Guide to Earning a Top MBA Degree Online

If you’re searching for an online MBA degree program, then you’re in luck – literally hundreds are available! The MBA, or Master of Business Administration degree, is among America’s most popular master’s degrees. However, the plethora of schools brings one disadvantage: indecision. How can you choose the best program for your lifestyle and goals? Knowledge is power! Read through our frequently asked questions for basic information and some helpful tips. Elsewhere on our site, you can read about some top MBA programs and peruse descriptions of different MBA concentrations.

FAQ about Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degrees

  • What is business administration?

Business administration simply refers to running a business. If you enroll in an MBA program, you’ll prepare for duties in one or more of these main business sectors: accounting; finance; human resources; information systems; law; marketing; and operations management. Small companies need an individual administrator to be well-versed in most or all of these areas, but larger companies hire entire administrative staffs.

  • How do online MBA programs differ from campus-based programs?

In many ways, online programs and campus-based programs may be indistinguishable. Therefore, some schools, such as the University of Massachusetts Online, do not even note on a transcript that studies were internet-based. When compared with campus-based courses, online courses tend to be taught by the same professors, follow the same curricula, and have testing that’s just as rigorous.

Of course, a significant difference is the convenience offered by distance learning. In many cases, students can learn from anywhere an internet connection is available. Furthermore, if students choose “asynchronous” classes, they have the flexibility of logging into class at any time of day or night. Asynchronous formats let students download lectures and participate in virtual class discussions whenever it’s convenient. However, some online MBA programs require more scheduled participation. For example, a lecture might only be available for live viewing, or students might need to meet in person for group work.

Although an entirely online program might seem preferable at first, some students opt for hybrid programs. Since these include some on-campus learning, they give students the chance to occasionally socialize and network with professors and one another.

  • Which online MBA programs are trustworthy?

Fortunately, online MBA programs are offered by many familiar schools such as California State University and the University of Maryland. If you’re considering a lesser-known school in the United States, simply check that it’s accredited by an external body that’s recognized by CHEA, the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Reputable schools can be found in the CHEA database.

  • What are the prerequisites for an MBA program?

MBA programs consider applicants who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. However, the bachelor’s degree needn’t be in business. People from a variety of other fields – such as medicine, psychology, and law – earn MBA degrees too.

  • What is considered for admission?

In general, MBA admissions committees consider an applicant’s: academic transcripts; application essays; GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) score; letters of recommendation; and relevant work experience. The less competitive schools might not request all of the aforementioned materials. The more competitive schools might also require interviews.

  • How long does it take to complete an MBA program online?

If you complete a traditional MBA program on campus, it will typically take two years. Many online MBA programs follow this format, but it’s also common for them to offer accelerated schedules for people aiming to graduate in one year or eighteen months. Accelerated programs generally eliminate long summer breaks and/or require students to take an additional class every semester. Other online MBA programs let people extend their studies over several years.

  • What specializations are available in online MBA programs?

Some online MBA programs involve studying many aspects of business. Their lessons can be directly applied to virtually any setting. However, some programs are especially designed for careers in international settings, non-profit organizations, or other specialized areas.

Many MBA programs offer concentrations. These allow students to learn a bit about every subfield of business, but they emphasize accounting, human resources, marketing, or another area. Some of these concentrations are explored in other articles on our site.

Online business schools are also offering joint degrees with other colleges. These enable students to earn an MBA and another degree concurrently, and in less time than it would take if each degree were earned separately.

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Andreea Cojocariu

If students are considering going to graduate school, they should use their undergraduate classes to develop strong writing skills. Graduate coursework will be much easier if students are confident in their writing ability.


Cecile H. Moseley

I think that only people with MBAs fully understand the tremendous amount of research and writing that it takes to get an MBA in any learning environment. I take offense when people suggest that I should have earned my MBA from an on-campus school because that wasn’t an option for me. If you want something, you have to find a way to get it and that is what I did.


Cheryl Nethery

Speaking from a human resources angle, students who are fresh out of school have a tendency to think that they are going to walk into a company and become the vice president. That is not the case. An online MBA by itself will absolutely help you, but only to become a well-paid entry-level or second-tier employee, not a manager.


Deb Ranelle

I think that becoming a better communicator is 1 of the biggest takeaways from earning an MBA.


Debra Hart

As part of my healthcare management focus, I took a useful class about the legalities of healthcare, which discussed ethical and legal issues in nursing. That class showed me a variety of situations to avoid so that I don’t get entangled in a legal predicament. Getting into legal trouble can end your career before you know it, so I am glad that I know what to watch out for now.


Ivy McQuain

You learn the exact same things online and on campus, so in a practical sense, I think that an online MBA degree is equivalent. But experience has shown me that not everyone feels that way. When I was trying to get a job, potential employers turned up their noses at my online MBA. I felt like I was being snubbed because certain businesspeople thought my degree was not good enough.


Marc Scoleri

My favorite networking resource is LinkedIn, because it allows you to easily get all of the business contact information you need to follow up with someone. It provides a way to connect with people in your field in order to build partnerships in a way that purely social media networks do not. For that reason, I highly recommend that online MBA students build a LinkedIn profile, and use it.


Mike Kear

After I graduated with my MBA, I had a bit of a tough time convincing employers that my degree was worthwhile. But I was able to find employment, and I think that employers’ perceptions of online schooling is changing quickly.