Best Online MBA Programs for 2021

Your Guide to Career, Curriculum and Education

Earning an MBA is a great accomplishment – one that takes hard work, dedication, and of course, time. With an online MBA, students can explore the options offered, request info from universities, make their decisions, apply, receive financial aid and other support, schedule each class, study with professionals, engage other students in social interactions and network, and earn an MBA in whatever specific concentration they choose, all while studying in the comfort of their own home.

As you grow your business career, an MBA is required for more and more positions. It might be the logical next step for you if your success and expertise don't seem to gain you the opportunity you've been waiting for. With an online MBA, you can do everything including attend classes while still working, allowing you to earn a living, live your life, and advance your career all at the same time without ever setting foot on campus.

Why Should You Get an Online MBA

An online MBA can set you above the rest of the competition in the job hunt. With a Master of Business Administration, you can expect to earn more than your peers with a bachelor’s degree at all levels. Businesses want their managerial staff to have proven they can do the job. Whether your focus in academics is business analytics, organizational communication, financial managment, international business strategy, data based decision making, strategic innovation, or project management, you will have the tools to succeed in whatever area of industry interests you.

Here’s a look at the average salaries by education and experience level for MBA earners versus those with a bachelor’s degree:

What can you do with this degree?

No matter what kind of career you pursue in the business world, an MBA is invaluable. Many companies will not hire executives who have not earned this degree.

  • Chief Financial Officer
    Salary: $183,000

    Small, midsize, and large corporations
    A CFO has responsibility for the company’s past, present, and future financial situation. Economic forecasting, the company’s capital structure, contract negotiation, and controllership are all part of CFO duties.

    Ensure hospitals and healthcare facilities operate in the most efficient and effective manner. The CFO oversees record management, budgeting, and the hiring of major executives, among other duties.

    Ensure the company meets it financial and growth targets. With startups, the CFO is responsible for initial public offerings. CFOs will raise money from venture capitalists and other investors.

  • Operations Manager
    Salary: $84,000

    Companies offering products and services
    Oversees production and works to ensure the company runs as efficiently as possible in multiple departments. The actual role will vary depending on the organization.

    Generally, operations managers are in charge of managing quality assurance programs and leading the search for new technologies to increase production and efficiency.

    Local government
    The operations manager working for a local government oversees day to day operations of the governing body. Duties include managing government contracts, inventory management, establishment of policies, procedures and goals for different departments, and material request and personnel management.

    Computer systems design and similar technical services
    Responsible for operation of the mainframe as well as peripheral information systems and equipment, along with scheduling equipment usage. Also manages staffing and employees’ day to day performance. Keeps track of budget and ensures goals are met.

  • Business Development Director
    Salary: $156,000

    Small, midsize, and large corporations
    The business development director looks for new business opportunities, identifying and assessing such prospects. They also design and implement plans to increase existing business.

    Local and state governments
    Business development directors working in government look for ways to generate job growth in their community and jurisdictions and pursue other economic development opportunities.

    Nonprofit organizations
    When working in the non-profit sector, a business development director seeks ways to raise funds for the organization’s work in an efficient manner, and oversees fundraising events in general.

  • Marketing Director
    Salary: $121,000

    Small, mid-size and large corporations
    Develop and implement the company’s marketing campaign. Strategize marketing for a company’s products and services.

    Oversee advertising and brand management. Provides guidance to the marketing department.

    Company sales departments
    Marketing directors are often directors of sales and marketing in companies, so the job will also entail overseeing product development and sales strategies.

    Nonprofit organizations
    Larger nonprofit organizations may require marketing directors, whose job focuses on promotion of the particular nonprofit’s mission rather than on product sales.

  • Senior Financial Analyst
    Salary: $85,000

    Financial services firms
    Track stocks, bonds, ETFs and other financial instruments, making recommendations on whether to buy, sell or hold an investment based on research. Analysts meet with company management and investment teams to discover investment strategies

    Business and financial publications
    Financial analysts for business and financial publications also track securities, but make recommendations based on their target audiences.

    Provide advice to clients
    Independent financial analysts provide advice to clients analyze a company’s business needs in line with market conditions. They create detailed financial models for clients and prepare financial reports for company executives and shareholders.

Types of Online MBA Degrees

  • MBA in Business Administration
    Average Salary: $84,000
    Length: 1-2 years fulltime, 3-5 years part-time

    An MBA in business administration is valuable even for those not employed in business per se. It can also useful for many governmental and public sector positions. Business schools generally want MBA to have some professional experience before pursuing the degree, rather than heading to graduate school directly after college. It is the best known and most widely earned of the MBAs. Individuals receiving MBAs not only earn higher salaries, but are considered for higher positions and acquire the skills to start their own companies. It’s the combination of an education and experience in the real world that makes an MBA such a desirable degree.

  • MBA in Finance
    Average Salary: $110,000
    Length: 1-2 years fulltime, 3-5 years part-time

    If you want to work specifically in the world of money, an MBA in Finance can take you to the top. While you’ll take the basic courses found within the traditional MBA curriculum, you’ll also take classes focusing on financial topics and an elective or two. Such courses may include investment management and securities or financial and portfolio analysis. Statistics and economics are also emphasized with this degree. Those with an MBA in finance may secure high level positions or move up in banks, mutual fund companies, hedge funds, investment companies, consulting firms, or any office of a large corporation in need of those with sophisticated financial skills. CFOs of major corporations generally have an MBA in Finance.

  • Executive MBAs
    Average Salary: $84,000
    Length: 2-3 years part-time Classes are accelerated.

