The 18 Cheapest MBA Programs in Chicago in 2021 - Best Value Schools

The 18 Cheapest MBA Programs in Chicago in 2021

Staff Writers by: Staff Writers

Chicago may have a relatively high cost of living, but it’s home to several business schools where you can earn an MBA to advance your career while minimizing your expenses.  If you want to study in the Windy City and stay competitive in the business world, check out our list of the cheapest MBA programs in the Chicago area.  

What is a Master of Business Administration?

Taking full-time classes, an MBA can usually be completed in one year.  Some people earn MBAs right after graduating from undergraduate school, but it’s common for students to return to college to get an MBA later in their career to stay competitive.  Because of this, many schools offer online MBA programs to provide working professionals flexibility.  An executive MBA is a program for working professionals, and is usually taught with part-time evening or weekend classes.   MBA programs are nationally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.  Other MBAs are accredited regionally by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

What’s the Benefit of an MBA?

An MBA is a graduate degree that can benefit professionals in various fields of business and nonprofit management by increasing their knowledge of areas such as finance, business leadership, strategy, marketing, and other technical and managerial skills.  According to U.S. News and World Report,  MBA graduates have an average starting salary of $79,000, more than $20,000 higher than graduates with a bachelor’s degree in business.   

What Schools Have the Cheapest MBA Programs in Chicago?

We’ve compiled a list of the best MBA degrees in the Chicago area that are offered for an affordable MBA program. We ranked these colleges based on their graduate tuition (lowest is best) and number of credits required (lowest is best).  We included a mix of both large, well-known universities and less-famous institutions.

Our Top 18 Most Affordable MBA Degrees in Chicago

1. Benedictine University – Lisle, IL (58.5 points)

Benedictine University has been preparing students for business leadership for over 40 years with MBA programs both for working professionals and recent graduates.  The MBA is available on-campus or online, full-time or flex, and with the option of a 4+1 MBA for students graduating with a Bachelor of Science or Business Administration.  Students can choose concentrations in Accounting, Business Analytics, Health Administration, or Organizational Leadership.  

  • Tuition:  $625 per credit
  • Credits required:  32 (64 quarter credit-hours)

2. Northeastern Illinois University – Chicago, IL (54 points)

Northeastern Illinois University offers an affordable MBA with program options both for executives and traditional students.  Classes are available online, in-person, or hybrid.  According to U.S. News and World Report, alumni of NEIU have the lowest student loan debt at graduation.  

  • Tuition:  $649 per credit
  • Credits required:  33

3. University of St. Francis (Illinois) – Joliet, IL (50 points)

The University of St. Francis offers an MBA designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field as well as two years of management experience or an appropriate business exam score.  The program can be completed in 12 months online or on campus.  Students can choose a concentration in Accounting, Data Analytics, Finance, Health Administration, Human Resource Management, Supply Chain Management, Management, or Training and Development.  The curriculum places an emphasis on experiential learning and was recently redesigned to adapt to business trends.  

  • Tuition:  $399 per credit
  • Credits required:  36

4. Concordia University Chicago – River Forest, IL (40 points)

Students can earn a one-year or two-year MBA from Concordia University Chicago online or on campus.  Concordia offers the following specializations:  Accounting, Chief School Business Official, Digital Marketing, Finance, Health Care Management, Leadership and Change Management, Project Management, and Sports Management

  • Tuition:  $710 per credit
  • Credits required:  36

5. Northwestern University – Evanston, IL (39.5 points)

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University offers one-year, two-year, executive, and part-time MBA programs.  Regardless of program, students benefit from a professional network at the best business school in Illinois, and the third-best in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report.  Students can major in  Accounting, Economics, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Strategy and Managing Organizations, or General Management.  

  • Tuition:  $680 per credit
  • Credits required:  46.5 (Northwestern assigns credit in “units;” most classes are 1 unit.  The numbers listed here are for a credit equalling ⅓ unit.)

6. Aurora University – Aurora / Woodstock, IL (37.5 points)

Aurora University offers three MBA programs that have an average class size of 17 students.  The online program can be completed in one year full-time and uses free educational resources in place of textbooks for some courses.  The full-time program takes one year and offers four specializations:  business management, digital marketing, public administration, and sport management.  The part-time evening program takes about two years and is taught in Aurora and Woodstock.  

  • Tuition:  $715 per credit
  • Credits required:  36

7. Judson University – Elgin / Rockford, IL (35 points)

Judson University offers an accelerated MBA program that can be completed in 18 months.  Students can specialize in Organizational Leadership or Not for Profit Administration and complete their degree with evening or online classes.  Free daycare is available at the Rockford location.  

  • Tuition:  $725 per credit
  • Credits required:  36

8. Elmhurst University – Elmhurst, IL (34.5 points)

Elmhurst University offers a part-time MBA and a full-time MBA, which can be completed in one year.  Online options are available for both.  Students can choose one of eleven specializations:  Computer Information Technology, Data Science, Finance, General Management, Geography and GIS, Health Care Administration, Management of People, Managerial Leadership, Marketing and Consumer Insights, Project Management, or Supply Chain Management

  • Tuition:  $885 per credit (part time)
  • Credits required:  30

9. National Louis University – Chicago, IL (30.5 points)

Students can earn a general MBA or an MBA with a concentration in Nonprofit Administration or Entrepreneurship at National Louis University.  Degrees are available fully online or through hybrid courses that meet once a month or once every two weeks.  

  • Tuition:  $781 per credit
  • Credits required:  39

10. Lewis University – Romeoville / Oak Brook, IL (30 points)

Lewis University offers a flexible MBA program for both working professionals and traditional students.  Courses are taught in eight-week sessions with meetings once a week from 6 to 10 p.m.  Students can earn their MBA completely online.  The program has a 13:1 student-faculty ratio.  Concentrations are available in Accounting, Finance, Healthcare Informatics, Human Resources, Marketing, and Operations Management.  

  • Tuition:  $810 per credit
  • Credits required:  36-54

11. Dominican University – River Forest, IL (29.5 points)

The Brennan School of Business at Dominican University prides itself on being a leading business school in Chicago and providing great value to graduates.  The degree can be completed in 15 months with on-campus or hybrid classes.  The program provides opportunities for a business practicum and study abroad programs.  Students without a business background can take six foundational online courses for free.  

  • Tuition:  $1009 per credit
  • Credits required:  30

12. Governors State University – University Park, IL (27.5 points)

Governors State University offers an MBA that can be completed in 18 months of full-time study.  Students can complete their degree by taking online or hybrid courses.  Concentrations are available in General Management and Supply Chain Management online or hybrid, and Business Analytics, Finance, and Leadership hybrid only

  • Tuition:  $812 per credit
  • Credits required:  36

13. North Central College – Naperville, IL (25 points)

North Central College offers an online MBA that also gives students the opportunity to network with classmates and professionals face-to-face through professional development conferences. The program can be completed in 12 months if students enroll in two courses each eight-week term.    

  • Tuition:  $879 per credit
  • Credits required:  36

14. Roosevelt University – Chicago / Peoria / Schaumburg, IL (24 points)

Roosevelt University offers an MBA program with flexible options for weekend and evening classes in downtown Chicago and Schaumburg.  Students learn real-world applications of business skills through internships, small classes, and mentoring programs.  Seventeen concentrations are available:  Accounting, Accounting Forensics, Economics, Finance, Hospitality Management, Human Resource Management, Information Systems, Integrated Marketing Communications, International Business, I/O Psychology, Management, Managing Nonprofit Organizations, Marketing, Public Administration/Health Services Administration, Real Estate, Social Entrepreneurship, and Training and Development.  

  • Tuition:  $1112 per credit
  • Credits required:  33

15. Saint Xavier University – Chicago, IL (18 points)

The MBA program at Saint Xavier University educates students in management theory and practical application.  Students can take courses in one or more of the following concentrations:  Accounting Management, Digital Marketing, Financial Fraud Examination and Management, Forensic and Investigative Accounting, Healthcare Management, and Management.  The degree is online-only and can be completed in one year.  

  • Tuition:  $999 per credit
  • Credits required:  39 (Non-business majors must complete six additional credits.)

16. North Park University – Chicago, IL (10 points)

North Park University offers an MBA with a focus on practical experience.  The program can be completed in 21 months through online or in-person classes, or both.  Alumni have landed careers at companies such as JPMorgan Chase and Pfizer.  North Park also offers graduate certificates for MBA students, which can be completed through elective courses at no extra cost.  

  • Tuition:  $1205 per credit
  • Credits required:  36 (Courses are two credit-hours.)

17. Lake Forest Graduate School of Management – Lake Forest, IL (8.5 points)

At the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, students can learn from the real-world experience of the MBA faculty.  Eight specializations are available:  General Management, Finance, Organizational Intelligence, Strategy, Healthcare, Marketing, Global Supply Chain, and Data Analytics

  • Tuition:  $1170 per credit
  • Credits required:  48

18. Loyola University Chicago – Chicago, IL (7.5 points)

The top-ranked Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago offers four MBA programs.  The STEM-related Next Generation MBA has an emphasis in data-driven decision making.  The highly selective Baumhart Scholars MBA is for students who want to drive social impact in their careers.  The Executive MBA has classes twice a month (online 25% of the time) and includes an international immersion trip.  The Executive MBA in Healthcare Management, which requires seven years of industry experience to enroll, is the only healthcare MBA in Illinois.  

  • Tuition:  $1496 per credit ($92,064 total for the Executive MBA, $86,590 for the Healthcare MBA)
  • Credits required:  36 (Next Generation), 48 (Baumhart, Executive), 51 (Healthcare)

How Did We Rank this List?

Our ranking was based 71.4% on graduate tuition and 28.6% on credits required.  

From each institution’s website, we gathered in-person graduate tuition rates for out-of-state domestic students in the different programs.  Where tuition was only listed on a per-year or per-semester basis, the year was assumed to consist of two semesters, twelve credits each.  Tuition figures do not include fees or other expenses.  Where tuition rates differed between MBA programs, the cheapest rate was used for the ranking.  

Each school was given a score from 1 for the highest tuition to 18 for the lowest.  Schools were also scored from 1 to 18 for the number of credits required for the program based on data from the university websites.  

Then, tuition points were multiplied by 2.5.  The weighted scores were added together to produce the final ranking.

Problems with your Ranking?  

If your school isn’t on this list and you think it deserves consideration for an update, please contact us.  Also, if you work for one of the schools on this list and you notice an error, please let us know.  We always seek to provide the most accurate information available and let readers know about the best schools across the country.  

Still not Sure which School is Right for You?

It’s important to find a program that will provide the most value for your money.  Check out our degree finder and other lists to find the right MBA for you.  

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Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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