One of the most popular ways to get an MBA is online. It’s more affordable.It allows you to continue the work you are currently doing. You don’t have to relocate. But many employers regard most online MBA degrees with skepticism.
There is a problem with admissions standards. Universities charge nearly the same tuition for both in-person and online instruction, so it is profitable to lower standards to admit more students. A school of business that has just a few hundred in-person MBA students may have thousands of online-only MBA students.
There is also a problem with the kinds of experiences online MBA programs can offer their students. Students who do not have work experience who get an MBA online don’t have the experience of working on teams with other students. They can access information about employers, but potential employers don’t have the opportunity to meet them face to face several times over the course of their studies.
These concerns aren’t problems with online executive MBA programs. The difference between a run-of-the-mill online MBA program and an online executive MBA program (also known as an online eMBA program) is the kind of student the program recruits.
Students who are a good match for an online eMBA aren’t inexperienced. They already have jobs, and they typically already have salaries in six figures.
These students have a deep working knowledge of their field. They understand the everyday realities of leading people and managing an organization. These students are not looking for textbook answers to business questions. They are looking for knowledge and skills they can apply to advancing their organizations as well as advancing their careers.
According to the Executive eMBA Council, the average eMBA student is 36 years old and has 12 years of business experience. The Council found that the average annual salary package for students entering an online eMBA program was $205,008. A majority of online executive MBA students fund their own online MBA education. Only about 15 percent have full sponsorship from their employers.
The reason that so many online eMBA students fund their own studies is that they use their online eMBA as a springboard for other job opportunities. Of eMBA students who stayed with their employers during their program, the average annual salary package at the completion of the degree was $232,633. But over 40 percent of eMBA students used their degree to find a more lucrative and responsible position.
It’s not unusual for students in online executive MBA programs to have made one or more attempts at pursuing their MBA through a more conventional day or evening in-person program. Maybe it just wasn’t possible to make your work schedule fit your class schedule. Maybe special circumstances at work or home took priority over completing courses. And maybe there just wasn’t the time to fly across the country and back once a week to participate in a “weekend residential” executive MBA program.
Experienced professionals who enroll in executive MBA programs online find a new world for acquiring business acumen. Universities are beginning to use AI to match learning experiences to online eMBA student needs. They replace traditional team projects with one-to-one coaching experiences with recognized experts on important business topics. (Access to experts for coaching is an important consideration in choosing the right online eMBA program.) And even in online executive MBA programs, innovative ideas may emerge that change careers and change industries.
We have considered over 490 online options for earning an executive MBA from universities all over the world. We have refined our lists to make 25 recommendations of some of the most successful online eMBA programs on the planet by looking at five factors:
- Tuition (for the entire program, not per hour or semester)
- Length of Program (number of credit hours required for graduation)
- U/X (our subjective rating of the quality of the user experience on their site, intended to eliminate poor U/X)
- Flexibility (synchronous versus asynchronous course presentations, flexibility in GMAT requirements and assessment of undergraduate work, availability of electives)
- Unique program features that appeal to eMBA students in special circumstances
We gave equal weight to each of these factors after normalizing (converting the tuition rate to standard deviations above and below the mean) tuition rates and list schools in descending numbers of points. We also made sure to include options for veterans and active service members, students seeking immediate admission to a program, students with learning disabilities, and students seeking leadership positions in businesses with a religious emphasis.
Best 25 Online Executive MBA in 2020
1. Washington State University
- Tuition: $30,024 – $43,368
- Program Length: 36 – 52 credits
The online eMBA offered by the Carson College of Business at Washington State University has been ranked as one of the best online executive MBA programs on the planet by Quacquarelli Symonds Global Online MBA Ranking and as one of the best online executive MBA programs in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. The attraction of Washington State for earning an eMBA focuses on easy access to world-renowned scholars who are experts on important business issues. The benefit of earning an eMBA is the opportunity to match issues in your organization to world-class expertise at the university. The Carson College of Business aims to create “leaders among leaders” with the exact skill set needed for greater prominence (and pay) in the business world.
