Last Updated: January 27, 2021
As the global marketplace continues to expand, businesses increasingly seek out adept and business-savvy MBA graduates. In fact, the demand for MBAs is so high that graduates from top-tier business schools can reasonably expect to make six figures in their first job.
Traditional two-year MBA programs tend to come with a steep price tag, partly due to the extra costs of studying full time for two years, often away from home. Prospective business students who don't have the resources to complete a traditional MBA might consider an accelerated online MBA.
Candidates looking for a fast MBA should carefully research their options before choosing where to apply. Factors to mull over include accreditation status, faculty, alumni network, cost, program format, and concentration offerings. Students should also consider whether they can put in the additional work required to complete an accelerated online MBA. The below rankings offer detailed information about the fastest online MBA programs in the country.
2021's 10 Fastest Online MBAs
|1||University of La Verne||12-24 months|
|2||University of North Carolina Wilmington||12 months|
|3||Florida Southern College||12-24 months|
|4||Purdue University||Less than 24 months|
|5||Mississippi College||12-18 months|
|5||University of Dayton||12 months|
|7||Union University||12, 18, or 24 months|
|8||Maryville University of Saint Louis||12 months|
|8||Harding University||12 months|
|8||Indiana Wesleyan University||48 weeks|
What Are Accelerated MBA Programs?
An accelerated MBA typically takes one academic year — or 9-10 months — to complete. Some fast MBAs expect degree-takers to complete prerequisites prior to official program start, while others offer the option of adding an internship or capstone.
Most fast MBAs call for more prerequisites than traditional tracks. Others eliminate the final capstone project or thesis, and yet others expect learners to squeeze in more credits each term than the traditional MBA student.
Accelerated MBAs are typically online programs. The online format is cost-effective for both students and the degree-granting institutions, in part because traditional barriers such as classroom capacity and student-to-teacher ratios don't arise in online settings. To mitigate costs, some fast MBAs limit the allotted time for faculty-student interactions outside of class.
Let's take a closer look at how accelerated and traditional MBAs stack up against each other.
Comparing Traditional and Accelerated MBA Programs
|Accelerated MBA||Traditional MBA|
|Length||9-13 months||24-36 months|
|Course Load||30-60 credits||45-60 credits|
|Capstone or Thesis Required||Varies||Yes|
|Cost of Tuition||> $30,000||> $60,000|
|Possibility of Specializing||Yes||Yes|
|Possibility of Internship||Varies||Varies|
|Bachelor's Degree Required||Yes||Yes|
|Prior Coursework in Business Administration Required||Varies||No|
|Work Experience Required||Varies||No|
Accelerated Online MBA Programs
Students considering an accelerated online MBA may wonder whether an online MBA holds as much prestige as a traditional on-campus degree. Online programs used to limit students' access to interactive learning, such as live lectures, real-time class discussions, team-based projects, and networking events with alumni and local business leaders.
But today, distance learners at reputable schools can expect the same first-rate education as their on-campus counterparts. Advances in technology have evened out the quality of online and on-campus learning. Furthermore, many top-tier schools incorporate brief workshops or on-campus residencies into their online programs.
When contemplating an accelerated online MBA, prospective students should consider whether the program's expected workload fits with their current job and family commitments. If the expected workload is too high to uphold these commitments, candidates may want to think about whether a two-year or part-time online MBA program would better serve them.
The 15 Shortest Online MBA Programs for 2021
Earning an MBA prepares graduates for high-paying leadership careers in business. With an accelerated online MBA, you can earn your degree in one year. Explore the 15 shortest online MBA programs for 2021 below.
What the Fastest MBAs Have in Common
College experiences vary, but the best accelerated online MBA programs share common characteristics. Below, we explain what to look for when choosing a school.
They are accredited. Accreditation is a quality assurance process. Third-party agencies evaluate factors like academic strength, faculty qualifications, and access to student services. Attending a regionally accredited school makes it much easier to qualify for financial aid or transfer credit. Many of the fastest online MBA programs also hold separate programmatic accreditation, which testifies they meet industry standards for graduate business education. All the schools on our list are regionally accredited, and most are programmatically accredited. Look for the following accrediting agencies:
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
- They are affordable. Higher costs do not always indicate quality. In fact, many of the best schools offer affordable tuition and/or provide financial aid opportunities. This includes Oklahoma State University's Spears School of Business, which offers a variety of merit-based fellowships and scholarships for online MBA students.
