Cost of an Online MBA: Average Program Tuition and Fees

Calculating the average tuition cost for online MBA programs can be complicated. Schools have different costs per credit, alternate ways of calculating tuition and varying application and deposit fees.

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An online MBA program's overall price tag typically includes tuition costs, application fees and other expenses. Students considering enrolling in one of the online graduate programs can learn more about how these costs are calculated here.

Average Cost of an Online MBA Program

The cost of an online MBA program drastically varies by school and specialization. According to U.S. News & World Report the average cost per credit for the online MBA programs offered by the 10 least expensive public schools was $326 per credit as of 2019 - though they also note that some schools charge more than $2,000 per credit. Other sources put the average cost for an online MBA at around $60,000, though they may range from around $7,000 to more than $120,000!

Online MBA Cost Overview

Accredited colleges and universities offering online MBA programs calculate graduate tuition costs in either a per-credit-hour or per-term basis. Tuition costs may vary depending on whether the student studies part time or full time. In addition to tuition, online MBA students have other costs to consider when choosing a program. The other main expenses include:

  • Textbooks
  • Application fees
  • Technology fees
  • Travel fees (if residency is required)

Average Per-Credit-Hour Tuition

Depending on the school, costs can vary; as an example of the range, one school might charge $400 per credit hour, while another school might cost over $2,000 per credit hour. Sometimes, schools charge part-time students more than full-time students over the course of the program. For example, one public school in Washington charges a flat rate for full-time students who take between 10 and 18 credits, as well as a per-credit tuition cost for students taking less than 10 credits. It works out to be less expensive in the long run for students to take on a full course load and pay the flat rate than to take courses more slowly and pay the part-time tuition rate per term.

However, there are also schools where it actually costs more to take more credits. For the fall 2018 and spring 2019 terms, one online school charged over $1,100 per credit. An additional fee of more than $250 is added for students completing 9 or more credits, nearly $200 is added for students taking 5 to 9 credits, and close to $90 for students who are taking fewer than 5 credits in a single semester.

Average Per-Term Program Tuition

Another way that schools calculate costs per term is to bundle the entire program into one lump sum. For example, the complete tuition for the online MBA program at one Arizona school is a fixed price ranging from $56,700-$65,600 for the class of 2018. However, the school also posts a disclaimer that the tuition price represents what is currently approved and reserves the right to change those costs to currently enrolled and incoming students.

Application Fees

Application fees are universal and nonrefundable; most fall in the $65 range. These expenses do not guarantee admission to a program. A few schools also charge a program deposit fee to reserve a place in the program once an applicant is admitted. Deposit amounts vary by school and may be considered as tuition; the Arizona school from our previous example charges a non-refundable $500 deposit as of 2017, for instance.

Other Costs

Tuition costs alone are not the only expenses involved with pursuing an online MBA. Other costs include the cost of books and course materials. For online programs that include a residency period where students must be on campus, students are expected to pay for their own travel expenses, as well as room and board accommodations.

Online students are also responsible for the expenses associated with obtaining the necessary technology for online learning. Schools typically require students to meet basic computer software and hardware requirements. In MBA programs, students may also be required to purchase business-related programs, such as accounting software. In general, students need to have a computer with the following basic features:

  • High-speed Internet access
  • A recent Windows or Mac operating system
  • Office software
  • Antivirus software
  • A certain amount of memory
  • Headphones or speakers
  • Webcam
  • Microphone
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