Taking the next step and completing further schooling after graduating can provide a significant bump in pay and personal satisfaction for those who work in the business field.

An online MBA program can fast track your classwork, so you can get all of the benefits that a master’s in business can bring. The best MBA online program is one that works for your situation and addresses all of your specific career goals. It should offer ways to network and connect with other professionals in your field.

Why Get an MBA?

There is much to consider when choosing which online program will best serve your needs, efforts and time.

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Depending on what industry or profession you work in, a master’s degree can improve your professional goals. The experiences that a student gains in an online MBA program can help them in the professional world. Networking and lab research opportunities are in abundance for online MBA students so make sure to get in on that advantage.

A master’s online program generally requires two to three years of study.

Benefits of a Master’s Business Degree

Obtaining a master’s degree online opens up opportunities for your career. The coursework, extensive lab work and research studies stimulate the students and increase their professional network.

After working for a master’s degree, a graduate can do a number of things. They can transition to a senior position within a company that they are already employed with. They can move beyond their current employment opportunities into positions at larger or more lucrative firms.

Salary for a Master’s Degree Graduate

A master’s degree can open opportunities for a student, widen their horizons and increase their salary options.

The more education you have generally means the more money you will make. It might not be immediate, but the bump that a master’s degree can give to a salary is about 30 percent within the first few years. Which MBA degrees pays the most depends on your area of interest.

The Graduate Management Admissions Council estimates that MBA degree holders earn close to $100,000 after graduation. Much of it depends on what area or what country you will work in as well as previous work experience.

Moving Beyond a Master’s Degree

Some students become motivated after moving through a master’s program and go on to work toward a Ph.D.

A master’s degree can improve your research and analytical skills and make moving on toward a PhD a natural transition from your graduate studies.

MBA Programs for Busy Professionals

An online MBA can propel your career or further your teaching and research goals and opportunities. An online MBA is more flexible and convenient than the traditional route of completing all of your course work in a classroom. It is still a lengthy and rigorous program that requires some thought before launching into an online program.

Prepare for the amount of coursework and time you will need to spend pursuing this higher degree. Consider how it will affect your life while you work toward your future career goals.

How an MBA Continues to Help

The Master’s Degree in Business Administration, or MBA, is a generalist degree and therefore more flexible in how it can be used within a multitude of industries. An MBA program can be highly specific or cover a wide array of topics for a more general approach to business as a whole.

This makes an MBA graduate more well-versed in a wide variety of business-related disciplines and every aspect of a business, from the human resources or accounting departments to the functions and duties of the CFO.

Deciding on the Best MBA Program

Before a student decides on an online MBA program, spend a good amount of time researching all that it covers and has to offer for your precise goals. There are many specialized areas of interest within online MBA programs for you to consider, including:

  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Information solutions
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Information technology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Operations
  • Office management

An MBA is a reflection of your ambition. It shows you have the experience, skills and ability to succeed in your career field.

Education Considerations for MBAs

If you are about to graduate with a bachelor’s in business, or if you have recently graduated and have a small amount of work experience, then you may be pondering if pursuing an MBA is the best next option for your career.

Generally, online business schools that have MBA programs would expect a student to have a bachelor’s degree and minimum of four to six years of on-the-job experience before taking on all of the work a master’s degree requires. However, many online programs will allow candidates to apply directly upon graduating from a four-year college program.

Cost of a Master’s Degree

A master’s degree means spending more money on education. A typical online MBA will cost around $800 per credit hour. Most online MBA programs require between 48 and 62 credit hours to complete.

Programs vary, and the cost depends on the area of study or concentration as well as the school. Some of the best online MBA programs can cost upward of $1,200 per credit hour.

Core Classes for MBA Degrees

MBA programs vary, but most will divide degree requirements into two categories: Core classes and elective courses that are based on the student’s interests and future career goals.

