Most Affordable Online Business Schools & MBA Programs (2020-2021)

Earning an MBA can be an expensive proposition, with many programs costing $100,000 or more for tuition alone, plus fees, room, and board. Add to this the need to stop working to earn the degree and the cost skyrockets.

In addition, student loan debt is becoming a crisis. In the U.S. student loan debt has reached more than $1.5 trillion (FRED, SLOAS 2019). Part of the problem is the rising cost of higher education.

Another issue is that students do not realize how much the debt they are taking on is going to cost them in the end with interest, especially on private loans. A study done by Lendkey Technologies (cited on Yahoo! Finance in April 2019) found that 49 percent of borrowers didn’t know what their debt obligations would be, including monthly payments when the loans come due.

Without the proper understanding of the future debt strain, students are taking on more debt than they will be able to pay back given their potential earnings. This can lead to financial stress, delayed home buying, and delays in starting a family. In addition to these repercussions, Huffington Post pointed out that student loan debt is leading to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. In fact, of those surveyed:

  • 10 percent of people say student loan debts are their top worry
  • 65 percent of those with student loans lose sleep from the stress
  • 67 percent have “physical symptoms of anxiety due to the stress from their student loan debt”

Yet another point to consider is the income potential of earning an MBA. Consider the following Bureau of Labor and Statistics data (May 2019):

  • The national mean annual wage for all earners in management occupations was $122,480.
  • Managers of companies and enterprises constitute 19.87 percent of the industry’s employment, and the annual mean wage is $152,320. This is an average hourly wage of $73.23.
  • Under the industry “Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities” the annual mean wage was $190,690. This is an average hourly wage of $91.68.
  • In the “Monetary Authorities-Central Bank” industry, the annual mean wage was $181,360. This comes out to an average hourly wage of $87.19.

The question remains: what can business professionals do to advance their careers and earning income potential while avoiding the massive debt load and the ensuing stress? The answer: find an affordable, online program that can give them the flexibility to continue working and living at home, while earning an excellent MBA education.

Plus, COVID-19 has ushered in some unusual opportunities. With GMAT requirements being waived at top-notch institutions and low interest rates, right now is an extraordinary time to apply for an online MBA program.

Explore online MBA programs ranked by affordability for the 2020-2021 school year.

These rankings are based on tuition data BSchools.org collected in 2020 from 315 online MBA programs. Tuition information is as current as possible, being taken from the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school years as published by each institution.

Most Affordable Online MBA Programs (2020-2021)

There are several affordable online MBA programs for those seeking an MBA degree. Most of the programs are accredited by a reputable organization (AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE) and are 100 percent online. Let’s look at the 20 most affordable online MBA programs ranked by overall cost. Please note that when a cost range was indicated, the average was used.1University of Saint Mary One-Year Online MBAView Full Profile

The University of Saint Mary, located in Leavenworth, Kansas, offers an affordable online MBA with six concentrations: marketing and advertising, general management, finance, human resources management, leadership and organizational health, and healthcare management.

Taking two courses per eight-week session, students can complete the online MBA in just one year. The rigorous schedule requires dedication to balancing work, education, and family life. The curriculum focuses on corporate responsibility, effective decision-making in business, critical thinking skills, and how workplace ethics affect the business itself, the community, and global business.

Students complete a capstone course on business policy and ethics. Concentration courses are hands-on and interactive featuring real-world case studies, videos, possible business scenarios, and tools for personal assessment. Required courses may include global management, organizational management, managerial economics, and marketing management. The Saint Mary MBA is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

Cost per credit: $625 ($595 + $30 distance learning fee per credit)
Number of credits: 33 credits (beginning fall 2020)
Total cost: $20,625 + fees

2Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Online MBAView Full Profile

Topping our list is the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota accelerated online MBA with a general pathway or one of three specializations: sustainability and environmental management, social media management and marketing, and data analytics.

Students who pursue the social media management and marketing MBA concentration are prepared to take the certification exam as a NISM Social Media Strategist. Graduates have skills in applying ethics in the workplace, effective communication, and organizational improvement. As an accelerated program, this 100 percent online MBA can be completed in 18 months or more.

Although no business work experience is required, five years of general work experience are required or acceptable GMAT test scores. The degree is offered asynchronously through Engage and includes several interactive tools such as podcast discussions, video conferencing, and discussion boards.

Cost per credit: $690/credit
Number of credits: 30 credits
Total cost: $20,700 + fees

3Utica College Online MBAView Full Profile

Utica College offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general MBA or one of seven specializations: data analytics, cybersecurity, cyber policy, insurance and risk management, healthcare management, entrepreneurship, and finance and accounting.