- They are reputable. Top universities boast strong reputations, which we measure by looking at factors like the percentage of applicants admitted and the typical earnings of graduates. For example, Saint Joseph's University ranks in the top 3% for median earnings for students ten years after graduating, according to a study by Georgetown University from 2019.
- They offer strong academic programs. The best schools feature strong academic programs, measurable by criteria like graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and high-quality faculty. In Purdue University's online MBA program, for example, 98% of faculty members hold advanced degrees. Union University boasts a low 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
1. University of La Verne
|Private university in La Verne, CA, accredited by WASC|
A private institution founded in 1891 and located 35 miles east of Los Angeles, the University of La Verne offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs.
La Verne's accelerated online MBA for experienced professionals includes a curriculum tailored for those in the middle of their careers. The program emphasizes management, teamwork, and communication skills in a global business context.
The 33-credit degree takes 1-3 years to complete. Notable classes include technology-based operations management, corporate finance, theory and practice of organizational behavior, and marketing management. Students must also complete a strategic management course as a culminating experience. The MBA requires 12 elective credits or completion of a concentration in an area like information technology, supply chain management, or health services management.
La Verne's MBA Specializations
Accounting | Finance | Information Technology | International Business | Management and Leadership | Marketing | Supply Chain Management | Health Services Management
Applying to La Verne
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. The program also requires letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and official college transcripts.
Program at a Glance
2. University of North Carolina Wilmington
|Public university in Wilmington, NC, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB|
A public research institution, the University of North Carolina Wilmington enrolls nearly 18,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Part of the 17-campus UNC system, UNCW got its start in 1947.
UNCW boasts one of the fastest online MBA programs, allowing students to graduate in as few as 12 months. Ideal for working professionals, the 36-credit executive MBA emphasizes corporate finance, strategic management, information analysis, and business analytics. Notable classes include programming for analytics, global strategy and analysis, and applied learning residency. Students can add a specialization in areas like marketing, finance, or supply chain management.
The fully online program features rolling admissions and six start dates each year. Applicants can request a GMAT waiver if they hold a minimum 3.2 GPA, at least five years of managerial experience, or an advanced degree that includes some quantitative coursework.
UNCW's MBA Specializations
Business Analytics| Finance | Healthcare Management | International Business | Marketing | Supply Chain Management
Applying to UNCW
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university, at least two years of professional experience, and a GMAT score over 500 (or GRE equivalent). Applicants must submit a resume, a cover letter, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts.
Program at a Glance
3. Florida Southern College
|Private college in Lakeland, FL, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB|
A small private college located in Lakeland, Florida Southern College serves more than 3,500 students. The school offers internships and study abroad opportunities to every interested learner, and guarantees the ability to graduate in four years.
Florida Southern's accelerated online MBA features executive mentors, living case studies, and international field experiences. The AACSB-accredited program offers industry-relevant tracks in business analytics, CPA licensure, industrial and organizational psychology, and supply chain management.
The 33-credit curriculum includes classes like leadership and organizational behavior, economic decision-making, data analytics, and strategic management. Students can complete an internship or international field experience for elective credit. The school offers a one-time $500-$1,500 merit scholarship to MBA students who submit GMAT/GRE scores with their applications. Alumni work for Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Geico, and Citibank.
Florida Southern's MBA Specializations
Business Analytics | CPA Licensure | Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Supply Chain Management
Applying to Florida Southern
Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE/GMAT scores. The program also requires a current resume, a recommendation letter, and a personal statement of professional goals.
Program at a Glance
4. Purdue University
|Public university in West Lafayette, IN, accredited by HLC and ACBSP|
Founded in 1869 as Indiana's land-grant institution, Purdue University participates in the Big Ten Conference and boasts 18 athletics teams. Purdue Global, the university's online division, seves 29,000 students throughout the world.
Purdue Global's online MBA program for working professionals offers six career-focused concentrations in areas like healthcare management, finance, human resources, and information technology. The human resources option aligns with the Society for Human Resource Management HR curriculum guidebook and templates.
The program features hands-on learning, one-on-one mentoring, and notable faculty expertise. The typical online MBA candidate takes two years to graduate. Purdue Global's ExcelTrack competency-based MBA takes even less time to complete, offering flexibility and financial savings for those with at least three years of relevant work experience. ExcelTrack students take two standard online courses (eight credits) and 52 one-credit modules.
