Yale | Mr. Nonprofit Sustainability
GRE 326, GPA 3.56
Wharton | Mr. Fintech Entrepreneur
GMAT 710, GPA 3.04
Wharton | Mr. Passion Projects
GMAT 730, GPA 3.15
Stanford GSB | Mr. Lost Trader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.93
Stanford GSB | Mr. Start-Up To F500
Yale | Mr. Consulting Escapist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Aerospace Manufacturer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Ms. Business Start-Up
GRE 312, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Big Fish, Small Pond
GMAT 790, GPA 3.88
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Founder
GMAT 700, GPA 3.12
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Said Business School | Ms. Ordinary Applicant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.37
Harvard | Mr. M&A Post-Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Banking To Startup
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Master’s To MBA
GMAT 760, GPA 3.4
USC Marshall | Mr. Versatile Entrepreneur
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Non-profit
GRE 330, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Real Estate Developer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.12
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Immigrant Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Cornell Hopeful
GMAT Targeting 700+, GPA 2.5
Tuck | Mr. Crisis Line Counselor
GMAT 700, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Digital Engineer
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. IB/PE To Fintech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.14
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
McCombs School of Business | Mr. First-Time MBA
GRE 332, GPA 3.3

You’ll Never Believe How Much Money People Are Borrowing To Get An Online MBA

How much money would you be willing to borrow to get an online MBA degree?

You will, no doubt, be surprised to learn that many online students are borrowing $50,000 or more to get their degrees. In fact, at the high end, the levels of student debt online students are willing to assume are shocking.

At Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business, for example, eight of every ten graduates is going into hock to get an online MBA from the school. Even more surprising, the average level of indebtedness is a whopping $96,094 for an MBA degree with a price tag of $92,040. That’s more than $4,000 of debt over the actual cost of the degree.


The average debt burden for graduates of at least 16 online MBA programs, in fact, is $50,000 or more. Many of the schools on the list, based on business school reports to U.S. News & World Report for its newest 2019 ranking of online MBA programs, are not even among the very top business schools in the U.S.

At American University’s Kogod School of Business, whose residential full-time MBA program is ranked 69th by Poets&Quants, nearly half the graduates (45%) are leaving with $82,668 of debt. At Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, whose full-time MBA is ranked 79th, the average debt load for online MBA students is $78,700. And at George Washington University’s business school, online student debt in its online MBA program came to $73,159 for the 49% of graduates who had to borrow money to get the degree.

One of the biggest surprises on the list, however, was the online program of a school that has never ranked in the top 100 of full-time MBA programs: St. Mary’s College of California. Online MBA graduates at St. Mary’s left with an average debt of $63,000 and 80% racked up debut upon graduation.


The numbers seem especially high because online MBA programs typically do not provide the same career outcomes as full-time MBA experiences at top schools that draw corporate recruiters to campus and allow more students to do career switches. In many online programs, in fact, career opportunities are far less available than they are in a full-time program.

Of course, that doesn’t mean an online MBA won’t provide a graduate greater confidence at work and an opportunity for either a raise or promotion in their current company. Pepperdine, with the highest debt levels, says that its 2016 survey of online graduates showed that 75% agreed that their online MBA helped them earn a salary increase and a promotion.

Switching companies or industries, a common reason for a full-time MBA experience, is far less likely with an online MBA, however, particularly from academic brands that are not well known. Poets&Quants’ surveys of online MBA alumni show that less than a third of graduates (roughly 31%) were able to change jobs as a result of their degrees (see Online MBA Programs That Deliver Great Career Outcomes). In contrast, a median 58% said they received a pay raise as a direct result of their online MBA.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.