When one thinks of Mardi Gras, the first place that comes to mind is Alabama. Well, maybe not, but it should be. Alabama is home to the first American Mardi Gras, which took place in 1703. To brighten the public mood after the civil war, Mardi Gras was reinstituted and continues to this day. But beyond revelry, Alabama is know for its education and business. Recently ranked as a top-tier state for its business climate and economic growth potential, Alabama is well served by the ten Best Alabama Online MBA Degrees.
The aerospace and aviation industries, established with the Wright Brothers’ first civilian flight school in 1910, remain a staple in the Alabama economy today. The thriving automotive sector drives economic growth for the state with partners such as Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Toyota. Metal manufacturing accounts for nearly two-billion dollars in exports and employs approximately 45,000.
Viewed by many as a great way to get a foot in the door at large corporations or to launch a promising career as an entrepreneur, MBA degrees are a sharp arrow to have in any aspiring or grizzled professional’s arsenal. Many industries like corporate finance and commercial banking expect or may even require MBA degrees for top positions. According to a recent Forbes article, 59 percent of Fortune 100 CEOs have MBAs.
MBA programs across the United States vary significantly. Some solely offer a generalized experience, while others provide many opportunities to hone one’s knowledge through areas of specialization and concentration. Programs generally span one to two years in length and may be completed as a full-time student or as a part-time student.
Not everyone can commit to attending classes in person. Therein lies the value of the online MBA. Most of the programs maintain a great deal of flexibility. They allow for virtually any committed professional to expand his horizons. The top ten Alabama Online MBA programs run the gamut of financial obligations, and all are accommodating to the rigors of a busy schedule.
MBA Central strives to create a meaningful ranking system because we understand that deciding to continue one’s educational journey, or to return to it after a potentially lengthy hiatus, is a big deal. Depending on one’s situation, it may have a considerable influence on finances, and it will undoubtedly impact one’s time and energy. We help make this choice more palatable by putting together this ranking of the top Alabama online MBA programs. Several criteria establish this ranking list. These programs are chosen for their Affordability (33%), Support Services (33%), and Quality of Classes (33%). Information was collected from a variety of sources, including U.S. News & World Report, Quacquarelli Symonds, The Princeton Review, Financial Times, and The National Center for Education Statistics. All of the Online MBA programs in this ranking are assigned an Affordability Score. This score ranges from Very Affordable to Very Expensive. This score is dependent on the program’s base tuition rate.
Very Affordable: below $15,000
Affordable: $15,000 – $19,999
Average: $20,000 – $29,999
Above Average: $30,000 – $49,000
Expensive: $50,000 – $99,999
Very Expensive: $100,000+
#1 Troy University Sorrell College of Business – Troy, Alabama
Troy University’s online MBA is the best program the State of Alabama has to offer. It all began on February 26, 1887, with the founding of Troy State Normal School. This college, founded to train teachers, became Troy State University near the close of 1967. To better emphasize the school’s worldwide mission, State was dropped from the name in April of 2004. The SACSCC accredited Troy University earns its number one ranking through a combination of factors. U.S. News & World Report ranks its support services at #3. It also speaks to the quality of classes through its #95 ranking of Best online MBA programs. This affordable university is not the easiest on one’s pocketbook, but it is also not the worst. It sits comfortably in the middle of our top ten, rounding out its privileged status. The AACSB accredited Sorrell College of Business is named after Jeff and Anise Sorrel, whose 1980 endowment laid its foundation. Although very successful, this local couple remained grounded and lived a rather simple life. Their firm beliefs in work ethic, an entrepreneurial mindset, humility, and honesty remain the backbone of their namesake to this day. The mission for the Sorrell College of Business is to be distinguished and teaching-focussed. It further seeks to graduate GEEKS that will succeed in business and life. GEEKS is an acronym which stands for Globally aware, Engaged with the business community, Ethical decision-makers, Knowledgeable to compete, and Successful.
Troy University’s completely online MBA program is one of ten graduate programs offered through the Sorrell College of Business. An average class size of eight students ensures a personalized experience. Those students with an undergraduate business degree can complete the online MBA program in 31 hours and in as quickly as one year. The program consists of 22 core hours and nine hours of electives, which one has the option to customize in three areas of concentration: Global Business-General Management, Global Business-Finance, and Global Business-Information Systems and Data Analytics. The application process requires a GMAT or GRE score but may be waived under certain conditions.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
#2 Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business – Auburn, Alabama
The online MBA at Auburn University is the culmination of a rich history. Its ultimate mission of leading and shaping the future of higher education was sparked in the year 1859 when it launched as a private liberal arts institution. Admitting women to the University in 1892 and rebranding itself as Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1899, the school settled on its current iteration of Auburn University in 1960. The SACSCC accredited University boasts more than a quarter of a million graduates. The Raymond J. Harbert College of Business marked the beginning of a time of rapid growth for the business school. The catalyst for this was a Forty million dollar commitment by 1982 Alum, Raymond J. Harbert. While the cost of the online MBA is above average, it remains a reasonable investment. Its number two spot takes into consideration other notable factors. The Princeton Review ranks Auburn’s online MBA program at #19, and U.S. News & World Report places it at #18. Along with these substantial endorsements, U.S. News & World Report ranks the program #69 for its support services.
