10 Most Affordable Online MBA Degree Programs for 2020

cheapest online mba

Earning an MBA online is one of the most effective ways to increase your salary potential and opportunity for promotion if you are already a working professional. Online programs allow you to earn your MBA without having to put your career on pause, having to move to another area to go to school full-time, or to add yet another commute to your life. With the credentials and skills of an MBA, you have more leverage in your current job, and opportunity on the job market. 

But make no mistake: an online MBA is an investment, and like with any investment, you get a better return if you buy low. That’s why tuition cost is one of the main considerations for many working professionals before they choose an online MBA program. A low initial tuition cost can help students go into a program with more confidence, without the dread of knowing they are going deep into student loan debt without a certain return on investment. For budget-conscious business students, Great Business Schools has ranked the best affordable online MBA programs in the US. 

Methodology: Selecting the Most Affordable Online MBA Programs 

Because the emphasis of the Most Affordable ranking is cost, programs are presented simply in order of tuition rate, as reported by IPEDS. However, cost was not the only factor in selecting programs; all colleges and universities in the Most Affordable ranking are regionally and program accredited, and have established a national reputation for quality. That way, prospective students can trust that their online MBA will be recognized and respected. 

1. Fayetteville State University

Topping the list of the best affordable online MBA programs is Fayetteville State University’s MBA@FayState. This program uses some of the best tools available to provide a quality online education complete with both live and recorded lectures. Students can choose from 10 concentrations: business intelligence and data analytics, entrepreneurship, finance, general business, healthcare management, international business, management, marketing, project management, and supply chain management.

Fayetteville State University is part of the University of North Carolina system, so students enrolled in the MBA@FayState program benefit from the same AACSB-accredited education available from other schools in the system at a fraction of the price. Students take courses through the UNC Online system, which gives them access to courses from other schools in the UNC system as well.

HIGHLIGHT: In addition to offering one of the most affordable online MBA programs in the nation, the Broadwell College of Business and Economics at Fayetteville State University provides students with experience-oriented learning opportunities such as internships, career skills training, and entrepreneurial support.

Degree MBA@FayState

Cost: $$$$$

2. Fort Hays State University

Online MBA students at Fort Hays State University take 25 hours of core courses plus 9 hours in the concentration of their choice. There are 12 concentrations that can be completed online: corporate communication, digital marketing, finance, health care management, health and human performance/sports management, human resource management (HRM), information assurance, international business, leadership studies, management information systems, marketing, and tourism and hospitality management.

Fort Hays State University has a long history of successfully placing graduating MBA students into leadership roles in organizations such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, GE, IBM, Texas Instruments, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Kansas Department of Commerce, Wal-Mart, and the US Department of Agriculture.

HIGHLIGHT: Full-time students in the online MBA program at FHSU can complete the program in 18 months. Most concentrations can be earned online without taking any on-campus courses.

Degree Online MBA

Cost: $$$$$

3. Valdosta State University

The Georgia webMBA offered through Valdosta State University’s College of Business Administration is one of the most affordable online MBA programs in the nation. It is highly rated in student satisfaction and public perception and has AACSB accreditation. Although the program itself is online, there is a residential two-day orientation that is held at a hotel in the Atlanta area.

Valdosta State University is one of six schools that offer the program jointly through https://webmbaonline.org, along with Columbus State University, Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, and the University of West Georgia. The program is designed for busy professionals, and the school is dedicated to creating success stories through mentorship, collaboration, and hands-on experiences. VSU helps students raise their expectations, broaden their worldview, and take advantage of the opportunities surrounding them. The school focuses on diversity, inclusion, and sustainability.

HIGHLIGHT: The Georgia webMBA program is five semesters long and can be completed in as little as a year and a half.

