A Master's in Business Administration, or MBA, is often the best graduate degree for students interested in advancing their careers in business, especially into management positions. Graduates of MBA programs possess skills in team management and financial problem-solving. This ranking looks at programs that are delivered online, often referred to as "distance learning, these programs give students the chance to earn the same, high-quality degree and skills as those taught in traditional programs, all while maintaining control over their professional and personal worlds. Online programs can also save students from the expense of on-campus study, meaning less debt after graduation. Let's take a look at the 13 Best Online MBAs in Economics!
FINDING AN MBA DEGREE
Many types of program structures and designs fall under the heading of Master of Business Administration. Many programs share some of their core elements with courses aimed at developing skills in relevant fields, such as finance, accounting, management, operations, and economics. Depending on what type of student a program is designed for, there will be key differences that potential students should be aware of. Programs that use cohort structures, where students progress alongside their peers through a pre-ordered set of courses, often help to build social and professional business networks. Other programs give students more free rein to choose course order or load, and they may even include specializations that prepare students for specific business contexts. Another good indicator to look at is whether or not a program requires a certain level of work experience prior to entering the program. Some MBA programs require little to no full-time work experience, while Executive MBA programs often require a minimum of ten years of full-time experience.
This level of variation may seem like a lot to handle, but it also shows why MBA graduates have a wide range of career options after graduation. MBA programs can qualify students positions such as marketing consultant, human resources manager, forensic accountant, or even an upper-level executive position like Chief Diversity Officer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these types of management positions can lead to median salaries near $120,000 per year in job markets that are set to grow by more than 10% in the coming decade. What's more, because students don't have to stop working while pursuing a degree, they can immediately apply their new skills in the office. This can mean raises, promotions, or even possible entrepreneurship, all before they have completed their degree. In the end, an MBA gives students the opportunity and skills necessary to pursue the job and career they want.
RANKING THE 13 BEST ONLINE MBA IN ECONOMICS
Online MBA Today uses eight metrics to grade each school: quality of online programs, from U.S. News & World Report; mid career pay, from Payscale; student review scores from Rate My Professor; aggregate reputation scores from other ranking sites; and percentage of online programs, SAT scores, average net price, and retention rate, from the National Center for Education Statistics. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit our methodology page.
#1. NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
Northeastern University has a number of innovative educational programs, including a "cooperative education" program that integrates classroom study and professional development. NEU offers an online Master of Business Administration program built around the idea of experimental learning. Courses blend hands-on learning opportunities with academic theory, to make the classroom to boardroom transition seamless for students. Students have the option of pursuing one of eight concentrations, such as Finance, Healthcare Management, or High Technology Management. Students can complete the 50 credit hours of required coursework in as little as two years. There are 13 core courses and five electives. Most students dedicate those electives toward a concentration; however, students may also simply combine any five electives they choose to earn a General MBA.
Northeastern offers both domestic and international residency courses. Applicants are not required to submit GMAT or GRE scores as a part of the admissions process, but they should be currently employed and have five years of professional work experience, including participation in and leadership of teams. Ideally, applicants' experience also includes financial or budgetary responsibility and the management of staff in a direct reporting relationship. The other concentration opportunities not listed above are Innovation Entrepreneurship, International Management, Marketing, Supply Chain Management, and Sustainability. All course sections are capped at 20 students, to help foster peer networks and encourage challenging and candid discussions on key topics.
#2. CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
Carnegie Mellon University has a global reach, as the school now has more than a dozen degree-granting locations across six continents. Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business is home to a part-time, hybrid online Master of Business Administration program. The program delivery involves online coursework, which is paired with six in-person weekends per year, which occur in various locations. The program typically takes 32 months to complete, and students typically begin their studies in September. The program opens with the Basecamp Orientation program, where students meet with professors and fellow students to familiarize themselves with the program and their peers, and take the opportunity to network. Students move through the program by taking two courses followed by an access weekend, repeating this pattern for the duration of the program.
Carnegie Mellon's MBA Class of 2021 is made up of 46 students, 28% of whom are women; 11% are international students. These students have 6.1 years of work experience, on average, and an average GMAT score of 669. Students' average undergraduate GPA was 3.3, with the middle 80% of students falling between 2.8-3.7. Students complete their core coursework and capstone courses during the first two years of the program, which leaves the third year open for elective courses and professional development. Each student is given a unique Tepper Roadmap to guide him or her through the processes of networking, skills development, and job searching. These roadmaps take students from the first day of orientation, through to graduation, and on to eventual employment.
#3. BALL STATE UNIVERSITY
Ball State's name derives from its founders, the Ball Brothers, industrialists in the 1800s who were originally known for their home canning items. Ball State offers a flexible Master of Business Administration program that allows students to take courses on campus, online, or through a combination of both. Students may also choose one of five concentration areas – entrepreneurship, finance, health economics, supply chain management, and sales management – to customize their degree further. There is also an option for students to pursue a general MBA degree. The curriculum for the program is made up of 24 credit hours of core courses, as well as six to nine hours of MBA electives. Core courses from the program include Entrepreneurial Leadership and Accounting and Decision Making. The final course in the program is Global Strategic Management (referred to as "Entrepreneurial Strategy," for the entrepreneurship concentration.
The Ball State online MBA has been rated as one of the Top 20 Online MBA programs by U.S. News & World Report. Students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer semester. Students with an undergraduate degree in business only need to complete 30-33 hours of coursework. Students without an undergraduate degree in business or a related field may be required to complete up to 51 hours to earn the MBA degree. In addition to the MBA program, Ball State offers a number of graduate certificates in business, including Business Essentials for Professionals, Health Economics, Policy and Administration, and Professional Sales Management. Applicants should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75.
#4. REGENT UNIVERSITY
Regent opened its doors in 1977 as Christian Broadcasting University, before adopting its current name in 1990. The Regent Master of Business Administration program is a Christ-centered business program that blends biblical principles with contemporary business theories. The program can be completed at the school's Virginia Beach campus, or fully online. The MBA curriculum requires 42 credit hours of coursework, including core courses such as Data Analysis for Decision Making, Prototyping Methods, and Servant Leadership & Social Issues. There are also 13 different concentration options available. These cover specialties such as Finance & Investing, Leadership, Small Business Technology Management, and Not-for-Profit Management.
Graduates of Regent's program have gone on to pursue careers in consulting, operations management, financial analysis, and market research analysis. Additional concentrations available in the program are as follows: Accounting, Global Business Leadership & Communication, Innovation Management, General Management, and no concentration. Students accepted into the program are expected to "check-in" to the program two weeks before the semester begins. Applicants may be invited for an admissions interview if the admissions committee deems one necessary. Students from the program are often able to share work produced in it as a part of their professional portfolio when applying for jobs. Other related Regent graduate programs include the Master of Science in Business Analytics and Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.
#5. TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY – COMMERCE
Texas A&M University at Commerce is the fourth-oldest higher education institution in the state of Texas, having been founded in 1889. Commerce offers a 30 credit hour online Master of Business Administration program. The 10-course sequence of the program is split among seven management courses, two information analysis courses, and one elective. Management courses cover topics such as financial management and managerial economics, while information analysis covers statistical methods and applied business research. Classes may be taken in person, online, or through blended course options. Students may also choose a graduate area of concentration, which will require additional elective courses such as accounting, agribusiness, financial planning, and corporate management.
A&M Commerce University allows MBA students to take British Studies courses in place of certain core courses or electives. This is part of a larger British Studies for MBA program organized through the University of Southern Mississippi, which formally awards the transcript credit for these courses. Students without an undergraduate business background may have to complete up to 48 credit hours of coursework, which includes additional foundation courses. Additional minor options not listed above are entrepreneurship, the economics of U.S. healthcare, financial planning, cybersecurity, and digital marketing. Students with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 may be granted provisional admissions status, which allows them to complete nine credit hours of graduate coursework and to earn full admission following a successful academic performance in those courses.
#6. MERCER UNIVERSITY
Mercer University has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for its commitment to community engagement. The school's Master of Business Administration is a fully online degree program that can be completed in as few as 18 months and offers students the opportunity to specialize in a concentration area. Students may focus on topics such as Marketing, Finance, Economics, Human Resources, or Healthcare Management. There are 21 credit hours of core courses, 12 hours of specialization courses, and a three credit hour capstone course (for a program total of 36 hours). The MBA program can even be combined with a number of other Mercer graduate degrees in a dual degree program. Options for the MBA dual degrees include the Master of Accountancy, Doctor of Pharmacy, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs.
