The 20 Best Online MBA Programs

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The MBA is one of the oldest advanced degrees one will find, with ties to the very beginning of the 20th century. Today, it is also perhaps the most popular degree with 191,571 MBAs awarded in just the U.S in 2012– 25.4 of all advanced degrees awarded in that year. People choose to pursue an MBA for a number of reasons, one of which is to distinguish oneself in an increasingly globalized world.

The 20 Best Online MBA Programs were ranked according to program quality indicators including faculty credentials, full-time to part-time faculty ratio, the convenience of online delivery, and admission, retention, and graduation rates. We also factored in The Economist reports on employment rates and post-graduate salaries, and with consideration given to PoetsandQuants.com‘s index of third-party MBA rankings. Finally, the rankings weigh program cost heavily, given that all programs are high quality and based on the assumption that online students are sensitive to cost and that any accredited MBA program rates to significantly increase earning potential. This leads to some otherwise surprising results, so for less price-sensitive students, we’ve included our cost-blind scores.

20. University of Mississippi


The University of Mississippi is known as “Ole Miss” for a reason– it’s been around since 1848. Being in the South, Ole Miss has quite the history in terms of civil rights; James Meredith became famous for being the first African-American to attend the school, which resulted in riots.

Far from that history today, Ole Miss is one of the more progressive online MBA programs one will find. It costs $529 a unit, regardless of location, and its Faculty Credentials and Training Score is 84. Ole Miss’ new student retention rate is 80%, and its three-year graduation rate is 69%. Its online MBA curriculum consists of 36 units– 6 done over the course of six semesters. It typically takes at least two years. Added on to the unit price of $529 is a $75 per credit hour technology fee for each online course taken.

19. Gardner-Webb University


Gardner-Webb University is a Baptist university, located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, 50 miles west of Charlotte. It is a small school with only about 5,000 students, undergrads and postgrads combined. Its online MBA consists of a 36 credit hour curriculum that is usually completed within two years. 30 of these credit hours are in core classes while the rest are in electives. It is “structured to provide students with a working knowledge of business and the managerial skills needed for successful departmental, divisional, and organizational leadership.”

Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students at $470 a unit. Its Faculty Credentials and Training Score is 89, its Student Services and Technology Score is 65, and its new student retention rate is 86%. 80% of students graduate within three years.

18. Clarion University of Pennsylvania


Clarion University of Pennsylvania is a relatively small school in PA with a population of just over 1,000 postgrads. Founded in 1867, Clarion is one of fourteen universities that are part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. They offer a part-time MBA online, intended not just for those who studied business, but other disciplines. However, foundation courses may have to be taken if one is not proficient in certain subjects. The program is AACSB accredited.

Tuition is about the same for in-state and out-of-state students– $454 per unit for the former, and $481 for the latter. Clarion has a spectacular Faculty Credentials and Training Score of 91, and a new student retention rate of 89%. Its other metrics are fairly average.

17. University of South Dakota


The University of South Dakota (USD) is South Dakota’s oldest university. It’s business school, the Beacom School of Business, is very progressive and focused on preparing students for the future. For example, an MBA from USD is expected to prep one for a Ph.D., should one choose to take that path. A Joint Master of Business Administration with Juris Doctor is also offered. Specializations for USD’s MBA include Health Services Administration and Business Analytics.

Units at USD are a reasonable $415, for both in-state and out-of-state students. Its Student Services and Technology Score is a bit subpar at 35, but its student retention is respectable at 83%. USD’s MBA program has been accredited by the AACSB since 1965. GMAT scores, two letters and recommendation, and official transcripts must be submitted.

16. Pennsylvania State University, World Campus


Penn State, despite not being an Ivy League, is known for being one of the best schools in the nation. Penn State World Campus is its online campus. It is nothing less than first-class; each and every semester, the schools orders and delivers one’s books and course materials, along with completing one’s course registration. Penn State’s state-of-the-art online catalog and databases can be accessed anywhere. Its online MBA consists of 48 units and is very selective.

