Getting an MBA can be a significant step in your career and your life. If you're preparing to make a career move, the benefits of having this valuable degree are hard to overlook. Whether you are seeking a promotion at work, looking to change jobs or career fields, or even starting your own business, the skills and knowledge you will acquire in an online MBA program can help you do it better and sooner.
An MBA is also a commitment -- it's your time, money and energy that make this dream go -- so it's also important to do your research and learn all that you can about this type of degree. If you've ever wondered how online MBA programs work, or whether online study might be the right fit for you, the following questions and answers may provide a helpful overview.
The links below allow you to skip down to the information you need most.
What Is a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree?
The MBA is one of the most prestigious graduate degrees available, and one highly valued by employers. It is a rigorous and structured course of study in business management and leadership, designed for working professionals who are committed to advancing their knowledge in diverse areas of business and keeping their skills current.
Why Do I Need a Graduate Degree in Business?
While you can be successful in business without an MBA, those who earn this type of master's degree often do so for increased opportunity and career advancement. Whether you decide to put the business expertise you gain in an MBA program to work for others or for yourself, it's an investment that can pay lifelong dividends.
Here are a few quick facts about MBA graduates that demonstrate the impact this degree can have on your career and your perspective:
- U.S. News & World Report suggests that an undergraduate degree in business is no longer the ticket to career success and advancement it once was, now that executive positions are more frequently going to MBA graduates.
- Research by Poets & Quants indicates that median salaries in the top three industries that hire MBAs can be up to 50 percent higher for those with the degree than their non-MBA counterparts.
- Aggregate job posting data from Monster.com reveals that MBA graduates often have a competitive advantage when applying for leadership and management positions, and in the job market in general. Military.com also suggests that veterans with an MBA may have an even stronger advantage, due to the teamwork and leadership qualities they acquire in the service and further develop through graduate study.
- The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) argues that the future of business may belong to MBA entrepreneurs, as technology like artificial intelligence revolutionizes our concept of supply and demand, and MBA graduates shift from applying for jobs to creating them.
- Fast Company notes that MBA grads are also innovating through social entrepreneurship, using their business acumen to help revitalize America's cities, create sustainable economic solutions, and change lives around the world.
Learn more about the online MBA program
Will I Have to Take the GRE or the GMAT to Apply?
It depends on your situation and your school of interest. Some MBA programs accept the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), while others require the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Schools with these requirements usually set a minimum score for MBA program acceptance.
Baylor online MBA program applicants who have less than four years of business experience do need to submit a GMAT or GRE score as part of the MBA application process. The test simply helps admissions personnel assess your potential to succeed in graduate school, in the absence of other preparation for advanced business coursework.
Do I Need a Bachelor's Degree in a Business Field to Get Into an MBA Program?
No, though it may save you from having to take business foundation courses. MBA students actually come from a variety of undergraduate disciplines, and many also have a military background.
Those with undergrad degrees in areas such as humanities, social sciences and fine arts may have the most to gain by earning an MBA. SoFi, a student lending company, offers a "Return on Education" chart that shows significant percentage increases in lifetime earnings for MBA graduates with undergrad majors in these areas:
Do I Need Business Experience to Get Into an MBA Program?
Online MBA programs are designed for professionals with a foundation in business who want to grow their expertise, including mid-level and senior managers. Incoming MBA students average four to 10 years of business experience, which is usually demonstrated by the jobs and responsibilities detailed in their resumes, as well as their recommendation letters.
If you have less business experience than an MBA program requires for admission, an acceptable GMAT or GRE score is the next best alternative.
Do Other Kinds of Professional Experience Count?
In many MBA programs, yes. If you haven't spent your career in the business world, there are several types of experience that can also work in your favor as an MBA applicant:
- Military service
- Nonprofit management
- Supervisory experience
- Project or team leadership
- Volunteer recruitment and management
Baylor's online MBA program takes a holistic approach to admissions and recognizes that many applicants have a different career progression or success profile than those who have filled traditional business management or leadership roles.
