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The 10 Best Online Executive MBAs

With every new economic and cultural trend, whether it’s the latest fad like fidget-spinners, or a change on the global market scale – the best businesses adapt and evolve to survive and thrive. Likewise, in order to keep up with these changes business professionals also need to adapt, by improving their skill sets and constantly seeking out new information.
There was a time when pursuing further education while working a steady job was simply impossible. But that’s no longer the case. As distance education becomes more accepted and popular, distance education programs have had to keep pace with student demands. Today, working professionals can further their education through flexible Online Executive MBA programs while still having a fixed workday schedule. What follows are 10 of the best online programs.


  • Affordability (1/3):
    • Average indebtedness of program graduates in the last calendar year.
    • Percentage of graduates who needed to take on student loan debt.
  • Support Services (1/3):
    • Online-specific flexibility, accessibility and support measures for online and non-traditional students
  • Quality Classes (1/3):
    • The average class size
    • The percentage of faculty with terminal degrees in their field

1. Washington State University

WSU is a public research university located in Pullman, Washington, and was founded in 1890 as Washington’s original land-grant university. As of this year it has a total student enrollment of over 30,000. Through its colleges of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, Honors, Communication, Education, Engineering and Architecture, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine – Washington State University offers a wide variety of programs for students to choose from. For undergraduates, it currently offers 95 majors, 86 minors, and over 100 in-major specializations. While graduate students can choose from 79 master’s programs and 63 doctorate programs. For 2017, U.S. News and World Report ranked WSU 143rd among national universities, and 27th for Best Online MBA Programs.

Designed for working professionals, the Online Executive MBA program from Washington State University is offered entirely online and can be completed in as few as 18 months. The 44 credit-hour program focuses on strategy, innovation, and leadership in order to prepare students for more than simply working in the world of business; it prepares them to be leaders and pioneers. Applicants should have at minimum a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, in addition – applicants typically submit a GMAT score of 550 or better, though the GMAT requirement can be waived for qualified candidates. Online EMBA students at WSU are offered the opportunity for international field study through a 10-day residency overseas. Previous trips have included Shanghai and Beijing, and afforded students the chance to visit businesses such as Nike, Boeing, and Porsche. EMBA students are also free to participate in the annual Leadership Conference from WSU’s Carson College of Business, which offers students further educational opportunities while networking with other students, alumni, and faculty.

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  • Average Indebtedness of Graduates: $35,577

2. Bethel University

Bethel University is a private Christian University located in McKenzie, Tennessee. Since its founding in McLemoresville, Tennessee in 1842, Bethel University has grown to include six satellite campuses in Tennessee: Chattanooga, Clarksville, Paris, Memphis, Jackson, and Nashville – as well as outreach areas in Knoxville and Kentucky. As of 2016, Bethel had just under 6,000 students enrolled, who were taught by 178 full-time and 321 part-time faculty members and graduate assistants. Bethel University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). For eligible students, the university offers a military and veteran undergraduate and graduate tuition reduction waiver.

Bethel University’s Online Executive MBA program consists of eight required courses, three seminars, two electives, and a six credit-hour research project. All of the courses in the EMBA program are three credit-hours, and the expected time to complete the program is 21 months. Unlike the academic track, the executive track is designed for students with executive experience, and focuses on building upon prior experience through analysis and improved decision making. Among the program’s required courses are: Organizational Behavior, Statistical Analysis, Business Ethics, and Strategy and Managerial Decision Making. Applicants must submit two professional references, a professional resume, and a 500-word essay on “Why I Would Like to Obtain an MBA Degree and How I Plan to Utilize My Degree Upon Completion of the Program.”

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  • Average Indebtedness of Graduates: $37,853

3. St. Joseph’s College

Located in Brooklyn, New York, St. Joseph’s College is a private liberal arts college. Originally founded in 1916 as St. Joseph’s College for Women, the university is today a coeducational institution with over 5,000 enrolled students. With a full-time faculty of 164, and a part-time faculty of 385, the university enjoys the relatively low student-to-faculty ratio of 14 to 1 and an average class size of only 13. St. Joseph’s College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, and currently offers over 50 undergraduate majors and pre-professional and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees in business, health care management, nursing, human services, accounting, education, and management. Besides the on-campus programs, SJC Online offers programs in nine different areas of study: Applied Behavioral Analysis, Business, Criminal Justice, Health Administration, Human Resources, General Studies, Human Services, Psychology and Business, and Religious Studies. In 2017 U.S. News and World Report ranked St. Joseph’s College 44th for Best Universities for Veterans, and 33rd for Best Value Schools.

