Business schools that offer the best online MBA programs for working professionals are well-known for the world-class quality of their online education, from their rigorous curriculum to their user-friendly learning platform. These online MBA programs accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals through flexible scheduling – asynchronous courses, 24/7 access to learning materials, and synchronous meetings scheduled way ahead of time.
Many of these business schools also offer online MBA programs with reasonable tuition and fees, as well as financial aid options, such as federal aid, institutional scholarships and grants, military benefits, and employee tuition reimbursement plans. These benefits are in addition to the cost savings that come with online education – reduced traveling expenses, for example.
More importantly, these online MBA programs enable MBA students to learn contemporary concepts of business administration that prepare them for leadership roles in the business world and beyond. Concepts like financial analysis, digital marketing, and risk management have direct and practical applications in business settings, from the corporate world to nonprofits.
At A Glance
The best online MBA programs that working professionals will benefit from provide a broad business education that students can apply immediately in their workplaces. Their newfound knowledge and skills also strengthen their competitive edge in leadership positions in academia and research, the business world, and nonprofit work. Indeed, earning an MBA degree has long-term benefits, whether it’s used for employment purposes or entrepreneurial ventures.
Topnotch online MBA programs, however, are famous – or infamous, if you will – for their highly selective admissions process! Being accepted into these online programs is only half the battle, too, with even the most dedicated working professionals challenged by their rigorous curriculum.
Working professionals must be aware of the challenges that come with earning an online MBA degree from prestigious business schools, even with their programs’ flexible schedules, convenient 24/7 access, and excellent student support services. Time management is of the essence, as are organizational, communication, and collaboration skills.
Our Ranking Methodology
The best accredited online MBA programs designed for working professionals featured here were chosen based on the following factors:
- Regional accreditation for the college or university itself must be active and valid.
- Programmatic accreditation is a must for online MBA programs. The gold standard for business school accreditation is AACSB-Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, with fewer than 200 business schools worldwide bearing the accreditation.
- The online MBA programs feature a rigorous curriculum that provides students with a comprehensive business education. Concentrations are considered a bonus. The faculty members have professional credentials, including work experiences that enable them to deliver world-class academic instruction commensurate to the rigor of the coursework.
- Students have the option between part-time and full-time enrollment depending on their personal and professional commitments.
- The online MBA programs have a mix of asynchronous and synchronous courses that accommodate working professionals and their schedules.
- The online programs provide exceptional student support services, networking opportunities, and graduate outcomes for their students. Student experiences were also considered.
Best Online MBA Programs for Working Professionals
Indiana University Bloomington – Kelley School of Business
Online MBA Program
When it comes to online education for working professionals, Kelley Direct has the most experience – its online MBA program was launched in 1999. Since then, it has become among the best online MBA programs due to its excellent quality of instruction, accessibility and affordability, and value for ambitious working professionals.
Dedicated and credentialed professors are among the hallmarks of the top-notch online program. Students say that their professors provide personalized attention, ensure the quality of learning materials, and engage them as if they are in a physical classroom. Professors also use real-world business examples in illustrating their points and, thus, allow students to gain valuable insights into their own workplaces.
Aside from benefiting from the same on-campus curriculum, online students can also earn an MBA degree and a master’s of science degree in business analytics, finance, or strategic management. In either case, the rigorous coursework demands time commitment, but the asynchronous learning format allows for maximum flexibility for working professionals. Students can watch recorded lectures, participate in dynamic live weekly classes, and collaborate with their peers on team projects via Canvas and Zoom.
The program of study encourages students to build on their business skills through the didactic coursework, learn from diverse perspectives, and gain hands-on skills. The 54-credit curriculum can be customized according to each student’s interests through elective courses.
The core business administration courses include marketing management, financial management, and strategic management. Students also tackle courses in business fundamentals and Kelley On-campus courses. Seven concentrations are available, too, including Business Analytics, Marketing, and Supply Chain and Operations.
Students must complete an in-person immersive experience and two in-person, on-campus sessions. These are intended for hands-on business exposures and networking opportunities.
Applicants have a 3.44 average undergraduate GPA and come from 40 states and 12 foreign countries.
The Kelley School of Business is accredited by AACSB.
University of Northern Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan – Flagler Business School
Online MBA Program
Scheduling flexibility, a robust and rigorous curriculum, and expert professors with real-world professors combined with talented students are what make the online MBA program at UNC’s Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School among the best in the world. Such is its flexibility that 99% of its students are employed full-time!
Students in the best online MBA program in North Carolina develop their analytical, critical thinking, and leadership skills alongside their hard skills in business administration. The combination of synchronous and asynchronous delivery of learning materials encourages accountability and engagement among students while also promoting optimum learning. Students not only learn from their talented professors but from each other, too, and their diversity of backgrounds makes for exciting and enlightening discussions.
