Students who are looking for a career in business often choose to pursue an MBA, but another option is to earn an online master’s degree in management and leadership. This degree type supplements basic business education with specialized training in how to be a successful leader. Graduates with such a degree are often very accomplished at motivating employees and encouraging collaboration between groups. These skills are attractive to many businesses and are often at the root of a company’s growth.
Whether you’re fresh out of undergrad or have been working in the business world for years, there’s no wrong time to consider earning a master’s degree. Thanks to online education, making this decision is easier than ever. You can take all your classes over the internet while keeping a regular job, taking care of your family, and keeping all other obligations. These degrees also tend to be quite affordable, which means your budget will feel minimal impact.
Listed below are the 20 cheapest online master’s degrees in management and leadership. We limit our scope to such programs at accredited institutions. We sourced our tuition information from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator database. Each program is a little different, from the subjects they cover to their program durations, but they also share a few similarities: they are accredited, affordable, and provide an education that could help get you ahead. They are listed from most to least expensive, with public schools organized based on an average of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
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Cheap Online Master’s in Management and Leadership Degree Program Ranking
20. University of Wisconsin
Online Organizational Change Leadership MS
The online master’s degree in management and leadership from the University of Wisconsin is both rigorous and innovative, focusing on the most up-to-date theories and practices used in the business world. The degree has a focus on organizational change, meaning that students learn about the nature of and need for change, but the origins of resistance. Reputable faculty deliver powerful lectures on how to establish a vision, assess readiness, and communicate effectively. The program does not require an entrance exam, but applicants should have maintained a decent GPA in a business-related undergraduate program or have relevant work experience. UW is not only one of the best schools in the U.S., but it is also ranked in the Top 50 in the World, according to QS Rankings.
Tuition: $10,728/yr (In-state) $24,054/yr (Out-of-state)
19. Norwich University Online
Online Master of Science in Leadership
Norwich University’s accredited online master’s degree in management and leadership offers multiple start dates a year and can generally be completed in just 18 months. Students take all classes online, but still benefit from a small campus feel, thanks to courses that are capped at only 15 people. Norwich attempts to develop effective leaders by teaching strategic thinking, communication skills, ethical convictions, and even emotional intelligence. Students can customize the curriculum to their own interests, and can concentrate in either organizational leadership, human resources, hospitality leadership and management systems, leading change management, or public sector/government/military leadership. U.S. News currently rates NU as one of the best universities in the North, and also places its online business program in the top 100.
18. University of Charleston
Online Master of Science in Strategic Leadership
This online master of science in strategic leadership can help students take their career to the next level. With a format designed for adult learners, the program focusing on training students how to make sound career investments and be real-world leaders. Courses include such intriguing topics as, “The Leadership Challenge,” “Strategic Thinking,” and “Human Side of Organizations.” Students who do well in the program may be eligible to move onto the Doctor of Executive Leadership program. In addition to other benefits, students who choose to attend the master’s degree in management and leadership online join an academic community that is regularly rated one of the top universities in the South.
17. Indiana University
Online MS in Strategic Management
This top online master’s degree in management and leadership at Indiana University covers all the topics essential to finding success in business, including operations management, entrepreneurship, competitive analysis, strategic thinking, and organizational development and change. The 30-credit program is extremely flexible, and can be completed over a timeline spanning anywhere from 15 months to five years. Although the program is online, students do benefit from an in-person “Kelley Connect Week” to complete their residency requirement. IU has one of the top business schools in the country, and in 2015 the online MBA and online master’s degree in management and leadership programs were all ranked #1.
Tuition: $7,957/yr (In-state) $23,863/yr (Out-of-state)
16. Northeastern University
Master of Science Leadership Online
Northeastern University’s accredited online master’s degree in management and leadership is approved by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management. As the world’s leading association for professionals in project management, this stamp of approval is a clear indication of the program’s rigor, quality, and applicability. Courses include “Developing Your Leadership Capability,” “Transforming Organizations,” and “The Ethical Leader,” plus a required Capstone. Students can choose to concentrate in health management, human resources, organizational communications, project management, nonprofit management, or leading and managing technical projects. Northeastern is widely recognized as a top school by such publications as U.S. News, Forbes, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
15. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Online Master of Science in Leadership
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a top school that offers much more than training in aviation technology. ERAU also offers a multitude of business programs, including an online graduate degree in management and leadership. Graduates of the program are eligible for careers in business and management, but also consulting, education, human resources, projects and operations, the government, and even the aviation industry. The program contains 36 credits, and potential applicants can test their interest in the school by viewing a series of free Webinars. As with other schools on this list, ERAU is currently on U.S. News and World Report’s list of top online colleges.
