A Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) provides the necessary education to propel earning potential and career growth, but it doesn’t boost students’ bank accounts immediately. Because the average cost of an online MBA is estimated at $66,300, enrolling in an MBA can be a scary investment.
Luckily, there are ways to make it less terrifying and more affordable. From exploring different online MBA program costs to using financial aid to bring down the tuition rate, there are options available for every price range. This guide dives into the factors that influence costs to help you determine which type of program would be best suited for your budget while providing you with an excellent education.
How Much Does the Average MBA Program Cost?
As we mentioned, the average MBA costs $66,300, but that statistic doesn’t tell the full story. The type of institution, the course delivery format, and the type of program can greatly impact the cost. In fact, in-person and online MBA programs costs can range from $10,000 to over $100,000 in the United States–and that’s before we throw in financial aid opportunities, which will be discussed in further detail below. For a better estimate of tuition, let’s dive into the different types of MBA programs.
Part-time vs. Full-time MBA Costs
As with most master’s degrees, MBAs can be obtained on a part-time or full-time enrollment. Often, part-time programs are cheaper on a semester basis, but a full-time program’s total cost can be less in the long-run (as seen at Ohio University, whose total cost for the full-time program is $10,716 a semester and $21,432 total, while their part-time program is $8,995 a semester, but $35,980 total, which means the part-time enrollment will cost $14548 more than the full time program)).
Part-time MBA Programs
A part-time MBA is a great option for anyone who wants to complete their degree while working full-time or juggling other intensive responsibilities, such as caring for an elderly family member. The cost for these programs varies, as outlined by the three universities below.
- Oklahoma State University: if you’re looking for an affordable part-time MBA, consider the program at Oklahoma State–especially if you’re a state resident. For in-state students, the cost of an online MBA is $16,983 total while non-residents pay $38,299.80.
- University of Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh offers a part-time MBA that can be completed online, in-person, or in a hybrid format. All students pay in-state tuition, which totals $46,920 for the entire program.
- New York University: NYU offers an online, part-time MBA that can be completed in 2-6 years. On average, the cost of an online MBA at NYU is $164,000 over the program’s duration.
Full-time MBA Programs
A full-time MBA program lets you complete your degree faster and often costs less overall. To give you a better idea of how much a full-time MBA costs, check out these three programs:
- Ohio University: At $21,430 total cost, Ohio University offers one of the most affordable full-time MBA programs. Most students also receive $5,000 in university-funded scholarships, and students can complete their degree in as little as 10 months.
- Penn State University: Penn State’s MBA program falls in the middle in terms of cost. In-state residents pay $29,888 and out-of-state residents pay $47,705 for their one-year program.
- Emory University: The full-time MBA from Emory provides a high-quality curriculum, but also at a high cost. Students can expect to pay over $143,000 for this degree.
Public vs Private vs For-Profit
There are three types of funding for MBA programs: private, private for-profit, and public. As a rule of thumb, public institutions tend to be more affordable, though this can vary. For a better idea of how much you can expect to pay in each type of program, check out the schools showcased below.
Public schools receive significant funding from state and federal governments, making them more affordable than private options. However, certain factors, such as your non-resident tuition status, can drive up the cost. Let’s explore the prices of three, high-quality public MBA programs:
- University of Idaho: at the lower end of the spectrum, Idaho University charges $26,600 for in-state residents and $45,836 for out-of-state students.
- University of California, LA: UCLA’s program costs $43,940 for both out-of-state or in-state students.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: UNC’s program is at the higher end, with in-state students paying $53,552 total and out-of-state students paying $71,364.
Private universities are often known for providing a high-quality education, with schools like Harvard and Stanford in their ranks. With these high academic standards comes an equally high cost. For a better idea, we researched three high quality MBAs in private universities.
- College of Charleston: with $28,008 as the total tuition cost, College of Charleston is an affordable option.
- John Hopkins University: a middle-of-the-road option, the MBA online costs $69,000 total.
- Stanford University: on the higher end, Stanford charges over $126,000 for an MBA, though they also have many scholarships.
Private For-profit Colleges
Private for-profit colleges are known to offer flexible learning formats, although they may not be as affordable or high quality as private and public colleges. Their prices also vary greatly, as outlined by these three programs:
- Capella University: for an affordable online MBA cost, check out Capella University. Costs vary, but their website boasts some students completing the degree for less than $12,000, total.
- Monroe College: The cost of an online MBA at Monroe College is $36,584 total.
- University of the Potomac: at the higher end, the executive MBA at the University of the Potomac has an average for-profit MBA cost at $54,750 total.
Online vs On-Campus
Along with the type of institution, you should also be looking at which delivery format best suits your needs and budget. Many MBA programs are offered online, while others require daily or weekly visits to campus. The online MBA cost is often lower, though the tuition rates depend on the specific program.
While online MBA costs sometimes include an additional online learning fee, they always cut down on transportation costs to and from campus. They also allow students more flexibility, meaning students can take up more work shifts or better balance a full-time job and education.
- University of Kansas: With an online MBA cost of $36,300 total, this degree is on the lower end.
- Baylor University: Students can expect to pay $51,264 for an MBA at Baylor, which is pretty average.
- University of Michigan: at the higher end, the cost of an online MBA at the University of Michigan is $120,000 for Michigan residents and $131,000 for non-residents.
While on-campus programs are usually more expensive than the average online MBA cost, there are still great, affordable options out there. For examples, check out these three school spotlights:
- University of Florida: this MBA is one of the most affordable programs at $26,473 for in-state, on-campus students.
- Indiana University: with an in-state rate of $28,452 and an out-of-state rate of $53,533, Indiana University offers an average MBA tuition rate.
- New York University: with most students paying over $164,000, NYU is at the high end of on-campus options.
In-State vs Out-of-State Online MBA Costs
Since many public schools receive funding through state taxes, they also provide a discounted rate to in-state residents. For a better idea of the cost of an online MBA at an in-state or out-of-state program, consider these side-by-side comparisons of high-quality state schools with both an online and in-person MBA.
If you’re a resident of the same state as your public university, you can expect to pay in-state tuition. This is often the most affordable option, though costs still vary greatly depending on the academic institution. While these program costs range, they are almost always less than out-of-state tuition.
- University of Wyoming: at $8,116total, the University of Wyoming is a cost-effective, in-state option.
- Indiana University: in-state residents can get their MBA for $28,425 through the Bloomington campus.
- University of Virginia: at the higher end, the in-state tuition for an MBA from the University of Virginia is $75,600.
Because you don’t pay state taxes, an online MBA costs more as an out-of-state student. On the lower end, these programs can be comparable to in-state tuition costs while on the higher end, they’re significantly more.
- University of Wyoming: out-of-state residents pay $35,216 total, which is $27,100 more than the in-state rate.
- Indiana University: out-of-state students pay $53,533 total, which is $25,108 more than in-state tuition.
- University of Virginia: this MBA has the closest in-state and out of state rate, with out-of-state students paying $78,600, or $3,000 more than in-state students.
Accelerated vs Traditional
The final factor to consider is if you want to attend a standard or accelerated program. Traditionally, a standard MBA program takes two years, while accelerated programs can be completed in less than one. For a better idea of how much each program type costs, we researched six high-quality programs.
Standard 2-Year MBA program
If you’re not in a rush to complete your degree, a standard program might be the best bet. The curriculum is less crammed, and you might have time to work additional hours or be better able to balance a traditional MBA and a full-time role. The cost of a traditional MBA program varies, ranging from $23,000 to over $115,000, based on our research.