I didn't want to go to just any school that had an online program ... I wanted something that was going to be the best education for me, the best MBA that I could get, especially for an online program.
Are Online MBA Programs Accredited?
Accreditation types and levels vary by MBA program, but many do seek this important credential. Any school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) meets the highest academic and professional standards for business education.
Baylor's online MBA program is proud to be AACSB-accredited.
Do Online MBA Students Get the Same Diploma as On-campus Students?
Yes! Your MBA diploma will list your school, your degree, and the date the degree was granted. It will not designate whether you earned it on campus or online.
Can an MBA Help Me Get Promoted?
It depends on the industry, but most employers know that MBAs have the right business knowledge and critical thinking skills needed for management, leadership and senior consulting roles. One reason the degree has become a required stepping stone to upper-level positions in many workplaces is that MBAs understand how to supervise teams and run projects, as well as get results.
Get what you can out of every course since you may be able to apply these concepts in your current job or wherever your career brings you 5 or even 10 years down the road.
Can an MBA Help Me Get a New Job or Change Careers?
An MBA can prepare you for any number of different career opportunities in your current field or a new one. Whatever you decide to do with your degree, an MBA can help you land a position that matches your interests and ambitions.
MBA graduates are often in high demand for mid-level and senior roles in:
- Operations and logistics
- Marketing and sales
- Research and analysis
- Strategy and planning
- Technology and communications
- Investment banking and wealth management
- Analytics and big data
- Finance and accounting
We did not have a position at the time. We made a position for Kari because we knew her skillsets is what we needed. Quite, frankly, the Baylor graduates we have are top notch.
What Kinds of Jobs Can I Get With an MBA?
You will find MBAs working in a variety of industries, from manufacturing and retail to oil and energy, and from science and robotics to sports and entertainment. MBAs are also heavily recruited by government agencies, nonprofits and Silicon Valley these days. One example is Quincy Jenkins, a Baylor online MBA graduate, who landed a senior strategist job with Google just two months after graduation.
You'll find MBA graduates hard at work in all aspects of modern business. This recent sampling of MBA jobs and their average salaries from PayScale (October 2018) demonstrates a range of possibilities:
|Job Title||Average Salary|
|Senior Business Analyst||$84,794|
|Business Development Manager||$85,197|
|Supply Chain Manager||$92,783|
|Business Intelligence Manager||$102,162|
|Design Engineering Manager||$110,733|
|Senior Product Manager||$122,239|
|Internal Audit Director||$123,084|
|Director of Analytics||$127,528|
|Information Technology Director||$131,254|
|Chief Operations Officer||$138,660|
|Director of Strategy||$141,043|
|Chief Financial Officer||$142,656|
Will I Make More Money With an MBA?
It depends on your field, your location, and the point you are at in your career. Salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, and other sources does indicate that the "MBA pay bump" is due to the fact that MBA grads tend to see increased opportunity for promotions or better paying jobs.
Here are some examples that show the difference in compensation for Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree holders vs. their MBA counterparts across the U.S.:
|City||Average BBA Salary||Average MBA Salary|
|Charlotte, North Carolina||$61,143||$86,173|
Source: PayScale (October 2018)
Is an MBA a Good Investment?
Younger MBAs tend to get the biggest ROI from the MBA experience, simply because they have longer careers ahead of them after graduation. Mid-career MBAs may see a larger or more immediate salary bump due to the fact that their work and management experience increases their value as well.
Seasoned MBAs with fewer working years left before retirement may not see the same long-term financial benefits as younger or mid-career MBAs, but many senior executives also have different reasons and goals for getting the degree, such as updating or diversifying their skill set.
The GMAC 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report shows a median return on investment (ROI) of 300 percent for online MBA graduates after three years of post-graduation work.
"If you're going to invest the money and are doing it online, make sure you're picking a good, reputable program with a school name behind it." -- Kurt Fournier, online MBA graduate in Keller, Texas
Learn more about the online MBA program
Is the Online MBA a Good Degree for Entrepreneurs?
