32 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs in 2021

32 Most Affordable Online MBA Programs in 2021
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The 2019 and 2020 applications for graduate business degrees or graduate management education (GME)  increased by 2.4%, reversing the 3.1% decline in applications of the previous year. Meanwhile, to adapt to the pandemic, prospective students have been considering alternatives like online learning. Domestic candidates, for one, became more open to online learning (36%) (GMAC, 2021). The pandemic did not hinder the prospects of GME applicants but instead helped the most affordable online MBA programs, among others, to thrive.  

Here is a list of the most affordable online MBA programs to help graduate students to find the program that fits their needs best. 

Most Affordable Online MBA Programs Table of Contents

  1. What to Consider When Choosing an Online MBA Program
  2. Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

What to Consider When Choosing an Online MBA Program

In the study “What Do Online Students Need And Want From Their Masters Of Business Administration Program?” Mujtaba (2005) found that online MBA students have several recommendations, including “consistency of facilitation from course to course, integration of more interaction software with faculty and other students in the class, more involvement of faculty members in the class bulletin board on regular basis, feedback from faculty members each week, and stricter enforcement of graduate-level standards consistently in each course.”

In the same study that appears in the Journal of College Teaching & Learning, Mujtaba (2005) said “Most students appreciate candid feedback that is geared toward their personal and professional development as graduate researchers and practitioners.”

In the same vein, students opting to study online MBA ought to consider several factors before choosing which program to enroll. 

Accreditation

Checking whether a school or its program is accredited should be a major factor when deciding where and what to enroll in. International organizations certify that the school follows all important guidelines and that the MBA program is of the highest quality. Accredited MBA schools provide the best education in business, finance, accounting, and other areas. Find a school accredited by AACSB International. This is vital because online colleges are easily faked.

Curriculum and Coursework

Examining the MBA program’s curriculum is vital. Doing so helps in deciding whether a program or curriculum offers the courses needed to develop an MBA graduate’s needed competencies.

Value for money

While there are indeed online MBA cheaper than others, it is vital to compare programs’ value to the programs’ cost. The cheaper accredited MBA program is not necessarily the best option. Just the same, the most expensive MBA program is not always the best. 

Financing

It would help to find an MBA school that accepts outside funding, such as student loans, grants, or scholarships. Some online schools may also offer grants or scholarships to selected students. 

online MBA cost vs. full-time MBA cost

Instruction

The manner by which courses are taught matters. Schools vary in their instruction methods. Students must consider whether the methods match their disposition, needs, and preferences: whether it is purely online, with books to buy, or with much interaction between students and professors. 

Academic Support

Academic support is critical, especially in an online school, since it is difficult for students to get help to consider the lack of in-person interaction. It is best if schools have staff available to answer students’ queries, be it technical or curriculum-related.

Job Placement

Job placement or career advancement is typically the end to the means of taking an MBA. As such, students may want to look into whether the schools they are considering have career placement services. With such services, students will receive help in getting jobs, and the sooner they can recover their educational investment. 

Source: GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey Report 2016

Reviews

Who best can say if an institution or a program is worthwhile but its current students or alumni? Talking to current or former online MBA students is a great way to learn about the school. They are usually more upfront and honest. 

Besides, some renowned institutions may offer online courses not as rigorous as schools with both online and on-campus programs. Choosing a school with a good reputation for on-campus programming might help predict their online learning reputation, but this may not be true for all. It is always best to ask those who have experienced being in the programs.

Means to Gain Experience

Chances are, online students would never set foot on campus or meet their classmates to work with them and gain experience together. However, employers will consider applicants’ leadership and work environment experience when making hiring decisions. As such, it is best to check if programs have options for completing internships or receiving credit for work done in conjunction with studies. The more experience MBA graduates have, the better prepared they will be for the job market after graduation.

MBA programs, like any other academic endeavor, call for students to invest time, money, and energy. As such, thorough research of schools would help make sure that the choices students make are worthwhile. 

GME enrollees and online learning

Most Affordable Online MBA Programs

The Guardian notes that demand for MBA courses tends to be ‘countercyclical’ that a career break to update skills and build a professional network at business school is much less costly when a recession is imminent. In response to the pandemic, in 2020, more applications came in, and schools struggled to convert the increased applications into actual enrollments. (Choudaha, 2020)

GME offers a way out of the economic crisis with better job prospects. Despite concerns about online learning, travel, and visas leading to an increase in deferral rates (Choudaha, 2020), with international students being more likely to defer than domestic students (GMAC, 2021), online learning remains a viable option given the pandemic and economic downturn.

