What makes an online MBA program the best online MBA program? Student satisfaction? Tuition? MBA rankings? MBA acceptance rates? We’d say, all that, and more. The best online MBA programs are ones that feature all the highlights of the best MBA programs in the world, such as expert faculty, cutting-edge curriculum, networking opportunities, and employment rates post-graduation, but delivered in a convenient, more-flexible format. If you’re still thinking, “is an MBA worth it?” or you’re not even sure how to choose the right MBA program then this article will take you through the best online MBA programs, what makes them the best, and which are the best options for you, and what makes them different from traditional, in-person programs. 

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13 min read

Best Online MBA Programs in the US Best Online MBA Programs – Canada Are Online MBA Programs Worth It? Pros and Cons of Online MBA Programs How to Get into the Best Online MBA Programs FAQs

Best Online MBA Programs in the US

1. University of Texas, Dallas – Naveen Jindal School of Management

Acceptance Rate: 37%

Average GRE/GMAT: 310/609 (not required)

Average GPA: 3.6

Tuition: $58,024 (in-state); $95,523 (out-of-state)

The University of Texas, Dallas has long had one of the best MBA programs in the US, but it has since made inroads to having one of the best online MBA programs as well. Aside from its Professional Online MBA program, UT Dallas has four different pathways for you to earn an MBA:

  •  A two-year, full-time program (in-person)
  • A professional MBA (in-person)
  • An executive MBA (in-person)
  • A Global Leadership MBA (online)

One of the most appealing features of all the MBA programs at UT Dallas is their customization options. If you’re enrolled in the Global Leadership MBA (for international and non-US citizens), you can start and stop your classes whenever you want, as only 20% of the curriculum is taught synchronously, meaning you have to attend virtual lectures or classes in real-time, but you decide the rest of your study schedule. The other appeal of the UT Dallas Professional Online MBA program, which is for domestic students, is that you can add various concentrations to your degree, or even take a dual-degree, to enhance and distinguish your MBA experience.

2. University of Massachusetts Amherst - Isenberg School of Management

Acceptance Rate: 90%

Average GMAT: 639

Average GPA: 3.3

Tuition: $34,225-36,075

The Isenberg School of Management usually ranks near the top of annual MBA rankings, as it is one of the oldest business schools in the country, and was one of the pioneers of distance education. The school has channeled its experience with remote learning into the creation of the one of the best online MBA programs, which typically receives around 1400 applicants each year. However, the MBA requirements mean the program attracts only the most experienced candidates, as you must have at least three years of professional working experience to apply to either the online or hybrid MBA programs. You must also submit the usual application materials, such as an MBA resume, MBA personal statement, and letters of recommendation. You must also submit your most recent GMAT or GRE scores, but you can have the requirement waived if you meet certain criteria.

3. Carnegie Mellon University - Tepper School of Business

Acceptance Rate: 55%

Average GMAT: 687

Average GPA: 3.43

Tuition: $758/credit

It’s no surprise that one of the best MBA programs in the world also has one of the best online MBA programs. Except, the only online options at Carnegie Mellon are not fully online. They are hybrid programs that combine online instruction with what the school calls Access Weekends, where you can visit the campus and either receive in-person instruction or network with fellow classmates. This format allows you to get the best of both worlds.

The Tepper School of Business has long dominated MBA rankings for a variety of reasons, including its early embrace of artificial intelligence, and its general emphasis on a data-driven marketplace, which is maybe why a majority of applicants come from STEM backgrounds. But don’t let that dissuade you.

Tepper accepts applicants from many different fields. However, being an elite program, it is not among the easiest MBA programs to get into. It has some of the most stringent application requirements of any MBA program, which are the same for the online and in-person programs. You must submit GRE or GMAT scores, along with having a full bachelor’s degree. You have to submit at least one written essay and record a video essay outlining your career goals. There is also a mandatory interview, which is invite-only, so you may need to do some MBA interview prep beforehand.

4. The University of Michigan Dearborn - College of Business

Acceptance Rate: 45%

Average GRE: VR – 158; QR – 154

Average GMAT: 687

Average GPA: 3.5

Tuition: $506/credit (in-state); $960 (out-of-state)

There are several MBA programs within the various schools and campuses of the University of Michigan network, but the College of Business at the Dearborn campus has a highly-rated online program that you can combine with in-person instruction, if you want. The Dearborn campus also offers you several dual-degree options, which you can also take online. During your online MBA, you can also enhance your degree by taking minor concentrations in Marketing, Supply Chain Management or International Business.

