This article highlights the top 20 cheap MBA degrees online.
For years, the MBA has been one of the most popular graduate programs around (if not the most popular). And it makes sense; young professionals who earn an MBA can expect better jobs (or a promotion from their current position), higher salaries, and bigger bonuses than their colleagues who lack this advanced credential. Check out this U.S. News Data Report on MBA salary prospects and job rates to learn more.
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20 Best Affordable Online MBA Programs
|Ranking||Institution||Cost per Credit (avg.)|
|1||Southern New Hampshire University||$627|
|3||Saint Leo University||$485|
|5||University of Houston-Clear Lake||$560|
|7||Central Michigan University||$660|
|8||Pennsylvania State University-World Campus||$805|
|10||North Park University||$706|
|12||University of Saint Mary||$595|
|14||Charleston Southern University||$625|
|15||Dallas Baptist University||$823|
|17||Saint Josephs University||$880|
|18||University of Scranton||$926|
|20||Florida Institute of Technology-Online||$896|
Of course, many people want to continue working while they attend business school. That’s where the online MBA comes in – students can take courses at their own pace while maintaining a full-time job. And if the MBA program they attend is also affordable, that’s even better!
The 20 Best MBA Degrees Online Ranking Methodology
We started by looking at colleges and universities (public and private non-profit only) that offer MBA degrees online. Next, we narrowed our search to include only those schools with an approximate cost (taking the average of resident/non-resident rates and data from the NCES IPEDS Data Center) of less than $1,000 per credit. To ensure we only considered high-quality programs, we also limited our results to colleges that have been accredited by one of the following three business-specialized accrediting agencies:
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which only accredits a small percentage of programs and is arguably the most prestigious accreditation a business school can get
- The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), which currently accredits more than 1,000 colleges and universities around the globe and uses different rating parameters than the AACSB
- The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), which was created to fill a gap left by the other two agencies and accredits many smaller programs (at private colleges and non-flagship public universities, for example)
We considered five factors when ranking the top online MBA programs for budget-conscious students. Of course, average cost-per-credit was a major consideration. As such, it accounted for 30% of each school’s overall score. Another 30% went to account for each program’s accreditation status. We awarded the most points in that category to schools with AACSB accreditation, whereas those with ACBSP accreditation earned three-fourths as many points, and IACBE half as many.
In addition, we looked at the overall size and scope of each college’s business program. To do this, we considered the number of MBA concentrations available to students (weighted 25% of the total score) and the total number of online graduate business/management-related degrees (weighted 10%) that the school offers. The larger and more diverse the program, the more resources and attention the university is willing to invest in its business students.
Finally, we gave a 5% bump to any schools that offer MBA “extras,” namely accelerated and/or dual degree programs to satisfy the most ambitious (and impatient!) students.
We tallied the results and rated the final scores on a curve so that the #1 ranked online MBA program earned a full 100 points. Keeping reading to find which 20 colleges made the final cut!
20. Florida Institute of Technology-Online
Online Master of Business Administration (10 Specializations)
Florida Tech’s 100% online MBA program provides a convenient pathway for anyone looking to boost his or her business expertise. The curriculum, which has earned IACBE accreditation, favors hands-on learning as a method of skill development. As a degree candidate, you’ll have an opportunity to create your own business plan, conduct case studies on existing organizations, and balance a corporate budget. In addition to this broad base of knowledge, you’ll also take four electives in a specialized area of interest. Concentration options include Cybersecurity, Project Management, International Business, and Finance, among many others.
Average Cost per Credit: $896
19. Kettering University
Online MBA (4 Certificate Options)
Most MBA students pursue their degree for one of two reasons: to gain skills that will help them break into the business world, or to elevate their current career on the corporate ladder. Fortunately, Kettering University’s MBA degree online easily meets both goals. In fact, a 2016 ranking by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education identified Kettering as the best school in the Midwest for career preparation. This emphasis on professional development permeates every aspect of the MBA curriculum. The course design even allows students to earn a certificate along with their business degree to maximize their appeal to potential employers.