Definitely. Anyone with plans to start a business, whether they want to build an empire or a sole proprietorship, can benefit from getting an online MBA. U.S. News & World Report suggests that entrepreneurs who choose the MBA path benefit in three distinct ways over going it on their own:
- MBA programs can serve as outstanding business incubators, giving budding entrepreneurs the time to develop ideas and the space to fail before taking a financial risk.
- MBA programs help students learn how to turn good ideas into good business, and the art of sustaining and growing a company can be as creative as launching one.
- MBA programs bring motivated people together and can help entrepreneurs build the business teams and alliances they will need to succeed.
I've got some products I'm expecting to have rolled out into retail outlets in January or February of next year. I'm still keeping my day job, but the MBA has given me the confidence to pursue some business ideas I have been sitting on for years.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an MBA?
MBA tuition rates vary widely, based on several considerations. Whether you are attending a public or private school -- and whether the program is full-time, part-time, on-campus or online -- will factor into the total cost. And don't forget books, fees, housing and commuting expenses.
The full cost to attend a top university MBA program can easily exceed $100,000, and a few schools have recently broken through the $200,000 mark. This price tag signals how highly the MBA is valued, and that it should be considered as carefully as any other investment. But don't worry, you can definitely get a great MBA education without breaking the bank.
Online MBA programs are more affordable because they don't bear as many of the administrative costs associated with holding on-campus courses, and the courses are also accelerated so students can graduate faster. Students also don't have the expense of moving to a new city, finding housing near campus, or paying for gas and parking in order to attend class.
Baylor's online MBA program can be completed in as few as 48 credit hours, at a cost of $51,264. Students with a bachelor's degree in a non-business discipline -- or a business degree from a school that is not accredited by AACSB -- can earn the degree in 60 credit hours, at a cost of $60,624.
Can I Get Financial Aid for a Graduate Degree?
Yes, and a lot of students do. As long as you are studying in an accredited degree program, you can apply for both federal and state financial aid programs available to graduate students. These include grants, scholarships, and loans, and individual schools may also offer other programs specifically for MBA students. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible for financial aid.
Many companies offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees as well, which in some instances may even cover the full cost of an MBA degree.
I think it was definitely worth the investment... I would absolutely do it all over again, a hundred times out of a hundred.
Will I Have to Pay Out-of-state Tuition?
Most likely not; however, there are programs that do charge out-of-state students a higher tuition rate even for online. With Baylor University, all online MBA students pay the same tuition rate. So whether you live just up the road in Oklahoma, out in the California Sierras, or way down in the Florida Keys, the tuition cost for your Baylor online MBA will be the same.
Are Graduate Education Expenses Deductible?
Yes, with some restrictions. Visit the IRS Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center for further details.
Can I Use Military Tuition Assistance or the GI Bill to Pay for My Online MBA?
Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own rules and restrictions on funding graduate study for active service members, but it may be possible to pay for your online MBA through one of the military's tuition assistance programs. You must study in an accredited MBA program, however.
Many veterans and reservists use GI Bill funding to pay for their graduate education. Online MBA students can receive stipends for housing, books and fees, in addition to tuition.
Baylor online MBA student and Navy veteran, Ana Arias, said she was able to use her Post 9-11 GI Bill to cover about 95 percent of the cost of the program. Another Baylor online graduate and veteran, Rusty Sloane, was also able to cover the majority of his tuition with the GI Bill: "Baylor has a Veterans Affairs department representative named Jessica Alford," he said. "She's outstanding, very forward-leaning. One or two times, my pay was messed up on the government side. She just stepped right in and straightened it right out. I think 30 percent of our class is military."
Nick Johnson was active duty in the Army while earning his Baylor MBA online: "I also used my GI Bill on the MBA, so I wasn't going to waste it on something that wasn't accredited."
Can My Military Service Help Me Get Admitted?
Baylor is proud to waive online MBA application fees for active military members and veterans. This indicates how highly your service is valued, and how seriously admissions representatives will take you as an applicant.
Programs will look at a number of factors in making admissions decisions, and the type of work you've performed and skills you have gained during your military career can make a difference.