Students in Mercer's MBA program bring an average of five years of work experience into the program and have an average age of 28 years. Most students in the program work while pursuing the degree, along with handling other personal and professional commitments. Graduates of the program will be qualified to pursue a wide range of careers, including market researcher, financial analyst, healthcare administrator, supply chain analyst, or account manager. New students may enter the program at five times throughout the year, in August, October, January, March, and May. Applicants are required to submit GRE or GMAT scores unless they have already earned a graduate degree from a regionally accredited university, or the international equivalent.
#7. NORTH PARK UNIVERSITY
North Park University is a private, Christian university associated with the Evangelical Covenant Church. North Park is home to a 36 credit hour Master of Business Administration program, which includes 13 core courses and five electives. Students can complete the degree in as little as 21 months, but most do so in about two and a half years. Core courses in the program include Organizational Behavior and Ethics, Ethical Leadership and Decision-Making, Global Macroeconomics for Managers, and Quantitative Decision Analysis. Elective courses can be chosen from a wide range of options offered through the School of Business and Nonprofit Management. The MBA capstone at the end of the program uses a computer-based simulation to help students plan and test strategies within a competitive business environment.
North Park also has a wide variety of graduate certificate programs for professionals and working adults. Students can earn certificates in Accounting, Church Administration, Economics, Healthcare Management, Nonprofit Finance, Leadership, and Organizational Development. These certificates can sometimes be earned as a part of the MBA program, depending on which elective courses a student chooses to pursue. Alumni of the program now work for a wide variety of firms, including the Chicago Board of Trade, JPMorgan Chase, Motorola, Pfizer, and Zebra Technologies. Online courses may be completed or accessed at any time, as they are delivered in asynchronous formats. As part of the online program, any student who completes a North Park master's degree and returns for additional classes or another degree will receive a 50% tuition discount.
#8. BELLEVUE UNIVERSITY
Bellevue was originally founded with the goal of focusing on adult education and educational outreach, so nearly 80% of its undergraduate students are aged 25 or over. Bellevue's Master of Business Administration program requires 36 credit hours of coursework. The program begins with courses such as Business Performance Management and Financial Reporting & Analysis. There are nine required courses, and students must complete at least three elective courses. Electives may be chosen with the completion of a concentration in mind, and Bellevue offers 22 concentration options to choose from. Some of these options are Tax, Professional Communication, Information Security, Human Resource Management, Executive Coaching, and Acquisition and Contract Management. Students declare their intended concentration area during the first term in the program.
Other concentrations not mentioned above include Global Economic Threat Environment, Interdisciplinary Business, and Project Management. Certain concentrations offer students three or four elective courses from which to choose, while concentrations such as accounting offer more than 12 elective course options. Many concentrations allow students to pursue an internship in place of one elective course. Applicants to the program should have maintained a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 in their final 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. Students may transfer up to six credit hours into the program. Bellevue also offers Masters degrees in Healthcare Administration, Business Analytics, Management, and Cybersecurity.
#9. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY – CARBONDALE
Southern Illinois began as a teaching school but has since expanded to offer more than 100 bachelor's, 70 master's, and 36 PhD programs, along with a number of professional degree options. Carbondale has an online Master of Business Administration program, which allows students to pursue concentrations in either Agribusiness Economics or Analytics for Managers. Both options require students to complete 43 credit hours of coursework, which includes ten core courses and four courses related to the student's concentration. The program generally takes 23 months to complete. Core courses from within the program include Brand Management, Critical Issues for Business, and Seminar on Career Effectiveness. Each of the four concentration courses are preset, with three subject-matter courses and one capstone. Samples from each concentration include Resource Allocation in the Agribusiness Firm and Data Science and Analytics for Managers.
If a student does not wish to pursue a concentration, they may simply pursue a General MBA. The Analytics concentration specifically ends with an MBA Analytics Capstone course, which emphasizes "creative, abstract, and integrative" thinking relating to business analytics. The Agribusiness concentration ends with two separate courses, which together serve to integrate the knowledge from previous electives and relate it to contemporary issues in the Agribusiness sector. Each course from the program is delivered in an eight-week format, with students taking one course at a time. The program does not require a set amount of work experience to apply, but having at least two years of full-time work experience does greatly increase a student's chances of being accepted into the program.