With a P&Q Index score of 66.50, Penn State’s World Campus costs $1,096 a unit for both In-State and out-of-state students. Its Faculty Credentials and Training Score is a nearly immaculate 99, and its new student retention rate is 96%. 92% of students graduate within three years, and its Peer Assessment Score is a solid 3. Unfortunately, degrees cannot be completely earned online. Penn State’s online MBA stands out through its diverse virtual teams, rich interactions, and networking opportunities.

15. University of Arizona (Eller)


The University of Arizona, shortened to U of A, is located in Tucson. Amongst its faculty are Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Its cost is a solid $1,000, whether in-state or out-of-state, making it popular with individuals all over the country. Its Faculty Credentials and Training Score is 87, its Peer Assessment Score is a remarkable 3.6, and a degree can be earned completely online. Concentrations for an MBA include finance, management and organizations, management information systems, and marketing.

14. University of Tennessee, Martin


The University of Tennessee at Martin, abbreviated to UTM, is one of five campuses part of the University of Tennessee system. It has had its fair share of notable alumni, including athletes, politicians, and businessmen. For a public school, it is fairly small with only about 400 postgraduates– 7,400 students in total. UTM is noted for its postgraduate MBA tailored for those working in financial services. In Fall 2015, UTM will be launching a hybrid MBA program to go along with its current offerings.

Thanks to its intimate and personalized atmosphere, UTM retains virtually all of its students. Its three-year graduation rate is also a stellar 94%. It cost $478 a unit for in-state students, and $526 a unit for out-of-state students. A full-time student can expect to complete an MBA in a year-and-a-half.

13. University of Florida (Hough)


The University of Florida (UF) may be known for their Gators sports teams, but their Hough School of Business isn’t too shabby either. In 2015, U.S. News ranked Hough as being tied for 37th nationally. UF is one of the older schools you will find on this list– it was founded in 1853. Likewise, its online MBA program is one of the older ones around, having been established in 1999. Both a 27-month and a 16-month accelerated program are offered.

As far as metrics are concerned, UF is exceptional in getting MBA students jobs within three months of graduation– 99% do. The tuition is high at $1,146, but it is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. It is very selective, has a new student retention rate of 96%, and 88% of students graduate within three years. Its Peer Assessment Score of 3.9 is amongst the highest on this list. A minimum of two years of professional working experience is required for any MBA program at UF.

12. Ball State University (Miller)


Ball State University, located in Muncie, Indiana, has over 21,000 students, 4,400 of whom are graduate students. Its business school, the Miller College of Business, is the former institution of a number of prominent businesspeople; this list would include Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry, and Kent C. Nelson, former CEO of UPS. Its online MBA offers virtually all of the same classes as on the physical campus. There is no specific sign-in time for most online courses; they can be completed whenever is convenient.

Like many schools on this list, it is much cheaper to attend Ball State if a resident of the state– Indiana residents pay $408 a unit while non-residents pay $790. It has a top-notch Faculty Credentials and Training Score at 93, a decent Students Services and Technology Score at 76, and a new student retention rate of 91%. It is fairly selective, and a degree can be earned completely online. All MBA programs offered by Ball State can be completed online. Most MBA students at Ball State enroll in two classes a semester, finishing in five to six semesters.

11. Southeast Missouri State University (Harrison)


Southeast Missouri State University– abbreviated to SEMO– is a public institution located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Known for its teaching programs, SEMO has over 1,200 postgraduate students. Its MBA programs in general management, entrepreneurship, and sports management can be completed solely online. Despite the lack of face-to-face interaction with classmates and faculty, SEMO keeps its students engaged; there are dedicated e-mail servers, chat rooms, forums, bulletin boards and drop boxes.

SEMO is $258 a unit for in-state students, and $482 a unit for out-of-state students. Both its Faculty Credentials and Training Score (86) and its Student Services and Technology Score (71) are respectable. With this being said, its Peer Assessment Score is rather poor at 1.9, and its Selectivity Score is one of the lowest on this list at 37. Foundation courses are available for students who may not have majored in business while an undergrad.

