A terminal professional degree, the master of business administration (MBA) focuses on helping aspiring business leaders cultivate management analysis and strategy skills. Enrollees complete a multidisciplinary business curriculum that includes marketing, economics, strategy, and accounting, plus the option to choose from many specializations. Degree-seekers benefit from strong analysis, problem-solving, and communication skills.
Although MBA programs typically cost more than other master's degrees, many MBA graduates earn high salaries to quickly recoup the degree's expense. MBA graduates earn an average annual salary of $88,648, according to PayScale. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a $105,660 median annual salary for management positions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an MBA?
- A versatile, interdisciplinary business degree, the MBA prepares graduates for diverse, high-paying careers across various industries. MBA programs build skills in leadership, financial management, communication, and strategy.
- How long does it take to complete an MBA program?
- Traditional MBA programs take full-time learners at least two years to complete. However, part-time and accelerated programs may feature longer or shorter timelines.
- Can I earn an MBA online?
- Yes, many schools offer hybrid or online MBA programs. These programs allow working professionals to pursue their degree during after-work hours or on weekends.
- How does an MBA differ from other master's degrees?
- As professional degrees, many MBAs focus on skills-building and less on theory and academic research. MBA programs also typically cost more and result in higher salaries than other business-related master's degrees.
Most Affordable Online MBA Programs
Students researching affordable online MBA programs can use the following ranked list to compare programs. Program descriptions feature tuition rates, program pacing, and available concentrations. Note that these rankings change yearly to reflect shifts in business education.
Located in the southernmost tip of Texas, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is the newest college in the UT system. Business students can complete UTRGV's fully online MBA in just 12 months. The 36-credit degree advances learners' leadership and project management skills. Foundation courses in finance, accounting, and statistics prepare enrollees for more advanced work.
The core MBA curriculum explores topics such as organizational behavior, corporate finance, and production and operations management. The program develops business managers proficient in business research techniques and methodologies. MBA students culminate the degree with a capstone course.
The program features accelerated seven-week courses. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. A scholarship opportunity and competitive tuition help make this one of the nation's most affordable MBA programs. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE of GMAT scores. The MBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Texas A&M International University serves a diverse community of about 8,400 learners on the Mexican border in Laredo. Students earning the school's MBA online can complete the 30-credit degree in just 15 months. Learners without an undergraduate degree in business administration complete prep modules that explore concepts such as finance and economics.
Core courses develop business professionals skilled in areas such as strategic management, financial management, and management concepts. Enrollees supplement core courses with three electives. Students interested in specialized online MBAs may consider TAMIU's MBA in international banking, international business, or international trade and logistics.
Admission to any of the online MBA programs requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE or GMAT scores. The online MBA programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
City Vision University offers affordable online programs that promote Christian values. The Missouri school's 36-credit online MBA cultivates professionals who can serve nonprofit organizations.
The program offers two concentrations: education management and social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. Regardless of their concentration, all students complete core courses on topics such as managerial accounting, strategic management, and marketing for nonprofits and businesses.
Eight-week courses accelerate degree completion, and five start dates offer flexibility. All students pay a flat tuition rate per year, making this degree one of the nation's most affordable MBA programs. Students can transfer up to 25% of the degree's credits from prior education or learning assessment. Admission requires a bachelor's degree.
Part of the University of North Carolina system, Fayetteville University is a historically Black college with a diverse student body. The online MBA accommodates busy professionals who want to continue working while earning the degree. The 36-credit curriculum begins with foundation courses for students without a business school background.
Core courses cover topics such as managerial accounting, business analytics, and financial management. Enrollees can specialize their skills through concentrations in project management and supply chain management. Students not interested in a concentration can take electives instead.
FSU offers the most affordable online MBA program in the UNC system. Admission requires GMAT or GRE scores. The online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation.
Located in San Joaquin Valley, California State University-Bakersfield's 36-credit online MBA explores topics such as accounting, marketing, and finance. A course series teaches students various management proficiencies, including HR and operations and technology management.
Students supplement the core with three elective courses they can use to explore related business topics. For instance, a learner interested in entrepreneurship may take courses on working capital management and consumer behavior. Enrollees culminate the degree with an interactive competitive simulation that requires that they manage a firm and compete against other peer-run firms. Students may transfer up to six credits from other accredited business schools.
