The 12 Best Online MBA Degree Programs for 2014

Top Online SchoolsWhether seeking to start a new career in business, or to climb the ladder within an already established career, earning an MBA degree may make good career and financial sense. According to a 2011 research survey by The Graduate Management Admission Council, 2010 MBA graduates had a median starting salary of $78,820. The median salary for all MBAs surveyed was $94,542, with an additional $17,565 in bonus compensation. Moreover, nearly 9 in 10 (88%) of 2010 MBA graduates had jobs immediately upon graduation, with hiring prospects expected to improve even more in coming years. This is good news for those starting their online MBA programs in 2014!

Advantages of Online MBA Programs

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If you choose to attend a traditional full-time MBA program, remember that the costs are greater than the sticker price of tuition. While you’re working toward your degree, you’ll lose at least two years of income, experience, visibility, and possible promotions in your industry, not to mention the obvious compromises you’ll need to make in your personal and family life. Since it is such a costly commitment, more people are choosing to complete their MBAs online. And luckily, a growing number of accredited online MBA programs are now meeting a more diverse set of student needs.

The Variety of Online MBA Programs

The quality, status, and popularity of online MBAs continues to rise, with more and more highly ranked business schools offering online business degrees every year. But not all online business degrees are the same. Not only do online MBAs come in a variety of formats, but their quality and prestige vary widely as well. That is why it’s important to make a thorough investigation of the many different online MBA programs available before choosing one.

Online MBA Program Rankings

Our list of the 12 best online MBAs for 2014 is the place to begin that investigation. While no ranking system is able to substitute for personal judgment about what program is best for an individual student, we offer one of the most comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and up-to-date listings available online. We’ve analyzed and ranked programs according to their perceived prestige (awards, rankings, reputation), academic quality, and affordability. You can find out more about each program’s costs and specialized offerings by filling out the contact forms in the links below.

  1. Walden University

    Executive Summary – This dynamic, affordably priced online MBA program is accredited by the ACBSP and offers 10 different specializations from which to choose.

    Rankings: U.S. News and World Report, #109, Best Online Graduate Business Programs.

    Program: Walden University International’s online MBA program is among the most flexible and customizable programs available. Enrollees can choose from ten different specializations, including accounting; corporate finance; entrepreneurship and small business; healthcare management; human resources management; international business, leadership; marketing; project management; and the self-designed option. The self-designed specialization is perfect for students who have very specific professional goals in mind, and for those who don’t want to pigeonhole themselves in any one career route in business. Program requirements include 24 hours of core semester credits, 9 specialization semester credits, and 3 credits that go toward a capstone project.

    Admissions: Admissions for the Walden University International online MBA program are rolling. Neither the GMAT nor other standardized tests are required for consideration, although proof of an earned bachelor’s degree and some business experience is. The MBA program’s acceptance rate is 94%. Walden University International considers each candidate’s GPA and breadth of working experience, although exceptions can be made to the experience rule.

    Tuition: $31,230 for 36 semester credits, including fees and cost of textbooks. Living expenses not included.

  2. University of Phoenix

    Executive Summary – Founded in 1976, the University of Phoenix is now one of the largest distance learning universities in the country, though it also offers campus-based programs. The University of Phoenix’s online MBA program enrolls approximately 60,000 students any given year, and is a trusted brand in the industry.

    Program: Students of the MBA program at the University of MBA students at Phoenix can expect to take 36 credit hours of core courses, which include management, business law, economics, accounting, operations management, and more. Beyond these core, required courses, students can elect to take up to 15 additional credit hours to seek specialization in a particular area. There are 8 concentrations, including accounting, energy management, global management, healthcare management, and more.

    Admissions: The University of Phoenix does not require prospective students to take the GMAT. Admissions requirements include a completed bachelor’s degree, as well as a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 grade scale. Entrance into the program is also contingent on at least three years of work experience.

    Tuition: To complete the University of Phoenix’s online MBA program, students will be charged $740 per credit hour, or approximately $26,640 for the full 36-credit hour program. This price does not include miscellaneous fees and living expenses.

  3. Liberty University

    Executive Summary – Liberty University offers a well-rounded, significantly more affordable online MBA program, which emphasizes ethical business practices and group work.

    Rankings: #11, 2014 Smart Choice Best Online MBA Programs; #65, Regional Universities (South), U.S. News and World Report.

    Program: Completing an online MBA program at Liberty University typically takes 24 months. Liberty offers two options – a general MBA program requiring 36 credit hours, or a specialized program requiring 45 hours. If students opt for the general program, they are advised to study over a period of four, nine-hour semesters. If students choose to specialize, their program will likely take five, nine-hour semesters. Students specializing in a specific area must take one elective course in their specialization during the last four semesters. Specialization areas include: accounting, criminal justice, healthcare management, human resources, international business, and more.

