MBA Degree Programs
Welcome to our comprehensive directory of MBA Degree programs. The school listings below contain all the online programs we could find, from 201 schools across the country.
Are your business skills equally strong across the board? If so, you might want to consider a career in management, and an MBA degree can be a good place to begin.
Advice from the Pros
We recently interviewed Dr. Santiago Iñiguez, Dean of IE Business School and author of The Learning Curve, to share his insight into business education. Jeremy Shinewald, Founder of mbaMission.com, sat down with us as well. In the interview, he discusses common mistakes made on MBA applications and how to assess whether you’ll need an MBA. We also interviewed Dr. Daniel Szpiro, Dean of the Jack Welch Management Institute, about the school’s online Executive MBA program. Dr. Szpiro discusses the admission requirements, the structure of the program, and what to look for when selecting an online MBA program. Finally, we spoke with Dr. Dave Sprott, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs & Chaired Professor of Marketing at Washington State University, about the school’s online MBA program. Dr. Sprott discusses what makes their program unique, and how to be successful in an online program. More information on the WSU program can be found at http://omba.wsu.edu/.
History of MBA Programs
The MBA grew out of early 20th century courses in bookkeeping and accounting. Founded in 1881, Wharton Business School has the honor of being the first U.S. business school, though it was the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, founded in 1900, which offered the first graduate program in business management.
Not to be outdone, Harvard opened its Graduate School of Business Administration in 1908, and many universities quickly followed suit. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business created the first executive MBA program in 1943.
In 1959, the Carnegie and Ford Foundations issued two scathing reports on the state of MBA programs, calling them second-rate vocational programs that were sub-par and out of touch with reality.
After the resulting overhaul, the MBA has continued to evolve with market demands. 21st century MBA programs place much greater emphasis on leadership, internationalism, practical management, business ethics and communication skills than was the case in the 1980s.
The price of MBA programs varies widely. Full-time programs (e.g., Harvard, Stanford and Wharton) trend in the $50,000-$60,000 per year range. Many online programs hover around $35,000-$50,000 per annum; some may go as low as $12,000 or as high as $90,000 plus.
MBA candidates should think carefully about their budgets. In May 2016, the Financial Times reported that the cost of MBA tuition has risen 81% in the last ten years. That does not include additional education expenses and any income lost from time away from work. Some companies will fund or partially subsidize your MBA. It is also worth investigating whether an accredited one-year program would suit your needs. MBA students received good news in 2016: more students can deduct the cost of their tuition (especially if they are enrolled in an executive MBA program).
Plenty of financial publications publish annual lists of MBA program rankings. You may want to start with:
Ranking reports often consider a variety of criteria, including peer assessments, education scores (e.g., GMAT) and graduate job offers.
The predominant trend in MBA programs over the past decade has been their explosive growth. As the National Center for Education Statistics noted, 185,212 MBAs were granted in the 2014-15 year. That’s a whopping 30% rise over the past ten years.
Unfortunately, the proliferation of poor quality programs means an MBA qualification is losing its shine. Applications to traditional two-year campus programs continue to drop.
On the other hand, increased competition has MBA programs going to great lengths to cater to students. More and more schools are offering:
- One-year programs
- Specialized programs (e.g., MBA in Non-Profit Management, Global MBA)
- Blended/distance education courses
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the demand for online and flexible MBA programs grew in 2015.
The core curriculum for traditional MBA programs can include courses on:
- Accounting, Economics and Finance
- Human Resource Management
- Technology and Information Systems
- Leadership and Communication
- Business Strategy
- Global Business
- Operations Management
Specialized MBAs, such as a Master of Management, have their own unique curricula. Also, many candidates in two-year programs focus on general courses in the first year, and choose a specialized concentration in the second.
The non-governmental AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) is an accrediting body that represents the recognized standard of business school quality. All major brick-and-mortar b-schools are accredited by this organization, and some companies do not offer reimbursement for employees attending non-AACSB accredited schools. However, only 30 percent of US b-schools are AACSB accredited, and the AACSB does not consider accrediting for-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix. Many people cannot afford to consider the AACSB-accredited programs (on average, they cost $10,000 more than the non-AACSB accredited ones). Find the complete list of AACSB accredited MBA programs here: http://www.bestbizschools.com/masters/.
Apart from the AACSB, there are two other major accreditation bodies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation:
- The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
Both accredit schools outside of the United States.
Though the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education does not accredit business schools, it has a searchable database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs (http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx).
Look closely at an institution’s regional accreditations. A seal of approval from an organization such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) can be an important indicator of a school’s long-term reputation.
Online MBA Programs
Online business programs originally came into the public eye in 1989 when the University of Phoenix enrolled its first online class of MBA candidates. Since then, online MBAs have followed a steady path of disruptive innovation – making their way from the outer reaches of higher education into the prestigious inner circle of respected schools. In the early 2000s, online MBA programs launched at Spain’s IE School of Business and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. And recently, the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School, another high-ranking school, made headlines by announcing its own groundbreaking online MBA program.
RECENT TRENDS. Approximately 11,000 students are currently enrolled in AACSB accredited online MBA programs. Besides the aforementioned schools, Duke University, the University of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Florida, and many other big-name US News-ranked schools are offering these programs. In addition, even more students are enrolled in non-AACSB accredited online MBA programs such as those available at the University of Phoenix (more on the distinction below).
Every year the number of online business programs increases, and new schools open frequently. In fact, former CEO of GE Jack Welch launched his own online MBA program based on the “six sigma” principles he taught to GE executives. According to an article in Business Week, Welch is optimistic about the opportunity to make the MBA more democratic. “We think it will make the MBA more accessible to those who are hungry to play,” Welch said. Welch is a perfect example of the thousands who have come around to being excited about online education. “Online education is going nowhere but up. It’s for real,” he said.
THE DEBATE. Despite the droves of people who have embraced the new education era, support for online business programs is still varied. Harvard Business School, for example, has announced that it has no plans to develop online classrooms. As reported by US News, the school issued a statement saying, “Interaction between participants is a critical element of the learning process, and technology has not yet advanced to a stage where it is possible to replicate that interaction at the scale needed for a robust case discussion.” Dave Wilson, CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, quoted in Poets & Quants, said that technology cannot be used for “deeper Socratic inquiries between a professor and the students.” According to other critics, a lack of campus interaction contributes to students missing out on casual after-class discussions and the natural networking opportunities that come with a typical b-school experience. No networking could mean no job connections, and likely no internships.
But, proponents of online business programs believe that online classrooms are actually better for active learning, creating familiarity with new technologies, and even fostering relationships between classmates. The University of North Carolina, for example, paired up with 2tor.com to create a student experience that includes live-streaming video sessions as well as archived lectures, simulated interactions, and discussions accessible 24/7 via live chat and forum boards. In a test case, a 2tor executive and a UNC professor asked students to arrive prepared to discuss a given topic. In a traditional, brick-and-mortar classroom, only a few students would get a chance to share their views. The new technology allowed students to partner up via web chat, post their discussions to a forum, and receive credit for commenting on each other’s posts. “The depth and quality of the posts is surprisingly good, better than in regular classes, because students have more time to think about what they want to say,” said Terrill Cosgray in an interview with Poets & Quants.
Even University of Phoenix keeps its online class sizes between 14 and 20 students. Building even more intimacy between classmates are online programs that include short campus visits. Many “online” MBA programs are not conducted exclusively online. For example, IE Business School and Indiana University require two week-long campus visits. Arrangements like these are typical, and they allow students to put faces to the classmates they have already met online, firming up these connections.
Some believe that in today’s world, this mostly online networking is common, regardless of whether or not it is part of an education program. Sites like LinkedIn create student-alumni connections via the internet. Networking does not necessarily happen on campus. The internet offers infinite possibilities for networking – and online students may even have an advantage here, because their classmates come from all over the world and have their own connections through their current careers. Indiana University’s online MBA students come from almost every state in the US, as well as 20 countries. And, they have experience in banking, marketing, finance, and technology. If you look at it one way, online classrooms are a networking paradise.
Supporters also say that in a business economy, this global and technology-reliant approach is actually the most appropriate preparation for the career you hope to have. Online MBA candidates may be more comfortable with a global mindset as well as technology products, because they have used them daily in their “classrooms.” Duke University has taken this global businessperson idea the furthest by offering a distance learning program with six residential sessions in North Carolina, Europe, and Asia. Students become tech-savvy jet-setters before they even graduate.
COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS. Another benefit of online MBA programs is their price tag. Excluding some extravagant programs such as Duke’s, online MBAs generally cut costs in two ways. The first is straightforward numbers: brick-and-mortar MBA programs cost about $100,000, while online MBA programs average $20,000 to $30,000. The second way is that online MBA programs allow working adults to keep their jobs while pursuing higher education. Online programs open the door for adults to improve their careers while maintaining other responsibilities. Penn State found that most students receive promotions upon graduating. In other words, they are not career changers, entering the business world for the first time, but people looking to get that last leg-up in their existing career. Especially in this economy, the flexibility keep your job is very appealing.
PERCEPTION. There is still an undercurrent of suspicion about online MBAs. While new businesspeople should be wary of passing up important opportunities for internships and networking if they enroll in an online program, those looking for a leg up in their already semi-established careers might want to consider an online option. The perception of online programs varies depending on employer, school and even industry, so make sure you ask plenty of questions about any program you are thinking of enrolling in. The most important questions? How many alumni are employed, in which jobs and companies, and how long did it take them after graduation to find a job?