Is an Online MBA Worth It? Traditional vs. Online Programs

Is Online MBA Worth It?
September 15, 2023 6 min read Liaison

Here, we talk about how online MBA programs work, whether online MBAs are worth it, how they differ from regular MBA programs, and the benefits of online programs.

Key Takeaways

Most students needed 18 months or more to complete their online MBA programs. There are fully online and hybrid programs available.

Online programs are flexible — you can complete assignments and go over lessons at your own pace.

Employers value online MBA degrees from accredited and reputable schools.

Online MBA programs may be less costly, and you'll have a chance to connect with peers worldwide.

Upon earning a degree, the median salary of fresh graduates is around $115,000.


Is an online MBA worth it? Over the years, the number of employers accepting graduates with online MBA degrees has been increasing as the enrollment rate in online MBA programs has been rising. One of the key factors behind the popularity of online MBA programs is flexibility — you won't need to quit your job. Another is the cost — some online programs are cheaper than traditional MBA programs.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the median base salary for MBA graduates is around $115,000.

Here, we explain how online MBA programs work and the differences between traditional and online programs. Also, we offer an answer to the question, "Is an online MBA worth it?"

Traditional vs Online Programs


What Is It Like Getting an MBA Online?

Tuition prices vary among online MBA programs depending on the school type (for- or non-profit, private or public) and whether you're an in-state or out-of-state student. Out-of-state students tend to pay more for tuition. According to Poets&Quants, the cost of completing an MBA program in online business schools in 2022 ranged from $10,880 to $146,867.

You can complete most online MBA programs in 18 months, but some students complete them in two or three years due to other commitments related to their jobs and families. This flexibility is one of the reasons why individuals choose online programs.

Some students choose part-time online MBA programs because they need to pay for tuition and don’t want to quit their jobs. Keep in mind that some companies pay for their employees' education in order to acquire more institutional knowledge and skills that could benefit the company.

While there are online and hybrid MBA programs available, the majority are fully online, which means there’s no need to be on campus in person. However, hybrid programs typically require some attendance in on-campus activities, trips, and projects.

Is Online MBA Worth It? Should I Look for Online Programs?

When graduates with online MBA degrees apply for jobs, employers are likely to check the program’s accreditation and the school's reputation. They might ask you whether you were going full-time or part-time.

If you decide to earn your MBA online, you must choose an accredited school because that's the first thing employers will check. If the school isn't accredited, landing a job may be more difficult. Accreditation shows employers that your MBA degree meets high standards that are universally recognized.

Besides accreditation, the school's reputation is also an important factor. You can research different schools to find out about the employment rates of their former students and to assess whether the particular school is reputable within the industry in which you plan to work.

Traditional vs. Online MBA Degrees

At full-time traditional MBA programs, you have more activities on campus and thus can have more networking opportunities. Even though there won't be in-person interaction with professors and peers as part of an online MBA program, there are plenty of other ways to communicate and network, such as through group projects and conferencing. However, if being around your professors and peers is more important to you, a traditional MBA may be a better choice.

The curriculum is often the same in traditional and online programs. The professors and their teaching styles may differ within each program; there are professors with industry knowledge and those who focus on research.

You have more flexibility in an online MBA program. You can go over lectures and do assignments at your own pace without spending time and money commuting or relocating. These programs are especially beneficial for individuals with jobs or other commitments.

In online MBA programs, jobs and internships aren't guaranteed because individuals opting for those programs often already have jobs.

Another difference between these two types of programs is the cost. Online MBA programs tend to be less costly. While researching schools, remember that there are in-state and out-of-state tuition rates that may affect how much you’ll need to pay.

How to Choose an Online MBA Program

When picking an online MBA program, you need to consider several factors.

  1. Accreditation — The list of respected accreditation organizations includes the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).
  2. Check admission requirements — If you’re eligible to apply, start thinking about the documents you’ll need to acquire and submit to programs well ahead of the application deadlines.
  3. Program length — Check whether the duration of the program suits your schedule and commitments.
  4. Program Cost — Costs can vary significantly from one program to the next, so be sure to do your homework to make sure you can afford each one you’re considering.
  5. Curriculum — Check to determine whether business schools offer programs that align with your preferred concentration.
  6. Reputation — Find out whether each school is respected by professionals in your industry. Make connections within the school alumni network to find out about the experiences of former students.
  7. Additional Resources — Explore each school’s resources for online students, such as those related to academic and career planning.

Is an Online MBA Worth It? — Conclusion

Usually, students need 18 months to complete an online MBA program, but depending on your other commitments, it can take longer. You can earn your MBA degree at your own pace by listening to lessons and doing assignments at a convenient time, which is one of the benefits of online programs.

Some online MBA programs are less costly than regular on-campus programs. However, remember that your tuition rate can depend on your residency status (out-of-state or in-state student) and the school type, such as for-profit or non-profit and private or public.

There are fully online and hybrid programs, which can require some attendance on campus. The most important factors to consider are the school’s accreditation and reputation within the industry in which you plan to work.

Though you won't be around your professor and peers on campus to participate in various activities together, you'll have various other ways to connect with peers all over the world.

So, is an online MBA worth it? All in all, it's not important how you earned your degree, but where. An online MBA degree can equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills so you can advance in your career, have a higher salary, and build a global network — all of which are worthwhile goals.


In both traditional and online MBA programs, you'll gain important knowledge as well as analytical and problem-solving skills. Because online MBA programs are flexible, you won't need to quit your job. Most graduates advance in their careers after completing a program at an accredited and reputable school.

If you’re asking yourself, “Are online MBAs worth it?,” you should know that employers respect online MBA degrees from accredited and reputable schools. Most regard them as comparable to traditional MBA degrees. Some employers respect when employees want to continue their education without quitting. Some even pay for their tuition.

The curriculum is almost the same as in on-campus MBA programs. The difference is that online students may have looser deadlines and can go over lessons at their own pace. However, you must possess time management and self-motivation skills as an online student.

About The Author: