No matter how you slice it, post-BA higher education is getting more expensive. Tuition costs are rising, as are the other costs associated with graduate school such as housing, food, books and the list goes on. One way to curtail costs — at least somewhat — is to enroll in an online program.
Among the costliest graduate programs are business schools, in part because the demand is high for MBA degrees and in part because an MBA has long been considered a direct route to higher pay, meaning that prospective students are willing to pay more to enroll in an MBA program.
Researchers at the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine recently released the results of a survey that determined the top 25 online MBA programs. The rankings were based on surveys of business school administrators and students participating in the online MBA programs. More than 90 schools were included in the survey.
Online MBA students tend to be older (average age is 35 compared with 28 for on-campus students) and have more work experience (11 years versus an average of five for on-campus students). The better news for online MBA students is that 56% are getting financial help from their employers, and employer contributions average 58% of the program’s cost.
And is it worth it? Of the students included in the survey, 39% said they had received a promotion while earning their MBA degree online, and upon graduation the average base salary was $105,000. The average salary increase graduates received was 23%.
Perhaps because employers are picking up part of the cost of the online MBA programs, cost figured into a student’s decision on which business school to attend less than half the time. The biggest consideration about which school to attend was the school’s reputation (85%). Some 94% of students were either “very” or “extremely” satisfied with their school choice.
Here then is the list of the top 25 online MBA programs for 2017 from Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine. Where available we’ve included an approximate cost based on a two-year degree program at the most recently published cost per credit hour. Costs shown as not available means we couldn’t find them quickly, but they are probably listed somewhere.
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: $104,658.84 at $1,585.74 per credit hour (66 hours required for degree)
- Indiana University-Bloomington: $66,300 at $1,300 per hour (51 hours required)
- Temple University (PA): $59,760 at $1,245 per hour (48 hours required)
- IE University (Madrid): a 15-month program with a total cost of about $49,280
- University of Florida (Gainesville): $53,440 for the two-year program
- Arizona State University: $56,700 to $65,600 for the two-year program
- Rochester Institute of Technology (NY): $70,000 for the online program
- Babson College (MA): not available
- North Carolina State University: $84,390 for a two-year program
- James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA): $48,000 for two-year Innovation MBA program
- University of Texas at Dallas: it’s complicated; see the tuition schedule
- University of South Dakota: $22,544.55 at $442.05 per hour (51 hours)
- University of Utah: $57,600 at $1,200 per credit hour for students who complete the program in 24 months
- Auburn University (AL): $30,600 at $850 per credit hour (36 hours)
- Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY): $72,800 for two-year program based on 2015-2016 academic year
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: $28,800 at $600 per hour (48 hours required)
- Northeastern University (MA): $64,593 for the 50-hour program (we think)
- Pepperdine University (CA): not available
- University of Arizona: $45,000 for full program
- Syracuse University (NY): $77,922 at $1,443 per hour (54 hours required)
- University of North Texas (Denton): not available
- Jack Welch Management Institute (Strayer University) (VA): $39,000 for 12 courses at $3,250 per course
- University of Massachusetts Amherst: $32,175 at $825 per credit (39 credits required)
- Ball State University (IN): $394 per hour for residents; $590 per hour for non-residents; 30 hours required
- University of Memphis (TN): $18,900 for Tennessee residents; $22,400 for non-residents based on 33 required credit hours
The Princeton Review chose the schools for its 2017 online MBA ranking based on comprehensive surveys conducted in the 2015–16 academic year of students and administrators at MBA programs offering a majority of their program of study online.
The Princeton Review developed the surveys with the assistance of an advisory board formed for this project in 2014. Advisory board members included faculty and administrators at top institutions offering online MBA programs. The survey for school administrators, which evaluated more than 30 fields, covers admissions selectivity, graduation and retention rates, faculty training and credentials, technological infrastructure, student indebtedness and career outcomes among other items.
The survey for students, which also evaluates more than 30 unique fields, allows students to rate their faculty, their fellow students, career preparation, academics, the technology platform and overall satisfaction with their programs.
For a more complete description of the student survey questions, see the Princeton Review’s methodology page.