2. James Madison University
- Tuition: $24,000 – $48.000
- Program Length: 42 – 48 semester hours
James Madison University‘s mostly-online eMBA program bucks the trend among business schools to admit more students to raise higher revenues. There are typically just 25 new students in each new class admitted to the program. The university pursues a hybrid model of online coursework and in-person networking for optimal value to the executives in the program. Tuition includes most of the costs of an annual global field trip to places like Germany, Denmark, and Vietnam to observe and contrast international management systems related to the student’s concentration. The university reports that eMBA graduates receive an average 21% increase in annual salary upon completion of the program and most students graduate without any new debt.
3. University of Hawaii at Manoa
- Tuition: $47,040 (average)
- Program Length: 48 semester hours
The Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s online eMBA program offers synchronous instruction (that is, you take your classes at set times) using videoconferencing technology. The university regards the use of videoconferencing as important to forming online cohorts of students who work together and develop common interests despite taking courses in different locations. The program’s specialty is healthcare management, which requires a capstone experience before graduation. Scholarships are available.
4. Florida State University
- Tuition: $29.250
- Program Length: 39 semester hours
The Florida State University College of Business operates an online executive MBA program that offers concentrations in real estate, business analytics, management information systems, risk management, and financial planning exclusively for online students. Students may pursue their programs part-time or full-time. The university’s online MBA program caters to the needs of military officers. The program ranks ranks No. 21 among public schools and No. 18 overall on the U.S.News and World Report’s list of “Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans.” Italso ranks No. 22 among public schools and No. 27 overall on the on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 rankings of “Best Online MBA Programs.” Florida State University climbs higher in our rankings on the basis of its affordability and opportunities for fast completion of course requirements.
5. Ball State University
- Tuition: $19,899 for the standard 33-hour curriculum, but up to $25,869 for students who need to make up course prerequisites
- Program Length: 30 to 43 semester hours. depending on undergraduate preparation
The unusually affordable online executive MBA program at Ball State University does not leave a lot room for electives — most students will only take two or three elective courses — but students can use those electives to earn a general MBA degree or a specialty in artificial intelligence, construction management, sales management, logistics and supply chain management, finance, entrepreneurship, healthcare administration, or health economics, policy, and administration. Most courses are taught synchronously, requiring students to participate in instruction with their cohort at pre scheduled times. Online students have the option of taking some courses in person if they wish.
6. Kansas State University
- Tuition: $24,900 to $29,050, depending on the student’s need to take foundation courses
- Program Length: 30 – 35 semester hours
Kansas State University’s eMBA curriculum distinguishes itself among executive MBA programs online in that it focuses on matching students to executive mentors, career coaches, and corporate partners for network building. The program requires a faculty-led international travel experience, and a GMAT waiver for students who meet all other admission requirements. Books and course materials are included in the cost of tuition. Students are required to attend at least one two-day regional student orientation session for team building, networking, and professional development.
7. Boise State University
- Tuition: $36,750
- Program Length: 49 semester hours
Boise State University’s online eMBA sequence is widely regarded as highly innovative. It is possible to complete an MBA in as little as 12 months, although most working professionals will take longer. There are no traditional textbooks. All instructional content is digital. And although instruction is synchronous, with required times for online class attendance, there are six start dates every year. Boise State University requires a course called Mastering Design Thinking, in which students collaborate to create an innovative business solution to a current, real-world business challenge.
8. Central Michigan University
- Tuition: $22,500 to $26,875, depending on area of concentration
- Program Length: 36- 43 semester hours
The online MBA program at Central Michigan University specializes in certifying students as experts in the integration of business management with SAP software. Students who pursue this certification will need to schedule two weeks for in-person training at the SAP Training Academy. The university also offers a VDO emphasis in which they acquire advanced understanding of customer voice, negotiations, leadership, and process improvement, including Six Sigma. Students may also concentrate in marketing or in human resource administration. Central Michigan University nurtures gifted business people who have reading and communication disabilities with several developmental education centers.
9. University of Nevada — Reno
- Tuition: $5206 at 148.75 per credit hour, same for resident and non-resident students
- Program Length: 35 semester hours
The extremely affordable online eMBA program at the University of Nevada — Reno is a cohort program. Students are admitted together in the fall and graduate together two years later. Even though students learn from different physical locations, they are encouraged to support each other’s academic progress and to form professional relationships. All coursework is completed online and all classes take 12 weeks. There will be at least one proctored exam (which students will have to take at a certified exam center) for each course. Faculty at the University of Nevada — Reno seek to support their online students as energetically as they support students in person.