Average Cost per Credit: $828
18. University of Scranton
Master of Business Administration Online (6 Specializations)
If money didn’t matter, the University of Scranton would likely sit much higher on this top MBA ranking. For one, Scranton’s online business program is one of a very few to have earned prestigious AACSB accreditation. Beyond that, this degree stands out for its forward-thinking curriculum, which emphasizes the use of technology in business and takes a global view on topics like sustainability and corporate ethics. You can even concentrate in cutting-edge fields like Enterprise Resource Planning, which will make you an expert in process management software. So while Scranton’s MBA may not be the cheapest on the market, it certainly offers one of the best values.
Average Cost per Credit: $926
17. Saint Josephs University
Online MBA (7 Concentrations)
If you’re dead-set on earning an AACSB accredited MBA degree online, add Saint Joseph’s to your list of options. SJU is also a great choice for those who don’t want to take the GMAT/GRE, as the MBA program offers waivers based on past job experience and academic achievement. But the degree’s biggest perk is its efficiency. Indeed, the compact, 33-credit curriculum enables busy professionals to acquire their degree in just one year – while still working full time! Along the way, you’ll learn about a number of contemporary topics in the field, from stakeholder theory and social responsibility to global business strategy.
Average Cost per Credit: $880
16. Franklin University
Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program
Franklin University’s MBA program doesn’t support any concentrations, which is certainly a drawback for some students. But for those who would prefer a general business education, Franklin’s straightforward curriculum offers the perfect fit. Forget electives and custom-designed classes. Instead, you and your classmates will each take the same nine courses (four credits each), focusing on essentials like “Operations Management,” “Managerial Economics,” and “Corporate Finance.” Add in the low cost per credit – which is more affordable than half the schools on this list – and it’s clear that Franklin’s cheap online MBA is a great value for the bargain scholar.
Average Cost per Credit: $635
15. Dallas Baptist University
Online MBA (12 Concentrations)
In contrast to the single-track approach that Franklin takes, Dallas Baptist University offers a smorgasbord of options to suit nearly any career goal. This includes a dozen MBA concentrations in fields that range from Business Communication to Entrepreneurship to Technology and Engineering Management. As if that weren’t enough, DBU also supports multiple dual degrees, enabling you to combine your top online MBA with a second credential – such as an M.A. in Communication or Global Leadership. But no matter how you customize your experience, you’ll build your expertise on a solid foundation of core courses in accounting, finance, and management.
Average Cost per Credit: $823
14. Charleston Southern University
Online MBA Program (6 Emphases)
Most students would probably agree that the top MBA programs online share a few basic qualities. These top-notch programs are flexible, affordable, accredited, and adaptable to each degree candidate’s professional goals. Fortunately, Charleston Southern University’s online MBA checks all of those boxes – and more! You can take classes online, on-campus, or in a combination that suits your unique schedule. The 33-credit curriculum also lets you choose from a variety of three-course emphases, such as Leadership, General Management, or Management Information Systems. Lastly, military members will be happy to know that CSU’s MBA ranks as one of the best in the nation for veterans.
Average Cost per Credit: $625
13. Tiffin University
Online MBA (10 Concentrations)
Tiffin University is a top choice among working adults. In fact, the average applicant to the MBA program has already accrued roughly a decade of professional experience. As a result, Tiffin students enjoy a diverse learning environment with classmates who come from a wide range of backgrounds. And because most MBA candidates share similar levels of experience, the curriculum skips most foundational coursework in favor of a larger (28-credit) core. Tiffin also stands out on this best MBA ranking for its convenient delivery format. With two seven-week terms per semester and six starts date a year, this program lets you learn more in less time – and get on with your life!
