Best Online MBA Programs 2021

An MBA opens up many doors for career advancement. Career options include financial manager, management analyst, and marketing manager. Some MBAs may choose to focus on specific sectors such as healthcare or supply chain management, or use acquired skills to start their own business.

Best Online MBA Programs 2021

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The global pandemic and resulting economic fallout continues to drive interest in MBA programs. A recent Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) study finds a global increase in applications for advanced business programs. The best online MBA degrees equip learners with the skills and credentials necessary for C-suite positions, career advancement, and entrepreneurship. They provide enrollees with the opportunity to build a strong professional network of peers and experts. Employers value the MBA holder's technical expertise and business acumen.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% job growth for employees in business and financial occupations between 2019-2029. Business professionals with just a bachelor's degree can expect a $69,820 median annual wage, much higher than the $39,810 median annual wage for all occupations. Some professionals in the business and financial sector do much better. Financial managers, for example, enjoy a 15% job outlook and a $129,890 median wage with just a bachelor's degree and five years of experience.

Admission to many online MBA degree programs requires a bachelor's in a business major. Some business schools offer bridge programs or additional coursework for those without a business background. The following article outlines some of the requirements and benefits of an online MBA degree.

Common Questions About Online MBAs

Is an online MBA the same as a regular MBA?

Students enrolled in an online MBA program complete the same coursework as their in-person peers. Online learners enjoy greater flexibility and affordability.

Will an online MBA help my career?

Employers value talented business people with technical expertise and business acumen who can navigate increasing complex business environments. An online MBA program provides this training in a flexible format that does not sacrifice academic rigor.

What does someone with an MBA do?

An MBA opens up many doors for career advancement. Career options include financial manager, management analyst, and marketing manager. Some MBAs may choose to focus on specific sectors such as healthcare or supply chain management, or use acquired skills to start their own business.

How many years does it take to get a MBA degree?

Students complete an MBA in 18-24 months. Some schools offer accelerated programs that students complete in 12-16 months. Students' academic background and enrollment status affect the degree completion timeframe.

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What Are the Goals of an MBA Degree?

An MBA program gives students a well-rounded business education. The curriculum teaches students about key functional business areas such as accounting, marketing, finance, and operations management. Students develop the acumen necessary to make sound business decisions that add value to the organization. They learn how to marshall resources and deploy staff to achieve organizational goals.

Increasingly, MBA programs offer students the opportunity to specialize in areas such as healthcare, supply chain management, or IT/technology management. These niche areas reflect employer needs in various regions and business sectors. The online MBA degree allows learners to acquire these in-demand skills on a full-time or part-time basis.

Why Get an MBA Degree?

The benefits of an online MBA degree outweigh the cost and time necessary to earn the credential. MBAs earn more money, acquire skills transferable to many occupations, and differentiate themselves from other job candidates. Below we list five professional benefits of pursuing an MBA degree.

In a competitive job market, candidates must stand out from the competition. Job applicants must demonstrate highly advanced skills valuable to employers. An MBA from a reputable school provides the training and prestige necessary to outshine peers.

Making more money remains one of the top goals for MBA degree-seekers. BLS data show high salaries and job growth for employees in business and financial occupations. GMAC goes even further, noting that recruiters plan to offer new MBA grads a median starting salary of $115,000. Those hired from the industry typically start at $95,000.

Students enrolled in MBA programs build a network of peers and experts as part of the learning process. They also receive access to the school's alumni, which could foster job leads or professional growth opportunities.

MBA enrollees develop out-of-the box thinking through an MBA's curriculum and program projects. This skillset, along with communication and leadership, transfer to any occupation or sector.

Students develop advanced hands-on experience that employers value. Many MBA programs require capstone projects that students work on individually or in teams. This allows students to apply their learning in real contexts. Sometimes students work with real companies to address organizational challenges. Students also benefit from high-level internship opportunities that build proficiencies.

What Are the Requirements for an MBA Degree?

Students can expect to complete about 36-60 credits in an online MBA program. The curriculum typically includes core business subjects such as accounting, economics, organizational management, and financial management. Programs offer full- and part-time enrollment options for greater flexibility. Many business schools expect students to complete the program with a cohort of peers. Even cohort model MBA programs often use asynchronous learning, allowing students to continue their careers.

MBA program admission requirements vary by college. Students often need a business degree to enter an MBA. Some programs require non-business students to complete prerequisite business courses as part of the MBA, lengthening the course of study. Others may require students to complete the foundational prerequisites before entry. Applicants must provide school transcripts and relevant test scores. Many schools offer GMAT and GRE waivers due to COVID-19 or for students who meet certain requirements.

Professional Organizations for MBA Students

Professional organizations provide invaluable extracurricular activities for MBA students. They also help students build a community of peers and experts integral for networking and professional development. These organizations offer members access to in-person and virtual events, publications, volunteer opportunities, and leadership development. Find three such organizations listed below.

The largest organization of its kind, AMA dedicates itself to the management field and managerial training. AMA offers students a free one-year e-membership with access to publications, job-readiness webcasts, and skill assessments.

BGS, an international honor society, designs programs, benefits, and services that enhance members' skills and marketability. High-performing students in schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business qualify for membership. Benefits include access to publications, internships, scholarships, ConnectBGS, and a comprehensive discounts program on products and services.

Many MBA students focus on a specialization such as finance. The AFA, devoted to the study of financial economics, provides free membership for students. Members receive access to the prestigious Journal of Finance and events.