The school boasts tuition that costs less than many private and online colleges. CSUB offers GMAT waivers for applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a business degree from a school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. This affordable MBA degree is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Created by state governors to innovate higher education, Western Governors University offers a competency-based, fully online MBA. The curriculum consists of 11 courses that cover topics such as operations management, financial management, accounting for business leaders, and how to manage organizations and people. WGU's competency-based model allows students to pass a course based on mastery of concepts learned and not seat time.
Faculty determine students' competency levels through tests, projects, papers, and other assessments. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone that demonstrates their knowledge of how to run and grow a business. Eighty percent of students complete this degree in 24 months. Students pay a set fee for a six-month term with no differentiation for in-state or out-of-state residency.
Admission to one of the nation's most affordable MBA programs requires a business degree and college transcripts. The MBA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Oklahoma State University operates five campuses and a virtual college. The online MBA offers a part-time curriculum that students can complete in 12 months. The 33- to 39-credit MBA features asynchronous courses that cover areas such as corporate and business strategy, business finance, and marketing management.
Students who pursue the business sustainability specialization complete 39 credits. The specialization requires two courses -- management of sustainable enterprises and corporate and social responsibility -- and six electives. Faculty embed multimedia content and virtual activities throughout the MBA to facilitate student collaboration. A required practicum allows learners to apply their mastery of descriptive analytics in an organizational setting.
OSU's MBA tuition ranks among the nation's most competitive, including for students who live out of state. Active-duty military personnel may qualify for in-state tuition rates. Admission to this affordable MBA degree program requires competitive GMAT or GRE scores. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
California State University-Stanislaus hosts around 10,000 students annually through two Central Valley campuses and an online division. The 30-credit online MBA enrolls business professionals and executives. Students can choose a general MBA or a specialized MBA with a focus in finance or HR management. Enrollees without an undergraduate degree in business complete foundational courses in areas such as financial accounting and statistics for decision-making.
Core courses cover topics such as management accounting, computer information systems, and quality and productivity management. Students choosing the general MBA can take three electives in any area. All students culminate the degree with a comprehensive exam. Part of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Stanislaus State's online programs are taught by OLC-certified instructors.
All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA in the last 60 credits of a bachelor's degree. The affordable MBA degree program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Established in 1972 to serve nontraditional learners, Thomas Edison State University is a leader in affordable online education. The New Jersey college offers an online MBA delivered asynchronously. The 39-credit curriculum examines areas such as finance, marketing, and global strategic management.
Enrollees can use 18 credits to pursue a specialization such as accounting, data analytics, or HR management. Alternatively, they may use those electives to hone complementary skills in areas such as effective negotiation or social media best practices for today's business. Students who did not take undergraduate courses in financial accounting, microeconomics, and statistics complete a preparatory program before entry into the MBA program.
All MBA students pay the same competitive tuition regardless of residency. Admission to one of the nation's most affordable online MBA programs requires a minimum 3.0 GPA. The MBA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University is a small college that hosts around 4,700 students annually. Southeastern's online MBA offers an accelerated curriculum that students can complete in 12 months. Students learn essential business skills in areas like marketing, financial management, and accounting for managers.
The program offers traditional concentrations in areas like accounting, finance, and management. The school also offers concentrations not always available in business schools, such as Native American leadership and aerospace logistics. A unique concentration in safety trains business professionals in occupational safety, legal liability and workers compensation, and crisis preparedness and occupational security.
Students without a business degree can satisfy the program's prerequisites with four one-week leveling courses also delivered online. All enrollees pay one low tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and no GMAT scores. The affordable MBA degree program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Part of a 23-campus system, California State University-San Bernardino serves about 20,000 students annually. CSUSB offers an online MBA for early- and mid-career executives. The 30- to 42-unit curriculum requires foundation courses in data-driven decision-making and advanced managerial communications. Core courses explore topics like marketing management and accounting for managerial decision-making.
One course examines the factors a firm's general manager must consider to formulate and implement a long-term corporate strategy that ensures competitiveness in a global economy.
Students must complete an internship or directed graduate study. They also develop a portfolio that includes a reflective essay outlining their accomplishments in the MBA program. Learners culminate one of the nation's best affordable MBA programs with a comprehensive assessment of a substantive business problem.
