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Best Online MBA Programs in the World

After covering the topic of best executive MBA programs, we now take a look at the growing trend of online MBA programs and test whether it’s all hype with no substance or a credible alternative.

What are online MBA programs?

The online MBA is not a very new concept. In early years, way before the advent of the ‘e’ onslaught, there were the classic distance learning courses. The internet has enabled this industry and the Online MBA has been gaining popularity in India and globally.

The reasons are not surprising since you can complete these courses from the comforts of your house. There are also some hybrid models wherein you have a few hours of classroom (physical or virtual) contact combined with online material. Almost all of these courses have assignments and some have real classroom examinations as part of the degree/certificate requirements.

Globally, there are some reputed accreditation bodies such as AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and our very own home grown DEC (Distance Education Council).

Though the global accreditation have gained some currency amongst international recruiters, the jury is still out there in case of India. But it is good to be aware of these bodies as this can be an important measure to judge a program’s worthiness against.

Who are these online MBA courses for?

If you think that equipped with an online MBA certificate, you will be able to make that career switch or wave the certificate to walk your way up the organization hierarchy, chances are you may end up with a serious expectation mismatch.

The online MBA course, though a convenient option, is not up there with the conventional MBA programs in terms of value recruiters place on the courses. A large part of learning from an MBA tends to happen through peer interactions and class debates. While technology has enabled some of these, the virtual world is yet to catch up with the real one in efficacy on this topic and most recruiters know this.

On the other hand, if you are in for a learning experience and to understand the nuts and bolts of various business functions, this could be a credible option. In many ways, contrary to a full time MBA, this is an end to itself – meaning, you do this course because you want to learn.

Do not raise your expectations regarding the outcome or real tangible RoI from this investment; part of the reason that these courses are not too pricey either. So take your pick.

Online MBA Costs

The difference in online MBA costs and full-time courses make the online courses more popular. Think about it. Apart from the low fees for online MBA, you are also saving a lot of peripheral costs. This includes relocation costs, rental costs for student accomodation, commuting costs – and the big one that most MBA students tend to underestimate – opportunity costs – or in simple terms, the money you’d lose in lost wages.

A regular full-time MBA can go upwards of $100,000 and we’re just talking about MBA course fees. The top tier MBA courses charge more.

Here’s a earlier post that explains it in more detail – How much does an MBA Cost in India, USA, Europe.

In contrast, online MBA costs can be in the range of $10,000 to $80,000. The average online MBA tuition fee in US programs would be around $40,000.

This is generally a function of the university brand, whether it’s a public or private university, the bells & whistles that are bundled with the degree and of course the country. Online MBA courses in India are significantly cheaper than their American counterparts.

Online MBA vs Distance Learning MBA

While all online MBA programs may be considered as distance learning program, the reverse is not true. Many schools, especially a lot of them in India, use traditional methods such as physical books, reading material, to impart the course.

Online MBA on the other hand use latest, innovative techniques including but not limited to lecture videos, interactive Q&A during classes and the likes.

In general, it is safe to say that the learning and retention is likely to be better for online courses since they come close to the actual class based experience. So choose wisely.

Are Online MBA degrees worth it?

Here are some reasons where an online MBA course can be worth it.

• Your main objective is to learn the nuts and bolts of business theory

• You have hit a glass ceiling in terms of career advancement but are too late in the career to invest time and money in a full time or even a part-time executive course

• You are sufficiently technology savvy. Many of us prefer to read a book on the Kindle/iPad/smartphone rather than pick up a copy from the bookstore. This is an important trait to have to ensure you are able to absorb what the program offers

• You are not sure if MBA has much value for you. This may be a good way to get started on that path. Once you are convinced, you can always go back for more
If you need more insight, check out our article on Pros and cons of online MBA degrees

Best Online MBA programs in the world

We have referred to somWe have referred to some of the best Online MBA rankings published by Financial Times , QS Distance Online MBA Rankings and US News.

What determines quality in Online MBA are factors such as accreditation, opportunity for physical interactions, use of group work and the likes. Essentially factors that help a program mirror the physical program, in general win it more brownie points. The university, its brand and the faculty credentials are other important defining characters for the top rated programs.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, we’ve stuck to sharing the name of top 5/10 schools/programs by geography. Beyond that, do you own online research and decide which course is the right one for you.

Best Online MBA in Europe

IE Business School – Spain
Warwick Business School – UK
Durham Business School – UK
Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University – UK
University of Bradford School of Management – UK
Alliance Manchester Business School – UK
University of Strathclyde – UK

Best Online MBA in India

Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning (offers Online MBA) – India
Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai (NMIMS) (Part-Online) – India
Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad – India
Indira Gandhi National Open University, IGNOU (Distance MBA) – India
IIM Indore, BBEEP – India

Best Online MBA courses in USA

Kelley (Indiana) – USA
W. P. Carey (Arizona) – USA
Thunderbird School of Global Management – USA
Babson College: Olin – USA
University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler – USA
University of Massachusetts:Amherst
University of Florida – Hough

Best Online MBA courses in Australia

AGSM at UNSW Business School
There are a LOT more Online MBA courses that we haven’t listed here. These are the ones that are top of mind recall. You can start with this list, but then do some more research.