Scholarships for MBA Students

Even the most affordable MBA degree programs may leave students with out of pocket costs. Scholarships help students cover those costs with funding they do not need to repay. Each organization decides who benefits from funding. They may award funding based on academic performance, student needs, or to help members of underserved communities achieve their academic goals. Fellowships also offer free funding opportunities. See below for three example scholarships and fellowships.

Goldman Sachs MBA Fellowship

Who Can Apply: Goldman Sachs awards the fellowship to academically gifted first-year MBA students. Woman, Latino/a, Black, or Native American students qualify. Learners fill out an application for a summer associate internship position in a major city such as Boston, Chicago, or New York. In addition to a fellowship award, successful completers receive a salary and signing bonus.

Amount: $35,000 award and $40,000 summer associate salary


AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

Who Can Apply: AICPA Foundation awards this scholarship to students with a non-business degree pursuing graduate studies in accounting leading to CPA licensure. Students enrolled in an MBA in accounting qualify for this scholarship. The AICPA awards the scholarship based on academic achievement, leadership potential, and career interests.

Amount: $5,000


Fleet Reserve Association Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: FRA awards scholarships to students affiliated with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Applicants need U.S. citizenship and plans to pursue undergraduate or graduate education in any major at an accredited college. The Foundation awards scholarships based on academic performance, financial need, and character and leadership qualities.

Amount: Up to $5,000

Best Online MBA Programs

#1

University of Florida

School Information
Location Gainesville, Florida
Admission Rate 37%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Florida’s online graduate programs emphasize quality and affordability. A notable option is the online MBA program developed for learners with a bachelor’s in business management. The degree provides the rigorous education expected from a graduate program using a flexible online format.

Students in the MBA program receive individualized attention with a 17-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. The biggest attraction is the educational attainment acquired when learners complete a rigorous curriculum delivered by business management experts. In an increasingly competitive workforce, those with a master’s degree stand out because of the rigorous academic preparation they underwent.

Making tuition competitive is a school priority, and Florida residents pay an average $10,770 per year, and out-of-state residents pay $27,335. Many degree-seekers qualify for financial aid such as grants and scholarships from the school and third parties. The comprehensive suite of financial aid options also include student loans, which about 22% of the school’s enrollees use to fund some or all of their education.

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#2

Penn State World Campus

School Information
Location University Park, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Penn State World Campus enrolls students in one of the nation’s best master of business administration programs for online business management degree-seekers. The degree goes much deeper in training highly skilled workers in the field compared to a bachelor's. Those who complete the MBA can also choose to pursue a terminal degree, such as a Ph.D.

The convenient online format makes this school an especially good choice for many. A big part of this program's allure is that it allows students to manage other aspects of their lives without sacrificing their education. The academic environment at the school is supportive and student-focused, whether those students are learning in person or online.

Applicants usually need a bachelor’s in order to be considered for this program. The admission rate is an average of 76% of applicants. Financial aid options such as loans and scholarships can help students pay for tuition, which is $21,682 per year for Pennsylvania residents.

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#3

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Florida International University provides business management students with an online MBA in healthcare program that ranks highly among similar degree offerings. A bachelor’s degree provides foundational education compared to the advanced training in this program. Those who complete the MBA program can also choose to pursue a terminal degree, such as a Ph.D.

The convenient online format makes this school an especially good choice for many. Students may want an advanced degree but have other concerns such as caregiving and employment, and this flexible degree supports those endeavors. Here it is not enough to emphasize academic rigor and flexibility. Support from faculty and the community plays an integral role in enrollees' academic development.

Unless otherwise stated, applicants need a bachelor’s to apply to this program. School data show the acceptance rate stands at 58%, but some programs may differ. If accepted, students in Florida can expect to pay about $8,912 per year before applying grants, loans, and scholarships.

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#4

University of North Carolina Wilmington

School Information
Location Wilmington, North Carolina
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington, a public college, offers both a strong catalog of academic programs and a learning experience tailored to meet learners’ needs. A leader in online graduate education, the institution offers 16 online master's degrees. One of these is the master of business administration for business management degree-seekers.

The MBA program can fit into busy schedules because of its adaptability and flexibility. Busy enrollees may have access to recorded videos that facilitate anytime viewing, and can complete their assignments within a reasonable timeframe as faculty allow. This online format allows faculty to seamlessly integrate academic rigor, advanced career preparation, and flexible scheduling.

Applicants can expect an admissions rate of 65% each year on average, though this number can vary between programs. Master's degree-seekers usually need a bachelor's degree in the major or a related one to receive consideration. Consult the program to find out more details like how to submit transcripts and recommendation letters if required.

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#5

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides business management students with an online MBA program that ranks highly among similar degree offerings. The master’s degree equips enrollees with advanced training valued by employers in their profession. A terminal degree like a doctorate is the next stop for some holders of an MBA.

The school’s online format is a big draw for students who need to effectively manage their time. The program is built to accommodate busy students such as those who work and have pressing family obligations. No matter if enrollees study remotely or on campus, they benefit from a supportive learning environment that includes faculty and community support.

The application requirements include a bachelor’s degree, unless the program states otherwise. The data from this school show a 23% admission rate, but expect some variances across programs. Financial aid options such as loans and scholarships can help students pay for tuition, which is $10,552 per year for North Carolina residents.

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