10. Louisiana Tech University
- Tuition: $28,000
- Program Length: 40 quarter hours
The online eMBA program at Louisiana Tech University was ranked No. 1 for Best Value by MBA Today. Asynchronous instruction at Louisiana Tech University’s online eMBA program ensures that students can complete courses at their own pace. Students typically take two or three 4-quarter hour courses for 16 months to complete a general MBA. Students in the online program can only earn a general MBA degree, because specializations require attending courses on campus. Students who did not study financial and cost accounting, finance, statistics, and management as undergraduates may need to take up to 15 hours of remedial coursework before joining their cohort the next fall.
The program at Louisiana Tech University is explicit about its learning objectives for MBA students. These principles are shared by all MBA programs, but not always stated. The program advised incoming students:
“During the MBA program, students will:
- Critically evaluate, analyze, and interpret information to solve problems and make business decisions.
- Use communication skills to effectively lead.
- Develop an awareness of ethics and social responsibility in shaping business decisions.
- Develop an awareness and understanding of the issues that impact business operations in a global setting.”
These skills are essential for every MBA.
11. University of Wyoming
- Tuition: $23,400
- Program Length: 30 semester hours
The University of Wyoming’s online executive MBA program is entirely online but organized by cohorts. Students are admitted every fall along with peers with whom they will take classes for up to two years. Students are allowed to take classes online after they complete a semester with their cohort. Most MBA students at the University of Wyoming specialize in the energy industry, either finance in the energy industry, or supply chain management in the energy industry, or accounting for energy companies. The program cannot be completed in less than three semesters. Online executive MBA students are invited to optional on-campus networking events such as the college’s annual Jackson Leadership Conference and its Homecoming Tailgate.
12. West Texas A & M University
- Tuition: $23,400
- Program Length: 37 to 48 semester hours.
The Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business at West Texas A & M University offers an online executive MBA program, as well as an online MPA (Master of Public Accounting) program, without any need to attend classes on campus, although students are welcome to take classes on campus if they wish. Students who did not study business as undergraduates take up to 9 hours of finance, accounting, and statistics, and then all students complete 28 to 30 hours of core courses,and then they do a three-course specialization. Every student presents a portfolio or does a capstone project. The university has introductory videos online for most of its courses.
13. University of Arkansas
- Tuition: $21,660
- Program Length: 38 semester hours
The online executive MBA program at the University of Arkansas is not entirely online. Students attend one Saturday class session every month on campus in Fayetteville. Students may specialize in business analytics, innovation and entrepreneurship, supply chain management, and, as one might expect near the international headquarters of Walmart, retail management. The school also offers a healthcare administration specialization in conjunction with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in LIttle Rock. Each graduating class goes on to be hired by 30 different companies or more, providing substantial networking opportunities.
14. Charleston Southern University
- Tuition: $17,250/ Includes course materials. Students who opt to take a course in-person are given a tuition reduction of $75 per semester hour.
- Program Length: 33 semester hour
Charleston Southern University offers an accelerated online executive MBA that can be completed in as little as 10 months, as well as a part-time program that can be completed in three or four years. Students major in healthcare management, supply chain management, or general management.
15. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
- Tuition: $22,947 to $30,597, depending on need for foundation courses. Wisconsin residents and out-of-state students pay the same rate.
- Program Length: 36 to 48 semester hours.
Ranked #25 online MBA program by U.S. News and World Report, the University of Wisconsin Whitewater online executive MBA program offers students concentrations in data analytics, general management, project management, environmental safety and health, international business, information technology management, marketing, finance, and supply chain management. Students may pursue dual concentrations if they wish. The UWW program climbs higher in our rankings on the strength of its user experience and commitment to nurturing business ethics.
16. University of Tennessee – Martin
- Tuition: $17,010 for the 30 hours of core courses
- Program Length: 30 semester hours or more, depending on undergraduate preparation.
