What It Now Costs To Get An Online MBA

In the earliest days of the revolution in online learning, the most optimistic observers foresaw the chance to make higher education more accessible and affordable than ever before. That meant steep discounts for would-be students for costly degrees due partly to the unlimited size of a virtual classroom. But as with all revolutions, things don’t always turn out the way people expect.

With few exceptions, that is certainly true in the MBA space where some online options carry six-figure price tags that often shock prospective students. The new part-time online MBAs at New York University’s Stern School of Business and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business are priced at exactly the same level as those schools’ pricey in-person part-time options. At Stern, the online/modular MBA will set you back $164,204, while at Haas, the blended, online program carries a price tag of $148,386. Yet, Wharton’s new online Executive MBA beats both those programs with an astounding price tag of $214,800 (see Wharton’s Big Gamble: Why Would Anyone Pay A Quarter Of A Million For An Online MBA?).

Business school deans defend the pricing of these programs, noting that the courses are taught by the same faculty with roughly the same content. These options also include on-campus immersions and in-person modules. And it is also indisputable that the best schools are leveraging their brand reputation in pricing these degrees. An MBA from Wharton, Berkeley, or Stern, after all, is worth more than an MBA from the University of Cincinnati given the schools’ prestige in business education.


These super costly online MBAs, moreover, are obviously at the high end. The two most disruptively priced quality online MBA programs at strong branded business schools are at the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business, which offers its iMBA at just over $23,000 total, and Boston University’s Questrom School of Business 100% online MBA program which costs $24,000.

Not surprisingly, most schools fall somewhere in between these price extremes, with the number one ranked KelleyDirect MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business now priced at $82,158. The least expensive Top Ten online MBA offering is from the Jack Welch Management Institute at a cost of $46,200.

The cost of an online degree also reflects in part the kind of experience a student may want. Many of the least expensive options provide little to no career support or in-person modules or immersions. They are far less likely to give you a large portfolio of elective courses or to have majors or concentrations in a field of interest. Some don’t even have live Internet classes on a regular basis or limits on class sizes if they do feature virtual classes in courses. The cheapest online MBAs are also more likely to be taught by adjunct professors instead of the tenured or tenure-track core faculty who teach in the residential programs. That old cliché, “You get what you pay for,” is often applicable to the pricing of an online MBA.

And Explore Our 2023 Deep Dive Into The Best Online MBA Programs:

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