Average Cost per Credit: $700
12. University of Saint Mary
Online MBA – Master of Business Administration (6 Concentrations)
Given that it costs less than $600 per credit (on average) to attend, the University of Saint Mary would likely earn a spot on just about any cheap MBA ranking. But it takes more than affordability to become a best value. Luckily, the high quality of Saint Mary’s MBA program easily qualifies it as a superior academic – and financial – investment. Its IACBE-accredited curriculum incorporates six specialization options, including unconventional tracks like “Leadership and Organizational Health” and “Marketing and Advertising.” In addition, the university – which has Catholic roots – places a strong focus on corporate ethics and responsibility in all MBA coursework.
Average Cost per Credit: $595
11. Excelsior College
Online Master of Business Administration (10 Concentrations)
As a college that caters exclusively to adult learners seeking online degrees, Excelsior values learning that is accessible, flexible, and relevant to the real world. These priorities are evident in the school’s business program, which has some of the best online MBA concentrations for students with niche professional interests. You might choose to specialize in Human Performance Technology, Social Media Management, Mediation and Arbitration, or Cybersecurity – all of which are uniquely marketable in a 21st-century business environment. Excelsior is also known for its generous credit waiver and transfer policy, which rewards your past experience while saving you time and money on your way to an MBA.
Average Cost per Credit: $620
10. North Park University
Online Master of Business Administration (15 Certificate Options)
In many ways, North Park’s MBA curriculum is fairly typical – at least when it comes to core coursework. You’ll take classes in financial and managerial accounting, decision-making and analysis, and micro/macro economics. But there are at least two other aspects of the curriculum that stand out – and make this one of the best MBA programs online. First, the MBA Capstone uses a high-tech computer game to test students in a simulated environment. You’ll work on a team with your classmates to plan strategies, negotiate with competitors, and accomplish your mission. Second, North Park rejects typical concentrations in favor of five course certificates, which will both deepen your knowledge and expand your credentials.
Average Cost per Credit: $706
9. Concordia University-Chicago
Online Core MBA (10 Specializations)
Full disclosure: Concordia University in Chicago doesn’t technically have a specialized business accreditation…yet. However, it currently maintains candidacy status with the ACBSP – and is aiming to secure a specialized accounting accreditation, too! And you can feel confident applying to this soon-to-be accredited MBA program online, as there is plenty of evidence that it meets ACBSP standards. The entire curriculum adheres to Concordia’s “Four Pillars of Knowledge,” which place communication, ethics and social responsibility, critical thinking and entrepreneurism, and global inclusiveness at the center of all learning. What’s more, the program lets you combine its robust MBA core with zero, one, or two specializations so you get exactly the education you need to succeed.
Average Cost per Credit: $597
8. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
Online MBA (10 Concentrations)
Penn State’s “World Campus” is well known as one of the largest public providers of online education in the United States. Many of its programs are also highly regarded for the quality of their curriculum. One of these is its accredited AACSB online MBA degree, which consists of 48 credits of coursework (39 core, 9 concentration) plus a five-day residency. The residency takes place at the start of the program, giving you a chance to meet your classmates and professors face-to-face as well as attend helpful workshops. After that, all of your classes will take place online and will follow a traditional (15-week/term) schedule.
Average Cost per Credit: $805
7. Central Michigan University
Online Master of Business Administration (5 Emphases)
What’s not to love about Central Michigan’s online MBA program? Between its affordable cost and AACSB accreditation, this degree already outperforms most of the competition. But CMU is perhaps even more notable as one of the top MBA programs online industry-oriented training. It earns this distinction by way of its unique concentrations, which include options like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Values-Driven Organizations (VDO). The former puts a strong emphasis on the use of System Applications Products (SAP) Software, while the latter focuses on concepts like Six Sigma, customer voice, and sustainable development.