Offering asynchronous learning through the Engage Learning Management System (LMS), the program also offers opportunities for interaction through projects and discussions, online video conferencing, and other tools.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and two or more years of work experience to apply. The program can be completed part-time in two years or less, and students complete business core courses, two capstone courses, and all specialization courses. Core courses may include data-driven decision-making, financial fluency, the global consumer, and principles and practices of leadership. The Utica MBA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Utica College also offers 100 percent online MBA in economic crime and fraud management. Combining business and fraud management, students learn how to use fraud management tools and technology to identify and prevent fraud. In addition, students in this MBA focus on leadership decision-making, application of business concepts in managing technology programs, the use of data intelligence, quantitative analysis, and critical thinking.

As an education partner with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), students benefit from tuition discounts as well as preparation for Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certification. The degree program also prepares students for the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exam. Courses in this unique degree may include legal and regulatory issues for fraud management, advanced fraud investigation and analysis, management for fraud prevention and detection, and seminar in fraud management.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and two or more years of work experience to apply; however, experience in the field of fraud is not required. The program can be completed part-time in two years or less. The Utica MBA in economic crime and fraud management is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Please note that this program track is $855 per credit.

Cost per credit: $700/credit
Number of credits: 30 credits
Total cost: $21,000 + fees

4Concordia University St. Paul Online MBAView Full Profile

Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers an affordable 100 percent online MBA with a general track (36 credits) or two specializations: healthcare management (42 credits) and healthcare compliance (47 credits). Asynchronous courses last seven weeks each and provide for maximum flexibility for working professionals. As well, the application process is streamlined and simple.

The Concordia online general MBA can be completed in about two years by taking one course at a time, while the specializations may take a bit longer. Students may enroll in a unique program titled the MBA Mentorship and Managerial Application Portfolio (MAP) program in which a faculty member takes on the role of a personal business coach, working with skill sets and building a professional portfolio.

Courses cover topics such as global economics, human resource management, organizational leadership, managerial finance, accounting, legal issues, decision-making, research, marketing, and design.

Cost per credit: $625
Number of credits: 36 to 47 credits
Total cost: $22,500 to $29,375 + fees

5Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Online MBAView Full Profile

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers a 100 percent online MBA with 29 concentrations from accounting to environmental compliance to international business.

Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), this is one of the most affordable MBAs in the nation. It can be completed in just 15 months taking two courses per term. With the variety of concentrations, business professionals can choose the path that best fits their career goals.

The faculty includes experienced business professionals and the online experience is student-focused throughout the program and beyond. Boasting a hands-on environment with discussion questions, integrative assignments, group projects, and a final capstone course, students graduate prepared to enter higher level business positions in the workplace.

Cost per credit: $627/credit
Number of credits: 36 credits
Total cost: $22,572 + fees

6Maryville University Online MBAView Full Profile

Maryville University offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general path or one of nine concentrations, including human resource management, marketing, project management, financial services, management, information technology, accounting, cybersecurity, and health administration.

Focusing on real-world issues, the hands-on curriculum allows students to gain experience with current problems and scenarios. Maryville offers a large network of business connections with companies around the world, helping graduates to advance their careers. The general pathway can be completed in as little as one year and the concentrations take about 16 months.

Students complete core courses, concentration courses, and a final capstone. Core courses may include business ethics, global business and accounting for managers. The online experience is collaborative and student-focused, offering e-portfolios, conferencing, chat, and other online communication tools. The Maryville online MBA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Cost per credit: $714/credit
Number of credits: 36 to 39 credits
Total cost: $25,704 to $27,846 + fees

7Jacksonville University Online MBAView Full Profile

Jacksonville University offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or a concentration in management. With flexible schedules, students can complete this MBA in one year on an accelerated track at two courses per term or two years at a part-time pace of one course per term.

The Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University boasts an alumni network of over 11,000 graduates. Students who do not have a bachelor’s degree in business must complete four foundational courses in addition to the required curriculum.

Core courses may include competing through innovation and information technology, strategic marketing in a digital economy, competing in the global economy, and managing production and service operations. Management concentration courses include strategic HR management, teamwork and organizational change, and responsible leadership. The Jacksonville MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $800/credit
Number of credits: 36 to 39 credits
Total cost: $28,800 to $31,200 + fees

8Winthrop University Online MBAView Full Profile

The Winthrop University College of Business Administration also offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or one of three concentrations: marketing, strategic leadership, and sports marketing and revenue generation. In order to foster finance, leadership, management, marketing, and organizational behavior skills, the Winthrop MBA curriculum focuses on communication, globalization, analytics, and technology.