If you choose a fully online program, the instruction will largely be asynchronous so you can create your MBA schedule however you like, as you don’t have any required virtual classes or lectures to attend. Unlike other business schools, you do have the chance to apply for several merit-based MBA scholarships to pay for your MBA. For example, if you’re a non-resident, the school will discount 80% of your tuition, provided you meet certain criteria and maintain a high GPA.

5. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School

Acceptance Rate: 58%

Average GMAT: 696

Average GPA: 3.2

Tuition: $125,589 flat rate for entire program

The MBA program at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School is another highly-rated program twinned by an equally comprehensive and well-regarded online MBA program, which has never drifted far from the top of best online MBA programs lists. With the Kenan-Flagler Business school, you can choose from several different programs based on your circumstances, as it offers a full-time MBA, a weekend option, or a fully online program that can take anywhere between 2-5 years to complete. You have to submit GRE or GMAT scores to get in, but that requirement ca be waived if you have at least five years of relevant work experience. You must also have a minimum of two years of professional experience to apply, along with having a four-year bachelor’s degree; an interview is also required for admission.

Best Online MBA Programs – Canada

1. Carleton University - Sprott School of Business

Acceptance Rate: n/a

Average GMAT: n/a

Minimum GPA Required: 2.75

Tuition: $13,500 flat rate for entire program

Carleton University and the Sprott School of Business host one of the most affordable online MBA programs in North America, so no wonder it is also among the best online MBA programs. The program can last anywhere between one or two years and you must have at least two years of experience as a manager or any leadership role to qualify. The Sprott School is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and is one of the few schools internationally to carry AACSB accreditation, so it is a very reputable program. You have to submit an online application along with your GRE or GMAT scores, although you can apply to waive that requirement if you have an exceptional academic record or significant professional achievements. There are three different concentrations you can add to your online MBA that touch on Business Analytics, Financial Management and Management & Change.

2. University of Alberta - Alberta School of Business

Acceptance Rate: n/a

Average GMAT: n/a

Average GPA: 3.43

Tuition: $54,000 flat rate for entire program

The Alberta School of Business hosts one of the best online MBA programs in Canada because of the many specialized tracks the school offers. You can choose from five different specializations that will combine a traditional MBA education with specific industry knowledge, spanning several industries from the energy sector to the financial sector. You can also apply for a specialization in real estate or public sector, depending on your interests. If you are in either the full-time, in-person program or the part-time, online program, you are encouraged to take an MBA internship to not only put your skills into practice in a real-world environment, but also to make valuable connections that could bear fruit in the future. But, even if you don’t apply for an internship, you’ll still have to put your knowledge on display through a research capstone project that is a mandatory component of the program.

3. University of Fredericton - Sandermoen School of Business

Acceptance Rate: n/a

Average GMAT: n/a

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Tuition: $25,993 flat rate for entire program

The University of Fredericton Sandermoen School of Business offers a fully online MBA program that can last anywhere between 2-3 years. The school offers several MBA pathways, but it is one of the few online MBA programs that do not have any on-campus requirements, and you can apply to the school from anywhere, as it accepts international students although some students may have to have their degree certified and verified. You do have to have at least a bachelor’s to apply, but only one year of professional experience. The delivery method is asynchronous so you are completely free to study and learn at your own pace, although during your first year, you do have to attend a single virtual class that covers foundational topics such as economics, organizational principles and management skills.

4. Athabasca University – Online MBA

Acceptance Rate: n/a

Average GMAT: n/a

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Tuition: based on program option

Athabasca University is a fully online university and holds the unique distinction of creating the first fully online MBA program in the world. The AU MBA is still being offered and it is a fully-accredited program with two separate tracks that let you decide when you’ll finish. You can choose the accelerated program that takes only one year, but is more intensive, or you can choose the traditional two-year program. But the school also offers three distinct tracks for people from specific industries, namely:

  • Accountants
  • Health Leaders
  • Supply Chain Managers

You must have completed at least a bachelor’s to apply, along with three years of experience in a professional, managerial setting. You can also apply without a degree, if you have over eight years of experience, and complete a graduate certificate at AU before applying for the MBA. Depending on the track that applies to you (Professional, Accelerated, Executive), you will also be asked for GMAT or GRE scores as part of your application.