    Known as EMBAs, executive MBAs are designed for those who already have at least five years of professional managerial experience in their fields. EMBA candidates continue to work at these jobs while earning their degree. In most cases, the employer pays all or at least a main part of the tuition costs, making an EMBA a good choice for those who don’t want to accumulate student debt. In return for paying tuition, you are usually required to stay with your employer for a certain amount of time after receiving your degree. A survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council found those with EMBAs were the “most satisfied” with the education they received.

  • MBA in Marketing
    Average Salary: $102,000
    Length: 2 years fulltime, 3-5 years part-time

    Those pursuing an MBA in marketing will learn a variety of skills, since marketing management duties are so varied. Candidates focus on marketing and operations management, along with sales force management, consumer and brand strategies, brining new products to market and marketing on an international scale. Students may specialize in areas such as e-commerce, advertising, and digital or social media marketing. Such specializations give the candidate a competitive edge when they seek opportunities in their fields. An MBA in marketing offers flexibility and application across many industries, making it one of the most versatile MBA degrees.


While the MBA curriculum depends on the type of MBA and the school, there are core courses that every student will take.

  • Finance:
    Finance courses emphasize financial accounting, valuation methods, capital budgeting, and analysis techniques.
  • Business Ethics:
    Students must differentiate between ethical and unethical business practices, and the ethical responsibilities of the business executive in the corporate setting.
  • Human Resource Management:
    The course focuses on personnel management, and includes employment law, recruitment, interviewing, hiring, and employee discipline.
  • Microeconomics:
    Successful business people must understand consumer behavior at the most basic level. Microeconomics emphasizes economic and technical efficiencies.
  • Marketing
    Students learn about buyer behavior, pricing, promotion, placement, advertising, and product strategies.
  • Operations:
    This course deals with inventory management, supply chain management, product design, and quality control.

Who should consider getting this degree

  • Anyone looking for career advancement in the business world should consider obtaining an MBA. That holds true whether you want to continue pursuing your current career path, or are looking for other options. If the former, an MBA can help you move up in your company. If the latter, the degree gives you additional options for pursuing a career in a different field, and you can tailor the program to reflect the education you’ll need in another industry.
  • If you have a dream job that requires an MBA, you’ll need the degree to fulfill your goals. When you have a clear direction, and know exactly what type of MBA you’ll require to achieve it, you are one step ahead of the game.
  • If you want to earn more money, consider earning an MBA. Business school graduates almost all report higher incomes after receiving their MBA. The lack of an MBA can hinder you in your career and salary prospects.
  • If your employer will pay for your online MBA, take advantage of this offer. Your employer knows the skills needed in the company, and paying for your education is one way of retaining a good employee like yourself knowing the benefits your knowledge will provide to the bottom line. An investment in your education also gives you greater job security.
  • When you’re considering starting your own business, an MBA is invaluable. During the course of your studies, you will learn everything you need to know about launching a new venture. When you have an MBA under your belt and the knowledge you’ve acquired, your new business is far more likely to prove successful than if you tried to start a similar business without the degree. For one, investors are more interested in putting their money in start-ups begun by those with an advanced business degree.

How to choose the right program

  • Any online MBA program you consider must have the proper accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is the top accreditation, and many companies will not pay for non-AACSB courses.
  • Look for an online MBA program with a strong faculty. Check the program’s website to learn more about the professor’s background, degrees and professional experience.
  • Online MBA programs offer flexibility that bricks and mortar schools cannot. However, it is wise to check out the type of course delivery system each program offers, as anything less than 24/7 access may prove detrimental to your ability to take classes when you have work and family commitments.
  • How long do you want to return to school? Choose the program that offers the right timeframe for completion for your needs, whether that is one or four years.
  • Does an online school offers students the same resources as those enrolled in on-campus MBA programs? Look into this aspect of a school offering both distance and in-person learning carefully.
  • Does the school offer opportunities for networking, even though it is online? Many online schools provide video conferencing for career help, online libraries and use other methods to connect distance learning students with each other and alumni.
  • Are there opportunities for internships or group projects that enhance your value to a potential employer? Look into whether you might receive credit for work you are currently engaged in.


Most MBA students rely on scholarships to finance at least part of their degree. The following online schools are just an example of the type of MBA scholarships available to qualifying candidates.

  • Saint Leo University
    offers a scholarship worth up to $6,000 for new, online MBA students. Eligible students must meet all academic, admission and program requirements, as well as having achieved a minimum 3.25 GPA in their accredited undergraduate or graduate program. Official transcripts are required for submission.
  • Kelley School of Business at Indiana University
    offers merit-based scholarships for its online MBA students. The Admissions Committee considers the scholarship aspect while reviewing admissions, so there is no need for file a separate application. Scholarships are not based on financial need but on GMAT scores, academic performance, professional experience and the strength of the application.
  • The University of Miami’s online MBA program
    offers scholarships worth potentially up to 25 percent of tuition.
  • Babson College’s online MBA program
    offers scholarships, grants and fellowships to qualifying applicants.
  • Anaheim University
    offers two online MBA students full merit-based scholarships annually. Besides meeting academic requirements, applicants must complete a 1,000 word essay outlining how they feel the university will benefit them. All applicants must consider employment by the electronic device company Ferrotec, although receiving the scholarships does not guarantee employment with the company.
  • Northcentral University
    offers 10 online MBA students the full tuition President’s Scholarships each year. Applicants must submit an essay about why they want to attend Northcentral University and what they plan to do once they have earned their MBA.

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources