Master's Degree - Business Administration

Things to know about earning your MBA online

When it comes to earning your Masters of Business Administration degree online, you need to be extremely diligent in your research and planning. In the highly competitive world of business, where you went to school is often almost as important as what you know. Thus, it's very important that you choose a well-regarded MBA program to extract maximum return on your investment and broaden your post-graduation career horizons.

However, before you start to research online MBA programs, you should be aware that, by and large, employers prefer job candidates who have completed traditional MBA studies. Getting an MBA online can be a very cost-effective alternative to traditional classes, though, especially if you want to keep your current job while you upgrade your professional credentials. It is essential that you invest in a school that's going to provide you with a good return, and that means choosing an online MBA program that carries weight with employers and is respected by the business community.

MBA Specializations

While an MBA is already a specialized professional degree, you have many options to further customize your education by concentrating your studies on a specific aspect of business. Some of the many different MBA specializations you can pursue include:

  • Accounting
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Financial management
  • Global business
  • Health services
  • Information systems management
  • Law and business
  • Management accounting
  • Marketing
  • Quantitative finance
  • Strategic marketing
  • Strategic business valuation
  • Supply chain management

Some innovative schools also offer MBA programs with a focus on technology. If you have a particular interest in technological innovation from a business management perspective, you might get a great deal of value out of getting that type of specialized MBA degree.

Top Online MBA Programs

This list of well-regarded online MBA programs was compiled from various authoritative sources, including major American business publications. In all cases, the program's reputation was one of the most important evaluative criteria. This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many quality online MBA programs that do not appear on this list. You should always perform your own in-depth, independent research before you make any final decisions on a program to enroll in.

With that in mind, here are ten of the top available online MBA programs:

  • Kelly School of Business at Indiana University-Bloomington
  • Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona
  • College of Business and Management at the University of Illinois-Springfield
  • College of Business and Global Affairs at the University of Tennessee-Martin
  • Rutgers Business School at Rutgers State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick and Newark
  • Poole College of Management, Jenkins Graduate School at North Carolina State University
  • George Washington University School of Business at George Washington University
  • Hough Graduate School of Business at the University of Florida
  • Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University
  • W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University

Researching Online MBA Programs

Here are some tips and tricks to use when you're researching online MBA programs:

  • Get the student perspective. If possible, speak to students who have completed the program, or track down an online forum where former students have posted about their experience. Did they feel the program was worthwhile? Did they get value for their investment?
  • Look at the numbers. Find out what percentage of students who start the program finish it, and what percentage of graduates find gainful employment within one year of graduation. These statistics are very telling about a program's quality and value.
  • Check faculty credentials. You can learn a lot about the program's instructors from the school's website, as there will (or should) be profiles summarizing instructor qualifications. This is a quick and easy way to compare and contrast your prospective teachers.

Whenever possible, get an independent view. Don't rely solely on information provided by the school; remember, it may not be completely objective.