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Online MBA Programs

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Online MBA programs teach foundational business concepts through core courses like accounting, finance, and leadership. Students pursuing online MBA programs often continue their full-time employment while completing their studies, enjoying the benefits of a prestigious education without the hassle of moving to a new location.
 
MBA graduates can use their credentials to pursue advancement opportunities in a healthy job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% growth across all business and financial jobs between 2019 and 2029, exceeding the national average growth rate for all occupations. 
 
On this page, readers can learn about the top 10 online MBA programs for 2021. With details about each school, including degree expectations, this list serves as an excellent resource for prospective students. The page also discusses considerations for selecting a business school, plus information about specializations and career possibilities.
 
Our 2021 rankings of the top online MBA programs in the United States highlights 15 leading business schools. To learn more about the methodology used to evaluate them, follow the link below.

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2021’s Top Online MBA Programs

Why Enroll in an MBA Program?
By completing an online MBA, graduates can stand out as applicants for jobs in competitive industries. Most business careers require only a bachelor’s degree at minimum, but many employers prefer candidates with MBAs because they bring advanced knowledge and skills to the table. Additional benefits of obtaining an MBA include: 
 
Career Flexibility
The MBA can entice employers across the country and internationally in a host of industries. Graduates can pursue options at large or small companies, follow a preferred industry to its hotspots, or secure advancement opportunities close to home.
Knowledge Breadth
Because the MBA underpins its curriculum with solid business basics, degree-holders qualify for a variety of jobs that extend beyond their specializations. This can pave the way for promotions and career changes.
Hands-On Experience
Many MBA programs feature practical capstone projects or internships. Often, a capstone or final project requires students to partner with a real business, providing networking opportunities and resume-boosting experience. 

Why You Should Get Your MBA OnlineOnline Criminal Justice Degree

 
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning has been growing more popular each year. Online MBA programs are an excellent option for many students, especially self-motivated students with good time management skills. 
 
Many online MBA degrees make use of asynchronous coursework, where students can engage with lectures and discussion boards in accordance with their own schedules. Some classes may also run synchronously, with live webcam sessions that more closely resemble the in-person experience. Online programs may also require occasional campus visits for residencies or immersion events. 
 
Part of the appeal for online programs includes the cost-saving opportunities: schools may offer reduced or in-state tuition for all learners, regardless of residency status. Online programs also do not require students to relocate and many do not require an in-person presence, which eliminates commuting costs.

What Jobs Can Degrees From Top-Ranked MBA Programs Get You?

With an MBA, degree-holders qualify for top careers with high earning potential. The BLS reports that chief executives earned an average annual salary of $193,850 as of May 2019, with higher average salaries in some of the top-paying industries. Chief executives are employed across government, healthcare, manufacturing, and professional, scientific, and technical services. 
 
MBA-holders may also pursue careers in areas like accounting, healthcare management, information systems, real estate, and consulting. Each industry encompasses a variety of specific job titles, giving MBA graduates a wealth of choices and entry points to each industry. The tables below provide short descriptions and salary data for several of these career paths, plus links to further research.
 

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THE ONLINE MBA MARKET IS FAST-MOVING AND DYNAMIC
 
In a fast-moving, dynamic market, with newly entered prominent players, it’s often difficult to assess programs that have yet to graduate a single class or prefer not to cooperate with a third-party analysis of their online experience. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, which only entered the online MBA market in 2019, and Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, which welcomed its first cohort this fall, are among the schools that fall in the former bucket. The University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business, with what has been the fastest-growing MBA on the planet in recent years, are in the latter category. Gies has decided against putting its $22,000 iMBA program in rankings (see Online MBA Rankings? No Thank You, Says Gies).
 
Poets&Quants’ ranked programs, however, are among the most time-tested and highly admired online MBA options in the world. Many of them have been ranked by Poets&Quants for all four years and have delivered highly consistent levels of student satisfaction and overall quality. In a global market, with more than 350 online MBA options, the 47 schools on the list are the best of the bunch, roughly the top 15% of all the virtual MBA programs in the world.
 
