The market for online MBA programs is already crowded and largely commoditized, with new players entering the field every month. But these programs differ greatly, from how much they cost, to how long it can take to get the degree, to how often or whether you will ever meet your classmates and teachers face-to-face.
In other words, online MBA programs are not created equal. Some have frequent on-campus residencies. Others boast weekly live online classes. Some programs offer students the option of doing a global immersion or two and a consulting project with a company or nonprofit. Some schools provide one-on-one executive coaching for students, while others have funded student-run clubs and organizations exclusively for online candidates.
The differences can make a world of difference in a student’s experience and ultimate satisfaction with the program and the degree. “There are a lot of competitors now,” says Bob Dammon, dean of Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. “They all have slightly different models, and it’s important for students to understand the differences and whether they will get direct access to faculty and classmates and a personalized degree experience. For some that may not be important. But we have a very high satisfaction level, higher than even our full-time program.”
Here’s a quick guide to how the top U.S. online MBA programs differ from each other: