50 Best Value Online MBA Programs

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Best Online MBAs

Welcome to our ranking of the best value online MBA programs.

Business is far and away the most popular college major among online learners, both graduate and undergraduate. In fact, an Aslanian Market Research Report found that nearly a third of online college students (28%) are enrolled in a business or business-related program.

But why? At the undergraduate level, many students may be attracted to the career flexibility and salary potential that a degree in business portends. But once they graduate, these fledgling professionals often find that the competition is fiercer than they expected. To make themselves more attractive to employers, many ambitious individuals will look to an advanced degree program. And despite disagreements over the true value of an MBA (will it really distinguish you if everyone has one, or in fact does this make earning the degree all the more necessary?) 65% of MBA applicants report that their primary goal is to enhance their job opportunities (according to a report by the Graduate Management Admissions Council).

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Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Featured Programs Click here to request free information about George Mason University’s online MBA – Online program.

The popularity of the MBA degree has led to a surge in online program options as schools devise new ways to make themselves accessible to more students. But as more choices come available, it grows more difficult to identify the programs that are genuinely worth the investment. Interestingly, although 58% of the online MBA students that Aslanian surveyed said that degree accreditation was very important to them, half didn’t know if their degree was or not!

Your choices on education are some of the most important – and costliest – ones you will make in your life. Doing your research beforehand is crucial, but also time consuming. Our best 50 ranking is your ticket to a head start; from this combination of top tier and low cost schools, you can make an informed decision and set yourself up for success down the road.

Online MBA Degree Ranking Methodology

How did we do it, and how are we sure that these 50 are the best MBA degrees that online education has to offer?

First, we used College Navigator to obtain a general list of public and private non-profit schools (for-profit institutions were not considered) that offer graduate business programs entirely online. From this selection of more than 300, we filtered the list by AACSB-accreditation status. That’s right; students say accreditation is important to them, and we listen – ALL of the online MBA degrees in our final ranking are fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Eliminating non-accredited programs cut down our list by about 50%. We then vetted the approximately 150 remaining degrees on four factors:

Year Established: The number of years an online program has been in operation is important for a few reasons. First, many employers admit they are more likely to hire someone with an online degree if they are familiar with the program and feel that is associated with an “established” school. Second, more years in operation suggests more time for administrators to improve and enhance curricula, and in this case, more continuous years (potentially) that the program has maintained AASCB accreditation. Because of its importance, this category counted for 35% of the overall score.

Early Career Pay: This data, available on PayScale.com, describes the average salary that graduates of different online MBA schools make within their first five years in the workforce. Although there are several factors that can affect salary, compensation earned has more to do with academic credentials in these first few years than later in a person’s professional career (when quality and quantity of work experience begin to matter more). This metric earned 25% of the total score.

High Meaning: PayScale.com also provides data on “high meaning,” which is defined as “the percentage of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place.” While this statistic is likely of little significance to the solely profit-motivated, we like to think that MBA students want a job that offers meaning and personal satisfaction in addition to financial security. We weighted this category 20% of the total score.

Annual Cost: What is the value of a great education if that education is not affordable? Always on the lookout for a great deal, we collected the annual costs for graduate-level tuition and fees for each school (the most recent academic year, as reported by College Navigator), giving high marks to schools with low rates. We valued public schools based on the average of their in-state and out-of-state rates. This category was worth 15% of the total score.

After weighting the categories and tallying the points, we assigned each school a final score out of 100. Although no school earned a perfect score (and given our metrics, it would be almost impossible to do so) we normalized the final results. In other words, we curved the scale so that the top scoring program earned 100/100, and the remaining scores were adjusted appropriately. You can see the end result – the final 50 – in our online MBA degree ranking below.

Top 10 Rankings


Rank School Location
1 University of Colorado Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, CO
2 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX
3 University of Wisconsin Madison, WI
4 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ
5 Oklahoma State University Tulsa, OK
6 Auburn University Auburn University, AL
7 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
8 Southern Arkansas University Magnolia, AR
9 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
10 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA
  1. University of Colorado Colorado Springs
    Location

    Colorado Springs, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With a great pedigree, eight industry-specific specializations, and one of the highest ROI's based on an early graduate salary of $64,000 a year (as reported by PayScale.com), the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs rightly earns our top ranking of online MBA programs in the US. This program is particularly advantageous for professionals with substantial management experience or business education, who can submit their credentials to waive GRE/GMAT requirements for admission. For those who weren't savvy to online education when the program was introduced in 1996, it's not too late to earn a world-class business degree at a wholesale price.