The online eMBA program at the University of Tennessee – Martin is nationally recognized for its affordability. By admitting just 25 students every fall, the program teaches teamwork and networking skills even in an online format. Core courses take just six to eight weeks to complete and provide their own networking opportunities.
17. University of Memphis
- Tuition: $2,046 per course or $24,452 for the whole program.
- Program Length: 36 semester hours
The University of Memphis encourages seekers of an executive MBA to enroll in their weekend-only, Thursday-to-Saturday, 17-month program for maximum faculty contact and networking opportunities. (The complete in-person weekend MBA program has a $58,000 price tag.) However, executive MBA students can pursue individual courses or even the entire MBA program online at the same standard of instruction. It is possible to take some coursework online and other coursework in-person to complete the MBA with careful planning.
18. University of Texas — Dallas
- Tuition: $63,600
- Program Length: 53 semester hours
The Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas-Dallas offers an online MBA program that is open to working professionals with varying degrees of academic preparation. Every eMBA student will show mastery of all of the foundations of successful business leadership, so the program is unusually long. However, students are free to study any of over 200 electives to tailor their programs to their career objectives. This program ranks high for flexibility but students have to make their own networking opportunities.
19. Friends University
- Tuition: $20,580
- Program Length: 30 semester hours
A small Quaker college in Kansas, Friends University offers an online MBA that can be completed in as little as 15 months. One of the few online MBA programs offering a specialization in sports administration, Friends University also offers MBA specializations in supply chain management, accounting, finance, change management, project management, and human resources. Students are attracted to the affordability of the program combined with the university’s commitment to work-life balance.
20. Bethel University
- Tuition: $22,068
- Program Length: 36 semester hours
Originally a Baptist seminary, Bethel University has evolved to offer an online executive MBA program that is geared to social service. There are concentrations in healthcare management and human resource administration, as well as opportunities to pursue an executive concentration or a general MBA with a specialty in music industry management. The program offers 24/7 tutorial support and supplies all books and course materials without additional charge.
21. Regent University
- Tuition: $27,300
- Program Length: 42 semester hours
Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia offers an online executive MBA program with a distinctively Christian emphasis. Students of all faiths and no faith are welcome to attend, but those seeking a leadership position in a distinctively Christian environment benefit most from the program. The university promotes a “servant leader” model of executive management.
22. Faulkner University
- Tuition: $16,500
- Program Length: 10 courses (30 semester hours)
A small university in Montgomery, Alabama affiliated with the Churches of Christ, Faulkner University hosts an online eMBA program geared to the needs of U.S. and international marketing associated with Christian businesses. A unique feature of the program is that classes last five weeks and are completed one at a time, and the degree can be completed in just one year. New students are admitted every five weeks. There are no elective classes.
23. University of North Alabama
- Tuition: $17,850
- Program Length: 10 courses (30 semester hours)
If you want to start working on an eMBA and you want to start working now, the University of North Alabama can accommodate your needs. The University of North Alabama online executive MBA program offers courses that are eight weeks long with five starting dates every year. There are no prerequisites for admission and at $17,850 for the entire program, this MBA is unusually affordable. The University of North Alabama MBA programs are AACSB-accredited.
24. Texas Southern University
- Tuition: $24,000 (at $6,000 per term)
- Program Length: 4 semesters
The online eMBA program offered by the Jesse H. Jones School of Business at Texas Southern University in Houston is an excellent option for MBA students interested in energy finance. The asynchronous course schedule allows maximum flexibility for students, with discussion opportunities through chat and discussion boards. The program does not require the GRE or GMAT for admission, but looks for years of experience in entering students.
25. Ohio University
- Tuition: $20,825
- Program Length: 35 semester hours
Ohio University offers a 100%-online eMBA that affords concentrations in business analytics, finance, healthcare administration, sales leadership, strategic selling, business venturing and entrepreneurship, accounting, and supply chain management in just 35 semester hours of coursework. Ohio University alumni, active military, veterans, and corporate partners of the university are automatically eligible for scholarships. The university does not require the GMAT or GRE for admission.
Have you studied in one of these online eMBA programs? Can you tell us more about online executive MBA programs? Tell us about your experience during and after school. And please keep in mind that tuition, graduation rates, financial aid percentages and NCLEX pass rates are subject to change. We always welcome updated information.