5. Laurentian University – Online MBA for Executives

Acceptance Rate: n/a

Average GMAT: n/a

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Tuition: $1,234/three credits

Laurentian University is one of the few universities in Canada that offer a fully online MBA program and it has several tracks that you follow depending on your circumstances. If you have an undergraduate degree in a business-related field (commerce, or bachelor of business administration) you’ll be eligible for the fast-track program that you can complete in only one year. The standard two-year track is for people coming from either industry or from a non-business background. The school does not have a minimum GPA but it does require a GMAT or GRE scores, but there are cases where that requirement can be waived. For example, if your GPA is above 80%, then you do not have to submit any test scores. Another scenario – if you have over six years of professional experience, you also do not have to take the GMAT or GRE to apply.

Are Online MBA Programs Worth It?

Online MBA programs are worth it if they will help you achieve your goals in whatever industry or business you are in, but you should trust the statistics more than anything else. They’ll show you that people with MBAs usually:

  • Earn higher salaries
  • Reach executive-level or leadership positions sooner
  • Find it easier to switch careers or industries
  • Have an easier time finding new positions

The exact statistics vary for each school and program, but there are tangible benefits to pursuing an MBA, in general, not just an online MBA. For example, graduates from the UNC Kenan-Flagler program found their salaries increase by 29% upon graduation. But that figure increased to 39% five years after graduation, so the return-on-investment keeps increasing over time. An online MBA program has the added bonus of being more flexible and, usually, lower-cost than in-person programs. Of course, cost also depends on where you decide to go, as more elite, well-known programs have higher tuition than those in lesser-known schools.

But, in general, MBA students often report being very satisfied not only with their program choice, but the quality of the education, the instructors, and the rigors of the curriculum. You can also run the numbers yourself to see whether investing the time and money into an online MBA will pay off. You can compare the median salaries in your current or prospective field, and then contrast that with how much you’ll be paying for an MBA program, although online MBA programs offer more savings because of their unique delivery method.

Pros and Cons of Online MBA Programs

Pros of Online MBA Programs

Choosing When you Learn

The main of advantage of any online program, including getting a JD degree from an online law school, is that you can decide how, where and when you study, so you have more freedom to attend to your other responsibilities. Online MBA programs are even more convenient for the degree’s prime demographic – already-established, working professionals who have full-time jobs. If you’re already putting in 40 hours a week or more, you don’t have the time to attend daily or weekly classes, but an online MBA program lets you decide when you attend classes, do the readings, and watch a lecture. Depending on whether your online MBA program uses synchronous or asynchronous learning, you can also reduce your class load or participation whenever you want without having missed out on anything.

The Savings

You might find that MBA tuition is not that different between in-person and online programs. Some programs may have reduced fees for online MBAs, but, in general, your savings from taking any online program come in the form of cost-elimination. You’ll save by not having to commute to campus, or spend money on textbooks, and other materials, while also being able to earn money by having more time to work either part-time or full-time. But even with these savings, even an online MBA program can be costly. Fortunately, many schools allow online students access to scholarships and other financial assistance, if they meet certain criteria, so you won’t be shut out of any assistance if you do a program online.

Good as an In-Person MBA

Within the business world, getting an MBA online is not seen as lesser-than compared to getting an MBA in-person. This attitude is one that is not usually seen in other professional fields such as medicine (since it is impossible to earn a medical degree online), and law (as online law schools are still relatively new), or any field where you can learn online. All of the best MBA programs in the world have either fully online or hybrid formats that let students from diverse backgrounds learn from experienced faculty who have real knowledge of current business trends and practices, so the online degrees they confer have name-recognition and broad appeal.

Cons of Online MBA Programs

Lack of a Personal Touch

While the commute and time spent in a physical classroom or lecture hall may seem draining, some people benefit, even thrive, in that kind of environment. If that sounds like you, then maybe online learning is not for you. While some online MBA programs boast that their programs offer more personalization and interactions with faculty or other students (albeit virtually) than an in-person class, you may not feel the same way. If you crave the social aspect of learning, being among your peers and speaking face-to-face with your professor then you should think about finding an in-person MBA program, even a part-time MBA program, to make learning more enjoyable.