Online MBA students agree that their professors aren’t just knowledgeable in their areas but also work with students in their learning process. Even the administrative staff provides excellent student support services that enable students to keep on top of their progress. Accessibility and approachability are the hallmarks of both faculty and administrative staff.
The cohort-based online program has four annual start dates that accommodate working professionals. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of professional work experience.
Students choose from six concentrations including Data Analytics and Decision Making, Entrepreneurship, and Strategy and Consulting. The STEM-designated program requires participation in two in-person immersive Summits – an international trip and an on-campus event. Time-to-completion ranges from 18 to 36 months.
UNC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The Kenan-Flagler Business Schools is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
University of Southern California – USC Marshall School of Business
Online MBA Program
Working professionals who don’t want to compromise quality for flexibility will thrive in the online MBA program at USC’s Marshall School of Business. The rigorous curriculum features cutting-edge courses that are in keeping with the technology-driven times and, thus, enable students to apply their learnings to their professional lives.
Online MBA students and graduates agree that their talented and credentialed professors make the rigorous coursework engagingly dynamic resulting in valuable insights into contemporary business issues. Their professors also make it a point to answer their questions and concerns on a timely basis, provide constructive input, and even accommodate busy schedules within reason. One-on-one sessions are also provided for a greater understanding of the course materials.
Yet another feature that makes it among the best online MBA programs is the excellent student support services delivered by competent administrative staff. Students describe it as accessible, timely and systematic, and most students say that the entire online program feels more customized to their specific needs. On-campus resources are also available for online MBA students, and it allows them to meet with their professors, too, in in-person settings.
The online program features a streamlined, industry-tested curriculum that can be completed in 21 months. The core business administration courses include Business Environment and Leadership, Managing Opportunity Recognition and Implementation, and Managing Inside and Outside the Firm. Courses are delivered in asynchronous and synchronous formats and have a modular structure.
Students may choose to take a break from their studies but are usually required to resume the following semester. Applicants must be aware of the highly selective admissions criteria for USC’s online and on-campus programs.
USC’s Marshall School of Business is accredited by AACSB.
Rochester Institute of Technology – Saunders College of Business
Online Executive MBA Program
Yet another of the best online MBA programs offered by an AACSB-accredited university is the Executive MBA program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business. Applicants to the selective executive MBA program must have a minimum of six years of post-baccalaureate professional work experience, usually in mid-to-upper management positions. Students sharpen leadership skills in preparation for greater responsibilities and better work performance.
The 47-credit rigorous curriculum has an accelerated 17-month time-to-completion that requires hard work and effective time management from students. While the coursework is available entirely online, students must attend an on-campus orientation weekend and an international immersion trip during their stay in the online program.
Online MBA students benefit from the interactive live sessions and recorded video lectures that highlight not just the expertise of the professors but the dynamic relationships between students and their lessons. Students also attest to the diversity of the student body, with engineers and business and finance professionals bringing their leadership experience to the virtual classroom.
The executive MBA program emphasizes theory and practice in business administration and management, and students are encouraged to compete and collaborate with their peers. This is a cohort-based online executive MBA program and, thus, students establish networking opportunities that can last a lifetime. In fact, students are assigned their teams from the first day of their stay, usually during the 3-day on-campus orientation session.
Students in the online executive MBA program take two courses during the six-week term. There are 24 courses in the program with course materials, including textbooks, simulations, and case studies. Students in the executive MBA program must participate in an international immersion trip; arrangements, airfare, and lodging are provided by RIT.
The executive MBA has core business administration courses in international business and finance, managerial accounting, and financial planning and analysis, among others.
Arizona State University – WP Carey School of Business
Online MBA Program
There’s no need to sacrifice quality education for flexibility among working professionals interested in earning an online MBA degree! ASU’s Carey School of Business offers an online MBA program that is not only known for its rigorous curriculum, credentialed and approached faculty members, and flexible format but also for its diverse student body, many of whom are attracted to its military-friendly benefits. Many students are experienced managers at large multinational companies, while others are pilots, law school students, and engineers, all of whom are intelligent, talented, and collaborative.
Online students attest to the diversity of the learning environment, too, and the use of top-tier tools and technologies to ensure maximum learning. Constructive feedback from their professors and their overall approachability to students contribute to the positive student experiences. Professors in on-campus programs teach online courses, too, resulting in the same level of quality instruction – and the diplomas for all MBA students are the same.
The 100% online program also allows students to choose from optional concentrations in international business, finance, supply chain management, or marketing. Regardless of concentration, students who want to earn the respected MBA degree must complete 17 five-week classes in the 49-credit curriculum. The core business administration courses include marketing management, managerial economics and managerial accounting, and operations and supply management.
Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in business administration or any other field. The average undergraduate GPA is 3.34, but the minimum cumulative GPA for applicants is 3.0 in the last 60 hours of their bachelor’s degree. Application requirements include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, admission essay, and resume.
The WP Carey School of Business is AACSB-accredited.