Degree Georgia webMBA

Cost: $$$$$

4. West Texas A&M University

The Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business at West Texas A&M University offers an online MBA that is truly one of the best affordable MBA programs in the world. Rated as one of the top 25 online MBA programs by The Princeton Review, the program can be taken 100% online and takes about two years to complete. Students are required to complete 28 credit hours of MBA core courses and 3-9 credit hours of courses in an emphasis area. The concentrations available are computer information systems, general business, healthcare management emphasis, management, and marketing.

An online MBA from the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business prepares students for success, whether they plan to manage their own businesses, seek employment in a Fortune 500 firm, or take on a leadership role in government.

HIGHLIGHT: The Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business is AACSB-accredited, and West Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Degree MBA Online

Cost: $$$$$

5. Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State University offers three affordable online MBA programs. The options are general management, sport management, and health administration. The general management program focuses on communication, leadership, financial analysis, and information technology. The sport management and health administration programs provide a curriculum that is tailored toward those industries. Students who plan to pursue careers in these fields may find job placement easier with a more targeted degree.

The Harrison College of Business and Computing at Southeast Missouri State University is AACSB-accredited and the online MBA faculty is the same faculty that teaches their on-campus MBA courses. Harrison gives students a chance to put their knowledge and skills to the test by starting their own businesses, developing products, managing portfolios and entering competitions against fellow students.

HIGHLIGHT: The Harrison College of Business and Computing has a network of over 20,000 alumni and over 500 corporate partners that offer internship opportunities and jobs to students.

Degree Online MBA

Cost: $$$$$

6. Sam Houston State University

The Master of Business Administration from Sam Houston State University is available both on campus and online. The program is intended to equip students with the skills they need to succeed in leadership positions in government and business or to prepare them for further business education at the doctoral level. This affordable online MBA program integrates a variety of disciplines and is suitable for students with degrees in any discipline.

The College of Business Administration at Sam Houston State University is AACSB-accredited and offers competitively priced graduate degrees. Since managerial practices are constantly changing, the MBA program at SHSU focuses on developing the ability to function in a changing work environment. The online option offers students flexible scheduling that accommodates the needs of a busy, working professional.

HIGHLIGHT: The online MBA program at Sam Houston State University can be completed in four semesters for full-time students. Students who are attending classes while working are encouraged to adopt a slower pace.

Degree Online MBA

Cost: $$$$$

7. Florida Atlantic University

The 23-month online MBA available through Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business is ranked as one of the best affordable online MBA programs by U.S. News and World Report and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The program provides an outstanding value for the investment, with students reporting one of the best salary-to-debt ratios in the nation following graduation. The online MBA program allows professional students to continue working while earning their MBA degrees fully online.

The Florida Atlantic University College of Business immerses its students in real-world experiences: writing business plans, solving financial problems, creating polls, and analyzing real data. The school is AACSB-accredited and focuses on preparing students to become successful leaders, driving progress and creating new opportunities.

HIGHLIGHT: The online MBA program at FAU challenges students to think, lead, and innovate. The school offers personalized coaching sessions and mentorship to help each student reach his or her full potential.

Degree Online MBA

Cost: $$$$$

8. Texas A&M University–Commerce

Backed by AACSB accreditation and the reputation of Texas A&M University, the online MBA from the College of Business at Texas A&M University-Commerce is one of the best affordable MBA programs in the world. The program is 30-48 hours and prepares students for advanced leadership positions. Students can add a minor to their MBA if desired.

The College of Business at the Texas A&M University-Commerce is devoted to helping students become world-class business leaders. Their faculty works with students to help them succeed in the online learning environment. Faculty members get to know students personally and offer advice tailored to the needs of the individual.

HIGHLIGHT: Texas A&M University-Commerce MBA graduates are equipped with all the tools and knowledge they need to be influential leaders and managers, and are highly sought after by employers.

Degree Online MBA

Cost: $$$$$

9. University of Utah

The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah offers an online MBA that is taught by the same faculty as their in-person MBA. This program has flexible scheduling to allow students to fit classes into their busy lives. The MBA Online courses are available around the clock, so students can engage in the interactive learning experience at any time. The course includes on-demand lectures and allows students to interact with faculty members and with other students.

