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What Does an
Online MBA Cost? Paying for Tuition, Fees & Other Common Expenses

Updated on: 18/10/2018

Students at brick-and-mortar institutions spend an average of $140,000 to obtain an MBA degree in full-time programs. This cost includes tuition and fees, textbooks, living expenses and transportation. With so much money on the line, many students are searching for ways to save on their education costs. Signing up for an online MBA program can cut costs for students significantly. Find out the average cost of an online MBA program and how to plan for tuition, fees and other common expenses.

The Cost of an Online MBA in 2019

The cost of an online MBA can vary significantly depending on factors such as the program length, whether the student is eligible for in-state or out-of-state tuition, and more. The average cost per credit hour is $841 for in-state tuition and $963 for out-of-state, with the average tuition cost ranging from $35,489.27 for in-state students to $39,842.20 for out-of-state students. Search through the programs below to see what an online MBA costs at the following schools.

School Location Cost Per Credit (In State) Cost Per Credit (Out of State) Minimum # of Credits Required Estimated Cost of Program
The estimated tuition cost was calculated by multiplying the cost per credit by the minimum number of credits required to complete the program, if a total tuition cost was not provided by the program. Students may need to take a different number of credits than the total listed here depending on education history and experience. Some or all student fees may be included in the estimated tuition costs, but students should refer to the program website or contact the school directly to determine the total cost of completing the MBA program.
(In State)
Estimated Cost of Program
The estimated tuition cost was calculated by multiplying the cost per credit by the minimum number of credits required to complete the program, if a total tuition cost was not provided by the program. Students may need to take a different number of credits than the total listed here depending on education history and experience. Some or all student fees may be included in the estimated tuition costs, but students should refer to the program website or contact the school directly to determine the total cost of completing the MBA program.
(Out of State)

Online MBA Costs Explained:
A Detailed Look at Tuition & Fees

For most online MBA programs, tuition is broken down into a flat cost per credit hour. Credit requirements vary, but most programs fall within a range of 36-52 credit hours depending on the program and what coursework a student has previously taken. Students with certain undergraduate degrees or more experience may be able to skip some foundational coursework and graduate with fewer credit hours.

What affects tuition costs?

Tuition costs can vary widely depending on many factors, including the number of credit hours required by that particular program, if the student chooses to add on a concentration (such as finance, marketing or international business) and the student’s previous academic experience. There are two additional areas that can affect tuition:

  • Is the program offered through a public or private school?

    Programs offered through private universities often have higher tuition rates. For example, students enrolled in the part-time online MBA program through Carnegie Mellon, a private school, will pay $132,000 in tuition for the entire program, plus fees. Those enrolled in the online MBA program through Indiana University, a public school, will pay $67, 830 in tuition, plus fees.

  • Will you be paying in-state or out-of-state tuition?

    Traditionally, out-of-state students pay more per credit hour for tuition than those attending programs in their state. However, some online MBA programs offer the same rates for all students, regardless of location. Students should carefully review the tuition rates for any prospective programs to see which rates and fees they’ll be responsible for.

Common fees to keep in mind

Although the bulk of the program cost will come from tuition, there are often additional fees that students will be required to pay. Many online MBA programs include all fees within the per credit hour tuition cost, but unless that is explicitly stated, students should plan for additional expenses. Here are some common fees:

Application Fee

A one-time, non-refundable fee that is required to submit an application to the school.

Varies, but typically around $65-$75.
Registration Fee

Typically charged each semester to register as a student at the school.

Varies. University of Massachusetts charges $47 per semester.
Technology Fee

Typically charged each semester, this fee covers the cost of maintaining technological services at the school for both on-campus and online students, including email, online course management systems and internet access on campus.

Varies, but may range between $75-$250 or more per semester.
Deposit

A non-refundable fee to secure placement in the program. The amount of the deposit is usually applied towards the first tuition payment.

Varies, but typically around $1,000.

Different programs may use different terms for similar fees. Some programs may also charge a flat “university” or “collegiate” fee that combines most or all of the above fees.

What you’ll save in an online program

In addition to saving on transportation and the cost to relocate near or live on campus, online students typically have to pay fewer fees than those taking in-person courses. Students taking classes online through a program in another state will also often save a significant amount in tuition by avoiding out-of-state tuition rates if that program charges the same amount for all students.

Here’s a comparison of the cost of the University of Maryland’s on campus and online MBA programs.

Fee On Campus Online
Tuition, per credit hour $1658 in-state, $1,998 out-of-state $1617
MBBA fee $725
University fee $810 per semester
Application fee $75 $75
Technology fee $153 per semester

Other Online MBA Costs to Consider

In addition to the cost to enroll in an online MBA program, there are additional expenses to keep in mind when planning an overall budget.

