Best Online Master’s Degrees in Management Programs: Guide to Online Programs for 2022

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Management Programs: Guide to Online Programs for 2022
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Since online education has become mainstream, business degrees have gained popularity as areas of study. In fact, in 2020, 29% and 26% of online undergraduate and graduate students, respectively, have enrolled in online business degree programs (Wiley, 2020). Career- and salary-wise, this seems to be a great choice.

Jobs for operations specialties managers are estimated to grow by 9% from 2019 to 2029 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). This is faster compared to the average growth of all occupations, which is pegged at only 4%. Moreover, the median annual salary is $125,040 as of May 2020. This is $83,090 more than the median annual salary of all occupations.

But what if you do not have the time and resources to take face-to-face classes? Also, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be far from over. Would going the online route be the same as the traditional one? In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will give you an idea of what to expect in an online master’s degree in management program, its admission requirements, and also how much it would cost. In this way, you will know whether an online education option is a good way to go.

Online Master’s Degree in Management Table of Contents

Can you get a degree completely online?

Yes, there are many reputable universities that offer online master’s degree in management programs throughout the United States. These include institutions like Villanova University, Boston University, Michigan State University, and Arizona State University.

The main target populations of online education programs are adult students returning to school after an absence (79%), transfer students (61%), first-generation students (45%), military (42%), and students with disabilities (29%) (BestColleges, 2020). So, if you belong to any of these categories, an online master’s program can be a good fit for you.

Moreover, the business field looks to be the most preferred field to study online. It topped 2020’s list of leading fields of study among graduate degree programs. An estimated 29% of business graduate students are enrolled in a distance learning program (Wiley, 2020). It is followed by the education and teaching field (20%), and STEM disciplines (13%). So, there are many good options, in terms of programs, around.

Source: BestColleges, 2020

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

The most recent online education statistics show that online degrees have been getting more acceptance. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably accelerated both the adoption of online learning and the acceptance of online credentials by workplaces. Also, it is good to note that HR leaders seemed to have already warmed up to online credentials even way before the pandemic hit.

In 2018, a study by Gallagher found that 71% of HR leaders have personally hired candidates with online credentials or degrees. Also, 64% of HR leaders believed that the need for continuous learning will create a bigger demand for more credentials and higher levels of education. And, 52% believe that the most advanced degrees will be completed online.

This, however, just reflects the general view. There are localities in the U.S. that have not really warmed up to online degrees. In the 2020 article “The Acceptability of Online Degrees for Obtaining Entry-Level Employment in the Accounting Profession: A Kansas Study,” published in the Global Journal of Accounting and Finance, Cole J. Engel showed such was the case in Kansas. He found that “online degrees are less acceptable than traditional degrees for obtaining entry-level employment in the accounting profession.” While he cautioned education leaders to re-consider investing more resources into online degree programs in accounting, it does not mean that the general acceptance of online education across the broad spectrum in education should be ignored.

So, it’s best to find out how an online degree is perceived in your target area.

HR leaders warming up to online degrees

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

Online degrees should be recognized all over the world. The rule of thumb is the more reputable the school, the more likely it is that an online degree earned from that school is going to be recognized by other schools or workplaces. But, just to be sure, you might want to check whether your target program or school is one of the accredited institutions in the United States.

You can easily check by looking it up in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) directory. Or, you can contact your school and ask directly.

It is good to note, however, that the general trajectory is that online, digitally-enabled degree programs will be more accepted in the future. According to recent trends in higher education, institutions are incorporating more digitalization, including online learning in their programs. Some of the trends include adopting platforms for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and even using virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) in course delivery and design. This also moved institutions to roll out online degree programs on education technology.

In 2020, the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many schools to adopt new technologies. This is reflected by the 130 investment deals made for American EdTech companies, raising $2.2 billion in investment capital (Wan, 2021). The year also saw an increase of 23% in deals and 29% in investment capital compared to 2019. This is thus a sign that American EdTech businesses and educational institutions are bullish on digitalization.

So, it is not at all crazy to think that online degrees and credentials will get more recognized in the future. Making this bet would put you in great company. The largest funding deals include those of reputable companies like Coursera ($130M) and Udacity ($75M debt funding).

Source: Wan, 2021

Online vs. Traditional Master’s Program in Management

The main difference between online and traditional master’s programs in management is in the course delivery. Going online would largely favor working professionals who find it next to impossible to attend face-to-face classes. Online degree programs offer them more flexibility as these could be completed at their own pace.