Accelerated MBA Program
Accelerated programs can be completed faster–and may cost you less. For a better idea of what that range covers, let’s dive into three accelerated programs:
- Ohio University: since students can complete their degree in less than ten months, Ohio University has earned a reputation as one of the quickest MBA programs–as well as one of the most affordable. On average, students pay $21,432 for their degree and are eligible for assistantships and scholarships.
- Penn State University: Penn State University offers two kinds of one-year MBAs: one for those early in their career and one at the executive level. Both programs cost the same, with in-state residents paying $29,888 and out-of-state residents paying $47,705.
- University of Pennsylvania: at $124,000, this MBA program is at the higher end of cost among the accelerated online MBA programs.
Additional Costs of an Online MBA Program
Along with the cost of tuition, there are other expenses on top of your tuition. From rent to buying course materials, here are the most common additional costs and the approximate amount you can expect to pay for each.
Housing & Living Expenses
Rent is probably the biggest expense outside of the cost of an online MBA. In fact, Americans spend 32% of their salaries on rent each month. While it’s the biggest, it’s also one of the most variable. If you are renting a studio apartment in Manhattan, you can expect to pay a lot more than sharing a rental house in Mississippi with three housemates. For a better idea on how much rent will cost you, check out MIT’s living wage and expenses calculator for your county.
While many classes are moving to online, open-source materials and readings, some courses will still require you to purchase physical books or online resources. On average, an MBA student spends about $1,500 per semester on books and supplies. To cut back on this expense, you can see if local libraries have books available for you to rent. There are also more affordable options to buy books, such as online thrift stores like Chegg.
The exact cost of technology will vary greatly, depending on what’s needed for your courses and what you already have. A finance student who owns a personal laptop and requires no extra tech for their classes will pay less than a marketing MBA candidate who needs to buy a new laptop and purchase the Adobe Suite for their graphic design course. No matter how much technology you intend to buy, make sure to take advantage of Apple and Amazon student discount programs.
Along with the obvious expenses, students may also encounter hidden opportunity costs. This could include having to cut back on a side hustle or changing your current full-time role into a part-time one. An MBA takes time– time that can’t be spent making money.
How to Pay for an Online MBA Program
With such high tuition costs, you’re probably wondering how exactly you’re going to pay for school. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to pay for an online MBA program. Most students mix and match payment methods, so it’s best to learn about each method available and decide which ones you’d like to use.
Student loans are one of the most common payment methods, and 25% of student loans are taken out by American graduate students. Like a normal loan, they must be paid back with interest. Unlike a normal loan, they often have a more favorable interest rate and some are subsidized by the federal government. Speaking of the government, the Department of Education has an amazing, free resource outlining student loan options and instruction for applying.
Grants are another great option for MBA students. In these programs, students are allotted a certain amount of money in exchange for meeting grant requirements. Grant guidelines can vary quite a bit, and each grant requires different traits of successful candidates. For example the NAACP grant is for students of color who will start a business while at university while the Fulbright grant lets international students complete their MBA in the United States at no cost.
Similar to grants, scholarships are money given out without expectation for students to pay it back. However, unlike grants, scholarships don’t come with obligations during a student’s education. Scholarships can be provided by the federal government, individual schools, and private organizations. Some scholarships are even designed specifically for MBA students, such as the MBA Latin American diversity scholarship.
Employer Tuition Reimbursement
If you’re working while getting your MBA, you may be eligible for tuition reimbursement. Many companies, such as JP Morgan Chase, offer tuition reimbursement to all their full-time employees. Other employers, like Target, offer tuition to all employees, whether they work one shift a week or are full-time team members. For more on specific tuition reimbursement options, check with your employer’s HR department.
Another way to pay for an MBA is to foot all or part of the bill on your own. If you have a stream of income, such as a steady paycheck or revenue from a business, you might decide to pay for your MBA out-of-pocket. Many students use this method for at least part of their education costs, though the exact amount MBA students pay out-of-pocket varies greatly, depending on their financial circumstances and other living expenses.