  • Books and other course materials

    Although some programs include textbooks and course materials in the overall cost, many programs will require students to purchase at least some of the materials needed. For example, Temple University estimates students will need to spend $100 per course for textbooks and course materials for its program.

  • Residence program expenses

    Although some online MBA programs will be taught entirely online, many will require students to attend an on-campus residency or workshop programs, which typically last between three days to a week. The majority of the costs for the residency are usually included in tuition, but there may be some additional expenses that are the responsibility of the student. For example, Penn State covers tuition, lodging and meals for its residency, but doesn’t cover transportation. Many schools cover meals during the program day, but students are responsible for other meals.

  • Technology requirements

    In addition to access to a computer and high-speed internet, common requirements for online MBA programs include Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, a recent operating system, antivirus software, headphones or speakers, microphone, webcam, printer and DVD player.

  • Global Immersion Experiences

    Many programs offer an optional Global Immersion Experience that combines a course with a trip abroad to interact with a business overseas. In addition to the cost of credits for the course, students are usually required to pay a program fee, the cost of their transportation and some expenses not covered by the program fee. The University of Florida estimates students will spend $4,400, not including transportation, on its Global Immersion Experience program.

How to Plan and Budget for Online MBA Costs

Contacting a prospective school’s financial aid office before applying may help students save money on their education. A financial aid office can guide students through the FAFSA® process and help student identify scholarship opportunities. This is only one factor in an MBA degree cost. Find out other ways to cut expenses while attending school.

  1. Assess the Whole Picture

    In addition to the tuition, fees and additional expenses related to an online MBA program, students returning to school may need to make changes in employment and childcare. Students should assess whether they’ll need to cut back on work hours, add in additional childcare hours or make other lifestyle changes to accommodate their new school schedule. This is also a good opportunity to identify costs that can be cut – i.e. eating out, unnecessary subscriptions, etc.

  2. Start Early

    Students who contact the financial aid offices of prospective schools about three months ahead of applying can get an idea of scholarship opportunities and loan information. Many schools automatically consider prospective students for scholarships when they apply, so applying at the start of the application cycle can give students an advantage.

    Financial aid offices can also be a great resource for students to assess the total cost of an online MBA degree. This gives students additional time to create a competitive scholarship application, write an excellent essay and score high on the GMAT.

  3. Talk to Students and Alumni

    Current MBA students and recent alumni are often great resources for those looking for ideas on how to finance their education. They can often clue prospective students into scholarship opportunities that are not well-publicized.

  4. Investigate All Options

    Not many can afford to pay for an advanced degree like an MBA degree with cash. That’s where organizations, companies and the federal government can play a role. While some options may be obvious, find out a few other options that some may not consider.

    • Corporate Sponsorship

      Working for a company that pays for an employee’s further education is a great benefit. However, as with any financial agreement, it’s important to find out the details of what is expected. Consider the following things: the formal proposal, performance expectations, alignment with career goals and possible tax implications.

    • Federal Loans

      Those who received federal student loans, grants or work-study funds as an undergraduate are acquainted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA©) process. The same holds true for MBA students. Those who complete the form may be eligible for federally funded loans: the Stafford Loan and the Grad PLUS Loan. Stafford Loan recipients are limited to $20,500 per year while recipients of the Grad PLUS loan are eligible for up to the cost of their school’s attendance.

    • Private Loans

      Whether the loan is from a bank or a family member, students pursuing private loans may not have as much red tape to cut through. Similar to federal loans, bank-provided student loans are generally not to start repayment until six months after graduation or if the student drops below half-time status. Unlike federal loans, the interest rate may be higher and income-based payment plans may not be available. These loans are not dispensed based on financial need as the loan amount varies depending on the student’s credit and cosigners.

    • Retirement Savings

      This may be a risky way to pay for an online MBA degree. However, for those who have saved aggressively, using money from a retirement savings account toward education may be an option. The Internal Revenue Service removes the 10% penalty for those who withdraw early for qualified education expenses. A word of caution: not all education-related expenses are considered a qualified education expense. Double check the IRS’ rules and regulations.

    • Scholarships

      While many schools offer scholarships to MBA students, many organizations and outside companies offer funding as well. The secret? It’s not always well publicized. The trick to finding said scholarships is get specific. Look at organizations that offer scholarships based on gender, ethnicity and citizenship. Other potential opportunities include organizations that work with the intended field of study or career path, undergraduate alma mater, schools you’re applying to and any other clearly defined group to which you belong.