University of Denver – Daniels College of Business
Online MBA Program
The University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business offers a flexible time-to-completion for working professionals in its online MBA program – students can earn the MBA degree in as little as 21 months or as long as five years. Online MBA students attest to the reliability and usability of its learning platform, particularly in allowing students to establish connections, access course materials, and engage in lively interactions.
The program structure includes a 90-minute weekly live class where students are encouraged to contribute their insights and apply their learnings to their workplaces. The self-paced learning complements the two in-person immersions and other interactive experiences, too. The faculty members ensure that their students remain engaged with their lessons through lively class discussions and one-on-one sessions, a commitment to student success that can be seen in a few other online MBA programs.
The online program uses 10-week quarters as the academic term. The 60-credit curriculum consists of core business administration and elective courses with a real-world capstone project as the culminating requirement. The coursework covers topics in managerial economics, supply chain management, and business data analytics.
Students can broaden their business education by choosing a concentration in marketing, finance, or executive leadership; the online program allows students to customize their concentration via electives. The student support services are among the best, too, with students raving about the relevance of its career services and the reliability of its IT help desk.
The AACSB-accredited Daniels College of Business has excellent graduate outcomes, with its graduates reporting higher leadership positions and salaries.
University of Florida – Warrington College of Business
Online MBA Program
UF’s Warrington College of Business offers its students the opportunity to earn a well-respected MBA degree while maintaining full-time employment. The accelerated pace of the online MBA programs; however, can be challenging, but the course load itself is manageable with effective time management skills. With its reasonable tuition and fees – UF is a public land-grant research university – combined with excellent graduate outcomes makes it among the best online MBA programs for ambitious working professionals looking for great value.
The learning methods include real-life business cases, lively lectures, class discussions, and recorded lessons. Students praise the engaging ways in which their professors deliver courses and the lifelong connections made with their peers, thanks partly to the cohort-based model. Online MBA students also have in-person networking opportunities with their peers and professors and can request extensions from their professors within reasonable terms.
This may be an online program, but students rave about the in-person environment of the virtual classes. Their fellow classmates also bring their experienced insights into the virtual classroom; many are already managers in Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.
Students choose between the 16-month accelerated program with students required to possess a business undergraduate degree, and the 24-month option for maximum flexibility. The accelerated program consists of 32 credits, while the 24-month program has a 48-credit curriculum due to the required foundation courses for non-business graduates. Prerequisites include financial and managerial accounting, macroeconomics and microeconomics, and calculus and statistics.
Babson College – F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business
Online MBA Program
Babson College, a private business school, is known for its robust emphasis on entrepreneurship for working professionals. Courses are also designed for students to develop their management, organizational and teamwork skills, which are vital for success among entrepreneurs and high-level managers.
Its part-time online MBA program enables working professionals to maintain a good balance between their career, family, and school commitments. Students may even choose to attend on-campus classes if they desire face-to-face interactions with their peers and professors. Such a blended format allows online students to be more familiar with the blended setup adopted by many companies today (i.e., work-from-home). But they can also choose to take all their courses online.
Online MBA students learn their hard and soft skills through didactic coursework and case studies and practical applications of their learnings, a method known as action-based learning. The program even encourages students to create their mock businesses as hands-on experiential learning.
Yet another way that Babson College ensures a manageable course load is by allowing students to take only two courses at a time. Students also benefit from the balance in their courses – one course has a more qualitative aspect while the other requires more quantitative work.
The AACSB-accredited part-time online MBA program has a 45-credit curriculum consisting of core and elective courses and a capstone project and can be completed in three years of part-time studies. Students also choose from three concentrations – entrepreneurship, finance, or marketing.
Pepperdine University – Graziadio Business School
Online MBA Program
The AACSB-accredited Graziadio Business School offers its top-notch online MBA program for high-achieving working professionals who want to benefit from Pepperdine University’s excellent reputation in the business world. Students sharpen their leadership skills while taking advantage of the flexibility and convenience of online courses. But the academic rigor with which the on-campus MBA program is known for isn’t diminished one bit in the online program!
Pepperdine’s Education to Business (E2B) program is widely praised for the career opportunities that MBA students get, thanks to the connections made with successful businesses. Students apply their learnings in real-world business situations while also learning from top management executives, a sort of consulting experience that strengthens their own professional development. These real-world exposures also encourage innovation in business and technology while also complementing the Pepperdine ideals of service, diversity, and excellence.
Time-to-completion can be as little as two years, but students can choose to extend their stay. The online program has a 52-unit curriculum consisting of 15 courses and one immersion experience. Students develop their knowledge and skills in business technology, financial management, and organizational behavior, among others.
There’s also a choice between the general MBA track and seven concentrations – business analytics, finance, marketing, digital innovation and information systems, leadership and managing organizational change, global business, and entrepreneurship. Online MBA students praise their talented professors who encourage out-of-the-box thinking, diversity and inclusivity, and collaboration.