If you lack an undergraduate degree in business or have less than four years of business experience, a record of military service that demonstrates you can handle management and leadership responsibilities, oversee projects, or work well as part of a team can help make the case that you are ready to pursue an MBA online.
My Air Force intelligence background and that analytical scrutiny that I apply to everything really did come into play when I was choosing which university to go get my online MBA from.
Are There Support Resources for Veterans Studying Online?
Some schools that offer an online MBA provide the same supports to military veterans working toward their degree on campus or off. Baylor's Veteran Educational and Transition Services (VETS) program provides mentoring, counseling, career development and other support to all enrolled veterans, regardless of their school or degree status.
How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?
Most full-time MBA programs on campus are designed to be completed in the traditional long-semester format, over a period of two years. Weekend and online MBA programs vary in length, and can be shorter or longer depending on the number of credits required for the degree.
Baylor's accelerated online MBA features 7-week courses that allow students to finish the degree in 12-16 months and six start dates each year for maximum flexibility. Students also have the option to slow down the process and study on their own timeline, if a more relaxed pace suits their needs.
Can I Study for an MBA While Working a Full-Time Job?
Yes, and in fact many students do. Baylor's online MBA program is designed for working professionals seeking to expand their knowledge and advance their careers while working full time, raising a family, traveling for business, or satisfying other commitments.
Some of my buddies go to an in-person executive MBA here in Houston, but they have to give up a Friday and a Saturday back-to-back to knock out their classes. Then, you have no time to spend with your family or other activities that life should include. An online MBA gives you a lot of flexibility that I prefer.
The big thing was the flexibility because I travel quite a bit with my work, and I most likely wouldn't have even been able to do a weekend course. Like if I'm out of town on a Friday and it's an executive MBA program that has a Friday class, I'm not able to make it. It worked out well.
How Many Courses Will I Have to Take Each Term?
It all depends on how fast you choose to move through your MBA program. Online MBA courses in accelerated programs such as Baylor's are usually half as long as traditional on-campus courses, and offer a more intensive learning experience. Therefore, most online MBA students take only one or two courses in a given term.
Do I Have to Enroll Every Term?
Continuous enrollment is required in most traditional MBA programs, but you don't have to worry about that with an online MBA. If you need to take some time off for work or family, vacation or unexpected life events, you are free to do so.
What Kinds of Subjects Will I Study?
Students who have not attended business school prior to their acceptance into the Baylor MBA program begin by taking a set of business foundation courses. Each is designed to bring you up to speed with modern business practices and prepare you to take on graduate-level coursework.
The following five-course sequence comprises the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) for business:
- Business Statistics
- Business law
Students with a previous business degree from an AACSB accredited institution move straight into graduate MBA coursework covering the following elements of business:
- Advanced accounting
- Information technology
- Organization behavior
- Quantitative business analysis
- Strategic management
Each course had some level of applicability to my daily operations. Anything from marketing and how to go about segmenting, to ethics training and ways to look at it from different perspectives, to finance accounting.
Will I Have the Same Professors Online As I Would in the Classroom?
It depends on the program, but many online MBA courses are indeed taught by the same professors who teach on campus. At Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, most faculty members even teach courses in all three MBA programs: full-time, executive and online.
Do Business Professionals Teach MBA Courses?
Many professors teaching in online MBA programs are also successful business leaders who themselves have an advanced graduate degree in a business discipline.
Baylor online MBA professors have held professional leadership positions in a variety of industries, and their ranks include executives, lawyers, economists, strategists and consultants as well as veterans of military or nonprofit service. Each brings a unique perspective to his or her teaching and knowledge that is informed by rich business experience.
It's very good, quality information that is very relatable to your everyday business. Whether that's the case right now or five years down the road, at some point, the information that you're learning today is going to have an impact on your career.
Are Online MBA Courses Easier or Harder Than On-campus MBA Courses?
Online courses are comparable to on-campus courses in most ways, except that you never have to worry about being absent or running late to class. Each professor conducts his or her course in a slightly different manner, but you can expect assignments, deadlines and grading to be the same on or offline.