#10. WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY
Wright State was named after the Wright Brothers, pilots of the first sustained, self-powered flight in 1903, who lived in Dayton, OH, where the university is located. The Wright State Master of Business Administration program includes on-campus, online, and hybrid delivery options for students. There are eleven different concentration options for MBA students. All core courses are offered online every semester, as well as at least three different concentration courses. Students that take two classes per semester and one class each summer (which is an average workload) will need approximately two years to complete the program. Students in the program take core courses covering Leadership and Ethics, International Business Management, and Economics for Managers. Students may engage in a short-term study abroad opportunity, which is a self-directed independent study chosen to investigate a particular geographic area of interest for a student.
Some of the concentration options offered through the MBA program are only available to students completing the degree on-campus. Applicants to the program are expected to have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applicants beneath this threshold may be granted conditional admission, which may include submission of GMAT scores of 400 or higher. Students have a maximum of five years to complete the requirements for earning an MBA degree. Those without undergraduate coursework in business may be required to take up to five foundations courses before beginning the MBA core courses. Foundation courses cover the following topics: Accounting, Economics, Finance, and Law.
#11. GARDNER WEBB UNIVERSITY
Gardner Webb University is affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and is the youngest North Carolina Baptist university. Gardner Webb offers a 36 credit hour online Master of Business Administration program. The core curriculum of the program covers courses in Managerial Accounting, Managerial Finance, Managerial Economics, and Organizational Behavior. Students also have a number of areas of emphasis that they can choose from. These options include an emphasis in Economics, Management Information Systems, Tax Accounting, Banking and Finance, and Forensic Accounting. This MBA program can also be pursued in an accelerated, 10-month format. Students in the accelerated program take ten core courses and are not required to take electives or pursue an emphasis.
Applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 2.5 will be required to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Students between a 2.5 and 3.0 GPA will not be required to submit scores, so long as they have a minimum of three years of professional work experience within a relevant industry. On top of the standard MBA program, Gardner Webb also offers an International Master of Business Administration, which includes five core courses in International Business, four courses from the standard MBA program, and three International Business electives. GW also has an MBA Plus certificate, which is a post-Master's certificate program for students looking to modernize their business education or explore new career paths.
#12. SAGINAW VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
As a part of its international outreach, Saginaw Valley State has a sister-college exchange relationship with Shikoku University in Tokushima, Japan. Saginaw is home to an online Master of Business Administration program, made up of 37 credit hours split between core coursework and elective courses. If all three elective courses come from the same discipline then the student will earn a concentration in that discipline. Most classes in the program are worth three credits, meaning that there are 15 core courses and three elective courses. As an example of concentration courses, students completing the concentration in Entrepreneurship will take Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation, along with From Invention to Market and an additional elective course at the student's discretion. Core courses cover supply chain management, organizational behavior, social responsibility, and strategic management.
Saginaw Valley State uses a formula combining GPA and standardized test scores to determine minimum admissions criteria for applicants to the MBA program. There is also a separate admissions test given by the College of Business and Management that students may take. Students applying with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 may be granted provisional admission. Saginaw Valley also has a graduate certificate program in International Business. The program requires students to complete five elective courses and to complete a total of at least 12 credit hours. Courses are also divided by the functional area of business that they relate to – such as finance or accounting – and students must draw from at least four of these to complete the certificate.
#13. ASHFORD UNIVERSITY
Ashford is an online, non-profit university based out of San Diego, CA. Ashford University has a Master of Business Administration program that is delivered in a fully online format. There are 39 credit hours of coursework in the program. Courses are delivered in 6-week formats and students take only one course at a time. The first 33 credit hours are from core courses such as Law & Ethics in the Business Environment, Financial Statement Analysis, and Data & Decision Analytics. There are then three elective courses options, from which students need to select two: Entrepreneur/Intrapreneur, International Business, and Technology & Innovation. Students do not have to submit GRE or GMAT scores as a part of the admissions process for the MBA program.
Ashford University accepts students to the MBA program in three stages: conditional, provisional, and full. The conditional period ensures that students are familiar with the classroom and technology expectations of the program. Students must attend at least through the third week of their first course to pass through the provisional stage, and then full admission is granted when students finish their third course in the program. Before starting their fourth course, students must have a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA of 2.0. Students may transfer up to nine credits into the program. Students who have military experience or who have completed military training are eligible to receive class credit for their knowledge and experiences.