These are the best MBA online courses to accelerate your career
Don’t underestimate the power of an online MBA. Source: Ina Fassbender/AFP

Thinking of attending business school — virtually? MBA online courses are not necessarily inferior to their on-campus counterparts. Online MBAs provide flexibility for working adults to learn at a pace that suits them. Students can also learn on a part-time basis without giving up their income while there may also be opportunities to make immersion trips to university’s satellite institutions abroad for invaluable networking opportunities.

The Princeton Review has reviewed the US’ top MBA online courses in their 2021 Top 50 Online MBA Programs. Indiana University Bloomington Kelley School of Business took the crown as their top MBA online MBA programme which they note is “Perennially ranked at the top for online MBA programmes”.

Their MBA programme offers flexible schedules, “a number of networking opportunities,” and devoted professors who “get it.” They add that professors use “quality materials,” give “personalised attention,” and are able to keep online students just as engaged as if they were physically sitting in the classroom.

Rounding up the top five is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business, and University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. The survey is based on a combination of institutional and student survey data, including career outcomes, technological infrastructure, academic rigor, cost, and affordability, among others.

What makes MBA online courses great?

Each MBA course has its unique strengths. Kenan-Flagler Business School’s programme is said to heavily emphasise analytical skills and is “also very big on leadership and management.” Students have the option to earn their MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship, “which is not offered at most schools.”

The Tepper School of Business part-time online MBA offers students the opportunity to combine online classes with short on-site immersive “Access Weekends” held every two months at Carnegie Mellon locations throughout the US. Students appreciate that the online programme is “treated exactly the same as [Tepper’s] full-time and part-time programmes”.

The Hough Graduate School of Business programme offers a “high-caliber programme with flexibility for a chaotic work environment,” “great value for the cost,” and an “accelerated pace.” Students say it’s a “challenging, yet very beneficial” programme which includes “real-life business cases,” a “great online platform to deliver materials,” and “quality instructors.”

Online programmes flex their prowess

Online MBA programmes also have an impact on graduates’ careers and salaries. Poets & Quants surveyed alumni graduating during the 2019-20 academic year as part of their 2021 Best Online MBA Programs. They also asked each graduate for their pre-MBA and post-MBA salaries. They found that online MBA graduates have an average percentage jump as high as 63%.

Tepper School of Business and Kenan-Flagler Business School are among the schools who had the highest salary increases among online MBA students graduating during the 2019-20 academic year. The pre-MBA salary for Tepper is US$92,045 while the post-MBA salary is US$149,773, reflecting a change of US$57,728. The figure for Kenan-Flagler US$113,745 and US$149,429 for their pre and post-MBA salaries respectively, reflecting a change of US$35,684.

“To measure the immediate career impact of an online MBA degree, we also asked alumni to report if they received a salary raise, promotion, or switched employers directly because of the degree,” said the report. “When averaging all three data points, graduates from Carnegie Mellon reported the greatest impact on their professional career trajectories. Some 65.4% of Tepper graduates reported earning a promotion, 76.9% reported a raise, and 50.0% reported switching employers, for an overall average of 64.1%.”

In all, MBA online courses can offer students more bang for their buck when choosing the right programme.