    Admissions: Liberty University’s online MBA program is fairly selective – 64% of applicants who apply are accepted. Liberty University does not require prospective students to take the GMAT. However, college transcripts from an accredited institution are required, as is a minimum 3.0 GPA. If a student intends to specialize in accounting, specific accounting courses taken in college are prerequisites.

    Tuition: Tuition is charged per credit hour at a rate of $490 per credit hour. If you choose to take the general online MBA, the total tuition cost would be about $17,640. If you elect to take the specialized program, tuition costs for the program would total $22,050. Additional fees may apply.

  4. Capella University

    Executive Summary – Capella University offers an online MBA program that’s specifically suited to professionals. Pursue their online MBA degree the traditional way, or do the FlexPath program, which enables you to complete the program completely at your own pace – giving you plenty of time to continue working as you earn your degree.

    Program: The Capella University online MBA program requires students to take 48 credits; 33 of these credits are in core courses, which include financial accounting, foundational skills for business leaders, data analysis for business decisions, strategic operations management, and more. Students are then required to take an additional 12 hours in elective courses, followed by 3 hours for their capstone project. Students in the FlexPath program can complete courses at their leisure, without weekly dues dates and discussions.

    Admissions: Admissions for Capella’s online MBA program has two different sets of requirements. For the general MBA course completed over a specified timeline, students must have a completed bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, with a minimum 2.3/4.0 GPA. Those applying to the FlexPath program must have at least 5 years of professional business experience, and must also have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Neither program requires applicants to take the GMAT or GRE.

    Tuition: Capella University charges $720 per credit hour. The approximate cost of tuition for the entire program, not including text books and other possible fees, is $34,560.

  5. Ashford University

    Executive Summary — A completely online program that allows for maximum flexibility with no residency requirements.

    Program: You can complete a standard MBA program or a personalized program with 9 credit hours in specializations such as business economics, entrepreneurship, environmental management, finance, global management, health care administration, human resources management, information systems, marketing, organizational leadership, project management, public administration, and supply chain management.

    Admissions: Ashford is flexible in its transfer credit policies to allow students maximum credit. Proof of college degree from an accredited school is required.

    Certain program restrictions may apply to residents of Arkansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, and non-US residents.

    For more information about on-time completion rates, the median loan debt of students who completed each program, and other important information, you can find this information and more on the school’s disclosure page.

  6. Grand Canyon University

    Executive Summary — A private Christian university, Grand Canyon offers online MBA programs with a variety of emphases with no residency requirements.

    Rankings: U.S. News and World Report, #156, Student Engagement and Accreditation; #83, Student Services and Technology.

    Program: Online MBA students may choose either a general MBA program, an MBA program with one of six emphases, or a dual MBA/ Master’s of Science in Leadership program. Concentrations include accounting, finance, health systems management, leadership, marketing, and strategic human resource management. Online students take only one course at a time, and 54 credits are required for graduation.

    Admissions: Applicants must meet one of a few requirements to be admitted: an undergraduate degree from an accredited GCU-approved college or university with a GPA or 2.8 or better, or a graduate degree from an accredited, GCU-approved college or university.

  7. Southern New Hampshire University

    Executive Summary – Southern New Hampshire University was first established in 1932 and began offering online programs as early as 1996. The online MBA program, offering flexibility and affordability, thus comes from a well-established institution.

    Rankings: #110, Regional Universities (Northern), U.S. News and World Report; “Best of Business” in both Best M.B.A. Program and Best Online Degree Program categories, New Hampshire Business Review.

    Program: SNHU’s online MBA program is a 39-credit hour program consisting of a total of 13 courses. 10 of these courses form the curriculum’s core, which includes classes in managerial accounting, managerial economics, marketing strategies, operations management, and more. If students choose to take the elective path, the remaining 3 courses can be chosen from a variety of electives. If a student alternatively chooses the concentration path, the 3 post-core curriculum courses should all focus on a specific specialization. The school offers 20 different specializations.

    Admissions: Applicants are not required to take the GRE or the GMAT to be admitted to the program. In addition to a completed application and application fee, students must send in an official college transcript from an accredited institution, as well as a resume.

    Tuition: Compared with many online MBA programs, SNHU’s program is one of the most affordable. The school charges $627 per credit hour, totaling a little over $24,000 in tuition for the whole program. Those in active duty military receive a special discount of $470 per credit hour.

  8. Saint Leo University

    Executive Summary – St. Leo University is a Roman Catholic institution that offers a fully-online MBA program that seeks to prepare students to be capable and caring contributors to the modern business world.

    Rankings: #67, Best Regional Universities (South), U.S. News and World Report; #3, Best Online MBA Program with Sports Business Specialization, Sports Business International.