However, course delivery may not be the same between schools and/or programs. Specifically, within online degree programs in management, certain online degree courses in management can be taught synchronously while others are delivered in an asynchronous fashion. This means that in some courses, there might be professors who prefer scheduled live classes while others would just want to do recordings.

There also might be courses that will have a hybrid setup where, once in a while, students are required to be physically present for activities like seminars, crash courses, and the like.

So, if you are gunning to complete a program completely online, then it is best to make sure that there are no additional on-site requirements.

Is an online degree cheaper?

Generally, online degree programs are offered cheaper than their traditional counterparts. This is because online students will not use up a lot of school resources. Also, the faculty load will be lighter as well. This will be more the case when instructors opt for asynchronous classes and just give out recordings and course materials. Of course, there can be scheduled one-on-one consultations–something that traditional on-campus classes do not typically have.

Online education has pretty much revolutionized the cost of quality education. As pointed out by Gallagher and Palmer (2020), there are many forward-thinking institutions that offer programs with discounted tuition costs. Such institutions include Georgia Tech and the University of Illinois. The latter, in fact, offers its entire M.B.A. program for only $22,000 online. The former, on the other hand, offers its pioneering online Master’s in Computer Science degree program at a very low price of $7,000.

And, of course, students would also be able to save on additional costs like board and lodging, transportation, and other personal needs one would require when living on campus.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

In theory, an online degree can be as good as a regular degree, especially if it’s just a version of an already established program. If so, they would have the same faculty, same requirements, and the same level of difficulty to complete. But, of course, not every program–online or traditional–is of the same quality.

Again, the rule of thumb is the more reputable the school, the better chance that you would have a quality education. But to be sure, one can always ask current students or alumni about the quality of a program’s offerings and the expertise of the faculty.

Also, it is very likely that a program that just recently extended its offering online would find many hurdles, especially with the teacher-student interaction dynamics. Hence, such an online program is not very likely to be on par with the quality of its regular face-to-face version.

Zimmerman (2020), as cited by Krishnamurty in “The future of business education: A commentary in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic” pointed out that never in history had entire student bodies been abruptly transitioned from face-to-face to distance instruction using digital technologies. Indeed,  instructional designers are still coming up with “developing coherent student experiences that are built on sound instructional design principles.” Meaning, universities have still been on the catch-up. This is especially true for those who are just in the ‘stop-gap measure’ phase of just trying to provide what Krishnamurty calls instructional continuity. Faculty in these programs have yet to build proficiency and expertise in teaching online.

So, just like double-checking on the subject expertise of your target program’s faculty, it is also prudent to consider their expertise in online education delivery.

leading distance learning institutions in the U.S., 2021

How much does an Online Master’s Program in Management cost?

A quality online master’s degree program in management can cost between $302 to north of $1,800 per credit. That is from $10,872 to $67,176 for the cost of whole attendance (BestColleges, 2021). And, it is from the top online business management programs in the country. Also, as mentioned, the University of Illinois only offers its entire M.B.A. program for $22,000. It is also one of the schools that you should have on your shortlist.

One should also keep in mind to check in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. As you may already know, out-of-state tuition is typically more expensive and can cost 5x more than in-state tuition.

Is an online management degree worth it?

Career-wise, a job in management can be definitely worth it. As a manager, you will acquire various problem-solving skills in both the social and the system side of operations. And, depending on your other specializations, you can even get lateral transfers or get hired from one industry to another. Also, if you have the right talent, skills, and attitude, you will be in a position to leave a mark, not only on your company and potentially in your industry and in people’s lives.

Financially, managers are paid well. The average salary of all management occupations is $99,872 as of 2019 (Data USA, 2021). The average national salary is only $55,524. Also, as of 2019, management professionals make up 16 million of the American workforce. And, the growth rate of the occupation is also faster than average. Currently, the one-year growth rate is 7.02%.

Source: Data USA, 2021

What are the requirements of an Online Master’s Degree Program in Management?

The same requirements go for an online master’s degree program in management with a traditional degree. These include a bachelor’s diploma and other general requirements. Here is a list of the typical requirements that you will need for enrollment.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Minimum GPA (varies)
  • Standardized Test(s) (varies)
  • Work Experience (varies)

General Requirements

  • Recommendation Letters
  • Application and Processing Fees
  • Statement of Purpose
  • CV/Resume
  • TOEFL/IELTS for International Students

What are the Technological Requirements of Students for Online Learning?