There is one important difference with an online MBA, however. You take fewer courses per term than in a traditional MBA program, and they move quickly. The work and timeline of each course is compressed into a matter of weeks, and for some students, that can take a little getting used to.
Expect to devote at least 15 hours per week to each online MBA course you take during a given term, to ensure you can complete all required components and receive the best grade.
Will I Have Classmates in Online MBA Courses or Opportunities to Interact With Other Students?
Absolutely. Many online students enjoy getting to know their classmates and being members of a graduate cohort that can provide support throughout the intense MBA experience. Some of the most collaborative MBA programs are online. Course discussions and group projects are great opportunities for interaction with your MBA peers, and students also form study groups or make plans to meet at graduation.
If you're serious about sports, you can even break out the green and gold on a Saturday afternoon and join Baylor online MBA students and alumni from Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Austin in the home section at Bears football games or join regional watch parties in your area.
Be brave and don't be afraid to dive into the program and learn and stretch yourself. At the end of it, the more you put in, most definitely, the more you'll get out.
Tap into the community of students in this online MBA program. Take advantage of your time here to develop your network through meaningful online discussion board conversations with your peers.
I'm a Mature Student -- Will I Fit In?
One of the great things about an online MBA program is that it's truly a level playing field. Students come from a range of backgrounds and experiences, and even disparate parts of the country, so generational differences or perceptions that might be more noticeable in the classroom tend to disappear online.
In an online MBA cohort, everyone in your classes is working toward the same graduate business degree, and your good ideas -- and passion for business -- are more likely to help you stand out from the crowd.
I was 48 when I started the MBA program. A lot of my friends were like, 'Man, that's an old dog.' Since I've been going through it, the same people have come back and said, 'You know, I really think I can do this' or 'I should have done this.'
Is Learning Online Right for Me?
An online MBA is an excellent option for many students, due to the flexibility and convenience it offers compared with traditional MBA programs. Learning is personal, however, and we each do it a little differently.
If you are considering an MBA, it's a good idea to think about your life, your time and the conditions you need to study and learn effectively. These factors can help you determine whether online or offline is the best choice, especially if it's been a few years since you were last in school.
Online study is often a perfect fit for students who:
- Have a full-time job
- Work a varied schedule
- Are a full-time mom or dad
- Take care of a parent or loved one
- Travel frequently for work or leisure
- Are often on call or meeting deadlines
- Are deployed with the military
- Run their own business or are starting a new business
- Work on demand as an independent consultant or freelancer
- Have ongoing volunteer commitments
- Need to use GI benefits that expire soon
- Can't find the right degree program in their area, or one they can afford
- Can't commit to a 16-week semester
- Can't find courses that fit their schedule
- Prefer to study on their own time
- Need to study late at night or early in the morning
- Need extra time to complete assignments
- Prefer to move through courses at their own pace
- Prefer doing work and research online, and interacting with others online
However, an online degree program may not be right for you if you struggle with self-discipline and time management: two areas online students cite as required for success in the program.
Can I Really Study Anywhere, Anytime?
Yes, the great advantage of an online degree program is that it allows you to live your life, and study anywhere you can get internet access. This is one reason the online MBA is also a great option for first-responders, emergency personnel, and others who work a non-traditional schedule, especially those who want to move into a management role in government or healthcare.
In recent years, Baylor online MBA professors and administrators have even worked closely with students in Texas and Florida who have been displaced by natural disasters, helping them figure out how to keep up with assignments or when to put study on hold while navigating the aftereffects of extreme weather events.
Will I Need a New Computer or Special Software?
As long as the operating system on your desktop or laptop is reasonably up to date, you should be able to navigate online courses with ease. They are designed to work with both PCs and Macs.
Students use standard word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software to complete most MBA coursework.
If you do find you need an upgrade of one type or another, flashing your student ID will result in a discount on technology purchases at many retailers. Online platforms such as Gmail also offer free resources for users that can help with papers, projects and assignments.
How Do Online MBA Courses Work?
Once you log into your first course online, you'll find a syllabus outlining everything you will learn and do during each portion of the class. Your professor will provide a course calendar and information on policies, due dates, and more.