For those hoping to earn an MBA amidst the global health crisis, here is a list of the cheapest online MBA programs, their estimated tuition per credit hour for non-residents (under $500/credit hour), total credits, and other details. 

Source: GMAC Application Trends Survey 2021

1. Northeastern State University 

The MBA program of Northeastern State University (NSU) covers advanced topics in accounting, finance, economics, business analytics, and management. 

Location: Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Tuition: $251.00

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: 

  • Business Analytics
  • Native American Enterprises
  • General Management
  • Environmental Health and Safety Management
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Long Term Care
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Healthcare Administration

2. Georgia Southwestern State University

Georgia Southwestern State University educates students by combining world-class faculty expertise with community experience. Students learn about market ethics, values, and multicultural influences.

Location: Americus, Georgia

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $257.00

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: General Business

3. Fitchburg State University

The MBA program at Fitchburg State University can be completed in as little as 12 months. Students can graduate and begin their careers ahead of other university graduates.

Location: Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) 

Tuition: $275.00 

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: 

  • Accounting
  • Healthcare Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Supply Chain Management

4. Eastern New Mexico University

Eastern New Mexico University‘s MBA program covers finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, and business research, among others. Graduates become human resource specialists, business owners, and management analysts.

Location: Portales, New Mexico

Accreditation: ACBSP

Tuition: $297.25

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: General Business

5. Missouri State University

The Missouri State University (MSU) College of Business designed its Master of Business Administration program to meet changing business needs. It accepts applications on a rolling basis. However, it is advised to apply early as seats fill up quickly. 

Location: Springfield, Missouri

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $309.00

Total credits: 33

Concentration/s: General Business

6. University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands offers an MBA program designed for busy professionals and students juggling work and family obligations. The program’s flexibility is enhanced by several concentrations, which allow students to personalize their degrees.

Location: Williamsburg, Kentucky

Accreditation: IACBE

Tuition: $315.00 

Total credits: 37

Concentration/s: 

  • Accounting
  • Project Management
  • Strategic Management 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Healthcare Administration 
  • Marketing

7. Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University‘s MBA program is available to qualified students from any academic discipline. This flexible program has three start dates throughout the year. 

Location: Huntsville, Texas

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $320.00 

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: General Business

8. University of Central Arkansas

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) is committed to values such as innovation, creativity, and personal development. Students can choose to study either full-time or part-time to complete the program. 

Location: Conway, Arkansas

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $325.00 

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: 

  • Health Care Administration
  • Information Management
  • Finance

9. Texas Tech University

Texas Tech’s Rawls College of Business offers a 100% online MBA program. One may complete the degree as either a full-time or part-time student. Accounting, finance, leadership, and ethics are among the topics covered in these courses.  

Location: Lubbock, Texas

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $333.00 

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: 

  • Healthcare Organization Management
  • Information Technology
  • Marketing Analytics

10. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) is committed to improving lives through higher education. Its online MBA program is one of its highlights. Students are honed to become leaders in a variety of roles and occupations. 

Location: Durant, Oklahoma

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $337.00 

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: 

  • General Business 
  • Women in Leadership
  • Accounting
  • Aerospace Logistics
  • Data Analytics 
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Health Care Information Systems
  • Human Resources
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Native American Leadership 
  • Project Management
  • Safety
  • Strategic Communication

11. Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University‘s flexible MBA program combines core MBA coursework with concentrations and is designed for working professionals. All MBA core classes run for eight weeks, allowing for more flexibility and starting the program five times a year. 

Location: Hays, Kansas

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Tuition: $350.00 

Total credits: 33

Concentration/s: 

  • Agribusiness
  • Corporate Communication
  • Digital Marketing
  • Finance
  • Healthcare Management
  • Health and Human Performance/Sports Management
  • Human Resource Management (HRM)
  • Information Assurance
  • International Business
  • Leadership Studies
  • Management Information Systems
  • Marketing
  • Tourism and Hospitality Management

12. Emporia State University

Emporia State University‘s 100% online MBA program centers on best practices in business management. In this rigorous program, students gain quantitative insights into business practices, understand organizational behavior from a managerial perspective, and develop the analytical skills needed to drive key organizational decisions.

Location: Emporia, Kansas

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $363.00 

Total credits: 33

Concentration/s: 

  • Accounting 
  • Information Systems 
  • Marketing Concentration 

13. American Public University

The MBA program at American Public University prepares students for the global business world. The program has 18 concentrations, ranging from sports management to leading the digital workplace to government contracting. 

