5 Best Online MBA Degree Programs 2021

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A raging pandemic did not dim the desire for an MBA in 2020. Demand for graduate management degrees such as an online MBA surged in 2020, according to a recent study by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Students want to position themselves for better career prospects after the economic downturn the pandemic caused.

The best MBA online programs equip learners with the leadership skills necessary for C-suite positions, for entrepreneurship, and to succeed in fast-evolving business environments. Students hone their business acumen, develop technical expertise, and build a professional network of peers and experts.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts business and financial occupations to grow at least 5%. Businesspeople with just a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn a median annual wage of $69,820, which surpasses the median annual wage for all occupations at $39,810.

Online MBA programs offer part-time enrollment and asynchronous learning so students can continue their careers. Some MBA programs offer at-your-pace learning, but many require students to begin and complete the program in cohorts. This resource provides more information, including career and salary outlook.

Career and Salary Outlook for MBA Graduates



The business, management, and leadership skills MBA students acquire transfer to various job functions in diverse industries. Some MBA graduates assume traditional roles such as an executive or financial analyst. Many enter the public sector in managerial positions, while others pursue dreams of owning their own business.

Business schools increasingly offer nontraditional concentrations, including cybersecurity, information assurance, and healthcare administration. These specializations prepare graduates for careers in high-demand, high-wage fields with better job outlooks than fields such as finance. The BLS notes that medical and health services managers with just a bachelor’s degree earn an annual median wage of $100,980, and can expect a 32% projected job growth. This projection dwarfs the 4% average growth rate for all occupations.


  • Financial Analysts

    Financial analysts specialize in assessing the performance of stocks, bonds, and other investments to guide investors’ decision-making. They often work at financial and investment institutions as portfolio and fund managers for companies and individual investors. They begin their careers with a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field. However, employers typically value a master’s degree, including an MBA, and certifications such as chartered financial analyst.


  • Management Analyst

    Management analysts help organizations run more effectively. They evaluate organizational efficiencies and deficiencies in areas such as operations, human resources, and systems and technology. These professionals begin their careers with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, management, or industrial/organizational psychology. Many employers require an MBA and certifications such as certified management consultant.


  • Operations Research Analyst

    These analysts collect and interpret data. They employ mathematical modelling to inform management’s decision-making about operations, staffing, processes, and services. Typically, they hold a bachelor’s degree in business, management science, or analytics. Their work relies on quantitative analysis, so students must possess advanced mathematical skills. Career advancement may depend on a master’s degree and experience.


  • Top Executives

    Top executives work in roles as CEOs, COOs, and senior managers for small and large organizations within any industry. They formulate strategies to help an organization meet objectives in areas such as budgeting, product and service development, and staff performance. While executives typically hold a bachelor’s degree in business or finance, and many hold MBAs, top executives’ success depends on an accomplished track record.


Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Financial Analysts $81,590 5%
Management Analyst $85,260 11%
Operations Research $84,810 25%
Analysts $84,810 25%
Top Executives $104,690 4%

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Online MBA Programs



American colleges typically hold national or regional accreditation, signifying that each institution meets rigorous academic standards. Schools earn regional accreditation after a rigorous evaluation process conducted by one of six regional accrediting agencies.

Some specialized programs may hold additional accreditation from organizations that evaluate the program’s curriculum, student outcomes, faculty credentials, and other factors. The best on-campus and online MBA programs hold accreditation from one of the top three business accreditation agencies: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

Students can check an online MBA program’s accreditation by visiting Accredited Schools Online.

Financial Aid



Graduate students file for financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Colleges use the information on the FAFSA to determine students’ eligibility for financial aid. Undergraduate students qualify for Direct Subsidized Loans. Graduate and professional students qualify for specific Direct Unsubsidized Loans such as the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

The ED notes that under this loan program, graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 yearly to pay for tuition.

Another option, Direct PLUS Loans, allows learners to borrow more than the maximum unsubsidized amount. Since graduate students must repay either of these loans, they should consider other possibilities to help pay tuition for online MBA programs. These options include employer assistance, private and institutional scholarships and grants, and military benefits.