14. Globe University
Online Master of Science in Management: Managerial Leadership
Students of Globe University are attracted to its online master’s degree in management and leadership because it is designed for current industry professionals. The curriculum is extremely flexible, allowing learners to take courses all year round and finish with their degree in just 18 months. Students can also shorten their stay at Globe by earning credit from past academic and work experience. In fact, Globe will award up to 50% of the degree for previous credit! Classes cover human capital, business ethics and law, and operations management. College Prowler reports that 90% of students at Globe are happy with their experience and consider their education valuable.
13. Strayer University
Online Master of Science in Management Leadership
Strayer University is a popular choice for students who want to earn a business degree online. The school’s affordable online master’s degree in management and leadership consists of just 12 courses in areas such as contemporary business, organizational behavior, strategic management, information systems, and leadership strategies. Students can also take more specialized classes in topics like conflict resolution and women in business. Department surveys indicate that nearly 90% of Strayer graduates believe that this degree has helped them to achieve the professional and career goals. The degree is particularly attractive to students who have a focused interest in one of the program’s concentration options: Leadership, Project Management, or Marketing Management.
12. Capella University
Online Master of Science in Leadership: General Leadership Specialization
Capella University’s online master’s degree in management and leadership consists of 48 courses organized into individual 10-week courses. The program is designed to help students learn the skills they need to compete for top leadership positions at some of the nation’s biggest corporations. Graduates have found work in both the public and private sectors, at small companies, large firms, and nonprofit organizations. Capella consistently monitors their students’ experience at the university, and the latest surveys reveal that nearly 90% of graduates are satisfied with their education and would recommend the school to a friend.
11. CUNY School of Professional Studies
Online Master’s Degree in Business Management and Leadership (M.S.)
CUNY School of Professional Studies is part of the esteemed university of New York school system. It offers a variety of graduate degrees to adult learners, including an online master’s degree in management and leadership. This program is grounded in a broad set of business courses, which provide general education in economics, finance, management, law, ethics, and entrepreneurship. It is ideal for professionals who want to find work in marketing, consulting, accounting, banking, or human resources. AffordableCollegesOnline currently lists CUNY as the most affordable college in New York – an admirable accomplish, considering the expensive real estate in the city.
Tuition: $9,170/yr (In-state) $17,040/yr (Out-of-state)
10. Montreat College
Online Master’s Degree in Management & Leadership
Montreat College’s cheap online master’s degree in management and leadership is perfect for students on a budget, coming in at less than $12,000 a year. The curriculum is built around a unique focus on building relationships, with training in how to motivate employees and communicate with stakeholders. Courses are organized into three essential areas of management: human capital, research methods, and ethics and the legal environment. Students also come to Montreat for its religious affiliation, and many classes include a focus on developing Christian values. In addition to its main accreditation, Montreat’s online master’s degree in management and leadership is also approved by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
Walden University is a popular online college and sports one of the best online master’s degree programs in management and leadership. Responding to the ever changing nature of leadership, top faculty at the university constantly update their lectures to include the most relevant topics in conflict resolution, team development, change management, strategic thinking, and mentoring.
Students can pursue a general degree in leadership, concentrate in human resources, or design their own speciality based on their unique interests. Students also complete a Capstone Course and can apply to an accelerated PhD program. TheBestColleges included Walden as #13 on its list of Top Online Colleges for 2015.
8. Webster University
MA in Management and Leadership Online
Webster University’s affordable online master’s degree in management and leadership has received special accreditation from the ACBSP – one of the top agencies for approving global business curricula. It’s also the only tier one, private, nonprofit school in the U.S. with a network of international campuses – including locations in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Austria, Thailand, and China. Webster markets this graduate degree mainly to students and professionals who seek a broad understanding of business and leadership. Although students can take courses online, on-campus courses are also available at more than 40 U.S. cities and military bases.