10. Fort Hays State University


Fort Hays State University, located in Hays, Kansas, is interesting in that a majority of its student body– about 6,000 out of 11,200– consists of online students. Its MBA programs stick out in that they can be done in a variety of disciplines, are intended for both business and non-business majors, and can be done full-time or part-time. Fort Hays’ online MBA, according to its website, “was ranked in the top tier nationally for high-quality education in the U.S. News & World Report rankings released in January 2015.”

It costs $400 a unit at Fort Hays (whether in-state or out-of-state), its Faculty Credentials and Training Score is 86, and its retention rate for new students is 83%. However, only 41% of students graduate within three years, its Student Services and Technology Score is only 63, and its Peer Assessment Score is a fairly mediocre 2. Fort Hays offers foundation courses for non-business majors, along with career placement services for when you’re finished.

9. Oklahoma State University (Spears)


OSU, as it’s commonly called, is well-known for its Spears School of Business. Spears offers specialties in both more traditional disciplines (like marketing), and newer disciplines, such as entrepreneurship. OSU offers a 48-credit-hour program for online students; the program is noted in that it emphasizes teamwork and collaboration just as much as their on-campus MBA programs. 33 of the 48 units are in core classes while 15 units are electives.

As far as cost is concerned, OSU is a great deal for in-state, full-time students ($187), and less of a deal for out-of-state students ($765). While its Faculty Credentials and Training Score is respectable at 84, its Student Services and Technology Score (47), and Selectivity Score (52) are a bit subpar. OSU has a new student retention rate of 80%, and a three-year graduation rate of 68%. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, a competitive GMAT score, and a bachelor’s degree. While not required, work experience and a background in calculus are helpful.

8. University of Texas, Dallas


The University of Texas at Dallas is located in Richardson, Texas, an affluent suburb of Dallas. It’s business school, the Naveen Jindal School of Management, earned the ranking of ranking 24th among the nation’s public universities and 3rd for public school programs in the state of Texas for a full-time MBA program. UT Dallas’ Executive MBA program is very popular. The application deadline for the online MBA program is July 1 unless one is an international student, in which case it is May 1. The average student is 33 years of age, and there are 318 online MBA students in total at UT Dallas.

Its P&Q Index rating is 82.60, its Student Services and Technology Score is 71, its Selectivity Score is a high 92, its new student retention rate is 87%, and 80% of students graduate in three years. Keep in mind that UT Dallas does not offer an MBA program that can be completed entirely online. It is also relatively expensive– $663 a unit for full-time, in-state students, and $1,238 a unit for out-of-state students. Not all elective courses are available online for UT Dallas’ MBA program.

7. Mississippi State University


Mississippi State University, also known as MSU, offers an MBA program that can be started during any semester in a variety of disciplines. MSU calls their courses “useful [and] well-designed;” they include emphases such as marketing, finance, management, economics, business information systems, and quantitative analysis. MSU’s online MBA is AACSB accredited, and entails 30 credits hours. One can start during any semester.

As far as rankings and metrics are concerned, MSU has a 92% new student retention rate, a Selectivity Score of 71, a Peer Assessment Score of 3.1, and a Faculty Training and Credentials Score of 82. Tuition is $392 a unit, both for in-state and out-of-state students. For all its good metrics, the three-year graduation rate is only 41%. MSU was ranked by both U.S. News & World Report and GetEducated.com.

6. Arkansas State University, Jonesboro


Arkansas State University, located in Jonesboro, has been around for over 100 years. “A-State” as it’s called, has a number of sports teams under the name the “Red Wolves.” A-State also has over 25 fraternities and sororities; a total of 15% of its student body is involved in Greek life. Its online MBA program was established to provide “high-quality, flexible graduate management education for students with varied academic and professional backgrounds.” It assists students in navigating through a dynamic, global business environment.

A-State is notable in that its Faculty Credentials and Training Score is a perfect 100. It has a Selectivity Score of 73, and 87% three-year graduation rate, and a 90% new student retention rate, which are all solid. Like most of the other schools on this list, one can receive an MBA from Arkansas State University completely online. They are accredited by AACSB.