    Program: The online MBA program at St. Leo University is a straightforward, 36-credit hour program. The program can be finished in as little as one year, but students have a total of five years to finish. Most students finish in 18 months. Students in the program can opt to enroll in the general MBA program, which requires 36 hours of standard business courses, or they can do a specialized MBA program. The specialized MBA program requires 21 credit hours in core courses, with an additional 15 credit hours in their concentration. Specializations include accounting, healthcare management, human resource management, information security management, marketing, and sports business.

    Admissions: The admissions process at St. Leo University is somewhat more involved than many online MBA programs. Applicants are require to submit college transcripts for an accredited institution, two professional recommendations, a current resume, and a 250-word personal statement, in addition to filling out the online application. Students who’ve earned a 3.0 GPA or higher on their last 60 hours of their bachelor’s degree course work do not have to take the GMAT. Otherwise, applicants must submit GMAT scores as well.

    Tuition: St. Leo University offers a comparably affordable online MBA program. Tuition costs are $673.15 credit hour. The total tuition cost for the program amounts to $24,233. Activity duty military members receive a discounted rate of $496 per credit hour.

  9. University of North Carolina

    Executive Summary – The brand new program from one of the top ranked business schools in the U.S. is not as pricey as it looks initially when you consider everything that’s included with tuition.

    Rankings: #20 Best Business School, U.S. News and World Report

    Program: The first class of the brand new MBA@UNC will start in the fall of 2011. The program can be completed in 2-3 years. Utilizes a blend of synchronous and asynchronous formats, with weekly online face-to-face interactions with faculty and classmates. Two weekend residencies at various locations around the globe required, with four total allowed and included in tuition. No electives or concentration available at this time.

    Admissions: Competitive, rolling admissions with quarterly intakes (July, October, January, April). Two years of professional experience, bachelor’s degree, and GMAT or GRE required.

    Tuition: $89,000 inclusive of the entire program, including all books, materials, room and board for four immersion weekends.

  10. Colorado Technical University

    Executive Summary – Colorado Technical University is a technical school, meaning its online MBA program is one that’s on the cutting edge of the latest technology and trends in business. The program emphasizes creating professional, well-rounded MBA graduates.

    Rankings: Top 10 Schools, Online MBA Rankings 2012, CEO Magazine.

    Program: Colorado Technical University offers an online MBA program with in-depth specialized. In addition to 32 credit hours of required, core coursework, students must take an additional 12 hours in 600-level business and management course that focus on a specific area. The program culminates with a Management Capstone project, which requires students to use all the knowledge they’ve gained to create an innovative report that demonstrates thorough understanding of core business concepts. Most students finish the program in 27.5 months.

    Admissions: Colorado Technical University has a very straightforward admissions process. Applicants are required to first fill out an application online. Afterwards, a CTU representative will conduct a one-on-one phone interview with the applicant to determine if she is well-suited for the program. Finally, students must submit college transcripts.

    Tuition: The total cost of tuition for the entire online MBA program at CTU is listed on their website as $28,080.

  11. Tiffin University

    Executive Summary – Tiffin University offers a solid online MBA program with several different specializations. Most notable among these concentrations is its sports management program.

    Program: Tiffin University organizes its online MBA programs into 9 different “sessions,” where each session is comprised of two courses, for a total of 18 courses. The first few sessions make up the core curriculum, with courses like Information and decision support, individual and teamwork, financial accounting, and marketing management. As the program continues, students begin taking more specialized courses that focus on their concentration. Concentrations through this online MBA program include finance, general management, healthcare management, human resource management, international business, leadership, marketing, and sports management.

    Admissions: The Tiffin University online MBA program does not require that applicants take the GMAT or GRE. Students must have at least a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who have a minimum GPA of 2.5 with at least 5 years of professional work experience will also be considered.

    Tuition: The total cost of tuition to complete the Tiffin University online MBA program is listed on its website as $25,200, not including textbooks. Each course costs $1,400.

  12. American Intercontinental University

    Executive Summary – Billing itself as the #1 “Un-Party School,” American InterContinental is a degree-granting institution with an international focus and serious degrees that “get to the point.” AIU offers an MBA program that emphasizes the globalized world of business.

    Program: AIU Online offers a robust MBA program with 9 different specializations. These specializations include accounting, finance, health care management, human resources management, international business, management, marketing, operations management, and project management. The program spans 48 credit hours, 24 of which are core courses, and 24 of which are specialized.

    Admissions: AIU offers a streamlined admissions process that’s fairly nonselective. Applicants need only submit an electronic application, along with transcripts from an accredited university. All potential students must have earned a bachelor’s degree, with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA.

    Tuition: AIU Online is an affordable option for those looking to pursue an MBA without leaving home. The university charges $582 per credit hour, meaning the tuition cost of the entire program equals about 27,936 for 48 credit hours.

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