Purdue Global's MBA Specializations
Finance | Healthcare Management | Information Technology | Human Resources | Marketing | Project Management
Applying to Purdue Global
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and at least three years of relevant professional experience.
Program at a Glance
5. Mississippi College
|Private university in Clifton, MS, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB|
The second-oldest Baptist college in the country and the oldest college in the state, Mississippi College in Clinton dates its founding to 1826.
Created primarily for Christian working professionals, MC's AACSB-accredited, accelerated online MBA features 10 eight-week courses. Founded in 1946, the MC School of Business offers the oldest MBA program in the Jackson metropolitan area. The school partners with companies like Community Bank, Dickerson and Bowen, KLLM Transport Service, and Vermeer MidSouth.
The 33-credit curriculum includes classes such as strategic management, leadership in a global environment, quantitative analysis, and management of technology and innovation. Students can add a concentration in accounting or management information systems. Those with an interest in both business and the law can pursue a dual MBA/JD degree and graduate in three years.
MC's MBA Specializations
Accounting | Management Information Systems
Applying to MC
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university. The school offers a GMAT waiver to applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program also accepts those with a minimum 2.25-2.99 GPA who can demonstrate at least three years of relevant professional experience and acceptable GMAT scores.
Program at a Glance
6. University of Dayton
|Private university in Dayton, OH, accredited by HLC and AACSB|
A Catholic research institution, the University of Dayton serves more than 11,600 students. Founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary, UD's mission includes a commitment to the Catholic understanding of scholarship.
One of the fastest online MBA programs, UD's School of Business Administration offers a 30-31.5-credit degree that takes one year to complete. The program offers concentrations in marketing and business analytics. Learners may tailor their curriculum to their professional goals. The same experienced UD professors who teach in person also provide instruction for the distance MBA program.
The one-year online MBA includes classes like managerial economics, organizational behavior, information systems and business decisions, and operational effectiveness. Students must complete two in-person immersions at UD, which include collaborative group workshops and panels with industry leaders.
UD's MBA Specializations
Marketing | Business Analytics
Applying to UD
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college and at least eight years of relevant professional work experience or a bachelor's in business earned more than seven years ago.
Program at a Glance
7. Union University
|Private university in Jackson, TN, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB|
An evangelical Christian university founded in 1823 in Jackson, Union University offers more than 100 Christian academic programs. The school offers a low student-to-faculty ratio of 10-to-1.
Union's AACSB-accredited accelerated online MBA takes 12, 18, or 24 months to complete. The fully online program features eight-week classes. McAfee School of Business faculty members emphasize the way that faith and business work together. The program does not require any specific prerequisites, but expects students to understand basic economics, management, accounting, and statistics before starting MBA coursework.
Concentrations available include accounting, human resource management, leadership, and marketing. The 36-credit degree includes classes like analytical managerial accounting, management information systems, human resource management, and ethical management. Union's MBA program accepts up to nine transfer credits earned at a regionally accredited university.
Union's MBA Specializations
Accounting | Business Analytics | Healthcare Management | Human Resource Management | Leadership | Marketing | Supply Chain Management
Applying to Union
Applicants must submit official GMAT/GRE scores, official college transcripts, and a resume. Professionals with at least five years of substantial business experience can request a GMAT/GRE waiver.
Program at a Glance
8. Maryville University of Saint Louis
|Private university in Saint Louis, MO, accredited by HLC and ACBSP|
One of the first universities in the region to offer education to women, Maryville University of Saint Louis was founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1872.
The one-year online MBA from Maryville takes one year to complete and requires no in-person visits. The ACBSP-accredited program also requires no previous business experience and offers six start dates each year. The curriculum includes current case studies, hands-on learning, and participation from experienced industry professionals. Students gain leadership, networking, and tech skills.
MBA candidates can choose from 12 specializations in areas like information technology, emerging and digital media, business data analytics, and human resources management. The John E. Simon School of Business maintains partnerships with companies like Boeing, Edward Jones, Rawlings, and Centric Group.
Maryville's MBA Specializations
Accounting | Business Data Analytics | Cybersecurity | Emerging and Digital Media | Financial Services | Health Administration | Human Resources Management | Information Technology | Management | Marketing | Project Management | Software Development
Applying to Maryville
Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must submit transcripts, a personal statement, and a completed application. The program does not require an application fee or GMAT/GRE scores.
