Our Ranking Methodology
We began our search for the best Online Master’s in Business Administration with two initial requirements: the university needed to be non-profit and the program couldn’t have any on-campus requirements. While some programs have mandatory orientations and whirlwind three-day networking sessions, we focused on programs that didn’t require you to travel.
This gave us 116 promising schools to investigate based on three factors:
As with any college program, accreditation is important. Our list only includes schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
There is a newcomer in the business accrediting world — the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) — but we prioritized programs with the more widely-recognized AACSB or ACBSP accreditations. While IACBE-accredited programs have met certain standards of rigorousness, IACBE isn’t as highly-recognized as AACSB or ACBSP.
We also looked at how highly each program scored with leading college evaluators like U.S. News. These organizations have the resources to build in-depth resources that determine which programs are worth recommending. We developed an algorithm to collect and analyze multiple rankings into once score, helping us to easily compare and find the most reputable universities when they don’t all necessarily show up on every list.
Customization and Specialization
Then we compared each program based on how easy it was to customize your degree. While all of our programs offer a generalist curriculum, we wanted to hone in on those which helped give you a personalized edge over other MBA graduates.
Some programs promoted multiple concentrations, but we discovered that the more telling sign of a degree’s customizability lay in the number of free elective hours. Some schools offered concentrations you completed with one or two classes, where others let you tailor your degree with five or six courses. We gave each school a customization rating primarily based on the percentage of free credits it includes in its program, with a small boost if it had in-demand specializations like Healthcare, Technology, or Entrepreneurship.
Finally, we evaluated how easy it would be to earn back the cost of your degree. While the earning potential of MBA graduates has steadily increased over the years, it hasn’t risen as fast as MBA tuition costs.
Instead of focusing purely on how much each individual credit hour costs at a university, we calculated how many years it would take for your increase in income — an average pay bump of $22,000 — to cover the cost of your degree. The faster you could put your student debt behind you, the higher the score for each school.
This Gave Us Our Intelligent Score
We then used these three factors to calculate our Intelligent Score. Each school had the opportunity to earn a maximum of 100 points. Out of the seventy-three programs on our shortlist, only forty scored above 75 points. These forty all scored highly across our three categories, making them the best options to pursue an Online MBA.
To see the full shortlist, click here.
This Degree Isn’t For Everyone
We’re confident that our Top 40 Online Master’s in Business Administration degrees are the right fit for many people. That said, if you want to rely on your school to organize the bulk of your networking, they won’t be the right fit for you. Some of them might offer networking events if you make the trek out to campus, or offer networking with the alumni, but none of them have mandatory on-campus events for online students. Instead, you’ll want to track down your own networking opportunities to make connections.
You should also be aware that almost all of our programs require a background in business — whether professional or educational. If you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree in business, it’s likely they’ll ask you to take some foundational courses to catch up before you can begin the program itself. How programs handle prerequisites varies by school, so you’ll need to check in with your admissions or degree advisor to see whether — and how many — credit hours you’ll need to take.
Check out our list of the best online MBAs and take a closer look into what specializations, concentrations, and electives they offer. Depending on your preferences, you might like the straightforward route some programs offer with direct concentrations, or you might prefer building your own MBA degree with a number of free electives.
Keep in mind that if you already know the industry you’d like to work in — no matter how niche — there’s probably an MBA program tailored to help you in that field. In our research, we found the expected concentrations — accounting, marketing, e.g. — but also some more particular ones, like cybersecurity, sports management, and aviation.
Finally, you’ll need to keep an eye on state authorizations. Like every online degree, if you apply to a university that’s out-of-state, you’ll need to make sure that your home state has an agreement to accept online degrees from your university’s state. Each school should have a “state authorization” page, but since authorizations can vary by program, check in with an admissions counselor to make sure your state will recognize your MBA degree as valid.
Either AACSB or ACBSP Accreditation, then in order of Intelligent Score
- The University of Baltimore
- Mercer University
- West Texas A&M University
- Texas A&M University Kingsville
- The University of Scranton
- Washington State University
- University of Wisconsin Whitewater
- University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium
- Lamar University
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln
- University of South Florida St. Petersburg
- Missouri State University
- Oklahoma State University
- Ball State University
- University of Delaware
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Maryville University
- Colorado State University
- University of South Dakota
- Frostburg State University
- Emporia State University
- The University of Louisiana Monroe
- Minnesota State University Moorhead
- University of North Alabama
- The University of Kansas
- The University of Tennessee – Martin
- Florida Atlantic University
- Quinnipiac University
- University of Colorado Colorado Springs
- University of North Dakota
- Arkansas State University
- Louisiana State University Shreveport
- Southern New Hampshire University
- University of St. Francis
- Park University
- Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
- The University of Arizona
- Murray State University
- Liberty University
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
- King University
- Widener University
- Midwestern State University
- Southeastern Oklahoma State University
- Jacksonville State University
- Rowan University
- University of Houston Victoria
- Montclair State University
- Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- University of Bridgeport
- University of North Carolina Wilmington
- Georgia Southwestern State University
- University of New Hampshire
- City University of Seattle
- Northeastern University
- Ferris State University
- The University of Mississippi
- Drexel University
- Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge
- Baylor University
- Rider University
- University of Florida
- Temple University
- University of Colorado Denver
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- Cleveland State University
- University of Dallas
- Alvernia University
- Kettering University
- Rutgers University
- Youngstown State University
- Marquette University
IACBE Accreditation, then ranked by Intelligent Score
- (74) Lynn University
- (75) Campbellsville University
- (76) Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
- (77) University of Mary
- (78) University of Saint Mary
- (79) Hope International University
- (80) Belhaven University
- (81) Fitchburg State University
- (82) Bemidji State University
Other Accreditation, then ranked by Intelligent Score
- (83) Walsh University
- (84) Cornerstone University
- (85) Spring Arbor University
- (86) Averett University
- (87) Benedictine University
- (88) Regis University
- (89) California State University Monterey Bay