Another factor to consider is if you are looking for a particular specialization. That may or may not be available in the above list and hence lead to the expansion.

Unlike in the classroom programs, the choice here is vast – but keep the factors mentioned above in mind before you put your money into these online MBA programs.

Read these related posts:
MBA for working professionals
Online eMBA course vs full-time programs
How employers view online degrees
Why I chose an Online eMBA course over full-time programs
Harvard online certificate courses (Interview with HBX Executive Director)
Are online courses and MOOC certificates from top universities worth it?
Southern Cross University Online MBA Review
RMIT University Online MBA Review
James Cook University (JCU) University Online MBA Review
Victoria University Online MBA Review

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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

21 thoughts on “Best Online MBA Programs in the World”

  1. Very Informatiove information about 0nline MBA. Although, I think that a online degree are certainly very flexible for the working professionals

  2. The article which you have posted is good. I got most of the online MBA colleges from your blog. Thanks for sharing this information.

  3. Hi Manish,
    If possible I would like to get some advise on choosing MBA program.
    Can you let me know the best way to reach you ?
    Regards, Ravi

  4. Hello, that was a very helpful article. Thanks for the detailed list of available online MBA programs. I agree that the MBA course fee is much more affordable when we go for online programs; however, do you agree that the degree of exposure is not same as that of regular MBA programs?

  5. @Ashutosh – depends on your define exposure. But in general, like I mentioned in the article, it may be better suited from knowledge point of view. If you are looking for networking and leadership enhancement, online MBA wont help much.

  6. Wonderful blog !!!!! The article which you have posted about Best Online MBA Programs is very good and very helpful for many students. Thanks for sharing this information here.

  7. Dear Sameer,

    First of all, a great article with superb information and response.
    I am 32 years old Btech (ECE) with 8 years of work experience in Software development. Currently I am working for a Korean MNC giant in Consumer electronics field.
    I want to go for 1 year MBA which offers job as my prime motive is to change / switch the field to something different. But because of personal commitments I cant stop working for an year or two.
    I understand the options for me are like
    1. Online-1-year-MBA
    2. Executive MBA

    Is there any Online-1-year-MBA which fetches decent placement ?
    Kindly educate me with options and how to pursue it.

    Arnab Samanta

    • Arnab, as mentioned in the article, an online course would rarely give you the mileage to get a job or change fields. That also holds true to a large extent for Exec MBAs. The maximum benefit from these courses can be had primarily at your current employer only.

      • Hello,
        Thanks for this informative article.

        Does online MBA students get a chance to participate in the job fairs as like full time students?

        How will that work out when enrolled for a foreign univ?

        I heard from one of my friend that univ organize virtual job fairs for online students..

  8. Hello Manish,

    Excellent Article, I am in big dilemma …I have 12 years of experience after Mechanical Engineering. I have made mind to go for MBA Distance/Executive/Part time..Is there any difference in any of these also does college reputation matter..MDI/FMS/ICFAI/Symbiosis etc etc…

    You have not mentioned about ICFAI as one of the institute for executive part time MBA…Can you please throw some light on Executive MBA from them…It is anytime anywhere kind of course where you can answer from home/office etc (Premium priced though@1.5 Lakh) , They give you 130 case studies from all major subjects of regular MBA and ask to review Harvard Business Review, write case studies on management books etc..

    Do you think its worth to go for such kind of course?…or suggest if there are some better options which provide flexibility of time to complete the course in India…Thanks in advance for your help..

    Best Regards,

    • Anurag, it is difficult to give a clear answer without knowing what you want to gain out of the MBA. As the article mentions, there are limitations to what an online or part-time MBA can help you achieve. So make that decision wisely. For some suggestions on executive/part-time courses check this link:

      Yes, the reputation of the school is one of the biggest thing irrespective of the course you take up. It is hardly difficult for anyone to come up with a curriculum – the real value lies in how it is delivered. So choose wisely.

  9. hi sameer/MG,

    Iam software engineer having 6 years of experience in testing(QA). i want a mba from abroad. preferable UK.
    how exactly Online executive mba program is ? like my question is, we will study online course sitting in india or do we have to go abroad for ‘live classes’ or to take up ‘final exams’ ? Please clarify..

    And final degree ceritificate, will it be like a regular mba type or will it be mentioned that it is Online executive MBA.

    Is it mandatory to take ‘gmat’ exam for online MBA ? Is there any option to get MBA admission without taking gmat ?

    Which electives would you suggest me to take up in mba ?

    I just want an online MBA degree from abroad without taking Gmat exam. I am rich so Money spending is not a problem. please guide me

    • Raghu, this article IS about online programs – so you can start exploring the programs mentioned here. The requirements vary so you have to check individually for each program in terms of GMAT. Most programs will mention that it is an online course. The concentration should depend on what you want to do after MBA. By definition, these programs would rarely have in-person classes.

  10. Hi Manish,

    I am seeking a career advise here. I have 15 years of work experience and currently working as a Senior HR Business partner in a corporate. I do have a few qualifications in HR, however none of them is an ‘MBA’. At the moment, I feel my career has come to a standstill, as most organizations (specially the likes
    of Big 4) ask for an MBA-HR these days. Do you think an online MBA from a foreign university (accredited) will help me progress further?

    Please help. Cheers! Gautam


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