Most Affordable Online MBA Programs of 2021

Most Affordable Online MBA Programs of 2021

An MBA is a highly-respected degree that can help working professionals advance their careers and increase their salaries. While MBA programs can easily exceed six figures, we’ve rounded up some of the best programs on a budget, with an average cost of around $23,000. And based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you could see a return on your investment quickly, with many MBA jobs exceeding the median salary by thousands of dollars. No matter your career goals, you can find a program on this list that fits your budget and objectives.

Many online MBA programs offer specializations such as IT, healthcare management, cybersecurity, and HR management. MBA graduates can also use their knowledge to develop a business plan, secure funding, and start their own venture. If you’re considering the MBA path, this guide covers important information including common concentrations, prospective careers, and earning potential.

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Most Affordable Online MBA Programs of 2021

  1. University of Nevada

    Reno, NV

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.4

    The online MBA (EMBA) program at the University of Nevada-Reno is 12 courses meant to be taken over a two-year period. The program is divided into three semesters: fall, spring, and summer. This program is one of the top in the country and has a price tag of $30,000. To be eligible, students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year institution, have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75, and have five or more years of professional work experience after their undergraduate studies.

    Program Website: https://www.unr.edu/business/degree-programs/business-administration/emba

    • Graduation rate: 61%
    • Program length: 2 years
    • Credits: 21 credits
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 2.75 GPA, five years of work experience
    • Program Website 
  2. Arkansas State University

    Jonesboro, AR

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.51

    Arkansas State University offers an online MBA to provide a flexible education for students with a variety of professional and academic backgrounds. This program is intended for students looking for a concentration in Supply Chain Management or Finance. To be eligible for this program, students must meet one of several combinations of GPA and either GMAT or GRE score. The program costs $610 per credit, or a total of about $20,130.

    Program Website: https://www.astate.edu/business/onlinemba/

    • Graduation rate: 53%
    • Program length: 2 years
    • Credits: 33 credit hours
    • Admissions requirements: 2.75 GPA, GMAT or GRE scores
    • Program Website 
  3. Kennesaw State University

    Kennesaw, GA

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.38

    Kennesaw State University’s online MBA program is ranked among the best in the world. It’s a part-time program designed for working professionals. There are no set class times, and it’s 100% online. The average time to complete the program is about 20 months, with application deadlines in the spring, summer, and fall. To be eligible for the program, students must hold a bachelor’s degree in any field and have at at least two years of professional work experience. In many cases, the GMAT and GRE aren’t required. The cost of the program is $24,470 and there are scholarships available.

    • Graduation rate: 46%
    • Program length: 20 months
    • Credits: 30 credit hours
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, work experience, GRE or GMAT scores
    • Program Website 
  4. University of North Texas

    Denton, TX

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.37

    The University of North Texas allows students to earn an accelerated online MBA with a specialization in just 14 months. This 36-hour program offers flexible class schedules with 8-hour schedules in the fall and spring and a 5-hour schedule in the summer. Students can choose to study either marketing, marketing analytics, organizational behavior and human resource management, sports entertainment management, strategic management, supply chain analytics, or supply chain management. The program cost is about $17,100 for out-of-state students.

    Program Website: https://online.unt.edu/online-mba

    • Graduation rate: 56%
    • Program length: 14 months
    • Credits: 36 hours
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA or GRE or GMAT scores
    • Program Website 
  5. Georgia College and State University

    Milledgeville, GA

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.5

    Georgia’s WebMBA program offers an accelerated MBA program with a completing time of 20 months. This program is designed for working professionals and offers flexibility. Eligibility for this program is based on performance at an undergraduate institution and a GMAT or GRE score. In some cases, students may have the GMAT or GRE requirement waived. This program has a price tag of $23,000.

    Program Website: https://www.gcsu.edu/business/georgiawebmba

    • Graduation rate: 64%
    • Program length: 20 months
    • Credits: 30 credit hours
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, GMAT or GRE scores
    • Program Website 
  6. Oklahoma State University

    Stillwater, OK

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.57

    Oklahoma State University’s online MBA program is designed for full-time working professionals who want maximum flexibility while still getting the same level of academic excellence and engagement is a traditional MBA program. As a fully online program, OSU allows students to choose their own hours and watch the online videos anytime. The program is 33 credits and can be completed in as little as 12 months. Students must have a four-year bachelor’s degree, a competitive GMAT or GRE score, and three professional letters of recommendation. The cost of the program is about $19,818 for non-resident students.