Location: Charles Town, West Virginia

Accreditation: ACBSP

Tuition: $370.00 

Total credits: 39

Concentration/s: 

  • Accounting 
  • Analytics 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Finance 
  • Global Business Management 
  • Information Technology Management 
  • Marketing 
  • Sports Management 
  • General 
  • Cybersecurity 
  • Healthcare Administration 
  • Government Contracting and Acquisition (0 semester hours)
  • Business Project Management 
  • DoD Project Management 
  • Event Planning and Management 
  • Leading the Digital Workplace 
  • Operational Crisis Management 
  • Operational Technology Management

14. Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University (SMSU) offers an MBA with several concentrations. The program focuses on hands-on experience and practical skills in sales, marketing, organization, leadership, and finance. 

Location: Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Accreditation: Network of International Business Schools (NIBS), AACSB-International

Tuition: $374.00 

Total credits: 33

Concentration/s: 

  • Accounting
  • General Management
  • Healthcare Administration

15. Chadron State College 

Chadron State College offers an MBA that one can earn entirely online. The program covers managerial accounting, corporate finance, business strategy, marketing management, high-performance leadership, organizational behavior, and the legal/social environment. 

Location: Chadron, Nebraska

Accreditation: ACBSP

Tuition: $380.00

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: 

  • Accounting
  • Digital Marketing
  • Healthcare Management

16. Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University offers a rigorous online MBA program committed to the quality of its traditional campus program minus the constraints of classroom schedules. The program has high retention, student satisfaction, and graduation rates.  

Location: Kennesaw, Georgia

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $383.00 

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: General Business

17. University of Sioux Falls Vucurevich

The University of Sioux Falls‘ MBA program offers flexibility, small class sizes, personal attention from professors, and low tuition. Each career path can be tailored to students’ needs and interests. 

Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Accreditation: IACBE

Tuition: $390.00 

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: 

  • Organizational Leadership Concentration 
  • Healthcare Concentration 
  • Business Innovation and Marketing
  • Management

18. Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest Missouri State University‘s MBA program offers five concentrations. The programs can be completed part-time or full-time online. 

Location: Maryville, Missouri

Accreditation: ACBSP

Tuition: $400.00 

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: 

  • General Business
  • Human Resource Management
  • Marketing
  • Business Analytics
  • Management

19. Longwood University

Longwood University‘s MBA program includes strategic thinking and decision-making, as well as technological advancements and insights. Students will learn about interpersonal and intergroup conflict dynamics, managerial accounting and economics, data management, information technology, entrepreneurship, teamwork, negotiation, conflict resolution, and strategic marketing, among others.

Location: Farmville, Virginia

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $407.00 

Total credits: 31

Concentration/s: 

  • General Business 
  • Data Analytics 
  • Marketing 
  • Real Estate 

20. West Texas A&M University

The MBA program at West Texas A&M University offers a range of options for students seeking a business degree. It is asynchronous. Students who do not wish to complete their program entirely online may take some courses on campus. The program is designed for working professionals and can be completed in up to six years, but most students finish in two years.

Location: Canyon, Texas

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $410.00 

Total credits: 37

Concentration/s: 

  • Computer Information Systems
  • Healthcare Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Procurement Management

21. New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University‘s MBA program is designed for working professionals who want to further their education without jeopardizing their careers. The program offers hybrid MBA courses, combining online and in-person instruction. 

Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $412.00

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: General Business

22. Lamar University

The MBA program of Lamar University is online only and takes a year to earn for full-time students. The program centers not only on theory but also on practical applications. 

Location: Beaumont, Texas

Accreditation: IACBE

Tuition: $420.86

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: 

  • Criminal Justice Management
  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Management
  • Construction Project Management
  • General Business Management
  • Marketing
  • Port Management

23. Cameron University

Cameron University School of Graduate and Professional Studies is committed to helping students succeed as MBA graduates. This MBA program is ideal for working professionals or recent bachelor’s degree graduates looking to stand out in a competitive field. 

Location: Mitchell, South Dakota

Accreditation: IACBE

Tuition: $425.00

Total credits: 33

Concentration/s: General Business

24. Dakota Wesleyan University

The MBA program at Dakota Wesleyan University provides students with a number of options for enhancing their professional abilities, obtaining credentials that fit their requirements, and doing so in a manner that is both cost-effective and applicable to their specific situation.