Online students, at the least, need a decent internet connection and a good working PC. However, for those who are going to be taking synchronous classes, they would likely need more hardware and software tools. So, having a good quality headset or a standalone microphone would help together with a good PC camera. Also, other students who like to keep work and school separate should invest in dedicated devices for school like a tablet or even a laptop. In this way, they can compartmentalize their files better.

Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Program in Management

There are two main types of master’s degrees in management: Master’s of Arts and Master’s of Science. The latter targets students who have related degrees like business or economics. On the other hand, the former targets all other graduates holding different degrees. However, there is seemingly no difference between both of them as they are graduate programs for management (Graf, 2020). Moreover, there is no distinguishable difference when it comes to entry requirements.

Common Courses to Expect

Foundations of Management. Students get to explore the basics of management with considerable depth. They will not only look into different management areas like finance and marketing but they will be introduced to various management techniques across different industries and settings (BestColleges, 2021).

Resource Management. This course teaches students how they can align resources to organizational goals. Types of resources covered will include HR and finance. Techniques such as SWOT and cost-benefit analysis will be taught.

Leadership. Good management ultimately requires leadership skills. Many programs offer different leadership courses, from those focusing on entrepreneurship to change management. The latter is highly valuable in today’s landscape because of the fast rate of change in industries.

Management Research. Research courses will teach students both the qualitative and quantitative methods for gathering and analyzing data in business. This introduces them to how they can use them for strategic decision-making (BestColleges, 2021). . They will also get to understand the different tools, from surveys and focus groups to digital software tools.

Business Ethics. In this course, students will familiarize themselves with the right business policies and practices, especially those involving controversial subjects. These include insider trading, corporate social responsibility, bribery, and so on (Twin & Drury, 2021).

business is a popular field of study

Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Program in Management

Enrolling in a graduate program is no joke. It will not only cost a considerable amount of money but you will also be spending a lot of time working for your degree. So, it is best to find the right program that will give you the best advantages in the job market in the future. And, you have to consider many things outside of just the accreditation of your program. We will discuss the most crucial ones in this section.

The first thing, however, is finding an available program in your location. This is crucial, firstly, because in-state and out-of-state tuition rates are different. The latter is usually priced higher. Thus, you have to find a program that matches your budget. But you should also check whether you are enrolling in a fully online program or a hybrid one.

A hybrid program usually costs more. There will be in-person activities like crash courses, seminars, and even lectures. Additional activities like business games or field research work may also be required. Thus, you need to take these into account, not only for your budget but also for the time that you will spend.

Furthermore, you should also look into the expertise of the faculty. Management is a very vast professional and research field. The typical career path has many areas and can branch out to many more opportunities. You can work in many different industries and settings. For instance, you can specialize in PR management, logistics management, or even sports management (of course, further studies may be required). Moreover, you can even pivot and teach business as well. The path for you, however, can largely depend on who you have as mentors. So, choose the best program that fits your career goals.

Once you have found a program with the best faculty available for your objectives, you should also check on the support services. This does not only include basic access to library materials like books and journals. You should also check on the quality of your target program or school’s networking. It is best to choose an institution that has a good working relationship with research entities, business organizations, and leaders in your field. In this way, you will be able to connect with them faster for both research and employment opportunities.

Management as a Vocation

The management profession, one can argue, is as old as the human race. The skills being developed in the discipline are important in all our ventures—from managing a tribe’s human and tangible resources to disrupting an industry. It is predicated upon optimizing available assets to reach desired goals, which pretty much, have been maximizing utility however defined.

And, it is very essential in contemporary society, where change is the only thing constant—however cliche that might sound. Management professionals today are tasked to help navigate an organization through the dynamic ups and downs of markets and industries. They are entrusted with both the responsibility and burden of care and command. They are essential to keeping the wheels of our institutions working, and to keep our way of life intact and thriving.

Put simply, management students vie for leadership positions—something that is not easily awarded but earned. Thus, training whether online or in-person should be taken seriously as a lot of things are at stake. You would not only be working on your financial stability and job security but also on those who take the journey with you. So, when setting up your career goals within management, keep these things in mind.



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