Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a proven path for polishing management credentials and earning a higher salary. In fact, GMAC’s most recent Corporate Recruiters Survey showed that MBA new hires in the U.S. could expect median starting salaries of $115,000.
However, those who dream of earning an MBA can afford to put their life, job, and income on hold for a year or two of full-time study. Part-time online MBA programs follow a more relaxed pace of study with fewer or no in-person requirements, allowing more space for your current responsibilities. Even if you don’t already have a bachelor’s in business, you can complete a part-time MBA online in two to three years.
When considering a part-time MBA online, you’ll undoubtedly have questions about how much you’ll pay, what classes look like, and which schools suit your goals. We’ve compiled this guide highlighting the best online part-time MBA programs to equip you with the information you’ll need to make a confident decision before leaping.
College Spotlights: Top Part-Time MBA Online Programs
If you’re considering pursuing an MBA online, our list can point you in the right direction. We’ve ranked some of the best programs with the flexibility, affordability, and accreditation you need.
Below, we’ve profiled five of the best online part-time MBA programs for 2023, but this is just a preview of our full rankings in 2024. Check back later thi to read the extended list of part-time online MBA programs.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University offers two STEM-designated part-time online MBA programs. The Tepper Part-Time Online Hybrid MBA takes three years to complete and is ideal for students with bachelor’s degrees in a non-business related field. The Part-Time Accelerated MBA fast-tracks the process for business graduates or undergraduates with a background in business coursework, allowing them to earn their degree in just two years.
Whether students qualify for the accelerated or three-year MBA track, they’ll take synchronous online courses, view lectures and additional content asynchronously, and participate in immersive Access Weekends either on-site or remotely several times each year. To prepare students for future leadership, the curriculum builds students’ fundamental skills in marketing, finance, and organizational behavior and strategy. The hybrid and accelerated MBA programs are both taught by the same faculty as Carnegie Mellon’s full-time MBA. Multiple scholarships and fellowships are awarded to part-time MBA candidates who exhibit outstanding potential for future success.
University of Florida (UF)
As an online student of the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, students can choose between a one- or two-year path to earning their part-time MBA online. Applicants must have at least two years of full-time, post-baccalaureate work experience to apply for either program. Lectures are available online to provide maximum professional development with minimal impact on students’ daily lives. During this 48-credit, two-year program, students spend an estimated 15 hours each week on assignments, group projects, and readings.
Students who earned their bachelor’s degree in business or have completed significant coursework in the discipline within the last seven years may qualify for the accelerated one-year program, which only takes 32 credits to complete.
While all coursework for this program is conveniently available online, students must attend an in-person orientation on UF’s Gainesville, Florida, campus. On-campus residencies aren’t mandatory but are encouraged for all program participants.
Indiana University’s Kelley Direct Online MBA is highly customizable to students’ professional goals. After building foundational business skills during a 12-week Integrated Core curriculum program, students choose from seven different majors. Specializations include Business Analytics, Digital Technology Management, Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation, Finance, Marketing, Strategy and Leadership, and Supply Chain and Operations. Additionally, electives comprise 50% of the program, meaning students can further tailor their degrees toward specific career aspirations.
The Kelley Direct MBA includes live, 90-minute online evening classes, as well as two in-person intensives. During the program’s first year, students participate in the Kelley On Campus case study competition in Bloomington, Indiana. In the program’s second half, students spend three to four days on location with a client as part of the Kelley On Location intensive. While students can earn their MBA in as little as two years, they have up to four years to complete the program.
Santa Clara University (SCU)
Santa Clara University’s Online MBA program teaches students the essential business and leadership tools they’ll need to advance their careers. This MBA focuses extensively on building skills for Silicon Valley professionals, with students and alums hailing from major tech companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon. The SCU online MBA faculty comprises Silicon Valley educators and established professionals from industries ranging from Big Tech to healthcare.
The curriculum includes a combination of four-credit, 10-week long courses and consecutively taught two-credit, five-week long courses. Students can specialize in their degree with concentrations in Data Science and Business Analytics, Leading Innovative Organizations, Marketing, or Finance. Though the content and structure of the online MBA program are identical to the on-campus degree, online students have the flexibility to complete classes on their own schedules. This 44-credit program can be completed in as little as two years.
Johns Hopkins University
The Online Flexible MBA from Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School is tailored to meet the needs of working professionals. All courses are fully online and highly adaptable to both asynchronous and synchronous learning. Students can work at a pace that fits their lifestyle, needs, and preferences. In-person learning opportunities include two-day residencies, three-day accelerated elective intensives, and 10-day global immersion expeditions. Students who want to gain additional real-world knowledge can apply for the CIL Fellows Program, a 10-month residency course that builds leadership knowledge and skills.
Eight areas of specialization provide students with in-depth knowledge. Focus areas include Business Analytics and Risk Management; Digital Marketing; Entrepreneurial Marketing; Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology; Financial Management; Health Care Management, Innovation, and Technology; Investments; and Public and Private Sector Leadership. Students can complete this 54-credit program in as little as two years.
