Online degrees were once rare. In 1989, I was able to find only three accredited colleges offering MBAs (Master of Business Administration) when I began tracking online degrees. The degree is available at more than 130 colleges today.
But not all distance MBAs work the same. My company’s recent survey of 130 programs revealed online learners should be prepared to pay as little as $5,598 or as much as $115,700 for a regionally-accredited MBA.
A wide range of online MBA programs are now available. It is worth learning how to choose an online university. This is the most visible variable. There are differences in accreditation status, admission requirements, as well as the demographics and preferences of incoming students.
AACSB – Accredited MBAs
The types of accreditation can have major impacts on several key factors. These include the cost, how competitive the program will appear upon admission, the acceptance level among employers nationwide, and the degree’s value. Most elearning students will require a minimum degree from a regionally recognized university.
Among the 130 regionally-accredited MBAs in our site’s recent survey, the average cost stands at $14,486 while programs that are accredited both regionally and by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) command a much higher mean price of $27,644.
AACSB accredited options cost twice as much. The price premium is not always worth it. AACSB-accredited programs are more prestigious among academicians as well corporate recruiters. AACSB accreditation is a great way to improve your recruitment status with headhunters in areas where you compete in high-end urban environments, such as New York City and Boston.
AACSB pedigrees will also help you get more points if it is your intention to compete for a Big Ten corporate or in a highly competitive arena like Wall Street. AACSB graduates will be more desirable to work in universities than those who do not have a degree.
AACSB accreditation may not cost a premium for many people. This is especially true for rural workers or those looking for an MBA to open doors in smaller businesses. Employers are more likely to be impressed if they recognize the university brand, such as the state college or university in their area, than by the AACSB symbol. Many outsiders, including those in the competitive corporate hiring sector, have never heard of AACSB.
AACSB programs are more likely to have student bodies that are accredited than those with regional accreditation. AACSB programs often require a standardized exam (Graduate Management admission Test) for entry. A better than average score on this exam is required. Avoid programs that use the GMAT, or similar standardized exams, if your GMAT score is not high or you haven’t been in school for at least a decade. GMAT requirements are not always required by all regionally approved programs. It is more common for private colleges to skip the exam than universities that are publicly funded.
Even among AACSB approved programs, the prices can vary. Many of AACSB’s top-ranked online MBA programs hail from the southern universities. These schools have lower tuition costs. The South is poised, in fact, to be a prominent niche provider of online learning to the national marketplace as growing numbers mature learners (average 35 years) demand a more affordable and accessible system of higher education.
Texas leads the pack. It has four options, Texas A&M Commerce. Texas University of Texas system. University of Houston Victoria. University of North Texas. Florida ranks second with three options – Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast Coast, and Florida State University.
Brand recognition is not limited to Ivy League schools. Employers favor colleges known as “backyard Brands” because they have campuses within their own immediate geographical area.
Mississippi residents will be able to get a Mississippi State University MBA online or on campus. A name-brand school can give you an extra edge in the job market. Look into colleges within 200 miles of where you live and offer online versions.
Our national surveys indicate that you can easily access an “local” online MBA program. Residents of the West can count on strong brands like California State University. Midwesterners, however, can choose schools like Upper Iowa University in Iowa (Iowa), Bellevue University in Nebraska, Baker College in Michigan and Fort Hays State in Kansas. If you live in the Northeast, Saint Joseph’s College is a good choice. Marist College (New York) might be a better option. The South is home to a number quality, low cost providers like Tarleton University (Texas), and Troy University(Alabama).