Pepperdine uses its own e-learning portal, GLEAN (Graziadio’s Learning Environment and Network), which can be used for weekly meetings, team projects, and asynchronous learning.
Santa Clara University – Leavey School of Business
Online MBA Program
Santa Clara University offers working professionals the opportunity to earn the best online MBA degree without setting foot in a physical classroom. The online MBA program doesn’t have set class schedules but allows students to tackle as many or as few of the courses as they can handle. Such flexibility is complemented by the professors’ willingness to extend deadlines on assignments upon request and, thus, allow working professionals a better work-life balance.
Online MBA students thrive even with the rigorous coursework, thanks to the credentialed professors who make their course materials engaging, relevant, and responsive to the times. Students and professors also interact via discussion boards where insightful discussions can be enjoyed.
The online program also features a user-friendly, intuitive online learning platform. Students say that there’s little to complain about these features, not to mention that the Leavey School of Business offers free software, too, such as Handshake, Canvas, Camino, and Zoom.
There are two on-campus residences with the first one being an orientation weekend where students become acquainted with both their peers and professors, as well as the program’s requirements. Online students can also access on-campus resources and facilities. Study-abroad courses are also available. Students benefit from the dynamic alumni networking events, such as career fairs, too.
The AACSB-accredited MBA program has four start dates and a two-year completion period for full-time students. There are four concentrations – Data Science and Business Analytics, Marketing, Leading Innovative Organizations, and Finance. All students must complete core courses in financial management, managerial economics, and financial accounting, among others.
University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business
Online MBA Program
Among the salient features that make USF Muma College of Business’ online MBA program among the best due to its flexibility and customizability. Students praise the flexibility that the online asynchronous courses provide that complements the manageable course load, a combination that enables working professionals to earn the degree without leaving their jobs. Students also work with their professors in charting the academic path that best works for their career goals and busy schedules.
Business education at USF is characterized by a solid curriculum that emphasizes contemporary business administration skills, international immersive experiences, and lifelong connections with peers, professors and alumni. Class discussions are dynamic, thanks to the insights provided by the professors and students who come from diverse professional backgrounds. The professors are among the most talented and engaged educators whose commitment to student success is evident in their approachability.
Online MBA students can choose between full-time enrolment for a one-year time-to-degree or part-time enrolment for completion in 2-3 years. Regardless of their time-to-degree, students sharpen their leadership skills along with their creative and innovative mindset, as well as their hard skills in business analytics, financial management, and managerial economics.
Students with their academic advisors in choosing electives for a curated business education. There are also optional concentrations offered in compliance, risk and anti-money laundering, cybersecurity, healthcare analytics, data analytics, and finance. All students must complete foundation, core and capstone courses in addition to their elective and concentration courses.
The online program also offers diverse professional development opportunities like webinars, workshops and networking events. There’s a two-day, on-campus residency aspect, too.
West Texas A&M University – The Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business
Online MBA Program
Mental preparation and intellect, time management skills, and commitment to success are vital in thriving as a working professional/student in WTAMU’s online MBA program. The AACSB-accredited program, however, has a manageable course load that allows students to maintain a balance between their studies, work and personal commitments. Many courses are offered during the winter and summer terms, too, which adds to the manageability of the coursework.
The credentialed professors are part of the reason for its prestigious status as among the best online MBA programs for adult learners and working professionals. While professors have high expectations, they are also well-aware of the juggling act that their students deal with to earn the MBA degree – deadline extensions and prompt replies to emails are just a few of the praises heaped on them. Plus, their comprehensive experience in business and education make them valuable resource persons.
Students have the option of attending on-campus courses, too, but otherwise can enjoy the flexibility of the 100% online asynchronous courses. The maximum time-to-completion is six years but distance learners can earn the MBA degree in two years. There are five semesters during the two-year completion period.
Business education for non-business students starts with leveling courses. MBA core courses for all students include accounting, quantitative analysis, computer application and technology, corporate finance, economic theory, marketing, management, and international business. Students choose from 2-3 courses within these major areas of study.
Specializations in Healthcare Management, Computer Information Systems, Marketing, Procurement Management, and Management are also available. Students, however, may choose the General MBA track.
Rice University – Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business
Online MBA Program
Earning the best online MBA degree from the Ivy of the South requires hard work, but the flexibility of the asynchronous courses and the quad master schedule makes it suitable for working professionals. Students in the online MBA program spend 15-20 hours per week meeting their academic commitments including assignment submissions. There are also live class sessions with PhD-credentialed professors who make it a point to deliver engaging lectures.
Small class sizes in a cohort model are among the hallmarks of the MBA online program, too. With just 15-20 students in each class, the professors can provide one-on-one attention, listen to the diverse perspectives of students, and give constructive feedback. Students also report that their professors are available for work-related consultations, too, which strengthens the classroom-to-workplace applications. Each course also has two professors, meaning students benefit not just from the accessibility but also from the diversity of perspectives.
