Most Affordable Online MBAs


Updated November 28, 2023

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Online MBA costs vary depending on the program. Break down the costs, get help planning ahead, and find out how an online MBA degree pays off. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business programs have consistently ranked as the top master's degree option since 2010. This makes sense, considering a master's in business administration (MBA) can prepare graduates for administrative and managerial roles — positions that exist in every industry.

The degree program can also help students increase their salary. For example, New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business reported an average salary increase of 52% for its MBA graduates.

However, each student's return on investment (ROI) varies and depends on several factors, including how much the MBA degree costs. Some MBA programs can cost well over $100,000, which lowers the ROI. The best MBA programs aren't necessarily the ones that cost the most, however.

We compiled proprietary data from a recent survey to discover the true cost of online MBAs and found that the average cost totaled around $33,000. Keep reading to learn more about affordable MBAs and which concentrations cost the least.

MBA Cost at a Glance

Online MBA costs at top-ranked programs can exceed $100,000. See below for the results of our 2021 MBA Student Survey.

  • An online MBA is, on average, $4,660 or 13.8% cheaper than the survey average MBA cost.
  • An on-campus MBA is, on average, $5,350 or 15.9% more expensive than the survey average MBA cost.
  • An online MBA is, on average, $10,010 or 25.6% cheaper than an on-campus MBA.
  • First-generation students pay an average of 10.4% more for their MBA than the survey average.
  • Males pay an average of 5.8% less for their MBA than the survey average.
  • Females pay an average of 6.4% more for their MBA than the survey average.
  • Of the 343 surveys collected, three students identified as nonbinary/third gender and paid 23.7% more for their MBA than the survey average.

Of the 343 students surveyed, the average cost for an MBA was $33,700.

  • Total spent on MBAs: $11,558,000
  • 95 students paid $5,000 or less for their MBA
  • 76 students paid $50,000-$100,000 for their MBA
  • 30 students paid more than $100,000 for their MBA
  • Highest recorded total cost of an MBA: $250,000 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online MBA Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Survey Responses From 343 MBA Students

We surveyed 343 MBA students to learn how certain factors influence MBA cost. Our findings reveal that a student's characteristics and background may also impact the price. See our findings below.

How Was Your MBA Offered?
Answer Total Avg. Cost +/- Avg % Diff
On Campus 41 $39,050 +$5,350 +15.9%
Online 107 $29,040 -$4,660 -13.8%
Hybrid (less than 50% in person) 106 $41,610 +$7,920 +23.5%
Mostly online 89 $27,400 -$6,290 -18.7%
Ethnic Background and Heritage
Ethnicity Total Students Avg. Spent on MBA Cost vs. Avg.
African American 29 $29,230 -13.3%
Asian 22 $36,320 +7.8%
White 260 $33,780 +0.2%
Latino/a 19 $35,210 +4.5%
Multiracial 2 $74,000 +119.6%
Undisclosed 1 $20,000 -40.7%
Gender Identity - Female
Female Students Avg. Spent Cost vs. Avg.
African American 23 $40,580 +20.4%
Asian 12 $24,390 -27.6%
White 105 $36,970 +9.7%
Latina 15 $42,330 +25.6%
Multiracial 1 $28,000 -16.9%
All 156 $35,850 +6.4%
Gender Identity - Male
Male Students Avg. Spent Cost vs. Avg.
African American 16 $36,190 -7.4%
Asian 10 $31,200 -6.7%
White 152 $31,410 -6.7%
Latino 4 $8,500 -74.8%
Multiracial 1 $120,000 +256.1%
Undisclosed 1 $20,000 -40.7%
All 184 $31,740 -5.81%
Gender Identity - Nonbinary
Nonbinary Students Avg. Spent Cost vs. Avg.
White 3 $41,670 +23.7%

What Type of MBA Is Most Affordable?

MBA programs provide a broad foundation for students who want to pursue diverse managerial and directorial positions. However, these roles often require industry expertise. For example, an information technology (IT) manager and a human resource director might both hold an MBA, but their daily responsibilities differ greatly.

As a result, many schools offer several MBA concentration options that help equip learners with niche skills. The list below ranks the MBA specializations from least to most expensive based on our survey data.

Information Technology

Information technology ranks as the cheapest — and one of the most popular — concentrations. Programs typically combine management concepts and core IT areas like security, information systems development, and infrastructure to prepare students for IT leadership positions.

Forty-eight of the students surveyed chose this MBA concentration and reported an average cost of $20,810. That's nearly $12,900 — or 38.2% — less than the overall average cost for all MBAs.

Featured Online Master's in IT Programs

International Business

As many companies turn to global markets to unlock growth opportunities, they need professionals with international business expertise. An MBA in international business can prepare graduates for these roles, with classes in global marketing and accounting.

Even though some MBA programs in international business include a foreign residency requirement, the tuition still averages 30.5% (or $10,300) less than the average MBA program. Based on survey data from the 10 students who entered this program, learners can expect to pay about $23,400 for an international business concentration.

Featured Online Master's in International Business Programs

Real Estate

Students interested in real estate development, acquisition, or financial analysis might pursue an MBA concentration in real estate. Courses typically cover topics like housing markets, real estate investment strategies, and urban systems.

An MBA in real estate costs about the same as the international business concentration at just $23,500. Two of the students surveyed chose this concentration, and they paid about 30.3% — or $10,200 — less than the average MBA learner.

Featured Online Master's in Real Estate Programs

General MBA

This topped the list as the most sought-after choice, with 84 students completing a general MBA track. The popularity likely stems from the comprehensive curriculum that offers learners a broad skillset ideal for multiple industries — not just a niche market.

Students reported an average cost of $30,050 for a general MBA. That means learners pay about $3,650 less than average for this MBA track, making it 10.8% cheaper than the average MBA program.

Featured Online MBA Programs

Healthcare Administration

An MBA in healthcare helps prepare learners for leadership positions in a very niche field. The curriculum often dives into healthcare delivery systems, technology and operations, and insurance. Students might also explore topics like healthcare policies and economics.

Healthcare MBA tuition is closest to the overall average cost of an MBA. The seven students in this concentration reported an average price of $34,860, just $1,160 (or 3.4%) more than the total average.

Featured Online MHA Programs

Human Resources

This MBA track combines core marketing, finance, and organizational behavior topics with specialized human resources courses. Classes might include leadership communication, human resource management, and employment laws. Graduates can pursue management positions in human resources, training and development, or compensation.

Nine of the students surveyed chose an MBA in human resources, and they reported a slightly higher-than-average cost of $36,330. That is about $2,640 or 7.8% more than the average survey cost of an MBA.

Featured Online Master's in Human Resources Programs


An MBA in finance expands on the foundational finance courses that most MBA programs include. The classes might cover topics like business valuation, fintech, and portfolio management to prepare graduates for diverse financial leadership positions.

Finance ranks as the second-most popular MBA concentration and costs slightly more than average. The 73 students who entered this concentration reported an average cost of $36,810. That totals just $3,110 — or 9.2% — more than the survey average MBA tuition.

Featured Online Master's in Finance Programs


MBA programs can do more than prepare students for managerial positions. With an MBA in entrepreneurship, learners can gain the skills needed to start and run their own businesses. Classes typically include entrepreneurial management, new venture finances, and franchising.

Our survey included 16 students in this specialization, and their reported tuition rates averaged $37,440. That means this concentration costs 11.1% — or $3,740 — more than the average MBA program.

Featured Online Master's in Entrepreneurship Programs


Nearly 70 of the students surveyed chose the MBA management track, making it another popular concentration. While a general MBA program can prepare students for managerial positions, a management concentration takes it a step further. Classes often focus on leadership, conflict resolution, and ethics.

Surveyed learners paid an average of $41,610 for an MBA in management. That's 23.5% more than the average MBA tuition, or an extra $7,910.

Featured Online Master's in Entrepreneurship Programs


An MBA in marketing can prepare students for managerial sales and advertising positions in different industries, such as finance, healthcare, or entertainment. Classes often explore consumer behavior and brand development. Learners may also dive into business analytics and supply chain management.

A marketing concentration costs slightly more than a management track and $8,640 — or 25.6% — more than the average MBA degree. The 12 students surveyed who entered this MBA program paid an average of $42,330 in tuition.

Featured Online Master's in Marketing Programs

Information Security

An MBA in information security integrates digital security topics into the core management curriculum. Students might complete classes in cybersecurity, risk management, and computer forensics.

Information security ranks as the most expensive MBA concentration. Only two students surveyed entered this track, and their average tuition costs totaled $52,500. That's 55.8% more than the average cost. Students can expect to pay nearly $19,000 more than average for this concentration.

Featured Online Master's in IT Programs

MBA Graduates Respond: Is an MBA Worth It?

Among the 343 students surveyed in the Affordable Colleges Online study, 70% (256) of students indicated that their salaries increased. However, 91% (311) of students believed their salary would increase from an MBA. When asked if respondents could go back and get their MBA again, 87% said yes. See below for some responses from MBA graduates.

"I am determined to complete an MBA because I know I am worth it."

–49, African American, female, Wright State University

"I would definitely do an MBA program again as I have gained valuable and marketable skills to enhance my career."

–22, Asian, female, Georgia Southern University

"An MBA program was worth it to meet the people I met, to learn and experience the things I did, and to prove I'm a better learner and student than I was 10 years ago."

–34, white, male, Auburn University

"I'm not sure if I would get an MBA degree. I'm in law enforcement, and I don't need it. If I didn't know I'd end up in law enforcement and was still trying to figure everything out, then I would get an MBA."

–24, African American, male, Louisiana State University

"I learned a lot during my program, but I'm not sure if it was worth it."

–44, Asian, female, Portland State University

Paying For Your Online MBA

Degree-seekers can cover their MBA costs in many ways, including scholarships and loans. According to our survey, students paid for their MBA in the following ways:

  • 73% personally financed their MBA
  • 32% received grants or financial aid
  • 6% say their employer paid 100% of the cost
  • 21% say their employer paid a portion of the cost
  • 2% paid for their MBA in a different way
  • Federal and State Grants

    Students can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to learn their eligibility for federal and state grants. However, some grants include employment requirements post-graduation. The government typically awards grants on a financial-need basis. States and the federal government provide grants. Learners can renew some grants.

  • Federal and Private Loans

    Learners can apply for federal loans by completing the FAFSA. Federal loans come in unsubsidized and subsidized versions. Subsidized loans require financial need. These loans do not start gathering interest until after graduation. Private organizations also offer loans. Keep in mind that private loans and refinanced loans do not qualify for federal student forgiveness programs.

  • Employer Assistance

    Some employers contribute to employees' education. They typically only do so if employees gain knowledge that benefits the organization. Employer-assistance programs may cover a portion or all of a degree's cost. Learners may need to commit to working for the organization for a set number of years after graduation.

  • Scholarships

    Scholarships provide free money to help cover MBA costs. Schools and private organizations offer scholarships. Students may qualify based on financial need or academic merit. Applicants typically submit essays, official transcripts, and recommendation letters.

  • Work Study

    Some schools offer work-study opportunities. Participants complete tasks for their school. Their income goes directly toward tuition. Common work-study positions include receptionist and office assistant. Learners can also apply for government-funded work studies by completing the FAFSA.

  • Veteran Benefits

    The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides education benefits for veterans and their dependents. The VA does so under the GI Bill®. Learners can use these funds on tuition, fees, and books. Some VA funds may apply toward housing costs. Veterans receive a set amount of funds. They can use this money to earn a degree.

How to Make an MBA More Affordable

Despite rising interest rates and college expenses, students can help lower their MBA degree costs. We explain how in this section.

  • Earn an Accelerated MBA

    Students who earn an accelerated degree may spend less than other learners. However, these learners may not have time to work during their studies. As a result, they may need to borrow money to cover living expenses.

  • Attend an In-State Public University

    Public schools receive state tax funds to subsidize costs. For this reason, these schools can charge less, especially for in-state students. In-state learners come from households that make tax contributions that fund the school. However, some schools charge all enrollees in-state tuition, regardless of residency.

  • Work While Attending School

    Part-time degree-seekers can often continue working full time. Even full-time students can work part time. They can use their paychecks to pay for living expenses and offset loan balances.

  • Pay Student Loans While Attending School

    Federal loans do not require repayment until after graduation. However, learners should consider making payments while in school. This can help them avoid high loan payments. Borrowers should prioritize paying off unsubsidized loans with the highest interest rates first. These loans begin accumulating interest right away.

Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Costs

Will an MBA increase my salary?

Earning an MBA does not guarantee a raise. However, the degree may lead to a higher salary. Professionals with an MBA earn an average annual salary of $96,000, according to September 2023 Payscale data. Professionals with a bachelor's in business administration earn $78,000.

How long does it take to complete an MBA?

Full-time students can complete an MBA in two years. Learners in accelerated programs only need 12 months. Part-time degree-seekers take longer to earn an MBA. Some schools offer a 4+1 MBA program, where students can earn a bachelor's degree and an MBA in five years.

Can I complete my MBA fully online?

Yes. Many schools offer fully online programs. However, some programs include in-person components like internships or capstone projects.

What is the average cost of an MBA?

MBA costs vary. However, the average cost is about $33,700, according to the survey results.

Survey Methodology

All data was collected between June 14, 2021, and July 3, 2021. Respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. All 343 respondents were screened by multiple quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID. Responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy. Survey participants include 169 currently enrolled MBA students and 174 graduates from MBA programs within the past six years. Respondents are between the ages of 21 and 78. Identifications include 45% female, 54% male, and 1% nonbinary.

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

Latest Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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