Admission to one of the nation's most affordable MBA programs requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and GMAT or GRE scores. The online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Louisiana State University-Shreveport is a state leader in online education. The school's online MBA offers an asynchronous, accelerated curriculum that learners can complete in as few as 10 months. The 30-credit program allows learners to choose a general MBA or one of several concentrations in areas like finance, accounting, data analytics, and HR management.
All students develop core business skills in areas such as financial management, marketing strategy, and managerial use of accounting data. The accounting concentration helps fulfil the 150 credit hours needed to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam in most states.
LSUS offers pay-as-you-go tuition so that students can afford their education with limited debt. Accelerated learning and competitive tuition help make the degree one of the nation's most affordable MBA programs. Admission requires GMAT scores. The online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
The University of West Florida operates campuses in Pensacola and the Emerald Coast, but about 30% of learners study exclusively online. Faculty designed the online MBA to meet the needs of working professionals. Business school graduates can complete the degree in five or six semesters. Learners without a bachelor's degree in business must complete MBA foundation courses such as economics and financial management.
The 33- to 36-credit MBA uses a cohort format that requires students to take two courses per term in a sequence. Core courses cover topics such as business and public policy, operations management, and strategic management policy formulation.
All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. UWF boasts tuition that ranks among the most affordable in the state. Admission to this affordable MBA degree program requires GMAT or GRE scores. The online MBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Located in Oklahoma, Northeastern State University is the state's fourth-largest public four-year college. NSU's online MBA offers fully online and hybrid options. The 36-credit program consists of quantitative and qualitative courses.
Core courses examine areas such as managerial accounting, marketing strategy, and logistics and supply chain management. Students may opt for a general management MBA or a specialized MBA in areas such as healthcare administration or Native American enterprise.
The school offers affordable tuition, and MBA students from Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and Kansas receive a partial out-of-state tuition waiver. Admission to one of the best schools for an online MBA requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and GMAT scores. The online MBA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Florida International University is a leader in online education with more than 20 years of distance learning experience. The online professional MBA (PMBA) continues this tradition with an asynchronous curriculum that students can complete at their own pace within 18, 21, or 33 months.
The 42-credit curriculum requires a 12-course core that explores topics such as corporate finance, competitive strategy, and business analysis for decision-making. Each student supplements the core with two courses in a specialization, such as strategic negotiations or entrepreneurship and innovation.
An optional two-day residency in Miami features expert speakers, team-building workshops, and case-method analysis. Students who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA after completing 10 PMBA courses may qualify for up to $15,000 of scholarship funding. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission to one of the most affordable MBA degree programs requires GMAT or GRE scores. The online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Cameron University is a public college located in Lawton, Oklahoma. The school's online MBA program enrolls business professionals seeking to advance their careers. The 33-credit degree uses a fully online curriculum. Students without an undergraduate business degree may need to complete leveling courses before entry into this program.
The core of the MBA covers topics such as marketing, managerial finance, accounting for management, and applied business strategy. Students also take nine credits of electives, which may include a six-credit master's thesis. Graduates can apply lessons learned to solve contemporary business challenges.
CU offers competitive tuition that makes the degree one of the most affordable online MBA programs for residents and nonresidents. Admission requires GMAT or GRE scores for learners without a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online MBA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Texas Woman's University is the nation's largest historically women's college. TTW's fully online MBA program takes just 15 months to complete. Students take small, seven-week classes that offer personalized and accelerated learning. The 36-credit curriculum develops core competencies in areas such as accounting ethics, global finance, and decision analysis for managers. Students may pursue one of six concentrations.
Students seeking a dual option may consider the fully online MBA and MHA dual degree. TWU's Center for Women Entrepreneurs promotes women’s entrepreneurship. MBA participants gain access to resources through Handshake and the Career Connections Center.
All students in the online MBA program pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission to this affordable MBA degree program requires a minimum 2.5 GPA. The online MBA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
The largest historically Black college in the country, North Carolina A&T State University offers select online graduate degrees. The school's online MBA develops proficient business managers with strong ethics.
The 36-credit curriculum examines topics such as financial management, operations management, and managerial accounting for decision-making and control. The program's four concentrations represent growing business domains, including HR management and supply chain management. N.C. A&T's MBA with a general concentration suits learners with a non-business undergraduate degree. MBA students spend their final semester consulting for one of the school's corporate partners.