Aside from the dedicated support advisor, the program also offers 24/7 IT support services. Students can download videos and watch them as many times as they want, even in an offline mode. Professors and students interact through live Zoom-based classes that complement the mobile-friendly asynchronous coursework that features collaborative projects, video simulations, and case studies.
There are residential and international immersion components in the part-time online MBA program, too. Students can earn the MBA degree in two years and choose between a general MBA track and pursue one of seven concentrations. Choices in concentrations are Corporate Strategy, Corporate Finance, Investment Management, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Energy, and Healthcare.
University of Nebraska – Lincoln – College of Business
Online MBA Program
Acceptance into University of Nebraska Lincoln AACSB-accredited online MBA program is tough with applicants considered only with a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of professional management experience, a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and 600 GMAT score. But the challenge is well worth it because students benefit from the internationally-recognized MBA online program known for its rigorous curriculum, flexible program structure, and excellent value.
This is a 100% online program that working professionals agree fits in with their hectic lifestyles. Students choose from six concentrations – Business Analytics, International Business, Supply Chain Management, Marketing, Human Resource Management, and Finance – with business analytics being considered the most popular.
The 48-credit curriculum consists of 10 core courses and six elective courses with an average time-to-completion of 1.5 years. Most working professionals earn the MBA degree in three years but enjoy maximum flexibility in their coursework.
Courses can be taken one at a time during the eight-week semesters. Students develop their knowledge and skills in business strategy, financial accounting, managerial economics, and finance, applied organizational behavior, supply chain management, and human resource management. Courses are delivered via interactive lecture videos, live classes, and shared file storage.
Students learn, too, via group projects that develop their communication and collaboration skills. With students coming from diverse professional backgrounds, both class discussions and group projects have a dynamic and inclusive aspect. Students are performance-oriented, too, with a determination to develop their business acumen in their industries, from manufacturing to medical fields.
In-state and out-of-state students not only get the same quality business education but also enjoy one flat-rate tuition rate – $650 per credit hour.
University of Utah – Eccles School of Business
Online MBA Program
Utah’s AACSB-accredited Eccles School of Business offers among the best MBA programs for both online and on-campus students. The online MBA program features the same on-campus challenging curriculum, phenomenal professors, and cutting-edge business training. Of course, online MBA students enjoy greater accessibility and flexibility in their coursework, thanks to the online learning format.
Yet another aspect that makes the MBA online program among the best is the excellent student support services delivered by competent administrative staff. Student emails are answered in an hour at all hours of the day, the IT assistance services are available 24/7, and the career services are in keeping with the competitive job marketplace. Indeed, it’s a program that runs effectively and efficiently for the benefit of working professionals who cannot be bothered with systemic lags.
While the didactic coursework is done entirely online, students must participate in a three-day on-campus residency during their freshman year. Here, students not only meet their peers and professors but also interact during mixers and participate in group work and lectures.
The online learning platform, furthermore, has the look and feel of a physical classroom, too, making it easier for students to collaborate on group projects. The fact that the students are working professionals with diverse backgrounds – engineers, doctors and business professionals, among others, comprise the student body – make the courses filled with useful insights.
Time-to-completion is 24-26 months, but the maximum time-to-degree is four years for the 48-credit program. Students can take two classes per term and tackle the same core business courses, including marketing management, financial management, and business ethics.
Online Professional MBA Program
The world-renowned Naveen Jindal School of Management’s online Professional MBA program has an identical curriculum as the on-campus program. This is also a 100% online program – no on-campus requirements – that accommodate the busy lifestyles of working professionals with career and family obligations. Students earn the MBA degree at their own pace, thanks to part-time enrolment, in addition to the non-structured class format – and students can take on more classes if their schedules permit it, too.
Despite the online format, however, there’s a strong sense of the program providing personalized attention and academic path for every student. Both the faculty and staff members work with students to ensure that, indeed, their learning experiences are positive from admission to graduation.
The coursework consists of both synchronous live classes and asynchronous coursework with live and recorded lectures given world-class multimedia production treatment. The mobile-friendly learning platform also allows students to review their courses from anywhere and anytime via their smartphones and tablets.
The 53-credit program prepares working professionals for leadership positions in the public and private sectors. While hard skills are valued, their soft skills are notable, too, for their transferability between industries. Students develop their expert abilities in planning, implementing and evaluating solutions for business issues.
Time-to-completion can be as little as 21 months, with a maximum time-to-degree being six years. Students tackle a wide range of business subjects, including managerial and financial accounting, international business management, and organizational behavior. The business school offers the most comprehensive number of concentrations – 15 in all – including healthcare management, strategic management, and systems engineering management.