Studying for a graduate degree online has become an increasingly popular way to earn an MBA due to both the flexibility it offers students and the more reasonable price tags on virtual options. As an online MBA student, you don’t have to quit your job and you can take the courses from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. The vast majority of online options are significantly less expensive than their residential counterparts. But programs vary greatly and the more expensive online alternatives often feature live weekly Internet classes, in-residence experiences, global immersions, a larger portfolio of elective courses, and one-on-one career coaching.
 
A RECORD 47 ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS INCLUDED IN THIS YEAR’S RANKING
 
 
 
Indiana University’s Kelley Direct online MBA finished first in this year’s ranking, swapping places with Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School, which finished second after winning last year’s ranking. The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business placed third for the second-straight year.
 
Transformation, self-improvement, upward mobility: It’s what Indiana Kelley’s online MBA program, which placed first in this year’s Poets&Quants Best Online MBA Programs of 2021, was created to do. And so much more, says Ramesh Venkataraman, associate dean for Information and Instructional Technologies and the Chair of the Kelley Direct MBA. “There’s still a thought that the online MBA is not an integral part of a school,” Venkataraman says. “In many places, the online MBA is a way to make money, which is not the case here. For us, it’s another offering.”
 
Kelley captured this year’s first-place ranking by switching spots with last year’s winner, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, which slipped to second this year. The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business remained in third place for the second straight year, solidifying those three schools as the top-three for two years in a row. This year’s ranking — our fourth annual — was the biggest and most competitive with 47 schools participating, up from 35 the past two years and 25 the inaugural year.
 
2020 Rank Rank School Final Weighted Score
2 1 Indiana University (Kelley) 100.00
1 2 Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) 97.41
3 3 University of Southern California (Marshall) 96.03
25 4 George Washington University 93.59
5 5 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) 91.79
4 6 Lehigh University 89.26
28 7 Villanova University 89.05
8 8 Auburn University (Harbert) 88.89
NR 9 University of Washington (Foster) 88.79
NR 10 Santa Clara University (Leavey) 88.68
22 11 North Carolina State University (Jenkins) 87.26
16 12 Washington State University 86.58
17 13 University of Maryland (Smith) 86.04
NR 14 Drexel University (LeBow) 85.72
NR 15 University of Utah (Eccles) 85.46
12 16 Baylor Univerity (Hankamer) 84.11
NR 17 University of Florida 84.05
13 18 University of Texas-Dallas (Jindal) 83.64
NR 19 The College of William & Mary (Mason) 83.47
23 20 Jack Welch Management Institute 81.95
6 21 University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg) 81.41
11 22 University of Arizona (Eller) 80.32
NR 23 University of Denver (Daniels) 79.57
9 24 University of Nebraska-Lincoln 78.81
20 25 University of South Florida (Muma) 78.80
30 26 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 78.52
NR 27 Arizona State University (W. P. Carey) 78.52
NR 28 American University (Kogod) 76.98
7 29 Worcester Polytechnic Institute 76.14
18 30 SUNY Oswego 75.13
14 31 University of North Dakota (Nistler) 74.70
15 32 University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium 74.46
31 33 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 73.85
NR 34 University of Delaware (Lerner) 73.61
24 35 Hofstra University 73.52
29 36 Ohio University 73.42
32 37 Louisiana State University 71.56
33 38 Florida International University 68.15
NR 39 Imperial College Business School 66.96
NR 40 Creighton University (Heider) 65.58
34 41 Northeastern University (D’Amore-McKim) 64.21
19 42 University of Michigan-Dearborn 60.89
26 43 University of Cincinnati (Lindner) 53.55
NR 44 *Oklahoma State University (Spears) 25.38
35 45 *Kennesaw State University 24.52
10 46 *Rochester Institute of Technology (Saunders) 19.18
NR 47 *Rogers State University 13.29  
 
From the very beginning, Poets&Quants has assessed the quality of programs on three equally weighted categories — admissions standards, academic experience, and career outcomes–based on surveys of recent alumni and program administrators. The admissions standards use average undergraduate GPAs, average years of work experience, acceptance rates, and average GMAT scores taking into consideration percentages of those that reported GMAT scores and percentages of those that had the scores waived because they had at least 10 years of work experience.

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