It’s a program that offers eight-week courses and multiple start dates throughout the year. It’s open to individuals who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in any field from any accredited college or university. And for non-business majors, it includes an eight-week foundation course that provides the working knowledge needed for a graduate business curriculum.
And all that for a lower price — by far — than you’ll find anywhere else.
Rogers State University of Oklahoma’s customizable, accredited online MBA, an 18-month program, costs just $10,880, less than any of the other 46 schools in Poets&Quants‘ fourth annual Online MBA Ranking. “Our motto at RSU is Students First,” Dean Susan Willis says. “One way we put students first is by offering an MBA program designed to fit your schedule. RSU is an accredited public university with an affordable, flexible, and achievable MBA degree program.”
If you’re looking for an online MBA from a school in this ranking, you’ll find more variety than you can dream of — including price, from Rogers State’s $10K degree to $141K at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. At the lower end, including four schools where the cost is less than $20K, the average cost is $20,535; while at the upper end, including four of the top five ranked schools — but, importantly, not top-ranked Indiana Kelley School of Business — the average cost among the seven most expensive online MBAs is more than $106K.
MORE FOR LESS
How can smaller schools afford to offer degrees that in many cases take two or more years to complete, while charging one-seventh the total fees? Last year we asked that question of Sandra Richtermeyer, dean of the Manning School at UMass Lowell, whose school slipped to third-lowest on the cost chart despite not charging more for the second year in a row.
“We are very committed to our values as a public university and offering a great value,” Richtermeyer said. “We have a very high-quality program at a great value. It’s our roots, being the second-largest public university in Massachusetts and one of the fastest-growing in the country. We want this to be a fantastic option for people to pursue a great program at a great value.” Leticia Porter, assistant dean at the Manning School, says there is still no plan to increase the school’s per-credit charge of $655.
We asked the same question — How can you afford to offer the variety and depth of curricula? — of programs whose costs are in the middle range, starting with the Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Saunders hasn’t changed its total cost — $78,000 — in two cycles.
“We’re about the middle of the road compared to other ranked schools,” the program’s director, Marty Lawlor, told P&Q. “Moreover, our tuition includes all textbooks, cases and course materials in addition to all travel and lodging expenses for residencies and international trips. One other difference is that most of our courses have two instructors. When you consider total cost of program, we think we provide value for money. Our students’ average payback is just under three years.” RIT Saunders’ online MBA program is ranked 46th by P&Q this year.
And what about at the top — the No. 1-ranked program at Indiana Kelley, which costs $74,520 — identical to its price in 2019?
“We focus on and invest in key primary areas — teaching and technology-enabled delivery and the online MBA student experience,” Ramesh Venkataraman, associate dean for information and instructional technologies and chair of Kelley Direct MBA & MS programs, told P&Q. “We invite the very best of Kelley’s faculty to teach in our online program, and we invest in the best instructional technology professionals and learning technology equipment to ensure that our top faculty can deliver their content in the best way possible for students. We also ceaselessly focus on the quality of the student experience outside of class, which includes everything from global and domestic immersions, to having dedicated academic advisors and career coaches who are trained — and excited about — working with our high-performing students.”
SCHOOLS RANKED 2-5 HAVE THE ONLY SIX-FIGURE OMBAs
Four of top five schools in Poets&Quants‘ 2021 Online MBA Ranking are also the four most expensive — and the only four that cost six figures:
1. Indiana ($74,520)
2. Carnegie Mellon (141,320)
3. USC Marshall ($111,663)
4. GWU ($100,883)
5. UNC ($125,589)
The average cost to attend a top-five OMBA program is $110,795. That’s a number that has not increased dramatically since last year, with only two of the five schools (CMU and USC) actually charging more in 2020. But going back two cycles, the average increase has been $7,306, or 7.5%, at the four schools that have seen their prices climb.
Altogether, Poets&Quants has enough data from 31 schools to make year-over-year cost comparisons. Of the 31, 11 schools didn’t raise costs; four — UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst, Florida International, Rochester Saunders — haven’t raised costs since before 2018. The biggest one-year increase came at the University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business, where the total cost increased 35.8% from $32,883 to $44,640, a more than $11K difference. Other notables: Wisconsin Consortium (up 23.9%) and the University of South Florida (23.8%). The biggest increase over two cycles was also at Cincinnati Lindner, $10,820 (32%), followed by Wisconsin Consortium ($5,550, 23.9%) and Washington State’s Carson Carson College of Business ($8,368, 23.9%).
Not every school increased cost. Three schools dropped their prices from 2019: North Dakota, the Jack Welch Management Institute, and Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business, which dropped $10,818, or 16.6%, to arrive at a 2020 cost of $54,502. Five schools were down in cost over two cycles, led by Creighton University’s Heider College of Business, which declined $6,406 (17.2%) to $30,821.
See the next page for a table of costs over three years at all the online MBA programs in our 2021 ranking.