A college degree is an investment. Traditionally and generally in the U.S. and around the globe, a college education opens doors to better career options and economic mobility. But that investment part, it can be a large. As part of our online MBA rankings story package, we organize the participating schools from the least expensive by total program cost (tuition and fees) to the most expensive. This year, the school with the lest expensive online MBA program is the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, which ranked 23rd in this year’s ranking. For Tennessee residents, the total program cost is $23,088. For out-of-state students, the price ticks up to $24,780.
Following Tennessee-Chattanooga is the University of Wisconsin’s MBA Consortium, which ranked 30th, at $23,250. Then it’s 35th-place Louisiana State University with a total cost of $23,906. Up next is SUNY Oswego, ranking 28th, with a total cost of $23,956. Rounding out the top five for least expensive schools is Kennesaw State University, which ranked 26th, at $24,370. The least expensive school ranked in the top ten is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which placed eighth and has a total cost of $30,240. Second-placed Auburn is the next most affordable top-ranked program with a total cost of $34,125.
Tennessee-Chattanooga’s program, which is estimated to take about two years, features a general MBA or an MBA focused on data analytics or health administration. According to the school, about 60% of the current student population is taking the business analytics track. With six intakes a year and a completely 100% experience, a big draw for the program is its flexibility. But it also means that students never meet each other in person and faculty never meets students in person.
AND THE MOST EXPENSIVE PROGRAMS
At the other end, the most expensive online MBA option is Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, which now has a total cost of about $132,000. The school placed fourth in this year’s ranking and was first in last year’s. The next most expensive program is the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School’s MBA@UNC program, which costs $124,345. The only other program to cost six figures is George Washington University’s online MBA, which comes in at $101,887. First-placed University of Southern California Marshall School of Business comes next with a total cost of $99,692.
Generally speaking, many of the top-ranked programs skew towards the more expensive and those ranked lower skew to the more inexpensive. That said, there really isn’t much comparison between the least expensive and most expensive programs. Where Tennessee-Chattanooga has a completely online program where students can generally move through at their own pace, 32 months is the quickest a student can work through the program at Carnegie Mellon Tepper. The majority of courses at Tepper are live and face-to-face with classmates and professors. Plus, six times a year students meet for three-day trips.
It’s similar at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Run by the public company, 2U, the MBA@UNC requires students to meet multiple times throughout the program. During core courses students are required to attend weekly live sessions with their classmates and professors. USC Marshall’s three-year old program is similar in that it requires two to three live sessions each week, but also gives students the flexibility to complete assignments on their own time.
Of course price is just one piece of making a school decision. We suggest perusing our directory of online MBA programs for in-depth feature articles and program stats of our top 35 programs and more.
(See the next page for a full list of total program costs at all top 35 schools.)