How Much Can I Make After I Earn My Online MBA?

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MBA Degrees Increase Salary Potiential

Graduates from online MBA programs often enjoy lucrative careers. The projected median salary for MBA graduates amounted to $115,000 in 2021. Compared to professionals with only a bachelor’s degree, MBA graduates earn $3 million more over the course of their career.

MBA graduates also enjoy strong hiring projections. In 2021, 91% of corporate recruiters said they planned to hire MBA graduates. Given the strong job prospects an MBA affords, it makes sense that 70% of MBA programs saw an increase in applications in 2019-2020. But does earning an MBA online offer the same return on investment as an on-campus program?

Affordable Colleges Online surveyed professionals to learn about their online MBA experiences. We also asked about student loan debt and household income. The survey offers valuable insight for students considering MBA online programs.

Online MBA Survey Data

Our May 2021 online MBA survey asked participants about their debt, household income, and overall learning experience. We also surveyed participants on the value and affordability of an online MBA.

About 87% of survey respondents said that earning an MBA online saved them money. More than half of respondents described their online learning experience as fantastic. Additionally, nearly half reported a household income of over $100,000.

Affordable Colleges Online does not discriminate on the basis of gender and provides equal opportunity for non-binary persons to participate in surveys.


Student testimonials have generally been obtained with the offer of compensation for completion of a survey (e.g., entrance into a gift card drawing). Such testimonials are the opinions of such students and surveys are designed to avoid influencing such testimonials either positively or negatively. All student respondents were supplied by Lucid LLC.

Questions and responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

How Would You Rate Your Online MBA Learning Experience?

  • 38% (29 students) rated a four of five
  • 3% (3 students) rated a three or below

How Much Debt Did You Have Prior to Starting Your Online MBA?

  • 29% (6 students) had under $25,000
  • 16% (4 students) had between $90,000-125,000

How Much New Debt Do You Have After Completing Your Online MBA?

  • 22% (11 students) had $5,000-10,000 in new debt after completing their online MBA
  • 14% (4 students) had more than $100,000 in new debt after completing their online MBA

What is Your Current Household Income?

  • 25% (19 students) have a household income between $75,000-$99,999
  • 18% (14 students) have a household income between $50,000-$74,999

Is Your Online MBA Degree As Valuable As An On-Campus Degree?

  • 82% (285) Strongly agree
  • 10% (36) Agree
  • 1% (4) Disagree
  • 7% (24) Neutral

Was Your Online MBA a More Affordable Option Than an On-Campus Degree?

  • 1% (3) Strongly disagree
  • 3% (8) Disagree
  • 9% (30) Neutral
  • 23% (72) Agree
  • 64% (205) Strongly agree

Frequently Asked Questions About MBAs

  • Is an MBA still valuable?

    In 2021, 91% of recruiters said they planned to hire MBA graduates. In our survey, 92% of online MBA students agree or strongly agree that their online MBA is as valuable as an on-campus MBA.

  • Which MBA is most in demand?

    Corporate recruiters predict the strongest demand for MBA graduates in the technology, finance, healthcare, and consulting sectors, according to a 2021 GMAC survey.

  • Does having an MBA increase salary?

    According to 2021 GMAC data, MBA graduates earn 77% more than professionals with only a bachelor’s degree. While many MBA holders earn high salaries, the degree does not guarantee a pay increase. Salary potential depends on multiple factors, including industry, specialization, and experience.

How to Increase Earning Potential After Your MBA

The projected median MBA salary hit $115,000 in 2021. However, salaries vary widely by industry and specialization. Factors like experience, location, and alma mater also affect earning potential. Consider the following strategies to increase your earning potential after finishing an MBA.

Enroll at the Right School
Prospective MBA students should only apply to accredited business schools with strong reputations. Accredited schools meet high standards for training business professionals. Schools with solid reputations also typically offer strong alumni networks and internship placements.
Choose the Right Degree
An MBA concentration prepares graduates for focused career paths. Potential concentrations include strategic management, consulting, and healthcare. To increase their earning potential, students should research specializations with the strongest career and salary outlooks.
Select the Right Industry

Demand for professionals with an MBA varies by industry. For example, the healthcare industry reports much-faster-than-average projected job growth for healthcare administrators between 2019-2029. Targeting a growing industry can indicate more job opportunities and higher earning potential. Other industries, such as the nonprofit sector, may pay lower salaries.

Connect with Your Network
Networking helps MBA graduates advance their careers. MBA students can pursue networking opportunities through internships, alumni networks, and events. They can also join professional organizations. These networking methods can increase earning potential.

Top MBA Career Options

Graduates with an MBA can pursue leadership roles like vice president, chief executive, and manager. Depending on their specialization, graduates may work in industries like technology, marketing, human resources, or healthcare. This section outlines several popular career options for graduates from online MBA programs.

  • Chief Executive

    Chief executives create strategic goals and policies for organizations. They lead companies, implementing strategic plans and assessing the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Top executives make a median salary of $107,680 per year and enjoy 4% projected job growth between 2019-2029.

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  • Computer and Information Systems Managers

    Computer and information systems managers oversee organizations’ computing and networking needs. They manage teams of information technology professionals and implement systems that meet the organization’s needs. These professionals earn a median salary of $151,150 annually and enjoy 10% projected job growth between 2019-2029.

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  • Marketing Manager

    Marketing managers plan an organization’s marketing efforts, which include researching demand, competitors, and markets. They create pricing strategies and work closely with advertising, sales, and product development managers. Marketing managers earn a median annual salary of $141,490 and enjoy 6% projected job growth between 2019-2029.

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  • Human Resources Manager

    Human resources managers direct an organization’s administrative needs. They oversee the recruiting and hiring process, recommend retention improvement policies, and meet with executives to determine strategic HR needs. Human resources managers also manage HR teams. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $121,220 and enjoy 6% projected job growth between 2019-2029.

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  • Healthcare Management

    Healthcare executives oversee medical facilities and departments. They handle fiscal and administrative matters, including staffing, budgeting, and regulatory compliance. They also implement policies to improve patient outcomes and efficiency. Healthcare managers earn a median annual salary of $104,280 and enjoy 32% projected job growth between 2019-2029.

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Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

See more articles by Genevieve

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