Rankings are just one way you can judge how high the quality of an online MBA program actually is. There are several other strategies you can implement to make sure you have chosen the top online MBA and not a fly-by-night program from a school that is happy to take your money in exchange for a worthless degree. Here, we will examine a few ways (other than rankings) to gauge the quality of an online MBA program.
A less formal way of assessing the quality of an online MBA program is to do an Internet search for unbiased online reviews from students who were enrolled in various online MBA programs. Here you can find what students liked and/or disliked about certain programs from students who have first-hand experience with specific programs. It’s important to note, however, that people are generally more likely to go online to complain about something than they are to praise something, so take what you read with a grain of salt. The key is to look for recurring themes in these online reviews. If you see again and again that the faculty in a program were unresponsive, you may want to make note of it. If you see again and again that mentoring or cohort system as a school was fantastic and supportive, you will also want to make note of that. You may even want to take what you learn and formulate some questions to ask when you call to inquire about certain graduate programs.
|Online MBA School||Cost Per Credit|
|Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA||$1,998 per credit|
|Indiana University, Bloomington, IN||$1,330 per credit|
|University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC||$1,728 per credit|
|Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ||$1,216 per credit|
|University of Florida, Gainesville, FL||$1,255 per credit|
What’s Important to You?
You should also consider the factors that are important to you when deciding which online MBA program out of the top programs is the best. While rankings and reviews give you an idea of what others think of a program, what will matter the most is if the program is able to meet your needs and help you reach your MBA career goals.
For instance, there are pros and cons to enrolling in private non-profit business schools, private for-profit business schools and public business schools. Cost will be a major consideration for many students, particularly if their employer is not reimbursing their tuition or will only reimburse to a certain cut-off point. The availability of scholarships may be a deciding factor as well.
For those who want to complete their MBA as quickly as possible, the availability of an accelerated MBA program may be a deciding factor as to whether or not a business school is a good fit. For others, part-time programs geared for busy professionals make much more sense. For some MBA students, campus visits are out of the question; for others, the availability of hybrid courses or the occasional face-to-face experience would be a welcome addition. Another narrowing factor for you might be choosing a program that requires an internship or overseas experience—something unique to add to the online component. You may prefer the cohort style of learning in which you take courses with the same small group of MBA students the whole time, or you may prefer a non-cohort style in which you have different students in all your courses.
Then there are different types of MBAs. If you have 10+ years of experience in management, an executive MBA program may be ideal since it is geared for seasoned professionals. For those just getting their feet wet in the business world, a more generalist degree may be ideal. Still others know the industry they wish to enter and may wish to choose a school that offers MBA concentrations in areas such as finance, marketing, international business or economics.
Here are some other online MBA schools to consider:
|Online MBA School||Estimated Cost of Program, Except Where Noted|
|Colorado Technical University, Colorado Springs, CO||$28,080|
|Purdue University Global, West Lafayette, IN||$1,550 per term|
|Northcentral University, Scottsdale, AZ||$29,680|
|Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Baltimore, MD||Global MBA, $59,875 per year for two-year program; Flexible MBA, $1,370 per credit|
|University of Delaware, Newark, DE||$35,750|
The most important step you can take in making sure an MBA program is high quality is making sure the school that offers it is accredited. You can check the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s similar database to see if a school holds national or regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is the most widely recognized form of institutional accreditation, although national accreditation indicates a quality institution as well. Aside from institutional accreditation, you should see if the business program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). This gives those pursuing MBAs confidence that the business program itself is of high quality, not just the institution overall.
The bottom line in all of this is knowing how to further narrow down the best MBA programs according to your preferences until you’ve found one that’s best matched to your needs, and to also keep accreditation in mind. Learn more about accreditation and how it came about in the next chapter.