From there, you will simply begin moving through the course components -- including lectures, readings, exercises and assignments -- in much the same way you would in any class. In online courses, you may also view videos, join live discussions or contribute to conversations happening on course message boards.
Student Spotlight: Kristi Hotze
Online MBA student Kristi Hotze, former managing director of global business services for CBRE, grabs study time in the car during her kids' activities. Her 14-year-old daughter Leah and 9-year-old twins Hannah and Hunter make sure she stays on top of her classes. "They know when my homework is due. They want to know what I'm learning about ... I push them in their studies, so they push me," Hotze says. "They're like, 'Mom, you need to get your reading and homework done.'"
"There are a lot of discussion boards, but all of the live conferences and interactive exercises have been great ... You're getting that interaction without having to go and drive and sit in a class. I think it's a great format. I have absolutely loved it."
Will I Be Able to Talk to My Professors?
Professors and students in online courses regularly communicate via email and video chat, and sometimes by phone. Your professor might also schedule live lectures you can attend via Skype or other online platforms, as well as virtual office hours that provide more opportunity to interact in real time.
Will I Be Able to Use the Library?
Online MBA students often enjoy the same library privileges and support as their on-campus counterparts.
A significant portion of the material held in Baylor libraries can be accessed remotely, and librarians are also available to assist online MBA students with research and acquisitions. You can even come to campus and check out an actual book if you desire.
Can I Get Advising or Tutoring Online?
Online MBA programs provide differing levels of academic support for students, and specific resources will vary by school. Baylor online MBA students have contact with advisers throughout their time in the program, however, they can also arrange to work with university tutors on or offline as needed during their studies.
Do Online MBAs Have Access to Career Services?
It varies widely by school and program, but many online MBA programs do offer some form of assistance with career services and networking.
Baylor provides online MBA students and graduates the same outstanding array of career management services as on-campus MBA students receive, including help with:
- Interview prep
- Internship and job placement
- Personal branding
- Business communication
- Career mentoring
Baylor MBA grads can also build diverse professional networks that last a lifetime, by connecting with professors, fellow students, and important contacts made through career fairs and business school alumni.
"Whether they come to campus to meet the students or it's all done over the phone or through Skype, we have two full-time staff members designated just for the MBA students and to their career goals and what they want to do." -- Mary Reinhardt, Associate Director, Baylor University online MBA program
Student Spotlight: Ana Arias
Graduating Baylor online MBA student, Ana Arias, who will receive her degree in 2019, used the school's Handshake tool to connect with employers. She recommends it to all students for the boost it provided to her networking and job search efforts.
"I actually ended up getting three interviews from those applications that I submitted through Handshake," she reports. "One has turned out to a full-time offer at PWC for senior management consultant." And Arias says PWC is not her only option. "I have my final Interview with KPMG for tax advisor consultant and with Cigna for their field academy, and all of this was through the Baylor Handshake tool."
"I have a lot of Baylor pride... I felt like the Baylor degree would carry a little more weight for what I wanted to do." -- Quincy Jenkins, 2016 Baylor online MBA graduate, and senior strategist at Google, Mountain View, California
What Makes the Baylor Online MBA Different Than Other Online MBA Programs?
Baylor University offers prospective students one of the most affordable Tier-1 MBA programs in the nation, with a business alumni network that is 25,000+ strong and growing.
Baylor's proven online MBA model provides students with all of the academic and career advantages that come with attending a prestigious business school, along with the convenience of studying online.
A diploma from Baylor also stands for something more than just the completion of a degree. It signifies the proud tradition of principled leadership that you join and carry forward as an MBA graduate.
Why Is Principled Leadership Important?
At Baylor, our faith and our values play a critical role in working collaboratively, solving problems effectively, expressing ideas persuasively, and serving the community. Our focus on ethics in business standards and practices ensures that Baylor online MBA students graduate with the skills to motivate, inspire and mentor others, and apply the core values of integrity and accountability in all areas of business, and in all circumstances.
Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program!
Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree
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