Auburn’s online MBA program offers concentrations in Finance and Information Systems. The coursework consists of nine hours of core classes, which include Organizational Leadership and Change, Integrated Business Project and Case Analysis, Cost Analysis and Systems, and Operations Excellence. Four elective choices round out the coursework. This 39-hour program is typically completed in two and a half years, but students may take as long as six years if they need to. This program is geared toward the working professional, and one may complete it entirely online. However, students are required to participate on campus for one in-person event at the end of their Team Resource & Applied Consulting course. Students have the option of attending both a New MBA Student Orientation before classes begin and a Global Immersion Trip. Entrance into this online MBA program will require GMAT or GRE scores, except for those students who already possess a terminal degree. The overall focus of this online MBA program will help students enhance their business insight and gain an advantage in today’s increasingly competitive business environment.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
A.S.: Above Average
#3 University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business – Birmingham, Alabama
The first iteration of The University of Alabama at Birmingham began in 1931 when the state legislature created its board of trustees. Things didn’t actually get rolling until 1859 when the Medical College of Alabama initiated its first classes in a rented building. With more than one-third of its student body comprised of graduate students, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is a SACSCC accredited university. More than a century after the University’s introductory classes, the College of Business was launched, providing the first solid foundation for what would become the number three rated online MBA program in Alabama. The College of Business became the Collat School of Business in 2013. In addition to offering what U.S. News & World Report ranks as #12 in Services and Technology, the AACSB accredited Collat School of Business offers a Master of Accounting and a Master of Science in Management Information Systems. Its additional rating by U.S. News & World Report of the #40 Best Online MBA Program further justifies the program’s above average cost. The University’s MBA focuses on crucial facets of modern-day administration. It strives to get students ready for leadership positions in business, industry, government, or social services.
Two plans of study are available for the online MBA program, which consists of one or two years. Most students choose to take the two-year route. The generalized MBA requires 36 hours of study. Courses cover areas such as Accounting, Quantitative Analysis, Supply Chain Management, and Strategic Cost Analysis. Areas of concentration available are Finance, Health Services, Management Information Systems, and Marketing. Students who choose to pursue one of these more focused paths will be required to complete 39 hours of study. Those prospective students who have three to five years of professional experience may be eligible for a waiver of the GMAT requirement. Students holding a Master’s degree from an accepted institution may also qualify for a waiver of this requirement. An additional advantage of choosing the University of Alabama at Birmingham for an online MBA is its business-friendly format. It can be earned entirely online with no residency requirement.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
A.S.: Above Average
#4 Samford University Brock School of Business – Birmingham, Alabama
Established in 1841, the SACSCC accredited Samford University is the 87th oldest university in the United States. For God, For Learning, Forever is the University’s motto, and it clearly illustrates its Christian, Baptist roots. The Brock School of Business, established in 1965, boasts nearly one thousand students. In addition to its fully online MBA, the AACSB accredited Business School offers a Master of Accountancy, a graduate business minor, and several joint degree programs. These joint programs include an MBA in conjunction with a Master of Accountancy, a Master of Divinity, a Juris Doctor, a Master of Environmental Management, and a Doctor of Pharmacy. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford’s online MBA #33 for its Services and Technologies related to distance learners. It also ranks it at #74 among the Best Online MBA Programs. While not the cheapest program in Alabama, the online MBA is just slightly beyond the average cost to attend.
Students choosing Samford’s online MBA have the option of getting a more focussed learning experience with added concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Finance, or Marketing. The #66 U.S. News & World Report ranked faculty teach a core set of courses that cover topics such as finance, managerial communication, human resources, and operations. Students may complete the program with as few as 36 credits. If more of a foundation is required, the online MBA may take up to 48 credits to complete. The overall goal of Samford’s online MBA program is to instill an understanding of five key concepts in its students. The first is Cross-Disciplinary Competence, which incorporates several business processes, allowing students to make well-informed decisions. The next idea is Critical Thinking and Decision Making, which is followed by Effective Communication. Another core concept is Corporate and Social Responsibility. Rounding out the objectives is Teamwork. Entrance into this #4 rated online MBA requires an official GMAT or GRE score. However, it is possible to have this requirement waived. Student satisfaction and responsiveness of instructors are an essential benchmark when choosing a program. With a #70 ranking by U.S. News & World Report, Samford offers a solid choice.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
A.S.: Above Average
#5 Auburn University at Montgomery College of Business – Montgomery, Alabama
Auburn University at Montgomery is one of the more youthful institutions on the list of the ten best Alabama online MBA programs, and it is a SACSCC accredited institution. Founded in 1967, the University was established at the behest of local citizens who wanted a degree-granting institution in Montgomery and the surrounding area. AUM’s AACSB accredited College of Business offers several graduate-level programs. It offers a Master of Healthcare Administration, a Master of Accountancy, and a Master of Science Management and Information Systems. There is a traditional MBA program and a recently established, fully online MBA program. The online MBA fully mirrors its more conventional cousin and offers the option of being pursued in a hybrid format. The MBA makes it into the top half of the ranking in large part due to its very affordable price tag. It comes in at less than half the cost of the majority of programs preceding it. In addition to this crucial element, AUM, rated by U.S. News & World Report, comes in at #118 in the Best Online MBA programs. It is followed up by a #211 ranking in Services and Technologies.
Although one is not locked into the designated time-frame, the Business School’s online MBA may be completed in as little as one year. The program focuses on a single path with no outside concentrations. It consists of ten classes made up of eight core areas of study and two electives. The core classes run the gamut of crucial topics required in a sought after MBA degree. These core classes cover topics related to accounting, financial valuation, marketing management, business administration, and data analysis. This 30-hour program is among the lowest of the Alabama programs in terms of overall required credits. Although the program offering is not as sophisticated as those offered by some of the other Alabama schools, its design gives students everything they need to enrich them and make them more marketable in their professional careers. Required in the majority of cases, a GMAT or GRE waiver is a possibility for those with the appropriate background.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
A.S.: Very Affordable
#6 University of North Alabama College of Business – Florence, Alabama
This online MBA is offered at the oldest public four-year university in Alabama. UNA was established in 1830. Accredited by the SACSCC, UNA’s student body consists of more than 8,000 students, over half of whom are women. The College of Business continues to gain traction and shows a growth of over 36% since 2014. Claiming the status of the largest MBA program in Alabama, UNA’s AACSB accredited College of Business offers its MBA program with unique partnerships in Suzhou, China, and Taipei, Taiwan. Recent graduates have landed positions with prestigious organizations and companies that include NASA, Hexagon, and Ernst and Young. A unique feature is titled the Generator. This entrepreneurial program is geared toward helping students begin businesses of their own and offers mentoring, guidance, and workspace to develop and perfect new ventures with a focus on sustainability. Serving more than 700 graduate students, the COB has 60 dedicated and full-time faculty. Most of these possess PhDs. The College of Business offers a generalized MBA degree with a variety of specialization options. It also provides an Executive MBA, which is more geared to a seasoned business professional. Also, a Master of Accountancy and a Joint MBA and MS Family studies program are available. Ranked the #200 Best online MBA program by U.S. News & World Report.
Both the MBA and the Executive MBA may be completed entirely online. These online MBAs each consist of 34 hours of study. The Executive MBA program requires five years of qualified experience to gain entry, but it does not require a GMAT. Also, this program does not offer concentration options and instead focuses more on leadership and management. Students may gain entry to the regular online MBA through either professional experience or GMAT scores. Concentrations for this program include Finance, Health Care Management, Project Management, Global Business, and several others. Listed by U.S. News & World as #257, the online MBA at UNA offers an affordable price point among Alabama’s top ten online MBA programs. The University boasts of ranking third in the number of MBA graduates each year in Alabama.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
#7 Jacksonville State University School of Business & Industry – Jacksonville, Alabama
Founded in the late nineteenth century, Jacksonville State University has nearly 76,000 alumni who hail from its learned halls. In addition to the online MBA, the SACSCC accredited JSU currently offers more than forty online programs. Among a student body of just over 9,000, the University boasts a graduate population of 14%. Two-thirds of these students are female. There are also 153 international students who represent 51 countries. Accredited by the AACSB, The School of Business and Industry is comprised of three academic units. First is the Department of Communication. Second is the School of Business. The third is the Department of Applied Engineering. In addition to its MBA offering, the School of Business and Industry has a Master of Public Administration with an optional concentration in Administration Management. Distinguished by U.S. News & World Report, Jacksonville State University’s online MBA is among the top-ranked online MBA programs. This very affordable program is among the four most cost-conscious online MBAs in this Alabama top ten list.
