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What is the Cost of an Online MBA Program and Should You Apply?

Online MBA degrees are not something new in 2021, but it is indeed true that the general perspective towards online education as a whole is something new.

Right off the bat, it’s not correct to compare an on-campus MBA program to a completely online course. The networking opportunities alone in the former make it something worthwhile! But, with the post-pandemic reality setting in, a lot of top MBA programs have moved online, and there is widespread acceptance for these degrees in the professional world.

So, when you are considering an online MBA program there are two aspects to look for:

  • Top MBA programs that now have online counterparts
  • Top online MBA programs are now being taken more seriously and are also more accessible

There are a lot of reasons for you to consider any of these two options. Maybe you don’t have the time for classroom study but want to learn business management skills, or you might have had your travel plans squashed by the pandemic – whatever it is, online MBA programs are being considered as a great option by students and professionals all over the world!

And before we delve into the cost and ROI analysis of online MBA programs, here is a quick look at the top-tier online MBA degrees:

Poets&Quants  U.S. News Financial Times QS Princeton Review
1. Indiana (Kelley) 1. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 1. Warwick 1. IE Business School 1. Indiana (Kelley)
2. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 1. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) 2. IE Business School 2. Imperial College 2. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)
3. Southern California (Marshall) 3. Indiana (Kelley) 3. Imperial College 3. Warwick 3. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
4. George Washington 4. Southern California (Marshall) 4. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) 4. Australian Graduate School of Management 4. Florida (Warrington)
5. UNC (Kenan-Flager) 5. Florida (Warrington) 5. Indiana (Kelley) 5. Alliance Manchester 5. Southern California (Marshall)
6. Lehigh University 6. Arizona State (Carey) 6. Florida (Warrington) 6. Politecnico di Milano 6. Rice (Jones)
7. Villanova University 7. Penn State (World Campus_ 7. Durham 7. Indiana (Kelley) 7. Utah (Eccles)
8. Auburn (Harbert) 7. Texas-Dallas (Jindal) 8. Politecnico di Milano 8. Southern California (Marshall) 8. Arizona State (Carey)
9. Washington (Foster) 9. Rice (Jones) 9. Maryland (Smith) 9. Vlerick 9. Babson (Olin)
10. Santa Clara (Leavey) 10. Lehigh University 10. Australian Graduate School of Management 10. Florida International 10. IE Business School


How much do online MBA programs cost?

Online MBA programs are not a monolithic entity. These courses can vary in length, certification, cost, and various other factors. So, how do you choose one?

Firstly, consider what you want to do:

  • Would you rather do an online MBA from a top institution such as IE Business School (top 10 global ranking) or Warwick Business School (top 5 in UK ranking)?
  • Or would you rather go for one of the top online MBA programs such as Carnegie Mellon or UNC?  

This is important because the costs can largely vary between these two choices. At WBS the online MBA program costs about $40,000, and $51,000 at IE Business School. But, an online MBA course at Carnegie Mellon is set at $128,000. Similarly in UNC or Maryland (Smith), some of the other top online MBA programs the cost is average $80,000 – $110,000.  

Why does this difference exist? The simple answer is that these courses are widely different. The online MBA from Warwick or IE is for 15-17 months. So, it can be considered as a concise version of their original MBA program. This is a perfect choice for someone who can’t attend classes but wants to pick up skills to climb the corporate ladder.

But, at top online MBA programs you will be receiving a holistic education on business management and its various aspects. These courses can last up to 3-4 years, and they will require you to attend online classes regularly. So, do not think that these will be part time MBA courses because the curriculum can get quite hefty at times!

Top online MBA courses are usually perfect for young professionals or graduates who can devote their time but cannot make it to a foreign campus for whatever reason. The overall cost of attending an international B-school is much higher, and Covid has made international travel difficult for many. The criterions for making it to these programs are also more relaxed. And with most of education having happened online for the past two years, an online MBA course from a top institute will definitely shine on your resume!

So, here are the top online MBA courses along with cost and other details!

School Total Cost Time To Complete
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) $128,000 32 months
UNC (Kenan-Flagler) $114,048 24-36 months
Maryland (Smith) $83,970 24 months
Syracuse (Whitman) $82,500 24-27 months
Hofstra (Zarb) $76,600 20 months
NC State (Jenkins) $74,465 21-72 months
Rochester Tech $70,000 17 months
Indiana (Kelley) $67,830 24-60 months
Drexel $64,000 24-42 months
Arizona State (Carey) $60,000 21 months
Florida (Hough) $59,807 12-24 months
Louisiana State (Ourso) $46,620 18-27 months
Arizona $45,000 14-48 months


Should You Apply for an Online MBA Program?

This requires a fair amount of self-introspection. The three primary aspects to consider are the amount of time you can devote towards online classes and the coursework, your career goals and whether they align with the program of your choice, and of course your financial situation.

Since online MBA programs can be largely varied a good amount of research on your part is necessary. Think about your long term and short-term career goals and see which programs give you the best possible shot gaining a better career. Not sure about how to figure out your goals? Watch this video below for a quick understanding!

The reputation of the B-school is extremely important when it comes to an online MBA, so make sure to target the top B-schools.

As for the cost, a top-tier online MBA will cost anywhere between INR 1 – 3,00,000. When you compare this to the cost of an actual MBA, which can go up to INR 25,00,000; the online degree is quite a budget option. And if you choose a top B-school, you will be receiving a lot of the benefits of an actual MBA program such as classes from top professionals and networking opportunities. Online courses are constantly working on making their courses as close to the classroom experience as possible. And now, is the best time to get yourself enrolled as the post-pandemic business world will be in dire need of capable young MBAs!

Another huge benefit of an online MBA program is that you don’t really need to quit your job to get one. The classes are designed in such a way that professionals can attend while being in a full-time job as well. But, keep in mind the curriculum will definitely get hectic so be prepared!

Here is a list of additional benefits of an online MBA program:

  • No relocation is necessary on your part. You save on travel and boarding costs and still earn an MBA degree from a top institute.
  • On-campus services such as library, career counseling, student clubs etc. are now available for most online courses as well. So, don’t be worried about missing out on the experience.
  • You can choose your own pace with these programs. Be it classes, tests, or other deliverables – there is a huge amount of flexibility with online MBA programs.

What are the Cons of an Online MBA Program?

You will hear a lot of people say that online MBA is not worthwhile because the networking opportunities are absent. This is not true. If this was being said a decade back there would be some truth to it, but with modern communication technology and the entire educational sphere becoming extremely internet friendly, an online MBA provides you with just as many opportunities!

But, there are of course some aspects that can not be provided through online education. These include cultural learning which can only happen by attending a foreign campus and international internship opportunities. If you are not looking to travel abroad after earning an MBA, the online courses are something you should definitely consider as these two aspects will not provide any hindrance to upscaling your career position post-MBA.

While the COVID situation is getting better, and you can apply to top B-schools this quarter considering international travel is not restricted, an online MBA is still something you should definitely consider in 2021!


Read More:

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The Best Executive MBA Programs in the World and How to Crack Them? 

MBA Abroad: Biggest Challenges Faced by Indian Students 

What Matters Most to You and Why MBA Application Essay: How to Answer? 

Students Speak: INSEAD MBA During COVID

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Student Speak: Top MBA in COVID

Secrets of top MBA SCHOLARSHIPS – How to get scholarship from top business school 

How to get into the Stanford Graduate School of Business’s MBA program? 

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For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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