#1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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 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
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 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:
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.
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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