This Number seven ranked online MBA may is completed in an online or hybrid format. Although students who are unable to do so due to professional or other obligations may take longer, it is possible to finish this program in as little as 18 months. It is important to note, however, that those students who lack an undergraduate business degree, may be required to take up to twenty-four hours of foundational coursework. Students electing to choose the general MBA and those who desire the more focused accounting concentration will take the same core classes. These courses will include Accounting Information Analysis, Quantitative Methods for Business Decisions, Financial Management, and Business Leadership. The general online MBA requires 30 credit hours, and the MBA with a concentration in Accounting will require 33 credit hours. Undergraduate degree-holding students from an AACSB-accredited institution and an overall GPA of at least 3.0 are not required to submit a GMAT score. Those who have already completed a postgraduate degree are also exempt.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
A.S.: Very Affordable
#8 University of West Alabama College of Business and Technology – Livingston, Alabama
The number eight ranked online MBA at the University of West Alabama’s College of Business and Technology comes from a school that has gone through many transitions. UWA began as a church-related school for women in the second quarter of the 19th century. It ultimately embraced its broader mission in 1995 when it became the University of West Alabama. Accredited by the SACSCC, the University’s relatively small student body allows for a student to teacher ratio of 18:1. More than half of UWA’s students are graduate students, and nearly all of those students are enrolled only in distance education programs. The College of Business and Technology offers several undergraduate programs that are accredited by ACBSP. The College’s MBA shares in that honor. U.S. News & World Report lists it among the Best Online MBA programs. The College of Business and Technology highlights two areas of extracurricular involvement, which give students a more significant opportunity for hands-on experience. The first is through its Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Services, where support and training for Alabama’s Black Belt region are provided. The second is the Small Business Development Center. Its mission is to grow the economy of the region as a whole.
The very affordable and fully online MBA program consists of 33 credit hours. Twenty-Four of these hours are devoted to core courses that include Managerial Accounting, Comparative Business Law and Ethics, Marketing Management, and Strategic Management and Business Policy. The program intends to develop skills in a wide range of business areas with the express purpose of advancing student careers and increasing potential earnings. Students may further distinguish their professional growth through an array of concentration choices. Concentrations include a range of options. They include Accounting, Computer Information Systems, Finance, General Business, Management, Marketing, and Sports Management. Between the cost of the program, the fact that most students will complete it in one year, and no GMAT requirement for admission, it is easy to see why UWA’s online MBA makes the Alabama top ten list.
Acred.: ACBSP, SACSCC
A.S.: Very Affordable
#9 University of Montevallo Michael E. Stephens College of Business – Montevallo, Alabama
The online MBA at the University of Montevallo’s Michael E. Stephens College of Business gears up to prepare students for careers in operational management and strategic leadership. The program has a 98% graduation rate, and all of the faculty are full-time. The University of Montevallo began its first incarnation as the Alabama Girls’ Industrial school. It served to allow women, who were typically financially dependent on their families at this point in history, to learn viable skills and become economically independent. It transitioned to the University of Montevallo in 1969 and is accredited by the SACSCC. The Michael E. Stephens College of Business, which further distinguishes itself through its AACSB accreditation, offers an MBA program with a unique liberal arts approach. This very affordable online MBA program comes in at number nine in the list of best online MBAs in Alabama.
Consisting of 30 hours, UM’s online MBA is highly customizable to the time constraints of its students. Completing the program in one year is very realistic, and forty percent of its students follow this path. The remaining students typically finish the program in two years. However, students can space things out over several years if they need to do so. Classes consist of a broad mix of working professionals and those just starting their professional journeys. A typical class size of twenty-one students allows for plenty of interaction between students and professors. Although this online MBA program offers no area of specializations, there are several optional electives geared toward internships, special topics, and directed study and research. Required courses include Civilization, Society and Organizations; Accounting; Managerial Economics; Leadership of Human Resources and Organizational Development; and Financial Management. The program founds itself out with Strategic Management and a capstone where students will show off what they have learned through a comprehensive project. Entry into this online MBA program requires foundation business knowledge, usually obtained from an undergraduate business degree. However, those students who lack this background may easily get caught up through UM’s Business Summer Institute. GMAT waivers exist for those with appropriate work experience.