University of Massachusetts – Amherst (UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management)
Online MBA Program
UMass Amherst’s AACSB-accredited online MBA program is considered among the best in online education for working professionals because of the right balance between affordability, flexibility, and quality. Students praise the professors’ expert use of the online learning platform combined with their own business expertise – and it’s a combination that contributes to the sought-after business education. The learning management system itself has user-friendly, intuitive features that make online learning more productive and meaningful.
The student body in the MBA online program isn’t just a diverse bunch, but the students are also motivated, experienced in their fields, and willing to share their expertise. Such a positive attitude contributes to the interesting viewpoints and informative class discussions that, in turn, enrich the overall student experience.
The MBA curriculum consists of 11 core courses with elective courses ranging in credits from three to nine, depending on each student’s career goals. Students create their own degree roadmap at the start of the program with their academic advisors.
The time-to-completion is also as flexible as the curriculum requirements – students can earn the MBA degree in two to four years. There are four terms, too, where courses in statistics for business, strategic information management, and human resource management, among others, can be taken.
There are five concentrations to choose from, namely, Business Analytics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Healthcare Administration, Marketing, and Sport Management. Online MBA students can access on-campus resources while also having access to online academic advising and career services.
University of South Dakota – Beacom School of Business
Online MBA Program
The well-renowned Beacom School of Business offers an online MBA program that’s the only AACSB-accredited program in South Dakota. As a public research university, its tuition and fees are among the most affordable and it includes the topnotch 100% online program.
While the courses are challenging, students say that the course load itself is manageable, thanks to the deliberate effort on the professors’ part. Learning can then be maximized since students can gain a deeper understanding of the course materials. The professors are also instrumental in student learning through constructive feedback, engaging lectures, and personalized attention.
While it’s an online program, there’s little to none of the impersonal approach that characterizes many inferior online programs. Students are welcomed to the program with a phone call, for example, and other measures that demonstrate each student is valued as a person, not just a number. The diversity of the student body also contributes to dynamic and well-rounded class discussions.
Soft skills development is emphasized in every course, too. Students develop their analytical and critical thinking skills in planning, implementing, evaluating viable, ethical and sustainable solutions.
Hard skills in business administration are developed through the rigorous 33-credit curriculum. Courses include managerial economics, accounting and finance, operations management, and strategic management, and more.
Students may choose the general MBA track but can also choose from five concentrations – Business Analytics, Finance, Health Services Administration, Marketing, and Operations and Supply Chain Management. Students may also choose between a thesis and non-thesis track.
Old Dominion University – College of Business & Public Administration
Online MBA Program
Old Dominion’s online MBA program accepts both recent college graduates and working professionals looking for a flexible program that allows them to maintain full-time employment. Students can earn the MBA degree at their own pace, such as part-time students taking only two classes every semester or only one class in a half-semester.
The comprehensive curriculum, however, requires significant time commitment, but it’s manageable – effective time management and organizational skills are vital. Students take their exams with the assistance of AI proctoring, too, meaning there’s flexibility in when you can take an exam.
The eight-week courses in the 43-credit curriculum consist of business foundation, MBA core knowledge, skills development, depth classes, and electives. The electives can be used as concentration courses and in earning professional certifications, too. All students must complete a capstone experience course as a culminating requirement.
Courses covered include financial accounting, organizational behavior, international management, and financial management. The skills courses cover ethical decision-making and emotional intelligence.
Concentrations are in Business Analytics, Maritime and Ports Management, Project Management, Public Procurement and Contract Management, and Supply Chain Management.
In addition to the excellent academics, the online MBA program features credentialed professors with a professional attitude and with a willingness to work with students on their deadlines. These professors are also known for their expert use of technology in delivering their course materials and in their prompt responses to students’ questions and concerns.
Peer-to-peer and student-to-professor interactions can be made in real-time, too, through web conferencing and other collaborative tools. Academic advising, technical support, and student support and career services are within easy reach, too. Students also have access to free software like Microsoft Office 365, LinkedIn Learning, and Microsoft OneDrive.
University of Arizona – Eller College of Management
Online MBA Program
There are six start dates in Arizona’s AACSB-accredited online MBA program, meaning working professionals can start their MBA studies at their convenience. The program’s flexibility is demonstrated by allowing students to take as many or as little courses as they can at a time. Of course, its affordable tuition and fees, coupled with the great reputation of its online business education means it’s popular among working professionals and employers.
In addition to the multiple start dates, the courses are delivered in a carousel format, meaning the course sequence is repeated every 14 months. Every semester has two sessions, with every session allowing for at least two courses and two electives. The 45-credit curriculum covers topics in business strategy, financial management, and strategic management of information systems, and more.
All courses are delivered in an asynchronous format with 24/7 access to the course materials and weekly submissions of assignments. Blackboard is the learning management system used that enables group discussions, video lectures and other accessible features.
Students may or may not participate in an international immersion experience. Recent foreign countries visited include Brazil, Singapore, and Chile. Concentrations are also offered, namely, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Health Care Management, Management and Organizations, Privacy and Security, and Marketing. Time-to-degree can be as little as 14 months, but students can take up to four years to earn the online MBA degree.