Accredited online MBA programs provide a rigorous education that saves time and money. Online students need not pay for accommodation, transportation, childcare, and related expenses. Many online MBA programs offer flexible delivery that allows students to continue earning an income. Several programs charge online students the same tuition regardless of residency. Students can visit Accredited Schools Online for more information about financial aid.

Scholarships for MBA Students

Scholarships and fellowships award students with education funding. Each funding organization determines the eligibility guidelines. Many organizations award scholarships to academically gifted students. Others award funding based on students’ needs. Some funders establish scholarships to help members of underserved communities — such as women and minorities — pursue their academic goals. The following lists a sampling of scholarship and fellowship opportunities.

Goldman Sachs MBA Fellowship

Who Can Apply: Goldman Sachs awards the scholarship to academically gifted first-year MBA students. Students must be Hispanic/Latino, women, Black, or Native American. Learners can fill out an application for a summer associate position in one of the major cities including Boston, Chicago, and New York.
Amount: $35,000 award and $40,000 summer associate salary

Government Finance Officers Association – Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship

Who Can Apply: GFOA administers the scholarship to part-time graduate students who plan to pursue a career in state and local government finance. Students must enroll in an accounting, economics, finance, or business administration program with a government focus.
Amount: $10,000

AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students with a non-business degree who want to pursue graduate studies in accounting and CPA licensure can apply for the scholarship. Learners must enroll as full-time students in a business or accounting program.
Amount: $5,000

American Association of University Women Professions Fellowships

Who Can Apply: Women of color pursuing a master’s in business administration may apply for funding for the program’s second year. Full-time students must demonstrate high academic achievement and financial need to qualify.
Amount: $5,000-$18,000

Get Educated Online College Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Get Educated offers the scholarship exclusively for learners planning to attend an online college. The organization awards the scholarship based on need and merit. Students must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and write an essay.
Amount: $1,000

FAQ


  • What does MBA stand for?

    MBA stands for master of business administration, a degree offered by business schools around the country.


  • How long does it take to complete an MBA?

    Students can complete most MBA programs in 18-24 months. Some business schools offer accelerated MBAs that students can complete in 12-16 months.


  • Can I complete an MBA program online?

    Many institutions, including prestigious business schools, offer MBAs delivered fully online or in a hybrid format. Students sacrifice nothing in terms of rigor, but should ensure the program fits their learning and career needs.


  • Do I need to take the GMAT to apply for an MBA program?

    Each school outlines specific admission requirements that often includes a request for GMAT or GRE scores. However, many schools offer waivers to students with a business degree, and some smaller schools forgo standardized tests altogether — especially because of Covid-19.


2021’s 5 Best Online MBA Programs

Online programs are a boon for young working professionals. These programs allow students to continue working full time while accessing programs and courses of their choice across a vast distance.

Find below our top five picks for online MBA programs in the U.S. for 2021. Prospective students can use this page to compare tuition, courses, and other key factors among online MBA programs.

All schools in our ranking are regionally or nationally accredited, meaning they hold approval from reputable, third-party organizations and exhibit exceptional qualitative standards. Some courses may also hold accreditation from industry-specific bodies.

The following agencies endorse the enlisted programs.

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Our Ranking Methodology
  1. University of North Alabama
    Location

    Florence, AL

    Tuition

    $12121

    Located in Florence, UNA is Alabama's oldest public university. It was founded in 1830 and offers more than 170 majors and concentrations through five different colleges. Its mascot, Leo III, is the only live lion mascot living on a university campus.

    Master of Business Administration

    UNA's College of Business and Technology offers a flexible MBA program, suitable to students at various career and life stages. Interested students can choose between a regular MBA with a variety of concentrations and an executive MBA. The latter suits individuals with five years of business experience and does not require GMAT scores.

    Both the programs involve 34 credits of coursework, and students can customize the program according to their needs and take the courses entirely online. In addition, the availability of evening classes further makes it preferable for working individuals.