Acred.: AACSB, SACSCC
A.S.: Very Affordable
#10 Amridge University College of Business and Leadership – Montgomery, Alabama
Amridge University currently offers an online MBA and is one of the forerunners of the online education movement. Involved in online education since 1993, AU holds the honor of being one of the first 15 participants chosen by the U.S. Department of Education as a pilot program for distance education on a broad level. The University maintains its core in its Christian ideals and history, and it is accredited by the SACSCC. This small university has less than one thousand students, more than half of which pursue graduate studies. In addition to its MBA, graduate programs of study offered through Amridge University’s College of Business include a Master of Science in Leadership and Management, a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. The College of Business and Leadership strives to support the mission of the University. It prepares its students through innovative methods with a focus on research, public service, distance education, and spiritual vitality so that graduates may better serve not only in their chosen professions but also in their local churches and communities. Amridge University further distinguishes itself through its inclusion in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs.
Distance learning is the primary delivery method of AU’s programs. Its MBA is only available through online study. Students will never be required to step foot on campus. Although it comes in at number ten, the cost of this online MBA program is better than several others in Alabama. It sets itself apart further through its application requirements. Not only are students not required to provide GMAT or GRE scores, but the only requirement for entry into the program is an undergraduate degree. Core courses making up this online MBA include Managerial Finance, Legal Environment of Business, Systems for Today’s Leaders, and Leadership Ethics. The program requires 30 hours of study, and nine of these hours are of electives. Although it has no particular specialization, there is freedom in the program for students to choose electives that best suit their individual goals.
Living in Alabama
Alabama is nicknamed the “Heart of Dixie” for its location in the Southeastern United States. This geological sweet spot sets it apart from every other state. The unique mineral make-up within its borders is home to every resource required to make iron and steel. Alabama’s influence extends even higher. The country literally could not have made it to the moon without the state of Alabama. The Saturn V rockets that carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon were constructed in Huntsville, Alabama, which was later nicknamed “Rocket City.” Surfing the first Yuletide, Alabama officially heralded in the celebration of Christmas as we know it by being the first state to declare Christmas a legal holiday in 1836.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Alabama in the top half of the country in terms of Fiscal Stability. This ranking is determined through analysis of the state government’s credit rating, liquidity, pension fund liability, and budget balancing. Fiscal stability is a crucial factor when it comes to the quality of life of those who live in a state. Alabama’s budgetary stability ranking tops that of many other states with much larger economies such as California and New York.
George Washington stated, in what many consider to be the first state of the union address in 1790, that there should be the creation of a national university. In The State of Higher Education in 2019, Grant Thornton sees this idea as coming to fruition through a combination of factors. One of these is the growing availability of online education. The study points out, however, that the education sector is lagging way behind the industry sector in this area. A great many businesses already operate on a national scale. Coming up with a list of companies that are active in almost any state is relatively easy to do. It also predicts that universities, as we know them, will soon go the way of the small town corner drugstore and will be rendered obsolete.
Some have identified several significant trends that will shape the future of business education. The first is the legitimacy of an online business education. Online MBA programs and executive education, in general, are showing rapid growth. While the online education industry is booming, the more traditional brick and mortar residential programs are in decline. This second trend, illustrated by a decrease over the last five years in applications to residential MBA programs, further points to the viability of distance education. Approximately 70% of business schools indicate that they received fewer applications in 2018. A third trend is the immense popularity of STEM MBA programs. These programs possess a big attraction for international students and help corporations to get the more analytically trained people that they require.
Business in Alabama
Alabama is showing signs of a bright future. Job growth of 1.8% in 2019 portrays the most significant increase for Alabama since 2005. When taking into consideration its low tax rates, its open-shop workforce, and its development efforts at both the local and state level, Alabama has a very business-friendly environment. These factors combine to make construction a fortified area with a high potential for future growth.
Based upon a 2018 study from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama and Dr. Keivan Deravi of Auburn University at Montgomery, commercial construction was a $12 billion shot in the arm for the state’s economy. The automotive industry is another shot of espresso to Alabama’s business development. Currently, three vehicle manufacturing plants and an engine plant operate within the state. Alabama manufacturers include Hyundai Motor Manufacturing, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz. Toyota and Mazda are in the process of building a plant in the Huntsville area, which is scheduled to commence construction in 2021 and represents a $1.6 billion investment. Amazon is building a massive fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, which should create more than 1,500 jobs. The currently under construction facility is 850,000 square feet, four stories tall, and will have about twenty-two miles of conveyance belts when fully functioning. Plans are to have it up and running by 2020. Blue Origin is in the process of setting up a rocket engine plant in Huntsville, Alabama, and Airbus, which already maintains a significant presence in Mobile, Alabama, will be significantly expanding its production efforts.
With booming business development, offering outstanding business connections, the continued popularity of the Online MBA, and the stability of the state of Alabama, these top Alabama Online MBA programs are a great investment in future leadership careers.