5. Fayetteville State University


At $156 a unit for full-time students in-state, Fayetteville State University is the least expensive option on this list. (Although if one is out-of-state, it will run a much heftier $688 a unit.) FSU is located in North Carolina– not Arkansas– and is a historically black college. It requires that applicants have a 2.75 GPA or better, letters of recommendation, and qualifying GRE and GMAT scores. Students have six years to complete an online MBA.

With a Faculty Credentials and Training Score of 87, a Selectivity Score of 61, and the ability to earn a degree completely online, FSU may be the right program for you. Do be aware that only 40% of students graduate within three years, however, one of the lower rates amongst colleges on this list. The core MBA curriculum at FSU consists of 27 credit hours (or nine classes) while three electives must also be taken. Specializations include healthcare, entrepreneurship, project management, finance, accounting, economics, finance, marketing, and statistics.

4. University of North Dakota


With a new student retention rate of 90%, and a selectivity score of 72, the University of North Dakota comes in fourth on the list of the best MBAs. Furthermore, units are cheap– $286 for full-time, in-state or out-of-state– and UND has a respectable Peer Assessment Score at 2.8. UND was ranked #32 in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Graduate Business Programs. UND prides itself on teaching students how to operate on the “executive” level of any firm.

UND stands out if you’re a sports fan as their teams are in NCAA Division I. The Sports offered include basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, and swimming. Legendary basketball mind Phil Jackson is an alumni of the University.

An MBA can be earned completely online at UND. It entails 33 to 34 units and takes at least two years to complete. UND operates on the semester system and live web classes are held once a week.

3. Sam Houston State University


At only $245 a unit, in-state or out-of-state, Sam Houston State University is a great budget option for an online MBA. The oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Texas, Sam Houston State University has over 19,000 students in total. Its online MBA is available to any student admitted to an MBA program and doesn’t require a background in business. It entails 36 credit hours, including 24 hours of core courses and 12 hours of electives, which typically takes two years.

With a Faculty Credentials and Training Score of 83, a student retention rate of 78%, and a Student Services and Technology Score of 69, SHSU excels in a number of areas. Its blind cost score is only 29.76. SHSU’s MBA program is “designed to develop candidates for positions of leadership in modern organizations.”

2. University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire


The University of Wisconsin– Eau Claire has some of the most esteemed faculty of any MBA program– their faculty quality ranking is 99 out of 100. With the ability to earn an MBA completely online, UW Eau Claire allows students from literally anywhere to pursue a top-notch post-grad education. Its program, according to UW Eau Claire’s website, was ranked as one of the “Best Affordable AACSB Online MBAs” by geteducated.com.

UW Eau Claire has a very strong new student retention rate of 94%. Its P&Q Index ranking is 68.40, and 52% of graduates are employed within three months of graduating. The cost is $675 per unit, regardless of whether one is a Wisconsin resident or resides in another state. Its program entails 30 credit hours, 13 of which are electives. Most students finish within two to three years.

Intended for individuals who want to get ahead, but don’t have the convenience of sitting in a classroom, UW Eau Claire’s online MBA is known for being ranked among the “Best Online Graduate Business Programs” by U.S. News & World Report. With a cost-blind score of 50.17, it is amongst the cream of the crop. It is intended for nearly anyone; “business people, engineers, health care providers and others interested in moving ahead in their careers.”

1. West Texas A&M University

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With a low cost– $298 in-state and $328 out-of-state– and high Faculty Credentials (89) and Training and Student Services and Technology (76) scores, West Texas A&M University comes in at the top ranking on this list.

Part of the Texas A&M University System, West Texas A&M University allows its students to earn their degrees completely online. It has a new student retention rate of 82%, and 83% of students graduate within three years. West Texas A&M University is a fairly selective school with a Selectivity Score of 57. Some students complete its online MBA program within 12 months while others take up to three years.

Amongst other requirements, the university’s MBA program requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.0, GMAT scores, and three letters of recommendation. The program involves 31 to 49 graduate hours of material.