The David Eccles School of Business helps students launch their own businesses through a collaborative environment that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit. Faculty members have real-world business and research experience, and the interdisciplinary nature of the program gives students the opportunity to discover and hone their strengths.

HIGHLIGHT: The David Eccles School of business is a place where students learn by doing, applying their lessons as they launch new companies and build their futures.

Degree Online MBA

Cost: $$$$$

10. University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The University of Nebraska’s MBA@Nebraska curriculum combines 30 credit hours of in-demand foundational business skills with 18 hours of electives in its customizable online program. Students can choose their own electives or complete one of the five standard concentrations, which are business analytics, finance, international business, marketing, and supply chain management. The program can be completed 100% online and is split into a series of 8-week courses.

The College of Business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers “fair tuition,” priced at just $630 per credit hour. This rate applies to all MBA@Nebraska students, regardless of residency. With its low tuition and high post-graduation salary increases, the University of Nebraska offers one of the best returns on investment of any online MBA program.

HIGHLIGHT: Financial Times ranked MBA@Nebraska #1 in the world for salary increases among its alumni. Graduates earn an average of 40% more after obtaining their degrees.

Degree MBA@Nebraska

Cost: $$$$$

Are Online MBA Programs Cheaper?

When students are learning more about online MBA cost, one of the questions that pops up is whether or not online MBA programs cost less than in-person programs. While this may seem like a relatively simple yes or no question, the most accurate answer is actually more complicated than that. For example, there are international programs that are cheaper than the cheapest online MBA programs in USA, but degrees from these programs may not be recognized by American companies. Thus, looking for the cheapest online MBA in the world may not be the best strategy.

The simplest answer is that some online MBA programs cost less to attend than the average in-person program, but others cost more. When looking at an online MBA cost is one of the factors that students should research for each program. However, it is not the only factor. The cheapest online MBA likely will not be the best for any given student’s specific needs. Even the cheapest online MBA in the world may not be the best choice if it doesn’t have the courses or faculty that a student is looking for. Looking at a list of several of the cheapest online MBA programs in USA may allow a student to find one that also fits their needs in other areas.   

How Much Can I Make with an MBA?

Business professionals generally choose to get an MBA for career advancement, of which making more money is always an important part. A look at some of the highest paying jobs for MBA graduates makes it easy to see why many students decide to get an MBA in the first place. Not only is the entry level MBA salary higher, but the average MBA salary after five years is considerably higher than the average salary for professionals who do not have an MBA.

The average MBA entry level jobs salary varies, but the average is around $65,000 a year. Finance, which is home to many of the highest paying jobs for MBA graduates, may give students an entry-level MBA salary of over $100,000. The average MBA salary after 5 years is usually well into six figures, depending on which field the MBA graduate goes into. The fact that an MBA entry level jobs salary is higher contributes to this, as well as the accelerated career progression often seen with an MBA degree.

What Can I Do with an Affordable Online MBA?

As the various MBA programmes in USA offer a wide selection of specializations,  there are many different jobs for recent MBA graduates. Common entry level jobs for MBA graduates include working as a financial analyst, financial advisor, auditor, actuary and more. Students who aren’t interested in any of the usual entry level jobs for MBA graduates can start their own businesses. Of course, learning and growing as a business professional through one of the many entry level MBA jobs is the usual route of an MBA grad. There are quite a few jobs with an MBA degree, which influences many students to go the safe route and take a corporate job. However, many MBA programmes in USA emphasize entrepreneurship

Experienced professionals can get even better jobs with an MBA degree than the entry-level MBA jobs that new grads are eligible for.  Having an MBA will qualify graduates to apply for more lucrative positions throughout their careers, even many years after they complete their degrees. The high-quality jobs for recent MBA graduates are just the beginning of a successful career path for professionals that hold an MBA degree.

Carrie Morris

Warren Dahl