Most MBA degree programs require that at least half of the student’s credits come from core courses. These include:

  • Accounting
  • Applied economics
  • Finance
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Data Analysis
  • Business strategy
  • Management
  • Analytical tools
  • Marketing analysis and development
  • Operations

Elective Courses for an MBA

The specialized classes in an MBA program are the elective courses. These concentrate on the student’s area of focus, such as human resources or accounting. This is where students will find the best networking opportunities.

MBA Online Programs to Research

The MBA provides a more in-depth education than a bachelor’s regarding the practices and concepts of business management in many expanses. This can benefit the graduate both professionally as well as financially.

A good online MBA program will have resources in place so that you can expand your network of business professionals as you go through the program. Even with online classes, a good MBA program will introduce you to professors and help you to create relationships with other professionals in your area of focus. This can immediately have a positive effect on your career as well as your future employment opportunities.

Questions to Ask Before Applying for an MBA

There are many reasons to go after an MBA. There are also quite a few questions to answer before you bite the bullet and choose one program. A few questions to start for those who are at the beginning of the MBA program selection process include:

  • What’s the best online business school?
  • What are my career goals?
  • How much time do you have to devote to an MBA program?
  • How long is the program?
  • Which MBA degree pays the most?
  • How much can you afford to pay for an online MBA program?

Applying for an Online MBA

The application process may vary; however, most MBA programs will require a few basic bits of information.

Have your official, not a copy, undergraduate transcripts available when you are ready to apply. Copy your valid state identification card or passport to include in the application packet.

The GMAT or GRE test score will need to be included along with a resume. The program may require an admission interview.

Benefits of Online MBA Programs

Online master’s degree programs have become much more standard in the business world. It shows that the student took job and/or family obligations seriously while ambitiously pursuing a higher degree. It’s a lot to juggle when going after a master’s online while also working full-time or caring for family.

Online MBA programs are typically less expensive while still offering the same advantages of a traditional master’s program that takes place on a campus. The course work is just as demanding and comprehensive for an online student as it is for one sitting in a classroom.

An online MBA often takes less time, depending on the student’s availability and effort. A full-time degree can be completed in about two years while a part-time student can achieve a degree in three to five years.

Best Online MBA

The best online MBA programs have a few features in common. These include:

  • They are accredited
  • Tend to be more cost-effective
  • Flexible hours to complete lectures and exams, to a reasonable degree
  • Easy access to lectures, professors and student community for support
  • Offers a wide variety of core and elective classes

Best Online MBA Schools

There are a wide variety of accredited online MBA degree programs to choose from.

  • Whitman Syracuse University – For students who are currently working in the field, this highly regarded MBA program can significantly increase their network and advance their careers while simultaneously they are working toward their degree. The two-year program offers GMAT waivers.
  • Walden University – The university’s ACBSP-accredited program teaches students approaches to improve an organization’s effectiveness and brand. Graduates learn vital leadership skills through the highly specialized program.
  • William and Mary’s Raymond S. Mason School of Business – This AACSB-accredited online MBA program can be completed in two years and is designed to meet modern issues facing business leaders today. The online program blends the prestigious university’s world-class faculty with the convenience of getting a degree from home.
  • University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business – The Hough Graduate School of Business teaches practical and theoretical approaches to central business administration concepts. From accounting to communication and marketing, this online college has courses in professional writing, economics of business decisions legal environment of business, corporate finance and much more for high-powered students.
  • University of California, Davis – Those who take the online MBA program and live in the Bay Area can meet with internationally recognized faculty in person as well as virtually. The curriculum is the same for the online program as it is for those attending on campus and boasts an impressive 88 percent post-graduate employment rate.
  • St. Bonaventure University Online – The first Catholic-Franciscan University in the United States has a large system of professionals that are dedicated to raising up business professionals enrolled in its top-rated MBA program. It is known for creating collaborative leaders, brilliant communicators and poised MBA graduates.
  • Pepperdine University – This exceedingly comprehensive MBA program can be completed in as little as 20 months for a determined student. Scholarships are also readily available for students who meet the eligibility requirements and/or can show financial hardship.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.