Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

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.

  1. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

    Edinburg, TX



    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.

  2. Texas A & M International University

    Laredo, TX



    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.

  3. City Vision University

    Kansas City, MO



    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.

  4. Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville, NC



    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.

  5. California State University-Bakersfield

    Bakersfield, CA



    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.

  6. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, UT



    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.

  7. Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

    Stillwater, OK



    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.

  8. California State University-Stanislaus

    Turlock, CA



    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.

  9. Thomas Edison State University

    Trenton, NJ



    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.

  10. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

    Durant, OK



    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.

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

  • Financial Analyst

    These professionals guide clients on investment opportunities and choices. This role involves assessing investment performance, analyzing financial data and business trends, and educating clients on financial matters. Some financial analysts also evaluate management teams, create reports, and make recommendations to company executives. Financial analysts need at least a business-related bachelor’s degree.

    Median Salary: $81,590 per year

    Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 5%

  • Management Analysts

    Requiring advanced skills in financial data, management analysis, and organizational efficiency assessment, operations research analysts collect and analyze data to inform business decisions and practices. Often employing mathematical tools and methods to analyze data, operations research analysts detect business problems and propose possible solutions. Their recommendations may pertain to supply chain management, pricing, resource allocation, and production scheduling.

    Median Salary: $84,810 per year

    Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 25%

  • Top Executives

    Tasked with overseeing entire departments or organizations, executives make important decisions, create long-term and short-term strategies and plans, and hire and supervise managers. Top executives also may determine policies and procedures, oversee budgeting, negotiate contracts, and analyze company data.

    Median Salary: $104,690 per year

    Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 4%

Source: BLS

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.

Scholarships Opportunities

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.

  • Association of Latino Professionals for America Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship serves Hispanic U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants need a 3.3 minimum GPA and must attend a business-related program full time at an accredited four-year school.

    Amount: Varies

    For More Info: Association of Latino Professionals for America Scholarship

  • Lagrant Foundation Graduate Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: U.S. citizens of color with permanent residency or DACA status, a 3.2 GPA, and full-time enrollment in accredited, advertising-related graduate programs may apply. Applicants submit recommendation letters, resumes, essays, and official transcripts.

    Amount: $3,500

    For More Info: Lagrant Foundation Graduate Scholarships

  • Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available for U.S. or Canadian permanent residents or citizens enrolled full time in a graduate program focused on local government finance. Application requirements include a resume, a purpose statement, and a recommendation letter. The purpose statement describes applicants’ state or local government finance aspirations and plans.

    Amount: $15,000

    For More Info: Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship

  • Golden Key International Honor Society Graduate Scholar Award

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship goes to Golden Key members accepted or enrolled in graduate programs at accredited higher education institutions. Application requirements include a resume, a recommendation, transcripts, and a personal statement.

    Amount: $10,000

    For More Info: Golden Key International Honor Society Graduate Scholar Award

  • National Aircraft Finance Association Corporate Aviation Business Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This scholarship goes to full-time enrollees in business-related programs. Eligible candidates need a 3.0 minimum GPA and U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. Applicants apply through their institution’s financial aid office.

    Amount: $1,000-$5,000

    For More Info: National Aircraft Finance Association Corporate Aviation Business Scholarship

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