    Program Website: https://osuonline.okstate.edu/programs/graduate/business-administration-master-mba.html

    • Graduation rate: 65%
    • Program length: 1 year
    • Credits: 33 credits
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, GMAT or GRE score
    • Program Website 
  7. University of Mississippi

    University, MS

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.6

    The MBA program at Ole Miss is considered one of the top ten in the nation. It’s 100% online, giving ultimate flexibility for working professionals. The program is four semesters and two summer sessions, for a total of 36 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, students must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.0. They also must have GMAT or GRE test scores that are no more than five years old. The cost of the program is $32,202.

    Program Website: https://www.online.olemiss.edu/mba/index.html

    • Graduation rate: 66%
    • Program length: 2 years
    • Credits: 36 credit hours
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA, GMAT or GRE scores
    • Program Website 
  8. Mississippi State University

    Mississippi State, MS

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.43

    One of the top 20 programs for active military personnel and veterans, the master of business administration program online at Mississippi State University lets students earn their degrees from anywhere in the world. Like other online affordable MBA programs, the curriculum at Mississippi State includes foundational, core, and elective courses. The program offers one concentration option: project management. Prospective students can review detailed course syllabi on the Mississippi State website. Applicants apply for the fall, spring, or summer semester. All applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores. Online students benefit from in-state tuition and access to university scholarships. The university accepts up to six transfer credits.

    • Graduation rate: 61%
    • Program length: 2 years
    • Credits: 30 credit hours
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, GMAT or GRE scores
    • Program Website 
  9. University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks, ND

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.48

    The University of North Dakota’s online MBA program focuses on executive management, financial and economic analysis, business analytics, and strategy. The program is 34 credits and takes about 1.5 years to complete. The program cost is about $18,391.

    Program Website: https://und.edu/programs/business-administration-mba/index.html

    • Graduation rate: 61%
    • Program length: 1.5 years
    • Credits: 34 credits
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA, GMAT or GRE scores
    • Program Website 
  10. University of Nebraska

    Lincoln, NE

    School Type

    Public

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Avg. GPA

    3.59

    The University of Nebraska online MBA program focuses on ROI — it’s a low-cost program with high post-graduation salaries. The program is designed for working professionals, and the fully-online courses are offered in 8-week sessions. Students can take multiple courses or just one at a time.

    Program Website: https://business.unl.edu/mba/

    • Graduation rate: 66%
    • Program length: 3 years
    • Credits: 48 credits
    • Admissions requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA, GMAT or GRE scores
    • Program Website 

  • Our Methodology, Explained


    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 20%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.


Answering your questions about affordable MBA programs


  • How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?

    Traditional MBA programs usually take about two years to complete. Many schools also offer an accelerated MBA program, where students can receive their MBA in just one year. On the other hand, students looking to work toward their MBA part-time may expect to take longer.


  • Can I Get an MBA Online?

    Yes. Many colleges offer online MBA programs that provide flexibility without sacrificing rigor. Some programs run fully asynchronously while some require supplemental in-person attendance, such as immersive weekends.


  • How Much Does it Cost to Get an MBA Online?

    The cost of an MBA depends on several factors, including in-state or out-of-state residency, college attended, courses waived, and program length.

    Students may be able to get an MBA for free by applying for scholarships or working for a company that offers tuition assistance. Additionally, there are online programs that offer tuition-free MBA programs.


  • What Is the Cheapest Online MBA Program?

    With a price tag of less than $15,000, the cheapest online MBA program on our list is Mississippi State University. One of the things that keeps costs low is that all online students are eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of where you live.


  • How Much Can an MBA Increase My Salary?

    February 2021 PayScale data notes an average $89,545 annual salary for MBA-holders. This figure significantly exceeds the BLS’ $69,820 median annual wage for business professionals with just a bachelor’s degree.


  • How Are Online MBA Programs Accredited?

    Accreditation is a process of determining the legitimacy of an educational program and ensuring it meets certain quality standards. In the United States, colleges and universities aren’t accredited by the government, and there’s no central organization that accredits schools. Online MBA programs are often accredited by the same national and regional agencies that accredit traditional in-person MBA programs, including the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).


What Are the Goals of an MBA Degree?

Students pursuing an MBA learn how to perform key operational tasks such as accounting, finance, and marketing. MBA curriculum teaches enrollees how to make informed managerial decisions and develop new products and services. Graduates know how to develop strategies that make their organization competitive in a global environment.