The online learning experience is asynchronous for flexibility, yet includes hands-on activities such as case studies, research projects, and interactive assignments. Students take 27 core credits and nine credits of electives, and the degree can be completed in two years taking one course every seven weeks. Those pursuing the strategic leadership concentration must have five years professional work experience. The Winthrop online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $780/credit
Number of credits: 36 credits
Total cost: $28,080 + fees

9Norwich University Online MBAView Full Profile

Norwich University offers an online MBA with a general track or one of six concentrations including finance, organizational leadership, construction management, project management, supply chain management and logistics, and energy management. The program is offered one course at a time, allowing students to delve deeply into the course material. Core courses include managerial finance, strategic marketing and operations management, and strategic resources management.

Students can complete the MBA in 18 to 24 months. Concentrations require completion of an independent research project and all students must take a comprehensive MBA exam at the end of the program. The program is immediately applicable to real-world situations through the use of case-studies. A one-week residency is required in June following or concurrent with the final course, where students complete a time of networking, learning, receiving awards, and participating in a graduation ceremony. The Norwich online MBA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Cost per credit: $808/credit
Number of credits: 36 credits
Total cost: $29,088 + fees and travel expenses to and from the one week residency

10Washington State University Online MBAView Full Profile

The Washington State University Carson College of Business offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or one of four concentrations: marketing, international business, hospitality business management, and finance.

This degree focuses on formulation of a business strategy from various business disciplines, the use of analytical tools and techniques, the identification of applicable data sources, leadership theory, and the ethical implications of doing business. Core courses may include managerial leadership and productivity, strategy formulation and organizational design, administrative control, and information systems analysis. The program can be completed in 22 to 29 months.

Students without a business background may need to complete additional foundational coursework. Students also complete a capstone project and deliver a final presentation. The Washington State MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $834/credit
Number of credits: 36 credits
Total cost: $30,024 + fees

11Widener University Online MBAView Full Profile

The Widener University School of Business offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or one of two concentrations: healthcare management and business process management. The program focuses on team-building, ethics, legal skills, innovation, and organizational leadership skills.

The online learning experience is collaborative including discussion boards, group projects, email, chat, instant messaging, and some synchronous activities. Students take 24 core credits and nine credits of electives, with a culminating capstone course. The degree can be completed in 18 to 24 months taking one course every seven weeks. The Widener MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $1,034/credit
Number of credits: 33 credits
Total cost: $34,122 + fees

12The University of Scranton Online MBAView Full Profile

The University of Scranton Kania School of Management offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or one of eight concentrations: human resources, healthcare management, enterprise resource planning, accounting, finance, international business, business analytics, and operations management.

Working from a flex curriculum, students have a great deal of choice in the core courses and electives they complete. The program includes a cornerstone and capstone course, along with elective courses. In addition, students may earn up to two specializations within the 36-credit program. The degree can be completed one course at a time in two years, but students may take up to six years. The Scranton MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $965/credit
Number of credits: 36 credits
Total cost: $34,740 + fees

13Ohio University Online MBAView Full Profile

The Ohio University College of Business offers an online MBA with a general track or one of four concentrations: finance, healthcare, executive management, and business analytics. The program coursework is 100 percent online and includes one weekend on-campus workshop. Areas of instruction include innovation, strategic leadership, professional development, and entrepreneurship. Applicants must have two or more years work experience to apply.

The online learning experience is application-based with real-world examples and case studies that can be applied to both classroom and work situations. Some live sessions require attendance at specific times. Students take 26 core credits and nine credits of electives, including a capstone course. The degree can be completed in two years taking one course every seven weeks, with two sessions per semester. The Ohio University online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $1,047/credit
Number of credits: 35 credits
Total cost: $36,645 + fees

14Rider University Online MBAView Full Profile

Rider University offers a fully online MBA with a general track or one of three concentrations: business analytics, finance, or global business. Located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, the Rider online MBA offers a collaborative learning environment through small class sizes, mentoring programs, one-on-one focused faculty access, and interaction with corporate executives. As well, faculty post questions each week for discussion, expecting students to log in daily to participate in online discussions.

Rider offers six start dates and the online MBA can be completed in less than two years. Those without a prior business degree may need to take up to an additional 18 credits. Courses may include strategic accounting for managers, operations and supply management, executive communications, information technology management, and legal and ethical aspects of management. The online MBA requires 36 credits for the general track and 39 credits with a concentration.

The Rider online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $1,020/credit
Number of credits: 36 to 39 credits
Total cost: $36,720 to $39,780 + fees

15University of Alabama Birmingham Online MBAView Full Profile

The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) Collat School of Business offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or one of four concentrations: finance, health services, management information systems, and marketing. Students can complete the degree in six part-time semesters (two years at two courses per semester). The program can be completed in one year on a full-time basis. The online MBA requires 36 credits for the general track and 39 credits with a concentration.

The online learning environment is completely asynchronous for maximum flexibility; however, the program is also cohort-based to foster relationships through online interaction. The UAB online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $1,088/credit
Number of credits: 36 to 39 credits
Total cost: $39,168 to $42,432 + fees

16University of Dayton MBA@DaytonView Full Profile

The University of Dayton School of Business Administration offers an online MBA with three completion paths: a one-year MBA, an accelerated MBA, and a foundational MBA.

The one-year MBA comprises 30 credits and can be completed in 12 months. It is designed for recent graduates who have completed a bachelor’s degree in business within the past seven years. The accelerated MBA comprises 31.5 credits and is designed for those who earned their undergraduate business degree more than seven years prior and who have eight or more years of experience. It can be completed in 15 to 18 months. Finally, the foundational MBA@Dayton is designed for career-changers who do not have a business background. This path takes 18 to 24 months to complete and comprises 36 credits.

Setting this program apart are the weekly, live, face-to-face classes, group assignments, and in-person immersions. The two required immersions on the Dayton, OH campus follow the model of head, heart, and hands to apply business savvy, humanity, and service to the business environment.

Cost per credit: $1,330/credit
Number of credits: 30 credits (one-year MBA)
Total cost: $39,900 + fees

17Benedictine University Online MBAView Full Profile

Benedictine University offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or one of six concentrations: accounting, entrepreneurship and managing innovation, financial management, health administration, international business, and marketing management. Students may choose to take one course at a time and complete the degree in 22 months, or take two courses at a time with the accelerated MBA and complete the program in as little as one year. Students may also add a second concentration area to their degree by taking three additional concentration courses.

The online learning environment is collaborative including live interaction with faculty and peers, virtual coffee chats, online student groups, and virtual webinars. Also included are hands-on business simulations and mini-capstone experiences.

Cost per credit: $625/credit
Number of credits: 64 credits
Total cost: $40,000 + fees

18University of Delaware Online MBAView Full Profile

The University of Delaware Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics offers a 100 percent online MBA with a general track or one of five concentrations: healthcare, business analytics, finance, strategic leadership, and international business. Unique to this MBA are two online workshops that cover emotional intelligence, critical thinking, decision-making skills, communication, networking, and branding.

The online learning experience utilizes multimedia tools to create an interactive online learning environment. Students take 44 credits for one concentration, 47 credits for two, and 53 credits for three concentrations. The degree can be completed in just 16 months through the accelerated plan or students may work at a pace that is manageable for them. The University of Delaware online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $950/credit
Number of credits: 44 credits
Total cost: $41,800 + fees

19Queens University of Charlotte Online MBAView Full Profile

The Queens University McColl School of Business offers an online MBA with a general track or one of four concentrations: finance, healthcare management, leadership and change, and executive coaching. Unique to this MBA is the executive coaching aspect in which students participate in one-on-one sessions with an executive coach throughout the program.

In addition, students come to the Queens campus in Charlotte, NC, at the beginning of the program for a weekend residency. During this weekend immersion, students discover their primary leadership style, learn how to develop leadership skills, and create peer-teams for collaboration and team-building throughout the program.

Students can complete the online MBA in about two years, through two eight-week sessions per semester. The program comprises 36 credits including core courses, flexible courses, and electives. A state-of-the-art online Learning Management System (LMS) called MyCourses offers live conferencing, shared blogging, social media, instant messaging (IM) and other tools for collaboration and ease of sharing. The Queens University of Charlotte online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $1,165/credit
Number of credits: 36 credits
Total cost: $41,940 + fees

20St. John’s University Online MBAView Full Profile

The St. John’s University Tobin College of Business offers an online MBA with three concentrations: interdisciplinary business, taxation, and risk management and insurance. The curriculum focuses on analytics, relevant case studies, current technology, research, and real-world projects. Students come to the Queens, NY campus for a three-day workshop and also complete a final capstone project.

Students can complete the online MBA in just 18 months on a full-time basis or three years part-time. The program comprises 36 credits, including 27 core credits and nine elective credits. The St. John’s University online MBA is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost per credit: $1,320/credit
Number of credits: 36 credits
Total cost: $47,520 + fees

Affordable Online MBA Programs Are Available

There are several affordable MBA programs that offer the convenience and flexibility of online learning, along with the affordability students are seeking. In addition, these programs are accredited, guaranteeing their high quality and caliber of education.

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