One of the most affordable MBA programs in the nation, the program boasts a strong job placement record for graduates. The program accepts a limited number of transfer credits on a case-by-case basis. Admission requires GMAT or GRE scores for applicants with a GPA lower than 3.3. The online MBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe is part of a nine-campus system. Students with an undergraduate business degree typically complete the online MBA in 18 months of full-time enrollment. Enrollees complete two online MBA courses in a lock-step format each term.
Learners study topics such as financial analysis, marketing strategy, and management information systems. Students can pursue a general MBA or concentrations in areas such as public administration, health communication, or communication for human resources.
Learners without a business background must complete leveling courses. Students can transfer up to nine credits from a school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. All online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. They also benefit from pay-by-the-course tuition. Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and GMAT or GRE scores. The online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Founded in 1988, New Mexico State University operates five campuses and an online division. NMSU's main campus in Las Cruces offers an online MBA for working professionals. Participants complete a mix of online and on-campus sessions, finishing the program in two years as a cohort.
The 36-credit degree begins with a two-day orientation on campus. The MBA core covers topics such as financial management, managerial accounting, and quantitative analysis for business decisions. Faculty acquaint learners with laws and legal procedures that pertain to the business arena. Students may complete one of four concentrations, including agribusiness or public utility regulation. Students culminate the degree with an exam or thesis.
All online students pay the same low tuition regardless of residency. Steep tuition discounts make this degree one of the most affordable online MBA programs for military personnel. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GMAT or GRE scores. The online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
California State University-Long Beach is the third-largest school in the CSU system.
CSULB's cohort-based online MBA gives learners the quantitative and qualitative skills necessary to address today's complex business challenges. The 48-unit program features a 50% synchronous and 50% asynchronous format. Learners can choose a part-time, four-year track or a full-time, two-year option.
The MBA develops competencies in areas like financial accounting, marketing analytics, HR management, and quantitative methods for managerial decision-making. Students can apply learned skills during a culminating integrated analysis course. A mentorship program matches MBA students with alumni from the business community. Scholarship funding opportunities and other financial aid help students afford one of the nation's best online MBA programs.
Admission requires a minimum 2.75 GPA, with GMAT/GRE waivers until fall 2021. The online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
The University of Missouri-St Louis administers programs that consistently rank among the nation's best. The 30-credit Flex MBA offers hybrid and fully online options. Prospective Flex MBA students need a background in economics, statistics, and communication. MBA students receive a well-rounded education in general business areas such as financial management, managerial accounting, and management information systems.
Students supplement the core with advanced coursework in areas such as information systems and operations management. Learners can use electives to pursue business-related courses or a concentration such as supply chain management. Illinois residents pay in-state tuition. Participants in the Midwest Student Exchange Program pay reduced tuition, making this an affordable MBA degree for many Midwesterners.
UMSL's graduate business program ranks among the Military Times' top 25 for military vets. Admission to the Flex MBA requires GMAT scores. The Flex MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Florida Atlantic University hosts students through several campuses and a robust virtual college. FAU's 23-month online MBA (OMBA) features a cohort format and requires 40-46 credits depending on students' undergraduate backgrounds. The OMBA's core develops skills in essential business areas such as financial management, advanced marketing management, and global business strategy.
Students can choose a general OMBA or a concentration in an area such as business analytics or health administration. One of the most affordable MBA programs in the nation, the OMBA offers free tutoring, Microsoft Office products, and workshops and seminars. Students also enjoy the benefits of a VIP concierge service. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency.
Admission to the OMBA requires a bachelor's degree in any discipline, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and GMAT or GRE scores. The OMBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Founded in 1966, Bellevue University is a private college in Nebraska. BU's 36-credit online MBA blends online lectures with simulations and case studies taken from the business world. The core of the MBA explores topics such as financial reporting and analysis, business analysis for decision-making, and marketing and new media strategy.
The program features 19 concentrations in areas such as accounting, finance, and executive coaching. Depending on their concentration, the online MBA prepares learners for professional certification from the Project Management Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management. All students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency.
Admission to one of the nation's most affordable online MBA programs requires a minimum 2.5 GPA. The online MBA is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
Louisiana Tech University emphasizes experiential learning. The 36-credit online MBA program features hybrid and fully online options. Students with bachelor's degrees from non-business fields must complete undergraduate foundational courses in subjects such as accounting and finance.