Average Cost per Credit: $660
6. Concordia University-Wisconsin
Online Global Master of Business Administration (15 Concentrations)
Concordia holds the distinction of being the only school to appear twice in our cheap MBA rankings. The university’s Wisconsin location earns a slightly higher score, due primarily to its official IACBE accreditation and large selection of concentrations. What’s more, the MBA program’s list of specializations includes several unconventional choices. So if you’re bored with learning about finance and marketing, you’ll be happy to hear that this MBA comes with niche emphases like Sustainability Management and Analytics, Sport and Entertainment Business, and Risk Assessment and Management. As an added bonus, you won’t have to take the GMAT to apply – or write a thesis to graduate!
Average Cost per Credit: $548
5. University of Houston-Clear Lake
Online Business Administration MBA (8 Concentrations)
If you’re looking for an MBA with the most prestigious accreditation and the lowest possible cost, head straight to the University of Houston Clear Lake. This cheap AACSB online MBA program offers a top-notch curriculum for less than $600 a credit (on average). Students who choose UHCL will also benefit from flexible degree plans that accommodate full- and part-time schedules as well as both hybrid and 100% online delivery formats. And when it comes to concentrations, this MBA stands out for its uncommon focus on “green” business practices. In fact, you can choose from two eco-friendly specializations – Environmental Management and Sustainability – although the latter may require some on-campus attendance.
Average Cost per Credit: $560
4. Webster University
Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) (15 Emphases)
A quick look around Webster’s School of Business and Technology should convince anyone that this university means serious…well, business. And this isn’t just because of the ACBSP accreditation or the dual MBA/MHA and MBA/MS (Management and Leadership) degree programs. Nor would you get this impression solely because Webster supports numerous other business-related graduate degrees and certificates – including a one-year, accelerated MBA option. Students might not even be convinced after they see the list of possible MBA emphases, which covers in-demand subjects like Web Services and International Relations. But put it all together, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the top online MBAs that won’t break the bank.
Average Cost per Credit: $685
3. Saint Leo University
Online MBA Program (9 Specializations)
Obviously, all the schools on this online MBA ranking have something a little different to offer – and they are all worth considering! So what could Saint Leo University’s MBA possibly have that other programs don’t? Well for starters, it has the most affordable average price tag – a huge perk for the budget conscious. It’s also distinct for possessing not one, but two specialized business accreditations (from the IACBE and ACBSP). Lastly, this MBA differs from many of its competitors by providing an optional internship course. This gives students an easy way to acquire hands-on, professional experience for course credit – but only if they need it!
Average Cost per Credit: $485
2. Bellevue University
Online Master of Business Administration Degree (19 Concentrations)
Bellevue University muscles its way to the #2 spot on our list by combining broad value with a focused commitment to business education. As for its online MBA program, Bellevue checks all the boxes: IACBE accreditation, low costs, and a veritable buffet of concentration options. Indeed, degree candidates can choose from specializations that range from the banal (Accounting, Marketing) to the unexpected (Global Economic Threat Environment, Executive Coaching). But to really understand Bellevue’s complete dedication to business and leadership training, you have to step back and look at the complete list of degrees it offers – which includes at least a dozen other online, graduate-level, business- and management-related programs!
Average Cost per Credit: $525
1. Southern New Hampshire University
Online Master of Business Administration (20+ Concentrations)
If a large number of choices tends to paralyze you, Southern New Hampshire University is probably not your best bet. The school’s business program is truly enormous, housing about a dozen online graduate degrees and well over 20 MBA concentrations. Of course, this impressive range is also why SNHU earned the #1 best MBA ranking on our list! Even the most decisive students may feel their wheels spinning as they try to pick an area of specialization. In addition to all the standard subjects, the program covers an array of niche focus areas like Community Economic Development, Engineering Management, Music Business, Quantitative Analytics, Social Media, and Environmental Compliance – among many, many others!
Average Cost per Credit: $627
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 best cheap MBA programs online!
About the Author:
Iris Stone is a professional writer and researcher with more than five years of experience in online media and web publishing. She has expertise in data analysis, including both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, and frequently writes about higher education, public policy, healthcare, and STEM careers.