Future of Work

The 19 top online MBA programs in the US

Students take their seats for the diploma ceremony at the John F. Kennedy School of Government during the 361st Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 24, 2012.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the best online MBA programs in the country based on five categories. Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Tanza Loudenback
Writer, Business Insider
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An MBA can be a shortcut for ascending the career ladder and boosting your salary. While attending one of best b-schools in the world can be an attractive option — Business Insider published its list of the world's 50 best business schools in December — for some working professionals it's not feasible, making online programs a great alternative.

U.S. News & World Report recently released their ranking of the best online MBA programs, evaluating schools based solely on data related to their distance education MBA programs in five categories: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology. (You can read a full breakdown of the methodology here.) Note that because of multiple ties, the ranking only goes through No. 15.

Temple University's online MBA program took the top spot, followed by Indiana University at Bloomington, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Read on for the rest of the 19 best online MBA programs in the country, according to U.S. News.

15. TIE: University of South Florida at St. Petersburg

U.S. News score: 76

Cost per credit: $907 (out-of-state), $462 (in-state)

University of South Florida at St. Petersburgemploys the same qualified faculty to teach its online MBA courses. The program is based on flexibility in scheduling and coursework and accessibility to faculty.

15. TIE: University of North Texas

U.S. News score: 76

Cost per credit: $693 (out-of-state), $303 (in-state)

The online MBA program offered atUniversity of North Texas can be completed in as little as 14 months. In addition, students are taught by the same tenured faculty who teach in the traditional MBA program.

15. TIE: University of Nebraska at Lincoln

U.S. News score: 76

Cost per credit: $531

Courses in University of Nebraska at Lincoln's online MBA program are accelerated with eight- week terms and employ the same faculty as the on-campus program. Ninety-six percent of students are employed when they enroll.

15. TIE: Pepperdine University (Graziadio)

U.S. News score: 76

Cost per credit: $1,620

Students have the ability to customize their online MBA experience at Pepperdine University, including opportunities to participate in study abroad programs as well as active case studies with current company executives in the real world. All courses are recorded and archived for students' convenience.

15. TIE: North Carolina State University (Jenkins)

U.S. News score: 76

Cost per credit: $1,510 (out-of-state), $1,001 (in-state)

NC State's Jenkins Professional Online MBA focuses on growing careers in a "technology-driven, global marketplace," featuring virtual discussions and group projects as well as courses taught via podcast, videos, and online presentations. Students can choose an accelerated, 21-month track or a flexible track of up to six years.

12. TIE: University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium

U.S. News score: 78

Cost per credit: $675

The University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium is unique for its structure of "four core modules built around the business cycle" taught by instructors from multiple disciplines.

12. TIE: University of Massachusetts at Amherst (Isenberg)

U.S. News score: 78

Cost per credit: $825

Students can take up to two classes before applying to the online MBA program at UMass at Amherst (Isenberg). If the student is accepted, their credits will be used toward their degree, the remainder of which can be completed entirely online.

12. TIE: Ball State University (Miller)

U.S. News score: 78

Cost per credit: $579 (out-of-state), $386 (in-state)

Ball State University (Miller) offers an "experienced, high-quality, low cost" online MBA program for working professionals. The school says it's the lowest-cost, accredited MBA in the concentrations of US sales management, health economics, and entrepreneurship.

10. TIE: Auburn University

U.S. News score: 80

Cost per credit: $805

The business school at Auburn University records and streams on-campus classes for online MBA students. In addition, new students have the option to participate in an on-campus orientation before starting their online degree.

10. TIE: Arkansas State University

US News score: 80

Cost per credit: $580

Arkansas State University "assures consistency of content by running the online and traditional MBA parallel" and keeping the same qualified faculty to teach courses.

9. University of Texas at Dallas

US News score: 82

Cost per credit: $1,238 (out-of-state), $663 (in-state)

Online MBA students at University of Texas at Dallas can take classes on campus if they choose at any time. Still, classes are taught by regular faculty and recorded in the on-site academic studio.

8. Lehigh University

US News score: 83

Cost per credit: $1,050

Lehigh University allows students in the online MBA program to register for courses at their own pace, offering complete flexibility. Between the "rigorous curriculum designed by faculty with real-world experience" and students' access to small, live classes, Lehigh creates a "highly engaging academic setting."

7. Pennsylvania State University - World Campus

US News score: 86

Cost per credit: $1,096

Ninety-five percent of students are employed when they enroll in Penn State's World Campus, which is designed for aspiring senior management professionals. The program "integrates advanced theory with practical application" and networking among Penn State faculty and students.

6. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

US News score: 88

Cost per credit: $1,875

Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business offers a unique hybrid program that enables students to complete their degree online while still networking with other students and meeting with professors through "Access Weekends."

5. Arizona State University (W.P. Carey)

US News score: 91

Cost per credit: $1,102

Students in the online MBA program at ASU's Carey School of Business "take classes online as a cohort with a lock-step curriculum," which fosters a tight-knit community and meaningful collaboration between students and faculty.

4. University of Florida (Hough)

US News score: 92

Cost per credit (part-time only): $1,208

The UF Online MBA pairs quarterly on-campus visits with online instruction in a cohort-based system. The school says students in the program also have access to dedicated career counselors.

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)

US News score: 97

Cost per credit: $1,510

The UNC at Chapel Hill Online MBA provides the same rigorous instruction as the traditional Kenan-Flagler MBA. The program is flexible for students and can last anywhere between 18 and 36 months.

2. Indiana University at Bloomington (Kelley)

U.S. News score: 99

Cost per credit: $1,300

Students enrolled in the Indiana University at Bloomington Online MBA have access to its career services department as well as opportunities to study abroad in emerging markets. Students have two to five years to complete the program while they work with the same Kelley School of Business faculty that teach on-campus.

1. Temple University (Fox)

U.S. News score: 100

Cost per credit: $1,245

Temple University's Fox School of Business and Management offers a rigorous curriculum taught by "world-renowned faculty, convenient high-quality interactive on-demand format, and cutting edge social technologies." During the online MBA program's week-long residency, students complete their first course, network, and participate in team building and professional development exercises.

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