Look Who’s Getting Online MBA Degrees

Almost all the students in online MBA programs are employed, even if they may want to use their degrees to transition into something new. They have opted for online study because they didn’t want to quit their jobs and forgo salaries and benefits. And they certainly wanted to enhance their skill sets, put another desirable credential on their resumes, and join a network of like-minded, ambitious professionals.

All that is a given. There are many other attributes that may well surprise you about the people now attending online MBA programs. They are overwhelming male. They are mainly domestic, with very few international students in the U.S. online MBA offerings. Though most of the students tend to be in their early-to-mid 30s, a surprising number of online MBA candidates are in their 50s and several programs have 65-year-olds enrolled in their virtual classes.

In fact, age is relative when it comes to online MBA programs. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst currently has a 71-year-old studying for an online MBA, while the University of North Dakota has a 70-year-one in its virtual classes. At least five other schools, including Indiana Kelley, Maryland Smith, and Syracuse Whitman, all have people who at 65 would normally be contemplating retirement.

And who has the youngest students? At least three schools–Florida Hough, Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Michigan-Dearborn–have enrolled online MBA students who are just 21 years of age. The youngest average age in online classes? At just 28 years of age, the University of North Dakota takes the prize for the youngest students. Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts tie for having the oldest average age: 39 years.


Not surprisingly, virtual classrooms tend to be populated by men, with several schools reporting that more than 70% of their enrolled students are male. In Mississippi State’s online MBA program, 80% of the students are men. Some 77% of the online MBA students at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School are male, while 75% of the students at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School are men.

Still, there are a handful of schools that buck the trend. Hofstra University has somehow managed to top all online MBA programs by enrolling so many women that they make up 57% of the school’s virtual MBA program. Women are also a majority in the virtual classrooms at Florida International (53%), Kennesaw State University in Georgia (53%), Drexel University in Philadelphia (56%), and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (51%).

If you want to go to an online MBA program, don’t expect much global diversity. Only one U.S. school claims that international students are in double-digits: The University of Massachusetts at Lowell reports that 55% of its online MBA students are international. Otherwise, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School (9%), North Dakota (8%), Nebraska at Lincoln (7%), are on the high end of having the most international students in their online programs.