About MBA Programs for Working Professionals
Be prepared for the challenging yet rewarding demands of the best online MBA programs designed for working professionals, nonetheless. Setting realistic expectations will increase your chances of earning an MBA degree from one of the best business schools featured here.
Business schools offering the best online MBA programs provide flexible time-to-completion for working professionals. While an MBA degree can be earned in two years of full-time studies, students are usually allowed to study at their own pace or enroll on a part-time basis. The time-to-completion can then stretch between three and five years; check out the maximum time-to-degree to avoid complications with your degree completion. Many online MBA programs also have accelerated time-to-completion between 12 and 18 months, but these can be more challenging for working professionals because of their fast-paced curriculum sequence.
MBA Program for Working Professionals Curriculum
Online MBA programs are obviously focused on the acquisition of business administration knowledge and skills among their students. Their curriculum then emphasizes core courses in business administration including:
- Business Communication
Students improve their business communication skills, both in the oral and written aspects, including their persuasion and presentation skills.
- Business Ethics
Students learn modern business ethics and the issues that surround it, as well as develop the skills in making and defending decisions based on ethical grounds.
- Business Data Analysis
Students use different business data analysis tools and technologies that enable better decision-making and problem-solving skills.
- Financial Accounting
Students learn the language of business – accounting – that enables them to read, analyze and interpret financial statements and make informed decisions based on their professional understanding.
- Financial Management
Students develop helpful understanding of the use of financial and managerial accounting data in finding solutions for managerial issues.
- Managerial Accounting
Students gain skills in activity-based costing, pricing and product mix decisions, and cost estimations, among other aspects of managerial accounting. The course also integrates issues in finance, marketing and operations, and human resource management in relation to accounting.
- Managerial Economics
Students learn the fundamentals of economics including market supply and demand, consumer theory, and banking systems, from a managerial viewpoint.
- Human Resource Management
Students develop their leadership skills and effectiveness by learning about concepts in human behavior and organizational leadership.
- Marketing Management
Students learn marketing management concepts, principles, and practices, from design to evaluation.
Other core courses are operations management, organizational management, and strategic management. Many online MBA programs also emphasize business innovation and entrepreneurship and, thus, require courses, along these areas of study.
Business schools offering the best online MBA programs intended for working professionals also require the completion of elective courses. These electives are designed to increase the depth and breadth of the students’ business education. Many of these electives may also be part of concentration requirements.
Depending on the online MBA program, students may also be required to complete a capstone project or a master’s thesis. Online MBA programs with a non-thesis track usually require completion of a capstone project, a demonstration of practical applications of business administration concepts.
Online MBA programs with a master’s thesis track usually prepare students for careers in academia and research. These online MBA programs are more suitable for working professionals who want to pursue a doctorate degree, either a PhD in Business Administration or a Doctor of Business Administration, in the future.
Both a master’s thesis and a capstone course are considered culminating requirements in earning an MBA degree. Failing to meet their requirements can result in disqualification – or in most cases, the concerned student will be asked to revise their master’s thesis or capstone project until it complies with the standards.
MBA Concentrations for Working Professionals
Many business schools with the best online MBA programs for working business and non-business professionals also offer students in-person on-campus residencies and domestic and/or international immersion opportunities. The University of Denver, Indiana University, and Pepperdine University are a few examples. These in-person activities aren’t just for networking opportunities but also allow students to visit industry sites, learn from business leaders, and even find solutions to real-world business issues.
While online MBA programs provide students with a broad business education, many business schools also allow students to choose from several concentrations. While choosing a concentration isn’t necessary, it will result in specialized skills that will expand your employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Common concentrations in online MBA programs are:
- Business Analytics
- Corporate Finance
- Healthcare Management and Leadership
- Real Estate
- Supply Chain Management
- Strategic Management
- Organizational Behavior and Leadership
The best online MBA programs use learning management systems (LMS) to engage online MBA students in their coursework, peer-to-peer and peer-to-professor interactions, and other virtual activities. Depending on the online program, the LMS used may be a widely-used platform such as Canvas, Moodle, or Blackboard or an in-house learning platform like Pepperdine’s GLEAN (Graziadio’s Learning Environment and Network).
Online MBA programs also use a mix of synchronous and asynchronous courses that enable working professionals to thrive as distance learners. Online learning becomes more convenient with asynchronous activities like recorded video presentations, moderated discussion boards, self-assessment exercises, and case studies and simulations. Online students also benefit from synchronous activities like live class sessions, collaborative virtual assessments and activities, one-on-one sessions with faculty members, and other real-time interactions.
