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Choosing the Best Online MBA Program

An online MBA can be viewed as a specific concentration in itself, but within an MBA program, there are different areas of focus. Students interested in specific components of business should match that interest with the schools that offer that program.

The 3 Best Marketing Online MBA Programs

The best marketing online MBA programs offer a strong selection of specialized courses focused on marketing topics so you can gain a greater depth of knowledge within the field. These online MBA programs offer a marketing concentration with electives that help you build a solid expertise. If you're already in the marketing field or interested in a marketing position, an online marketing MBA program will offer you knowledge and skills that will directly apply to your career.

The 3 Best Finance Online MBA Programs

The best online finance MBA programs offer targeted electives and other program features that specifically reinforce finance education. Students interested in a finance MBA program are usually looking to pursue careers in money management, investment, or risk analysis. The list below outlines the online MBA programs that offer finance as a speciality area within the degree curriculum.

The 3 Best Accredited Online MBA Programs

The best accredited online MBA programs offer the same lectures, professors, exams, and projects as their full-time, on-campus counterparts. The top programs offer concentrations that enable students to gain in-depth knowledge within a particular business area while providing opportunities to interact with classmates in order to build strong professional networks. The regionally accredited online MBA programs listed below are offered by reputable colleges recognized for both traditional and online programs.

The 3 Cheapest Online MBA Programs

If you're searching for the cheapest online MBA program, consider which area of business you'd like to study, the total number of credits required to graduate, and the tuition rate for in-state versus out-of-state students. Also, bear in mind that a low-cost option doesn't mean you'll be shortchanged in any aspect of your online MBA student experience. These top three cheap online MBA programs are offered by reputable schools that deliver high-quality education.

The 3 Best Online Accelerated MBA Programs

Accelerated online MBA programs aren't widely available partly because almost all online MBA programs are designed to accommodate to the busy schedules of working professionals. Plus, a traditional online MBA takes about two years to complete, which is already a relatively short amount of time for an advanced degree. However, if you're in search for a fast-track online MBA degree program to increase your speed to market, there are a few quality programs available that can be completed in well under the two-year mark.

What Online MBA Program Features Matter and Why?


Networking describes what resources the online MBA program provides to help students and alumni alike find employment after graduation and keep in contact with one another. In today's world, that usually means networks on popular social media outlets like LinkedIn and Facebook. The top online MBA programs will also have an alumni association, along with career services to assist graduates in finding jobs in the business field. This category is very important because in many cases the reason people select a particular school is for the network that can be established during the program.

  • 1,000+ LinkedIn Network Members - The school has a LinkedIn group for alumni with 1,000 members or more.
  • Alumni Association - The school offers membership to an alumni association.
  • Career Services - The school offers job placement or career services to students and graduates.
  • Facebook Network - The school has a Facebook network of alumni, faculty, and students.
  • LinkedIn Network - The school has a LinkedIn group for alumni and current students.

Financial Aid refers to the kinds of financial support that the school offers to students earning their MBA online. This includes scholarships and grants, and federal student loans are always an option as well. Most students today require some sort of financial assistance to complete their online MBA degree, which makes this category fairly important; however, it shouldn't be too much of a concern for most, since all of the best online MBA programs offer several options for financial aid to their students.

  • Federal Student Loans - Federal student loans are available to qualified students.
  • Grants - Grants are available to qualified students.
  • Scholarships - Scholarships are available to qualified students.

Student Engagement represents how well the online MBA program engages students in their learning, as determined by retention and graduation rates as well as data from U.S. News & World Report. A school that scores well in this category will have faculty with several years of experience teaching online classes as well as experience working in the business field. High-quality student services and selective admissions are other factors that indicate a strong online MBA program. This is one category where the best online MBA programs will really stand out from the rest, so it's a good idea to pay close attention to this when choosing between multiple programs.

  • High Admissions Selectivity Score - The online graduate business program received an Admissions Selectivity score of 70 or higher from U.S. News and World Report.
  • High Faculty Credentials and Training Score - The online graduate business program received a Faculty Credentials and Training score of 80 or higher from U.S. News and World Report.
  • High Graduation Rate - The three year graduation rate from academic year 2012-2013 was 80 percent or higher.
  • High Peer Reputation Mean Score - The online graduate business program has a U.S. News and World Report Peer Reputation Mean Score of 3.0 or higher.
  • High Retention Rate - The one-year retention rate from 2012 was 90 percent or higher.
  • High Student Engagement Score - The online graduate business program received a Student Engagement score of 80 or higher from U.S. News and World Report.
  • High Student Services and Technology Score - The online graduate business program received a Student Services and Technology score of 40 or higher from U.S. News and World Report.

Student Services discusses what resources the online MBA program makes available to students to facilitate their learning. This typically includes academic advising to help with scheduling and online tutoring for students who might need a little extra help in certain classes. The best online MBA programs will also offer 24/7 live technical support for any students who run into computer problems during the course of their studies. Digitized library materials are offered by certain universities, allowing students to access resources and materials from anywhere whenever they need it. This category will be fairly important when choosing where to get an MBA online because these resources can make a notable difference in the overall learning experience.

  • 24/7 Live Tech Support - 24/7 live tech support is available.
  • Academic Advising - Academic advising is available.
  • Digital Library - You have online access to digitized library materials.
  • Online Tutoring - Online tutoring is available.

Application Requirements explains what is required to apply to the online MBA programs. Most schools require an essay, transcripts, and letters of recommendation, along with standardized test scores. Some universities also require a formal interview with students, conducted either over the phone or in person. Certain programs even require prospective students to have undergraduate coursework or previous work experience in the business field in order to earn their MBA online through them. These requirements are pretty similar across online MBA programs, but understanding exactly what documents and prerequisites are needed can help simplify the application process.

  • Business-Related Undergraduate Coursework Required - Business-related coursework is typically required.
  • Business-Related Undergraduate Degree Required - An undergraduate degree in a business-related field is typically required.
  • Business-Related Work Experience Required - Business-related work experience is typically required.
  • Essay - The application requires an essay or personal statement.
  • Formal Interview - The application process requires an in-person or phone interview.
  • Letters of Recommendations - You are required to submit at least one letter of recommendation as part of the application process.
  • Test Scores - The application requires copies of standardized tests scores (GMAT, GRE, etc).
  • Transcripts - The application requires copies of education transcripts.

Enrollment details important information about the application process to the online MBA programs, such as whether transfer credits are accepted, if the school offers flexible start dates, and how many courses students take at one time. The best online MBA programs will accept both part-time and full-time students, as well as international students. They also allow prospective students to apply without requiring them to pay an expensive application fee. Most of the top online MBA programs enable students to complete their degree entirely online, though a few require one or more visits to the school's campus over the course of the program. Applications can usually be completed via an online or mail-in form. Although this category contains a lot of useful information regarding the online MBA programs, it is not as important as some of the other categories and probably won't play a huge role in prospective students' decisions.

  • Entirely Online - You can earn a degree entirely online.
  • Flexible Term Start - The school does not require a Fall start for incoming students.
  • Full-Time - The school allows students to be enrolled at full-time status.
  • International Student Enrollment - The school offers enrollment to international students.
  • Mail-in Form - You can apply by mail.
  • No Application Fee - There is no application fee or application fee can be waived in certain circumstances.
  • Online Application - You can apply online.
  • Part-Time - The school allows students to be enrolled at part-time status.
  • Selective Admissions - The school does not admit every applicant.
  • Transfer Credits - The school accepts transfer credits to apply towards a degree.

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