7. Belhaven University
Online Master of Science in Leadership Degree Program
Belhaven University offers a Master of Science in Leadership that is perfect for working professionals who want to enhance their skills. Through the program, individuals can grow their knowledge of the legal, economic, social, and political forces that shape the country’s business environment. The program is divided into 8 week terms, where students work in project teams to solve problems, think critically, and learn about management from a Christian perspective. The top online master’s degree in management and leadership includes such courses as Ethical Problems, Organizational Behavior, Strategic Leadership, an Conflict Resolution. U.S. News places Belhaven in the top 30 schools for veterans, and also names it one of the top 200 online colleges.
6. Azusa Pacific University
Management, M.A. (Online)
Students who want to earn a master’s degree in management and leadership online should not overlook Azusa Pacific University as an option. The school’s M.A. in Management is extremely flexible, offering students the option to complete courses in anywhere from 18 to 30 months. Students learn all the basic skills they will need to excel in business, such as how to improve performance and increase their competency on the job. Learners also study how to recruit and train employees, guide organizational change, and foster a culture of teamwork. Azusa’s two different accreditations from the IACBE and WASC, plus its designation as a “Yellow Ribbon School,” make it one of the best online master’s degrees in management and leadership available.
Liberty University’s online master’s degree in management and leadership equips students for work in a variety of fields, working for both nonprofits and large corporations. Graduates have moved on to become business development managers, small business owners, corporate executives, organizational managers, and project coordinators.
Rigorous classes encourage students to think critically, problem solve, and apply their knowledge to the real world. The entire program consists of 30 credit hours – all of which can be taken online. Liberty is a particularly attractive choice to servicemen and women, and Military Times rated it a “Best for Vets” in 2014.
4. Concordia University
Masters in Management Online
Concordia University in St. Paul offers an affordable online master’s degree in management and leadership for less than $9,000 a year. Each course is 7 weeks long and is part of a 36-credit plan, which means that students can earn their entire degree for less than $20,000. The highly flexible curriculum offers multiple start dates throughout the year and is delivered completely online, although students in Minnesota can also take on-campus classes if it fits their schedule. Courses include Applied Moral and Ethical Leadership, Project and Quality Management, and Financial Management for Leadership. U.S. News listed Concordia in the Top 100 graduate business programs in the country for 2015.
3. Kaplan University
Online Master of Science in Management with a Concentration in Leadership
Kaplan University’s cheap online master’s degree in management and leadership is both affordable and accredited. In fact, the program wields a special ACBSP accreditation, a symbol of its stellar commitment to business education. Core classes cover all the fundamentals, including leadership theory, human resource management, financial analysis, organizational change, and consulting skills. Students can then choose to specialize in one of six areas: Healthcare Management, Human Resources, Information Technology, Organizational Design, Project Management, or of course Leadership. Individuals with a particular interest in leadership will study mentoring and coaching, transformational leadership, leadership strategies, and organization design.
The management and leadership program at Western Governors University is targeted to business professionals and current managers who are looking to gain more career mobility. Graduates enter the workforce with the skills to develop high-performance teams, manage dynamic situations, enhance organizational performance, and analyze data to drive decision-making.
Programs of study cover Change Management and Innovation, Ethical Leadership, Strategic Management, Managing Human Capital, and more. In 2008, TIME magazine labelled WGU “the best relatively cheap university you’ve never heard of,” and in 2010 the LA Times praised the school for its remarkably affordable tuition.
1. Tarleton State University
Online Master of Science – Management & Leadership
Tarleton State University is the most affordable school on this list, providing a high quality education for less than $3,500 a year for in-state students (Texas). Like other top universities on this list, TSU has a global business accreditation from the esteemed ACBSP. Dedicated faculty encourage students to take on the most challenging responsibilities facing managers today, including the need to change and adapt in a dynamic marketplace. All online learners need is a bachelor’s degree, an internet connection, and basic computer skills to access this online master’s degree in management and leadership.
Tuition: $3,312/yr (In-state) $9,144/yr (Out-of-state)
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About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates’ careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.