Common MBA Admission Requirements for Working Professionals
Online MBA students also enjoy many, if not most, of the on-campus student support services that their on-campus counterparts enjoy. Business schools even encourage their online MBA students to visit the campus and enjoy the on-campus resources if they so desire. Among the student support services that the best online MBA programs offer are career services and counseling, writing centers, alumni connections, and IT help desk. Even working professionals with impressive career advancement opportunities, writing abilities, and/or expansive networks will benefit from these student support services offered by online MBA programs.
Prospective students in the best online MBA programs must be prepared for the selective admission process that topnotch business schools adopt. While the admission requirements and criteria vary, the following are common among online and on-campus programs:
- A bachelor’s degree from a university with regional accreditation. Both business administration and non-business administration undergraduate degrees are acceptable. But non-business administration working professionals may be required to complete foundation courses that enable them to thrive as distance learners.
- An average undergraduate GPA is usually stated, which can range from 2.75 to 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. We suggest considering the average undergraduate GPA requirement when looking at online MBA programs because it can make or break your application. Many online programs also consider the average undergraduate GPA for GMAT/GRE waivers and merit scholarships.
- Official transcripts.
- Depending on the business school, either the GMAT or GRE test scores are acceptable. Many business schools, however, only accept the GMAT scores and set acceptable scores, usually between 650 and 690, with 700 and higher being preferred.
- Three letters of recommendation from student advisors, undergraduate professors, mentors, and employers are de rigueur for many of the competitive online MBA programs. These letters of recommendation must provide useful insights into the applicant’s educational and professional achievements and potential.
- Professional resume highlighting the applicant’s work experience, particularly in terms of management experience and leadership progress. Most online MBA programs require a minimum number of post-baccalaureate professional working experience.
- A personal statement or essay that explains their career objectives and reasons for earning an MBA degree in the online program.
The top-notch online MBA programs use specific criteria in evaluating the strength of each applicant’s application. While the criteria isn’t public knowledge, it’s safe to assume that weaknesses in one area can be offset by strengths in other areas. Working professionals are then well-advised to highlight their career progression in their professional resumes and personal statement.
Online MBA programs usually have clear and defined tuition and fees so that online students can plan ahead. Most, if not all, online and on-campus programs have a per credit tuition structure that makes it easy to compute total tuition (i.e., excluding fees and other charges). Many online programs also have the same in-state tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students, such as the University of Utah.
According to a Forbes article, MBA degrees are among the most expensive graduate degrees in the United States. The average cost is $19,749 per year, but it can be as high as $120,000 for an entire two-year program. Tuition and fees also widely differ based on whether the business school belongs to a public or private university – public universities tend to have lower tuition and fees than private universities.
Fortunately, there are many ways to finance your MBA degree! Filing the FAFSA for federal aid is the first step, not only because it’s the way with which the federal government determines eligibility for graduate student aid but also because many colleges and universities also use it for the same purpose. Ask about the scholarships, grants and loans, and work-study programs available in online MBA programs, too.
There are also traditional online MBA programs and Executive MBA programs that working professionals can choose from. These MBA programs have significant differences that prospective students must consider when making their choice.
Executive MBA programs emphasize the depth and breadth of professional business experience among their students, usually at least ten years. The traditional online MBA programs are more suitable for working professionals with less work experience and leadership roles.
With their depth and breadth of business skills, long-time working professionals will thrive in executive MBA programs that emphasize practical skills and their direct applications in real-world settings. Students are more driven to be more effective C-suite leaders in executive MBA programs.
Graduates of executive MBA programs are then more likely to be hired as CEOs, CFOs and SVPs of Operations. Graduates of traditional online MBA programs have the foundational skills to become corporate controllers, senior management and financial analysts, and finance directors.
Executive MBA programs tend to be more expensive than traditional online MBA programs. Employer tuition reimbursements, however, can defray the costs of attending executive MBA programs, particularly when these have an international immersion component.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the career opportunities for MBA graduates of the best online MBA programs?
The online degree in business administration can lead to many C-suite and executive positions like chief executive officers, chief operations officers, and operations executives. You can also become a business growth strategist, human resource manager, or management consultant.
Is an online MBA worth it?
Yes, of course! The online degree is as recognized as its on-campus counterpart; all the best online MBA programs featured here don’t make a distinction on the diploma and official transcripts between online and on-campus programs. MBA graduates are highly sought-after by corporate recruiters, staffing firms, and headhunters and their salaries are among the highest, too. The return on investment is seen after one year of full-time employment, too.
What can MBA graduates do after earning the online degree?
The best online MBA programs are only the start of a lifelong learning journey! Aside from a terminal degree, MBA graduates can also earn additional certifications. Examples include Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), Financial Risk Manager (FRM), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) credentials.
Graduates of the best online MBA programs for business and non-business professionals attest that, indeed, the time, energy and money spent on pursuing their MBA degrees are among their best investments. The excellent career advancement opportunities are equaled by the deep sense of personal fulfillment of thriving in the rigorous academic environment while also benefiting from the immersion experiences and networking opportunities.
Before you go, see the following:
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