Cost of an Online MBA: Average Program Tuition and Fees

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

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 program 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 by school and specialization. According to U.S. News & World Report the total cost for online MBA programs offered by public schools ranged from $2,000 to $96,000 during the 2014-2015 school year. The average total cost for a public school online MBA program that year was $25,525.

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 $1,000 per credit hour. Sometimes, schools charge part-time students more than full-time students over the course of the program. For example, Washington State University 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 2016 and spring 2017 terms, Penn State World Campus charges $1,185 per credit. An additional fee of $252 is added for students completing 9 or more credits, $189 for students taking 5 to 9 credits, and $86 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 the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University will be 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; Penn State World Campus, for example, charges $65. 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; Arizona State University charges a non-refundable $500 deposit as of 2017, for example.

Other Costs

Tuition costs do not make up the sum of expenses involved with pursuing an MBA through the Internet. 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

The total cost of an online MBA program includes tuition and application fees, as well as a variety of other expenses related to online study, such as computer software. As of 2015, the average cost for this degree was around $25,500.


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