Program at a Glance
9. Harding University
|Private university in Searcy, AR, accredited by HLC and ACBSP|
A private Christian liberal arts institution established in 1924, Harding University is the largest private university in Arkansas. The school enrolls almost 5,000 students from 49 states and around the world.
Harding's one-year online MBA emphasizes business ethics, communication skills, leadership, and critical thinking. The 30-credit curriculum features eight-week courses and requires no campus visits.
The ACBSP-accredited accelerated online MBA includes classes like ethics in the legal environment, applied theory for business, corporate strategy and planning, and marketing management. Students can use the school's master schedule platform to plan their program from start to finish. They also get one-on-one academic advising, access to a career center, and the chance to learn about entrepreneurship at the Waldron Center.
Harding's MBA Specializations
Applying to Harding
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit GMAT/GRE scores (waiver available), college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and one writing sample.
Program at a Glance
10. Indiana Wesleyan University-National and Global
|Private university in Marion, IN, accredited by HLC and ACBSP|
Founded in 1920 and located in Marion, Indiana Wesleyan University-National and Global is the largest private university in the state. An evangelical Christian institution, IWU is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church.
IWU offers a fast MBA program that takes as little as 48 weeks to complete. Most distance students take courses sequentially, one at a time. IWU accepts up to six transfer credits from regionally accredited universities towards the MBA. Prospective students can learn what to expect from IWU's program by enrolling in the online MBA test drive course, which takes 3-4 hours to complete.
The 36-credit, ACBSP-accredited curriculum includes classes like decision-making and essential business communication, marketing management, applied managerial finance, and business strategy and policy. The program emphasizes integration of personal values when making business decisions through DeVoe's Virtuous Business Model.
IWU's MBA Specializations
Applying to IWU
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. IWU may offer probationary acceptance to students with a lower GPA. The university does not charge an application fee.
Program at a Glance
11. Murray State University
|Public university in Murray, KY, accredited by SACSCOC and AACSB|
Located in far western Kentucky and founded in 1922, Murray State University offers undergraduate and graduate liberal arts education to 9,400 students. The university's faculty brought in more than $7.3 million in grants in 2018-19.
Murray State's Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business offers an accelerated online MBA that develops foundational leadership skills. The 30-credit degree requires classes like corporate finance, seminar in organizational behavior, marketing planning and application, and managerial economics. Graduation requirements also include a capstone course in strategic management.
Students can tailor the program to their interests by choosing electives in a variety of in-demand areas and graduate in 12-18 months. MBA candidates gain access to the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development, which features training and consulting services and workshops for small businesses in western Kentucky.
Murray State's MBA Specializations
Applying to Murray State
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and meet minimum GPA or work experience requirements. The admissions committee requires college transcripts, GMAT scores (waiver available), and a completed online application.
Program at a Glance
12. Oklahoma State University
|Public university in Stillwater, OK, accredited by HLC and AACSB|
A land-grant institution founded in 1890 as Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus in Stillwater serves more than 35,000 students.
OSU offers one of the shortest online MBA programs, helping part-time students graduate in one year. Ideal for working professionals, the 36-credit, AACSB-accredited program includes instruction from full-time faculty. Enrollees take flexible asynchronous courses in subjects like business finance, marketing management, and individual and organizational behavior. Students can add a specialization in areas like data science, global marketing, or risk management.
The Spears School of Business awards a variety of merit-based scholarships and fellowships open to online MBA candidates. Other types of student support include access to career services, where learners get help with career search tools, resume review, mock interviews, and mentoring program access.
OSU's MBA Specializations
Accounting | Business Sustainability | Data Science | Economics | Energy Business | Entrepreneurship | Finance Investment Banking | Global Marketing | Hospitality and Tourism Management | Human Resource Management | Information Assurance | Marketing Analytics | Nonprofit Management | Risk Management
Applying to OSU
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. The program also requires transcripts, competitive GMAT/GRE scores, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.
Program at a Glance
13. Saint Joseph's University
|Private university in Philadelphia, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
A Jesuit university founded in Philadelphia by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University boasts more than 100 academic programs.
SJU's accelerated online MBA emphasizes technology, future-focused leadership, and social benefit. The AACSB-accredited 36-credit MBA takes as little as one year to complete and requires no in-person residency. The program offers small class sizes, expert faculty members, and individualized career counseling.
