On one end of the spectrum you have Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, whose STEM-designated Part-Time Online Hybrid MBA boasts the same “dynamic faculty” that teaches in the Tepper School’s full-time MBA; a curriculum focused on analytics, emerging technologies, and how to “wield data to fuel better decisions”; and far more in-person coursework than most OMBAs.
On the other end you have tiny Rogers State University, a public university in Oklahoma with around 80 students and a speedy 18-month duration, whose biggest selling point besides not requiring applicants to submit Graduate Management Admission Test scores is that it costs less than any other school ranked by Poets&Quants this year — or last.
Cost, of course, is not the only difference between the two programs, but it may be the biggest and for many prospective students it’s one of the most important. CMU Tepper’s well-established program, which earns plaudits from peers and alumni alike, carries a tuition price tag of nearly $150,000, or about what you would pay for a traditional, residential program outside of the most elite schools. Rogers State, meanwhile, costs just $10,880, same as last year and the ultimate budget MBA.
CMU Tepper’s online MBA program is one of five to cost more than $100K in our 52-school 2022 ranking; the average price tag for a degree from one of those five most expensive programs is $119,400. On the other end of that spectrum, the average cost for a degree from one of the five least expensive OMBA programs is just $17,225.
NO WALL BETWEEN MBA & OMBA AT TEPPER
Online MBA programs are not like their residential cousins in terms of admission standards — they have lower averages for test scores, generally higher acceptance rates, and, usually, lower costs. (See the links below for this year's package of stories accompanying our annual ranking.) But at the very top of the heap, programs like UNC Kenan-Flagler's MBA@UNC, Indiana University's Kelley Direct, and CMU Tepper's blended online MBA program differ from most other online options in a few key respects.
Tepper, more than perhaps any other online MBA, requires a great deal of in-person coursework, delivered via a half-dozen Access Weekends scheduled between the program’s mini-semesters. “It’s a big component of our program,” Tepper Executive Director of Online Programs Cindy McCauley tells P&Q. “We think it’s important to give our students an in-person component.”
Tepper differs from other top programs in other ways, particularly the age and experience of its students. But it's the in-person element and the structure of the program — which allows OMBA students to alternate between programs and spend a year taking courses with full-time MBA students — that may best justify the program's high cost.
“We consider the CMU MBA to be one program,” McCauley says, noting that the wall at most B-schools between OMBAs and MBAs does not exist at Tepper. “We don’t see that wall because everything is the same. The admissions standards are the same, the coursework is the same. It’s not different, it’s just delivered differently.”
BREAKING DOWN THE COST DATA
Like 21 of 52 schools in this year's P&Q ranking, Tepper raised tuition for its online MBA this year — but like most schools that did so, it was not by a large amount. Tepper's tuition went up by $5,547, or just under 4%; compare that to USC Marshall School of Business, which has P&Q's top-ranked OMBA this year and which raised tuition $2,170, or just under 2%, to $113,833.
Of the schools that raised their tuition, American University Kogod School of Business went the furthest, increasing its OMBA price tag by $10,500 to $88,788. (See details for all ranked schools on page 2.) A few schools even lowered their tuition, none more so than the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, which dropped its price by $10,603, to $49,205. Meanwhile, 17 schools did not raise or lower their tuition at all between 2020 and 2021; a few schools — Florida International ($42K), UMass Isenberg ($35,983), and UMass Lowell ($19,650) — haven't raised tuition in four or more years.
Overall, the most expensive programs in the P&Q ranking after CMU Tepper are UNC Kenan-Flagler ($125,589), USC Marshall ($113,833), Rice Jones ($109,930), and George Washington University ($100,782). Twelve schools in the ranking charge above $80K in tuition for the online MBA programs, and nine charge above $90K. But 25 charge below $50K, and four charge below $20K. After Rogers State, the least expensive programs can be found at the University of North Texas ($15,625), Massachusetts-Lowell ($19,650), North Dakota Nistler ($19,793), and Oklahoma State Watson ($20,175).
See the next page for a chart of tuition costs over the last four years at all the schools in our 2022 ranking.
More About Poets&Quants' 2022 Online MBA Ranking
The Complete Ranking: How each of 52 of the best online MBAs place
Evaluating Each Online Program: How Online MBA Students Rate Their Programs
Assessing the Value of the Degree: How Online MBAs Rate the Degree's Career Impact
What Online MBA Students Get: How Online MBA Students Rate Their Degree's Career Impact
Gaining Admission: Acceptance Rates For The Top Online MBA Programs
What It Takes To Get In: Average GMATs, GREs and GPAs At Top Online MBA Programs