You Have to Develop a New Mindset/Skills

Online MBA programs have their own challenges that require a specific set of skills and attitude that you need to develop if you don’t have them already; skills like time management and organizational skills. You have to have a more disciplined attitude if you decide to take a distance MBA program, as you’ll be responsible for keeping yourself on schedule with all your assignments and their deadlines and you won’t have the structure of school to keep you in check. This may not be a problem for most MBA students, especially if they’re professionals with years of experience, but if you are a recent undergraduate and you are going into an online MBA program, be prepared to work harder and expect more of yourself.

How to Get into the Best Online MBA Programs

Get Good Standardized Test Scores

The GRE or GMAT requirements for many of these schools can be waived for various reasons, but none of those reasons apply to you (years of work experience; exceptionally high GPA), then you’ll need to invest in either a GRE prep course or GMAT test prep that can help you ace the test in one go, rather than having to spend the time and money to do re-takes. But you should still leave yourself some time to re-take the test before you have to apply just in case. You can always apply to online MBA no GMAT programs to avoid this requirement completely, but if you want to apply to elite, top-ranked schools then taking either test is essential. You should try to get your GRE scores should be within the highest GRE percentiles – either the 70 or 90 percentiles. Your GMAT should be somewhere 650 and 658, which is the national average.

Get Relevant Work Experience

You may have noticed that a lot of the programs we listed require at least some work experience in the field you want to enter as an admission requirement, and that’s common. The exact number of years varies, but if you’re worried that you don’t have the work experience as a recent graduate, don’t worry. Online MBA programs may ask for work experience because they are geared more toward professionals.

But the traditional, full-time, two-year MBA program are more for recent graduates and have different admissions requirements, so work experience won’t be as relevant. However, if you want to take an MBA online, work experience is crucial and you need to start thinking about finding a job right after you’re undergrad or finding the right MBA extracurriculars. You can participate in paid or non-paid internships or research summer programs or externships during your undergrad to find which companies would be willing to hire you right out of school.

Complete Professional Development Courses

If you’re a professional, then you don’t have to worry about having the required work experience, but you should also be more proactive and prepare your MBA application by completing professional development courses offered by your company. If you can successfully complete courses within your own organization and earn a certificate of completion, it is a clear sign that you are driven, motivated, and more than capable to earn an online MBA. Completing these courses will give you new skills, obviously, but you’ll also demonstrate that you can handle the twin responsibilities of working and learning, which you’ll also have to do while completing your MBA.


1. What are online MBA programs?

Online MBA programs let you earn a master of business administration degree from an accredited university completely online. A few programs may have hybrid formats, blending online and in-person instruction, but many are also fully online and usually have the same admissions requirements and tuition costs. 

2. Are online MBA programs good?

Yes, many of the top-rated MBA schools for in-person instruction also have online programs that are based on the same curriculum, teach the same courses and are taught by the same faculty, so it just like attending in-person. 

3. Should I take an online MBA program?

Online MBA programs are typically for people with careers who want to earn an MBA for whatever reason, usually to be able to earn more money or ascend to a leadership position, so if this does not apply to you, then a traditional, full-time program might be best. But if you are currently working, and want to climb the corporate ladder, taking an online MBA program may be one of the best things you can do for your career. 

4. How much does an online MBA program cost?

The exact cost and tuition of online MBA programs varies so you have to choose which program is the most affordable for you. 

5. What do I need to get into an online MBA program?

You will need the usual MBA admissions requirements such as standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT), MBA recommendation letter, personal statements and essays, transcripts and sometimes an interview. But online MBA programs will also (but not always) require you to have a minimum of one-year of relevant work experience in some type of professional role. But the quality of this work experience matters more than length; the type of organization also not matter, as long as your role was senior and you have significant responsibilities. 

6. Is an online MBA program worth it?

If you do your research and discover that you’ll be earning more money if you take an online MBA program, then yes, it is definitely, and literally, worth it. 

7. How long is an online MBA program?

The length and duration of an online MBA program is dictated by the school that hosts the program, and it can take anywhere between one to five years, depending on whether you take the course full-time, or part-time, and what the degree requirements are (30 credits, 16 credits, etc.) 

8. What is the best online MBA program?

The best online MBA program is the one that meets your needs and expectations, is affordable for your budget, is accredited and lets you decide how, where and when you study. But objectively, the best online MBA programs are often the ones that offer the most variety of programs, specializations, electives, and have more career resources that can help you make good use of your MBA. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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