An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) can be a great way to advance your career without having to leave your job or relocate.
However, one of the most common concerns for potential students is the cost. Online MBA programs can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000. Depending on their financial circumstances, this can be a major entry barrier for some students.
Even if your program of choice is out of your price range, there are many ways to offset your expenses, including federal financial aid, scholarships, and employer tuition reimbursement programs.
Here’s a closer look at the typical cost of an online MBA and how you can leverage financial aid to finance your education.
Tuition and Fees For Online MBAs
The cost of an online MBA program can vary greatly depending on the institution, the program length, and other factors. At top-ranked universities, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50,000 to $90,000 to earn an MBA online. Though, there are more affordable options for students whose primary concern is the cost of attendance.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost for the country’s ten most affordable online MBA programs is $302.80 per credit hour for out-of-state students, with the most affordable option (Louisiana Tech University) having a total program cost of $7,740.
On the other end of the spectrum, the total cost of tuition and fees for Carnegie Mellon University’s online MBA program is $141,320, according to The Princeton Review.
When looking at potential programs, it’s important to check what fees the program charges. Technology, distance learning, and administration fees can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars and significantly impact your total program costs.
What Other Factors Impact the Cost of an Online MBA?
While tuition and fees will be the main factors that impact your education costs, there are a few other things to consider, including:
If you’re pursuing an online MBA, your living expenses will likely remain the same as they were before starting the program.
However, depending on your program, you may be required to attend in-person events occasionally. You may need to pay for accommodations, food, and other living expenses while away from home.
Online MBA programs often offer part-time, full-time, and accelerated enrollment options. Your enrollment status can impact your total costs.
Part-time students, for example, may pay less per semester due to taking fewer credit hours at a time, but their total costs are likely to be higher as it will take them longer to complete the program.
Type of institution
If saving money is your priority, you should choose a public institution over a private university.
Per the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of graduate tuition and fees for public institutions was $11,617 for the 2016-2017 academic year, compared to $24,712 for private institutions.
Based on this data, private institutions charge more than double for graduate degree programs than public universities.
Books and supplies
In addition to tuition and fees, you will also need to budget for books and supplies. While some online MBA programs may provide digital textbooks or other resources, you may still need to purchase additional materials.
EducationData.org estimates the total cost of books and supplies for both online and in-person programs to be about $1,295 per year.
Cost Comparison: Traditional vs. Online MBA Programs
When comparing the cost of an online MBA program to a traditional MBA program, there are several factors to consider. Here is a breakdown of the typical costs for each type of program:
|Cost Category||Traditional MBAs||Online MBAs|
|Tuition||$60,000 – $100,000||$7,000 – $100,000|
|Fees||$2,000 – $10,000||$500 – $5,000|
|Books and supplies||$1,000 – $2,000||$1,000 – $2,000|
|Transportation||$3,000 – $5,000||$0 – $1,000|
|Total||$66,000 – $117,000||$8,500 – $108,000|
As you can see, the cost of an online MBA program can be significantly lower than a traditional MBA program. Given how much programs can vary in cost, it’s important to research your options carefully to find a program that meets your educational and financial needs.
This also doesn’t consider living expenses, as these can vary depending on whether you live at home, independently, or on campus.
Scholarships and Financial Aid Available For Online MBAs
If you’re concerned about the cost of an online MBA program, financial aid and scholarships can help offset your expenses so that you can get your degree without going into excessive debt.
Applying for financial aid
You must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for financial aid. Schools use the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. Private lenders also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for private student loans.
If you don’t fill out this application, you won’t be considered for these types of financial aid. You must renew your application each school year to be considered for federal student aid.
How to find scholarships
Scholarships are another way to offset the cost of an online MBA. Many schools offer scholarships to students based on their academic performance or financial need. There are often scholarships available for both in-state and out-of-state students.
You can find scholarships on your school’s website and through scholarship search platforms like College Board’s scholarship match tool.
Make sure to review each scholarship’s eligibility criteria to determine if you qualify. Depending on the scholarship, you might have to submit essays, transcripts, or other materials as part of the application process.
Students can also look for scholarships through other sources, such as professional organizations, foundations, and private companies.
Other Ways to Offset the Cost of an Online MBA
Federal aid and scholarships aren’t the only ways to finance your education. Fellowships and employer tuition reimbursement programs can help you pay for your online MBA program, allowing you to graduate debt-free in some cases.
Fellowships are another way to offset the cost of an online MBA. Like scholarships, fellowships are typically awarded based on academic performance, financial need, or other criteria. However, fellowships may provide additional benefits beyond financial support, such as research opportunities, mentorship, or networking events.
Fellowships offer a great way to finance your education while gaining practical, hands-on experience in your field.
Employer tuition reimbursement
One of the most common ways to pay for online MBA programs is to take advantage of an employer tuition reimbursement program.
Many companies will pay for their employees’ education if it is related to their current job or could otherwise fulfill the needs of the company. Your employer may be willing to pay for your online MBA program in an effort to develop talent internally.
Check with your human resources department to learn more about any tuition reimbursement programs your employer offers.
Can I Get My MBA Fully Online?
In many cases, yes, you can get an MBA entirely online. This allows you to complete coursework on your own schedule while balancing work and other responsibilities.
However, reviewing your program’s requirements is important as some will require you to enroll in some in-person courses, attend occasional in-person events, or complete residencies.