely the skills that an MBA aims to develop, students with a natural ability to excel in these areas or those confident enough to challenge themselves to grow into a leadership role are likely to be a good fit for an MBA program.

FAQs About Online MBAs

Is an Online MBA Worth It?

Determining whether an online MBA is worth it is a personal decision that must be based on your own goals and circumstances. However, a master's degree in business administration may be valuable because it prepares you for mid- and high-level management positions that often feature higher salaries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median weekly income for master's degree holders is $1,574, as compared to the $1,334 median for all bachelor's degree holders. Taking online MBA courses is also likely to help you develop marketable skills, such as critical thinking, business analytics, and written and verbal communication skills.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online MBA?

It can take anywhere from 18 months to four years to get an online MBA, but the average is about two years. The length of time you'll need depends on the program's graduation requirements and whether you're a full-time or part-time student.

How Much Does an Online MBA Cost?

The total cost of an online MBA varies widely depending on the school's tuition rate and the number of required credit hours in the program. In some cases, it may be cheaper to earn an MBA online, and there are many affordable online MBA options to choose from. Financial aid, such as grants, scholarships, and tuition reimbursement programs, may also help you reduce your online MBA cost.

Are Online MBA Programs Easier to Get Into?

No, online MBA programs are not easier to get into than traditional MBA programs. Each graduate school of business establishes its own admission requirements that are the same for both on-campus and online learning students. However, some schools are less competitive than others and accept a greater number of applicants.

Are Online MBAs Respected?

Online degrees are increasingly respected by hiring managers. What's more, many prestigious institutions offer a distance learning option for their MBA programs. While some employers may prefer those with a traditional degree, an online credential is unlikely to reduce a graduate's ability to secure a job.

What Else Should You Consider?

Those interested in this degree should consider the following factors before deciding which program to enroll in.


Students should choose an accredited school as well as one that is recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or International Accreditation Council for Business Education. These stamps of approval will ensure students receive a quality online education and qualify for the same employment opportunities as graduates from traditional, on-campus programs.

Return on Investment

While it's important to enroll in an affordable program, students may also want to consider future return on investment. An MBA can yield a high starting salary as well as an increase in earnings over time, allowing students to pay for the degree's upfront costs in the long-term.

Specialized vs. Generalized MBAs

A generalized MBA covers concepts in various business disciplines and may be useful for those who are interested in exploring career options after they graduate. By contrast, students who want to secure a job in a specific area — such as healthcare management — can enroll in a specialized program that includes advanced coursework in a particular area of study.

Online Learning Support and Resources

Distance programs can be difficult to complete, so students should check whether an online MBA offers sufficient learning support. This can include 24/7 access to lectures and assignments, regular check-ins with advisors, and peer learning opportunities.

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