  2. University of Houston-Victoria
    Location

    Victoria, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Truly ambitious business people are not satisfied with a slice; they want the whole pie. And for the professional with his or her eyes on the prize, a degree in global business is the only way to gain access to the highest echelons of the corporate infrastructure. With an Online Global MBA from the University of Houston-Victoria, students can earn a life-changing degree for just $10,000 a year without ever stepping foot inside a classroom. This program combines integrated approaches in accounting, economics, management, and strategy with a global focus to help students learn what they need to earn.

  3. University of Wisconsin
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Wisconsin Consortium harnesses the resources of four influential state colleges (Eau Clair, Oshkosh, Parkside, and La Crosse) to provide the most comprehensive online business program in the state. Available in the most remote corners of the region, and even the country (students hail from 37 U.S. states), the UW Consortium's online MBA is the perfect investment for any professional looking to climb the corporate ladder. In just two to three years after graduation, the average UW online MBA graduate is earning nearly $80,000, and nearly half reported to PayScale.com that their new career path is just as important to them as the money.

  4. Arizona State University-Tempe
    Location

    Tempe, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    If you're a working professional earning an advanced degree at the same time, you are already multitasking. Arizona State University-Tempe's online MBA program is designed to deliver maximum curricular effectiveness with accelerated single-course class modules that ensure you won't have to juggle a handful of different subjects while you're still learning. And with a top 5 online business school ranking, you can be sure that the courses in W.P. Carey Business School's Departments of Finance, International Business, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management are all taught by experts who have been influential in their respective fields.

  5. Oklahoma State University
    Location

    Tulsa, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University has been offering team-based, experiential business education in a remote format since 1999, making it one of the oldest and most effective online graduate schools for business in the country. Full and part-time options are available, meaning students are able to earn the best online MBA in the state while maintaining their current job hours and other obligations. But they won't need to keep those hours for long; nearly half of OSU graduates report that their new degree has helped them find more meaningful work in their field.

  6. Auburn University
    Location

    Auburn University, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Since 1993, Auburn University has been bringing the best online MBA programs to students all over the country with cutting edge distance learning technology. Today, Auburn utilizes HD streaming technology to combine all the virtues and benefits of in-class education with the simplicity of distance learning through its online MBA program. Most online programs, especially in business, are available exclusively through text downloads and webinars, but Auburn is different. Auburn's Raymond J. Harbert College of Business translates all its traditional in-class lectures and courses into engaging online modules. Students enjoy both live and asynchronous streams to eliminate the disparity between delivery methods. After graduation they will also enjoy top salaries (nearly $63,000 a year on average) within just a few years.

  7. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Like rowing or synchronized swimming, business is a coordinated venture where everyone has to pull his or her own weight. At Kennesaw State University's Cole College of Business, even the Online WebMBA coursework in business is organized around cohort systems, where classmates work together to solve problems and build projects through collective innovation and effort. During this accelerated, 20-month program, cohorts develop actionable skills in core competencies in business ranging from finance and accounting to leadership and project management. This gives Kennesaw graduates a competitive advantage over those from peer institutions who are not experienced team builders or delegators, despite the similarity in online business school rankings.

  8. Southern Arkansas University
    Location

    Magnolia, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Combining advanced coursework in accounting, economics, marketing, quantitative analysis, and management information systems, Southern Arkansas University's Online MBA is a comprehensive guide to modern organizational management. Students also gain insight into "critical perspectives" on ethical, global, environmental, political and legal issues that are of paramount concern to businesses of every size. The flexibility of the degree will allow you to apply for executive and leadership positions in all fields, but specializations in supply chain and agricultural management make it particularly useful for professionals looking to take a step forward in these competitive industries. The fact that one of the best online MBAs is available remotely for under $10,000 a year is just icing on the cake.

  9. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Unfortunately, many people only find out after college graduation that their major doesn't equip them to fulfill their full earning potential. The good news is that an affordable online MBA from Sam Houston State University is available to all college graduates, regardless of their academic background. With dynamic, interactive training in business, finance, and management essentials, this program can dramatically increase students' viability in the workforce—even complementing other, more specialized degrees. With rigorous coursework and expert faculty, this is also one of the best online MBA programs for students who are looking to enter academia and earn a doctorate in business as well.

  10. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Massachusetts-Amherst's Isenberg School of Management is among the state's top resources for business and leadership education. Thanks to a distance learning program the school launched in 2001, Isenberg now has students from all 50 states and many other international locations, making it one of the best online MBA programs in the country. Students in this flexible program can take advantage of UMass Amherst's renowned Sports Management curriculum right from their own home, or specialize in a number of other cutting-edge fields including Finance, Entrepreneurship, and Healthcare Administration.

Sources:
Aslanian Market Research: Online College Students
Graduate Management Admission Council: Survey Report
College Navigator
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) Accreditation Listing
U.S. News Online Education – MBA

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