The fully customizable degree from the Erivan K. Haub School of Business consists of three stackable certificates that students complete in any order they like. The program includes an MBA core certificate with classes in finance, management, analytics, and business intelligence. Students also add up to two specializations in areas like applied investment management, corporate financial management, human resources management, and data science.
SJU's MBA Specializations
Applied Investment Management | Corporate Financial Management | Data Analytics| Data Management | Data Science | Financial Applications in Real Estate | Human Resources Management | Leadership | Marketing
Applying to SJU
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Admission to the program requires two letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and GMAT/GRE scores (waiver available).
Program at a Glance
14. West Chester University of Pennsylvania
|Public university in West Chester, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB|
Founded in 1871 as a teacher preparation school, West Chester University of Pennsylvania enrolls over 17,000 students and boasts more than 118 undergraduate and 80 graduate programs.
WCU offers one of the fastest online MBA programs, allowing students to graduate in less than one year. Part-time learners can complete the MBA in less than two years by taking one course at a time. WCU accepts transfer students from other MBA programs and may allow the transfer of up to nine graduate credits of prior coursework.
The program features seven-week classes and five sessions a year. The 30-credit MBA requires classes like financial analysis and valuation, strategic cost management, effective leadership, and global operations and supply chain management. Students must pass a comprehensive exam in their last semester.
WCU's MBA Specializations
Applying to WCU
Applicants with an AACSB- or ACBSP-accredited bachelor's degree, minimum 3.0 GPA, and two years of business experience qualify for full admission and do not need to submit GMAT scores. Students from other academic backgrounds may also apply.
Program at a Glance
15. Andrews University
|Private university in Berrien Springs, MI, accredited by HLC and IACBE|
A Seventh-day Adventist school founded in 1874 in Berrien Springs, Andrews University takes its name from John Nevins Andrews, one of the most important thinkers in the nineteenth century Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Andrews offers an accelerated online MBA that emphasizes student interaction, Christian ethical principles, and business leadership foundations. The IACBE-accredited online program offers five start dates a year and offers 50% reduced tuition compared to the on-campus version.
The 33-credit degree takes one year to complete for students who hold a bachelor of business administration or an equivalent degree. Those without a BBA may need to complete up to 13 prerequisite credits in subjects like fundamentals of accounting, business law, and macroeconomics. Required core MBA classes include organizational behavior and leadership; strategic marketing management; Christian ethics, service, and society; and managerial accounting.
Andrews's MBA Specializations
Healthcare and Hospital Management | Accounting and Finance | General Management
Applying to Andrews
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and a minimum 2.60 GPA. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose, and GMAT scores.
Program at a Glance
What to Expect From One-Year Online MBA Programs
Accelerated MBA degrees are predominantly available online. Some accelerated online MBAs offer a format that allows for live lectures, real-time class discussions, and peer-based projects. This is known as a synchronous online format.
Most synchronous online programs follow the on-campus semester or term structure, though some schools may offer courses in shorter increments that fit into the regular academic calendar. For example, some programs feature online courses that last half a semester but meet twice as often as regular courses and require twice the workload.
Online programs also occasionally offer fully asynchronous courses, in which students can listen to prerecorded or written lectures and complete assignments and quizzes as their schedules permit, as long as they meet the set due dates. This format does not involve live lectures or real-time class discussions.
The first half of an accelerated online MBA program is typically devoted to mandatory core courses, and the second half is dedicated to electives, allowing students to specialize in a specific industry or career field. Some programs culminate in a capstone seminar, in which learners apply theory to address a real-world business problem.
Specialization Options for Accelerated MBAs
Despite the speedy nature of accelerated online MBAs, most of the shortest online MBA programs offer an array of specialization options. Common concentrations include:
- Information technology
- Healthcare administration
- Human resource management
- Energy and sustainability studies
While a general MBA cultivates core skills in business administration, an MBA with a concentration focuses on developing advanced skills tailored to a specific industry or occupation.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages. In today's cutthroat job market, a specialized MBA can give graduates a competitive advantage over applicants with a general MBA. Meanwhile, the high versatility of a general MBA prepares candidates for a variety of jobs across industries and occupations.
Students who opt for a specialized MBA should choose carefully, as a concentration may narrow their area of expertise. Some currently in-demand concentrations could turn out to be temporary trends.