How Long Will It Take to Earn a Part-Time MBA Online?
The amount of time it takes you to complete a part-time online MBA program will depend on several factors. Students generally spend more years in part-time online MBA programs than they would in a full-time program.
Students who have already achieved a bachelor’s degree in business may be able to graduate from an accelerated program like the one offered at the University of North Alabama. At Johns Hopkins University, students can work toward a degree at their own pace, taking up to six years to complete their studies. In general, earning your part-time MBA online will take from two to three years.
Benefits and Challenges of Earning a Part-Time MBA
Part-time online MBA programs mean students can maintain the rhythm and obligations of their current daily lives in order to pursue higher education. Earning a part-time MBA online allows you to spread out your studies over a more extended period of time and complete coursework on your own schedule. However, some challenges come with online study. Before enrolling in an online MBA program, you should weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s the right fit for you.
How Do Part-Time MBA Classes Differ from Traditional Programs?
Overall, traditional full-time study programs meet during the daytime on weekdays, meaning the pursuit of an MBA takes up a more significant portion of those students’ day-to-day lives. The tradeoff is that traditional MBA students graduate sooner than part-time students. For example, full-time MBA students at the University of California, Berkeley, graduate in 21 months, whereas Flexible MBA students at Berkeley graduate in 2.5 to three years. However, many programs, like the William & Mary Online MBA, offer accelerated course formats so students can rapidly progress through coursework.
Generally speaking, traditional, full-time study is better suited to those who can focus their lives on achieving a degree and attending in-person classes. On the other hand, part-time online MBA programs work well for those tending to families and careers while they’re in school.
Part-Time Online MBA Costs
While an MBA can provide significant ROI over the course of your career, it’s essential to understand the associated costs and financial commitments before signing up for a degree program. The costs per credit hour can add up quickly, especially if you still need to earn your bachelor’s degree in business and need to enroll in a lengthier course of study.
Lining up financial aid opportunities ahead of time can ease the financial burden of paying tuition. Many companies provide employees with tuition assistance or reimbursement plans, especially if they use their MBA to further their careers within the organization. Check with your school and local business organizations for private or school scholarships, fellowships, and work-study programs you may qualify for. Our financial aid page gives in-depth guidance on ways to fund your part-time MBA online.
To help you better understand the overall costs of a part-time online MBA, we’ve compiled the following data from three programs.
|School Name||No. of Credits||Cost/Credit||Est. Total Tuition Cost|
Do part-time MBA programs have similar tuition and fees to full-time MBA programs?
This will depend on the program you choose. Some schools offer a flat tuition rate for full-time students but charge per-credit hourly rates for part-time students. This is the case at the University of Pittsburgh, which has separate rates for full-time and part-time programs. At other schools, you’ll pay one set price for each credit hour. In this case, the cost per credit hour and overall fees of online MBA programs remains the same whether you choose full-time or part-time study. The University of South Florida’s online MBA students pay the same tuition regardless of full- or part-time status.
Frequently Asked Questions About Part-Time Online MBA Programs
What are the admissions requirements for a part-time online MBA?
Before applying to part-time online MBA programs, you’ll want to review each school’s requirements and be prepared to provide information about yourself and your professional and academic history. Part-time programs are often oriented toward working professionals, meaning a school will want proof of your employment over an established period of time. However, many schools will waive GRE or GMAT score requirements if you provide a record of your business career.
You can find more advice on our MBA page, but here’s a list of what you should be ready to provide when applying for an MBA:
- An online application
- A personal statement
- Your current resume
- Letters of recommendation
- GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment scores. Even if it’s not required to apply, a good test score can make your MBA application stand out
- Proof of a four-year bachelor’s degree
- Academic transcripts
Can I earn a part-time MBA 100% online, or do I need to visit campus?
Yes, you can earn a part-time MBA entirely online. Since most students who enroll in part-time online MBA programs are working professionals, these programs are well-prepared to work around the needs of these students.
If you prefer in-person networking opportunities, many of the best online part-time MBA programs are also offered in a hybrid format. These programs include mandatory in-person meetings or optional residency days where students can meet each other face to face, work on group projects, or complete intensive coursework.
Do online part-time MBA programs offer the same specializations as traditional programs?
Yes, but this can depend on the individual school. As you’ll find in traditional programs, part-time online MBA programs differ from university to university. While some programs focus on a general MBA track, others allow students to expand their knowledge through specializations.
Students in American University’s Online MBA program can choose from seven focus areas, including finance, cybersecurity, and legal studies. The University of South Florida offers five concentrations to address students’ career goals. Double-check with each school for the concentrations and specializations they offer.
Are online part-time MBA programs accredited?
Yes, part-time MBA online programs can be accredited, and you should ensure that the program you’re considering has been evaluated and approved by a trustworthy accrediting body. Three major accrediting organizations evaluate MBA degrees: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). Additionally, the EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA) may also accredit MBA programs.