Location: Lawton, Oklahoma

Accreditation: ACBSP

Tuition: $425.00

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: General Business

25. William Carey University

William Carey University‘s MBA program combines management theory and decision-making. The program accepts non-business majors as well as business majors. A student’s course load will vary from 30 to 39 semester hours depending on prior business coursework. The MBA program is available 100% online.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi 

Accreditation: IACBE

Tuition: $430.00

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: General Business

26. Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University‘s vision is to provide ‘quality, comprehensive’ education to all Americans. SAU’s 4+1 program for business majors allows students to finish their BBA and MBA in five years. Graduates will be able to communicate effectively, be socially responsible citizens, think critically and solve problems, and use technology effectively in business.

Location: Magnolia, Arkansas

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $446.00

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: General Business

27. West Liberty University

West Liberty University has been educating students since 1837. Its MBA program is 12-months long with three start dates. Students complete 10 courses over a seven-week period.  

Location: West Liberty, West Virginia

Accreditation: IACBE

Tuition: $460.00

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: 

  • Forensic Accounting
  • Management
  • Healthcare Administration

28. University of North Alabama

University of North Alabama‘s (UNA) MBA and Executive MBA options provide research and experience-based learning that benefit students through the exploration of case studies, real-world business problems, and dynamic business skills, knowledge, and strategies.

Location: Florence, Alabama

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $475.00 

Total credits: 34

Concentration/s: 

  • Executive
  • Information Systems
  • Accounting
  • Sales and New Business Development
  • Finance
  • Global Business
  • Health Care Management
  • Project Management
  • Human Resource Management

29. Texas A&M University 

Texas A&M University partners with local businesses and organizations to teach current information and allow MBA students to practice in real-world situations. 

Location: Texarkana, Texas

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $478.00 

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: 

  • Energy Leadership 
  • Information Technology 
  • Supply Chain Management 

30. Southern Utah University

The MBA program at Southern Utah University allows students to develop professionally and with multiple skills. They can work with global companies or local businesses. The accelerated program allows full-time students to complete the MBA in one year if they have completed a set of prerequisite courses. The degree can be completed entirely online.

Location: Cedar City, Utah

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $485.00 

Total credits: 33

Concentration/s: 

  • General Business
  • Finance 
  • Marketing 
  • Leadership 

31. Mississippi State University

The Mississippi State University online MBA program offers flexible online courses that cover business decision analysis and competitive strategic management. The GRE is not currently required for online MBA admission.

Location: Mississippi State, Mississippi

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $489.00 

Total credits: 30

Concentration/s: General Business 

32. Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville State University‘s online MBA program allows students to focus on specific business interests. It is so designed so that students’ careers would not suffer while they advance their knowledge since the concentration is adaptable.

Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina

Accreditation: AACSB International

Tuition: $494.00

Total credits: 36

Concentration/s: 

  • Business Intelligence and Data Analytics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • General Business
  • Healthcare Management
  • International Business
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Supply Chain Management

Is an online MBA worth it?

Various institutions that offer online MBA programs at affordable prices make it easier for business students to advance their careers, especially in this time of economic downturn. 

However, whether an online MBA would be worth it depends on whether it addresses the students’ needs. While an MBA might surely provide graduates with better career opportunities, more competitive salaries, or promotions at work, students must still consider value for money.

Apart from looking at the cost of a master’s program, it is best to check the curriculum, the method of instruction, and other factors before deciding on where to enroll. Only then will an online MBA, or any degree for that matter, be worthwhile. 

 

References

  1. Choudaha, R. (2020, November 10). Reconfiguration of the Enrollment Funnel: Survey of Applications to Graduate Business Schools. Gmac.com. https://blog.gmac.com/gmac-advisor/reconfiguration-of-the-enrollment-funnel-survey-of-applications-to-graduate-business-schools
  2. GMAC. (2016). The premier provider of market intelligence. Graduate Management Admission Council. https://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/Measuring-Program-ROI/2016-alumni-perspectives-web.pdf
  3. GMAC. (2018). The Value of a Graduate Management Education Alumni Perspectives Survey 2018. Graduate Management Admission Council. https://www.gmac.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/measuring-program-roi/the-value-of-a-graduate-management-education-january-2018.pdf
  4. GMAC. (2021). The Global Demand for Graduate Management Education Application Trends Survey 2021. https://www.gmac.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/admissions-and-application-trends/2021_gmac_application_trends_survey_report_final.pdf
  5. Mujtaba, B. (2005). What Do Online Students Need And Want From Their Masters Of Business Administration Program? Journal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC), 2(6). https://doi.org/10.19030/tlc.v2i6.1835

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