The MBA core explores advanced topics such as financial management, managerial economics, administrative policy, and accounting analysis for decision-making. Louisiana Tech does not offer any of the program's four concentrations in a fully online format. The hybrid MBA offers two concentrations: information assurance and computer information systems. Hybrid learners can complete these concentrations at the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City.
Admission to this affordable MBA degree program does not require GMAT or GRE scores for applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online and hybrid MBA programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Career and Salary Outlook for MBA Graduates
A business-related bachelor's degree meets the minimum degree requirements for many business and management occupations. However, an MBA improves candidates' chances at various competitive positions. Many top-level administrators and executives in nonprofit, public, and for-profit sectors hold advanced degrees such as an MBA.
This flexible degree builds high-level business analysis, strategy, communication, and leadership skills that serve graduates well in many fields and careers. MBA students also usually choose from dozens of concentration options that provide specialized knowledge and skills tailored to specific sectors, industries, and roles. Graduates of affordable MBA programs work in many sectors and industries. Common MBA career paths include financial analyst, management analyst, operations research analyst, and executive. See below for descriptions of these lucrative MBA roles.
Potential Professional Roles with an MBA
Accreditation for Online MBA Programs
To verify the value of their educational investment, prospective students should only apply to accredited online MBA programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation approves agencies that provide institutional accreditation. Only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid.
Note that most good affordable MBA programs reside at regionally accredited institutions, since regional accreditors stipulate higher standards than national accreditors. For this reason, many regionally accredited schools do not recognize degrees or credits earned at nationally accredited schools.
Top affordable MBA programs may also hold programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
Courses in an MBA Program
Most MBA programs feature core courses in management, accounting, statistics, and strategy. MBA enrollees also typically take courses in business ethics, communication, law, and economics. Many affordable MBA programs also offer specialized coursework and concentrations in fields such as real estate, information technology, and supply chain management. The MBA experience typically culminates in a capstone internship or project, which builds skills in research, analysis, collaboration, and presentation.
The courses below appear in many online MBA programs, but specific offerings vary by program and concentration.
Common MBA Coursework
- People Management
- This course teaches skills, processes, methods, and technologies for staffing and supervising personnel. Enrollees gain awareness of how cultural differences may influence employee experiences, approaches, and motivations. Integrating case studies and theory, the course discusses organizational culture, staff negotiation and mediation, innovation, and chance management. Most MBA programs include at least one management-related core course.
- Financial Accounting for Decision-Makers
- Typically a core course in MBA programs, this course covers financial statement preparation, analysis, and reporting. Useful to aspiring managers and financial managers, learners study financial accounting standards and practices relevant to management decisions -- such as establishing incentives.
- Marketing Management and Strategy
- Often both a core course and a concentration, marketing management provides crucial knowledge for most aspiring managers and marketing professionals. Examining advanced marketing principles, practices, and skills, this course covers market positioning, targeting, and segmentation. Enrollees also garner key strategies for product development, promotion, and pricing.
- Supply Chain Logistics
- Surveying the frameworks and tools for logistical decision-making, this course explores the relationship between logistics and company strategy. Usually an elective or concentration course, supply chain logistics can provide useful expertise for professionals interested in logistics or strategy careers.
- Technology Entrepreneurship
- Typically an elective course or part of information technology or entrepreneurship concentrations at some MBA schools, this course focuses on technologies useful to IT startups. The course covers value propositions, technology portfolio analysis, and product-market linking.
Financial Aid for MBA Students
Graduate students at accredited schools often enjoy diverse options for funding their degree. Prospective and current MBA students seeking financial aid should begin this process by completing the FAFSA. The government awards some aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so applicants should complete the form early in the year.
The government assesses students' financial need and may offer loans, grants, scholarships, or work-study opportunities. Grants and scholarships do not require repayment, so applicants should accept these awards first. Students considering loans should prioritize subsidized loans over unsubsidized loans, since the latter accrue significantly more interest.
Some graduate students qualify for school or program fellowships, which can include tuition remission and a living stipend in exchange for university research or teaching work. Working professionals may qualify for employer-assisted tuition-reimbursement programs. Working students can save money by attending flexible online MBA programs, which may offer lower tuition, eliminate transportation and residency expenses, and allow students to continue working.
Undergraduate and graduate students also may apply to scholarships from various sources, including professional organizations, private donors, companies, and nonprofits. Usually awarded based on some combination of merit, financial need, and group membership, scholarships do not require repayment. Online MBA students may qualify for scholarships such as the following.