    UNA's Specializations

    Executive | Information systems | Accounting | Sales and new business development | Finance | Global business | Healthcare management | Project management | Human resource management

    Applying to UNA

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and an overall undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or above. Interested students must apply through an online application form and submit official transcripts, GMAT scores, and a resume.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public | Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB | Tuition: $475/credit | Required Credits: 34 credits | Delivery Format: 100% online

  2. Southeast Missouri State University
    Location

    Cape Girardeau, MO

    Tuition

    $12468

    SEMO is a public university based in Cape Girardeau. Established in 1873, the university offers more than 145 undergraduate majors, 100 minors, and 75 graduate programs. Its mascot is Rowdy the redhawk.

    Master of Business Administration

    SEMO's Harrison College of Business and Computing offers an online degree, which students can complete from anywhere. This degree allows for various specializations.

    Online students learn from the same mentors who teach in the on-campus classrooms, bringing both academic and industry experience to the teaching. Notable classes include organizational behavior in practice, strategic decision-making, and the financial environment.

    SEMO's Specializations

    Accounting | General Management | Health Administration

    Applying to SEMO

    Applicants with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and GRE scores of 147 are eligible for the program. In addition, interested candidates must also possess at least a C grade on all undergraduate foundation courses.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public | Accreditation: AACSB, HLC | Tuition: $387/credit | Required Credits: 33 credits | Delivery Format: 100% online

  3. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $9455

    A part of the University of Louisiana system, ULM is a public university spread over 238 acres. The university offers more than 96 majors and minors.

    Master of Business Administration

    The college of business and social sciences offers an accredited online distance MBA program for graduate students who work and cannot commute easily to ULM. The degree covers courses such as financial analysis, strategic management, global operations, and multinational leadership. Students already enrolled in MBA programs at AACSB-accredited schools can transfer up to nine credits to ULM.

    ULM's Specializations

    Business | Communication for Human Resources | Criminal Justice | Educational Leadership | Educational Technology | Enterprise Communication | Gerontology | Health Communication | Nurse Healthcare | Pharm D | Psychology | Public Administration

    Applying to ULM

    Applicants must possess a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 from a regionally accredited university. Alternatively, students with a graduate or professional degree might also apply. To apply online, students must submit a $20 admission fee and official transcripts.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public | Accreditation: AACSB, SACSCOC | Tuition: $500/credit | Delivery Format: 100% online

  4. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $15435

    Georgia Southern is a public research university with three campuses in Georgia. Founded in 1906, the university offers more than 140 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs through eight colleges.

    Master of Business Administration

    Georgia Southern's Parker College of Business offers the Web MBA degree through online education. The program entails 10 courses, worth 30 credits. Courses cover managerial accounting and finance, business strategy, and human behavior in organizations. This program does not require campus visits or proctored exams, and it features renowned faculty, academically qualified by AACSB.

    Applying to Georgia Southern

    Interested candidates must complete the graduate application form and submit a mandatory application fee of $50. Enrollees must also send all official transcripts from previously attended institutions and submit a resume.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public | Accreditation: AACSB, SACSCOC | Tuition: $739/credit | Required Credits: 30 credits | Program Length: 21 months | Delivery Format: 100% online

  5. McNeese State University
    Location

    Lake Charles, LA

    Tuition

    $9985

    Located in Lake Charles in Louisiana, McNeese is a public university. The university was founded in 1939 and offers more than 100 undergraduate and 36 graduate programs.

    Master of Business Administration

    The William J. Doré Sr. School of Graduate Studies at McNeese offers an online MBA program that students can pursue while working full time. The 30-credit program focuses on applied learning, is easily accessible in the evenings, and follows a 100% online format.

    This program entails courses such as international business, organizational behavior, and managerial economics. Students enjoy access to mentorship programs and open houses with faculty and staff.

    Applying to McNeese

    Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA on undergraduate work. Interested students must submit an application form along with a $20 application fee and official transcripts.

    Program at a Glance

    School Type: Public | Accreditation: AACSB, SACSCOC | Tuition: $1,305/credit | Required Credits: 30 credits | Program Length: 18 months | Delivery Format: 100% online

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