Deciding to get an MBA is an important decision—not in the least because the caliber of your education will have an enormous impact on the future of your professional life. Luckily, some of the best business schools in the United States now offer MBA programs that can be completed largely, if not entirely, online. There has, quite frankly, never been a better time to advance your career by earning your MBA. And there have never been greater opportunities to earn it from a prestigious and recognized institution.Below is a list of the six best MBA programs, as ranked by US News, that are available to distance learners. Not all of them can be completed entirely online, but the majority of each program will take place in a virtual environment. These programs have been ranked according to a number of criteria, including student engagement in the virtual classroom, selectivity of admissions for the program, reputation amongst fellow MBA programs, faculty credentials and training for distance learning, technology conducive to online student success and whether or not each school provides student-support services commensurate to on-campus offerings.
#1: Temple University
Temple’s Fox School of Business is accredited by not only the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) but also by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). Fox accepts rolling admissions. The school’s initial, weeklong orientation at its campus allows students to complete their first course, network with professors and peers, and gain professional development as well as team building experience. This prepares them for their ensuing coursework, which features weekly live classes that explore in more depth topics related to the 20 concentrations that the program offers. Students will be able to select from 28 credit-granting courses. Fox’s average class size is 24 students, with a maximum of 30.
#2: Carnegie Mellon
Tepper Business School at Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the AACSB. The program’s distinguishing feature is its blended format MBA: online classes are couple with on-campus immersion during Access Weekends. Full time and part-time distance learners will get the same opportunity to speak with professors and network with fellow students, not to mention enjoy the unique culture of Tepper firsthand. This may prove prohibitive for some online students, but for others it’s an excellent balance between distance learning and traditional collegiate culture. Tepper offers 38 credit-granting courses across 10 concentrations, with an average class size of 29, just below the cap of 30.
#3: Indiana University
Kelley School of Business at IU Bloomington is accredited by the AACSB. The school maintains a rolling admissions schedule, but takes the flexibility of online learning a step further by granting its students up to five years to complete the MBA program. They will, however, have to make visits to the physical campus. These students have access to the same tutelage by highly ranked and long-tenured Kelley faculty that their on-campus peers enjoy. The program offers a whopping 78 credit-granting courses across 18 concentrations. The average class size at Kelley is 32 students, with a maximum of 45.
#4: University of North Carolina
The Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC Chapel Hill is an AACSB accredited institution. Students attend live class sessions each week in topics related to one of the program’s 17 different concentrations. Students can complete their MBA in as little as 18 months or than can take up to three years, depending on their personal schedule and circumstances. Personalized career management plans help students customize their education to best meet their own professional goals. Kenan-Flagler offers 40 credit-granting courses. The average class size is 13 students and the cap is set at 15, making for a uniquely personal experience.
#5: Arizona State University
The AACSB-accredited W.P. Carey School of Business provides a fast-paced core curriculum alongside electives that allow students to tailor their educational experience to their own professional goals. The school emphasizes teamwork, beginning with an on-site orientation to help students network with each other and with their professors, fostering a tightly knit academic community. Online classes are each five weeks long, during which time students can complete coursework and take exams at their convenience. Students can select from 27 different credit-granting courses in five concentrations. The average Carey class size is 50 students, with a maximum of 70.
#6: University of Florida
Hough Graduate School of Business at the Warrington College of Business is an AACSB-accredited institution. Like many online MBAs, it accepts applications on a rolling basis. Distance learners will visit UF’s campus every four months, allowing them to interact with their professors and fellow students. Hough employs the cohort program, ensuring that students develop personal connections and networks; this sort of continuity in graduate school develops a supportive environment and enhanced esprit, fostering more enthusiastic and productive students. Students can also avail themselves to a dedicated career counselor to help them plan for their professional life after school. Hough provides 23 credit-granting course offerings in 15 concentrations; its average class size is 43, with classes capped at 60 students.Be certain, these are some of the best business schools in the country. Although admission can be a challenging hurdle to cross, on the other side lays the path to a stronger career and a brighter professional future.