Many online MBA programs offer specializations such as IT, healthcare management, cybersecurity, and HR management. MBA graduates can also use their knowledge to develop a business plan, secure funding, and start their own venture. Learners can enroll in an online MBA program full time or part time.

What Are the Requirements for an MBA Degree?

MBA programs require a bachelor’s degree in business or another major. Applicants typically submit school transcripts, a resume, and GMAT or GRE scores. Some schools offer standardized test waivers for applicants who meet certain requirements, such as GPA or work experience. Once accepted into an MBA program, learners complete 36-60 credits. Students without a business background may still earn an MBA once they complete levelling coursework and other requirements.

Many business schools require students to complete MBA programs in cohorts. This allows enrollees to collaborate as a team even though they study from a distance. Asynchronous learning, which does not require real-time sessions, and synchronous evening formats add flexibility so students can continue careers.

Choosing the Best Type of Online MBA Program



There are two primary MBA types to consider: a traditional two-year MBA program and an accelerated one-year MBA program. It’s important to consider the time commitment of receiving an MBA. MBA programs often require 36 credits and take roughly two years to complete. However, many students may be able to finish a program in as little as one year or attend school part-time and get their degree in two years.

In addition to the total time frame, it’s important to consider the program’s time commitment. Some programs are self-paced, while others require certain class hours as if you were attending in person. Since many MBA students are already in the workforce, this flexibility is essential.

An MBA (Masters of Business Administration) is a highly-respected degree for those in the fields of business and management. This type of degree covers a broad spectrum of topics, including accounting, economics, statistics, and management. An online MBA program is a way of receiving the same degree, but with more flexibility and a more affordable price tag.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right affordable online MBA program for you. Each program comes with its own unique features, including cost, the number of credits, accreditation, and expected completion time.

Concentrations in an MBA



Though an MBA is a specific type of master’s degree, particular concentrations can help you specialize even more. Depending on the type of career you plan to enter into, there are a handful of concentrations you might consider.

Finance

An MBA in finance is designed to help prepare students for jobs in the financial industry. This MBA concentration helps students whether they’re planning to enter the public or private sector. A finance MBA can focus on both the individual and institutional level, meaning students can go onto work for a government or hedge fund or manage finances for individuals.

Project management

Project management is the process of leading a team to achieve a particular goal or complete a particular project. A project management MBA program can help students learn all of the skills necessary for this type of role, including problem-solving, analytics, communication, leadership, and more.

Marketing

Marketing is one of the most popular MBA concentrations because every company has to engage in some form of marketing. A marketing MBA can help teach students necessary skills like market research, advertising, psychology, analytics, and pricing strategies. Those with an MBA in marketing often go onto work as marketing executives for major firms.

Entrepreneurship

Some people seek out an MBA to establish their own business. An entrepreneurship concentration can provide students a wide range of business practices, including crafting business plans, getting financing, and managing employees.

Career and Salary Outlook for MBA Graduates



One of the biggest reasons many people seek an MBA is the real-world experience they can attain. Another motivator is the potential for a higher salary. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of someone with an MBA is $76,180, while the median salary for someone with a bachelor’s is $75,440. While there’s no substantial difference, MBA seekers tend to seek higher-paying jobs as marketing managers, business managers, and analysts. In fact, a recent survey found that companies plan to offer MBA new hires a starting salary of roughly $115,000 — nearly $40,000 higher than the median salary for someone with a master’s degree.

The unique skills that come with MBA holders are particularly attractive to employers. Those with an MBA have a versatile skill set that includes strategic thinking and strong communication, contributing significantly to a business’s success.

Here are some of the top jobs for someone with a master’s in business administration:

Career Median Annual Salary
Computer and Information Systems Manager $146,360
Medical and Health Services Manager $100,980
Marketing Manager $135,900
Financial Analyst $81,590
Benefits Manager $122,270
Operations Manager $123,460
Human Resources Manager $116,720

Source: BLS

What is the return of investment in an MBA degree?


Before beginning an MBA program, it’s important to consider what your ROI — return on investment — will be. In general, it’s wise to make sure such an expensive degree will pay off in the form of better job opportunities and a higher salary. 

The cost of MBA programs can vary widely, with programs ranging from less than $15,000 to well over $100,000. Similarly, salaries for MBA jobs can be very different. Plenty of jobs have median salaries well over six-figures, while others may not even exceed the median salary for a bachelor’s degree.

To determine the potential ROI for your MBA, carefully consider the program you hope to attend and the average salary for your desired career. Ask yourself, “what will be my starting salary, compared to tuition cost?”

Suppose you wanted to get an MBA from the University of Nevada, with a tuition of $30,000, and get a job as a financial manager, which has a median salary of about $130,000. That’s a pretty solid ROI. But if you attended a program that cost $120,000 to get into a career that pays $70,000, it may not be worth it.

Scholarships for MBA Students



Scholarships and fellowships provide MBA students with funding to help pay for tuition. Organizations award funding based on academic achievement, financial need, or a desire to help underserved populations such as women or minorities. The list below features two opportunities for MBA students.

  • Goldman Sachs MBA Fellowship

    Who Can Apply: Goldman Sachs awards this fellowship to academically gifted first-year MBA students. Women, Latino/a, Black, or Native American students qualify. Students complete an application for a summer associate internship in a major city such as New York, Boston, or Chicago. In addition to a fellowship award, recipients get a salary and signing bonus.

    Amount: $35,000 award and $40,000 summer associate salary

    Explore Here

  • Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Daughters of the American Revolution administers this scholarship to full-time MBA students attending an accredited college. Applicants need a minimum 3.25 GPA. They must submit an application that includes transcripts, a personal statement, recommendations, and evidence of U.S. citizenship.

    Amount: $2,000

    Explore Here

Grants and Financial Aid for MBA Students



There are many ways to make an MBA program more affordable beyond just choosing a low-cost program. Common methods of financing an MBA degree include:

  • Student loans: Both federal and private student loans can help students finance the cost of an MBA. Federal subsidized loans are often the best option, as they don’t accrue interest while a student is in school.
  • Financial aid: In addition to student loans, there are other federal programs to help individuals pay for college, especially when they have a low income.
  • Employer assistance: Many employers help people cover the cost of an MBA or another graduate degree since these also benefit the company. It’s important to note that there are likely to be strict requirements, such as a commitment to stay with the company for a particular number of years.

Why Should I Get an MBA Degree?



Employers recognize the MBA as a significant accomplishment that testifies to the holder’s advanced business knowledge and skills. Wondering whether an MBA is right for you? Here are five benefits of pursuing this type of degree.

Career advancement
Employers value the MBA program’s rigor and relevance. MBA graduates entering the job market or seeking to advance their careers hold a competitive advantage over their peers.
Career Flexibility
Businesses in all sectors require competent managers. MBA-holders can navigate the job market’s ups and downs by pursuing opportunities in various industries and across job functions.
Higher Pay
Many professionals with an MBA earn much more than PayScale’s average $89,545 salary. Poets & Quants, which specializes in graduate business education, finds that graduating MBAs earn six figures on average.
Hands-on Experience
The best MBA programs require capstone projects or internships that give students hands-on experience. Enrollees build a portfolio that shows employers how they can effectively apply lessons learned to address real business challenges.
Professional networking
Students build a professional network as they work in teams and participate in internships at recognized firms. They can also use a school’s alumni network for mentorship and job opportunities.

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Common Online MBA Courses

    The courses you take will vary depending on the school you attend. But in general, there are some courses you can expect to take no matter what school you enroll in.

  • Economics

    Economics courses teach students not just about running an individual firm, but about how one firm fits into the bigger picture of supply, demand, consumption, and production. MBA graduates should have a basic understanding of both macroeconomics and microeconomics.


  • Accounting

    Accounting classes teach students how to manage and understand a firm’s cash flow and report incoming and outgoing funds. Even those students who don’t plan to work in accounting must understand basic accounting principles.


  • Finance

    While accounting courses teach students about a firm’s cash flow, finance teaches them about the bigger-picture financial topic such as assets and investing.


  • Marketing

    Since marketing is such an important part of business, all students must go through basic marketing courses to learn advertising strategies and market research.


  • Strategic management

    This course helps students learn the basics of corporate strategy and identify the needs and objectives of a firm.


  • Human capital management

    Since MBA graduates often go into management positions, human capital management teaches students how to work with and manage other people.


Erin Gobler picture

Erin Gobler

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Erin Gobler is a contributing writer who covers higher education, online graduate programs, college planning, and more for Grad School Hub. Her writing has also appeared in The Simple Dollar, Robinhood, and The Balance.

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