Popular Accelerated MBA Courses
An accelerated online MBA curriculum entails both required courses, intended to develop core skills, and electives, allowing students to concentrate on specific topics. Most accelerated online MBA programs also include a final capstone, which addresses a practical business problem, often for a real company. Occasionally, students in a fast MBA program can choose to write an academic-focused thesis instead.
The following are examples of courses in a typical accelerated online MBA program.
- Marketing: Most programs require students to take a class in marketing. A course in marketing focuses on cultivating the skills needed to effectively promote a company's products or services to consumers.
- Strategy: Strategy is a common component of a core MBA curriculum. In this class, learners study decision-making strategies that have historically helped business leaders steer their businesses through the most adverse of circumstances.
- Investment: Most programs require students with a concentration in finance to take a class in investment. In this class, students learn a variety of investment strategies and analytical skills needed to assess equities, fixed income securities, and other types of investments.
- Negotiations and Conflict Resolution: In most programs, students can choose an elective in negotiations and conflict resolution. This course focuses on sharpening learners' abilities to effectively negotiate, bargain, and resolve conflicts in the types of complex situations that can emerge in the modern business world.
- Capstone Seminar: A traditional MBA course, the capstone seminar is a common component of the core MBA curriculum. During this seminar, students work individually or in groups to solve real-life business problems.
Is a Fast MBA Worth It?
Prospective students may wonder whether investing in a fast MBA is likely to pay off. Even the shortest online MBA programs can be expensive, and their accelerated nature may prevent degree-takers from maintaining jobs while studying. On the other hand, students opting for an accelerated online MBA spend less time away from the workforce and may see a return on investment (ROI) more quickly.
How long does it take to see an ROI from an accelerated MBA? In 2019, the median annual base starting salary for an MBA was $115,000. Accounting for a one-year income loss, MBA graduates could begin to see an ROI from an accelerated online MBA within a few years of completing their degrees and starting higher-paying positions.
According to the Princeton Review, many graduates see an ROI of around 300% within a decade of completing an MBA.
ROI projections for academic degrees depend on starting salary estimates, prospective raises, and other considerations. As the below table illustrates, MBA careers with notably high salaries include computer systems and advertising management.
|Career||Median Annual Salary|
|Administrative Services Managers||$96,940|
|Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers||$135,900|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||$122,840|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$146,360|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$100,980|
Selecting the Right Accelerated MBA Program for You
Prospective students may be tempted to apply to the nation's most prestigious, best-ranked MBA programs. But prestige and rankings are not the only factors to consider when deciding where to apply. Three other key considerations are accreditation, alumni, and online format.
Two forms of accreditation prove crucial to the value of an MBA degree. At minimum, the degree-granting institution should be accredited by one of the six regional accrediting organizations. Business schools also have their own accreditation system. Accreditation from program-specific agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business verifies that a school meets the highest academic standards.
A program's alumni network can play a pivotal role in students' future careers. Most programs set up opportunities for learners to interact with successful alumni. Building a professional relationship with an alumnus whose career trajectory lines up with yours can give you invaluable pointers on how to meet your career ambitions.
Top-tier schools tend to offer the same quality education in their online and on-campus programs, but online formats vary across programs. Asynchronous programs offer prerecorded lectures and online discussion boards in lieu of live lectures and real-time class discussion, providing greater flexibility and convenience. Synchronous programs require students to attend lectures at set times. Learners must evaluate their own time management skills and self-motivation to determine which format would better suit them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an online MBA respected?
Yes. Online MBAs from accredited schools garner as much respect as traditional MBAs.To avoid ending up with a degree devoid of value, prospective students should always check a school's accreditation status.
How fast can you get an MBA?
The shortest MBAs take 9-10 months to complete, often requiring a strong business background. Some of the fastest online MBA programs allow students to complete prerequisites during the summer prior to official program start.
Can you get an MBA in one year?
Yes. One-year MBAs are the standard in Europe, and many reputable U.S. schools offer one-year MBAs as well. Fast MBAs best serve candidates with strong business backgrounds.
Is a one-year MBA worth it?
Yes, but return on investment takes time. A one-year MBA can create a fast track to a higher position. However, it may not be feasible to earn a one-year MBA while working full time. When accounting for lost income, it may take several years to see an ROI.
Which is better — a one-year or two-year MBA?
It depends. Both MBAs have equal potential, depending on outside factors. What determines the value of an MBA degree is not its duration but the school's accreditation, the strength of its alumni network, and possible concentration areas.