SJC’s Executive Master of Business Administration program was designed for students with significant work experience. The 36-credit hour program consists of 12 three-credit hour courses, which encompass topics that those in the business world are sure to encounter, such as: Legal Issues in Management, Financial Accounting and Analysis, Operations and Quality Management, and Marketing Concepts and Strategies. The program focuses on learning to apply graduate level theory to real world issues and situations.

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  • Average Indebtedness of Graduates: $36,242

4. University of Nevada – Reno

This public research university was originally founded in Elko, Nevada, some 300 miles from its present location in Reno. Since its establishment in 1874, the University of Nevada at Reno has grown to become one of the state’s leading schools. Today the university is home to over 21,000 students, and offers more than 145 degree programs between its colleges of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, Business, Education, Engineering, Journalism, Liberal Arts, Medicine, and Graduate School. Ranking among the top 150 research universities in the country, UNR has over 60 research centers and facilities, including the Nevada Terrawatt Facility and the Nevada Seismological Laboratory. Besides its many on-campus learning opportunities, the university also provides students the chance to study abroad, with programs in 27 countries and over 50 cities. For those seeking a more flexible learning environment, the university offers over 200 online courses each year, allowing students and working professionals the chance to continue their education as their schedule permits.

Ranked 36th by U.S. News and World Report for Best Online MBA Programs, the online EMBA program from UNR requires that its students complete their degree in two years. This two-year cohort program consists of 12 courses that are spread out over the course of six semesters – the fall, spring, and summer semesters of each year. Each class spans 12 weeks, and while all coursework can be completed entirely online, students are required to complete a proctored exam. The Executive MBA program is only open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution, though the major need not be business. Applicants must have at least a 2.75 GPA on a 4.0 scale, as well as having a minimum of five years professional work experience beyond their undergraduate work. Finally, applicants are required to provide results of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

5. University of North Carolina

Founded in 1789, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was officially the first public university in the United States, and was the only public university to award degrees in the 18th century. While many mentions of UNC are referring specifically to the founding campus at Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina is actually a university system comprised of 17 campuses. Today, the university has a total enrollment of over 29,000 while maintaining a student-to-faculty ratio of only 13 to 1. Through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences UNC currently offers 78 bachelor’s, 112 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs. As a research university Carolina stands proud as the 11th largest U.S. research university in research volume and annual expenditures, investing $967 million in research activity annually. In 2016, UNC ranked 3rd for Best Public University in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings. U.S. News and World Report ranks the university 30th for National Universities, 5th for Top Public Schools, 9th for Business Programs, and 4th for Best Online MBA Programs.

Designed by UNC Kenan-Flagler’s research teaching faculty, the MBA@UNC program was created with the goal of providing a structured learning environment equal to that of a campus, while allowing students the flexibility to pursue further education despite schedules or locations that might conflict with typical on campus learning. Students are free to attend courses online, and through the use of a webcam students can interact with their teachers face-to-face. Adding to the flexibility of the program, students can even access their coursework through the MBA@UNC mobile app. The 66-credit hour program takes an average of 24 months to complete, though students can complete the program in as little as 18 months or as many as 36, depending on whether they are full-time or part-time.

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  • Average Indebtedness of Graduates: $69,120

6. Rochester Institute of Technology

Founded in 1829, the Rochester Institute of Technology is a private university with nine colleges and international locations in Croatia, Dubai, China, and Kosovo. Proud of its diversity, RIT boasts over 16,000 students from all 50 states and from more than 100 countries. In addition to its geographical diversity, the university is also home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and is an internationally recognized leader in providing post-secondary education to the deaf and hard-of-hearing; RIT is currently home to over 1,100 deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Between its nine colleges, the university currently offers 105 undergraduate programs, 83 graduate programs, and 30 professional certificates and advanced certificates. U.S. News and World Report ranks RIT 107th for Best National Universities, and 33rd for both Best Value Schools and Best Online MBA Programs. The university has also been listed as one of the “Top 200 Colleges for Native Americans” in the Society’s Winds of Change magazine six times in a row.

Based on industry research, the Online EMBA program from the Rochester Institute of Technology was designed to go beyond the standard fare of typical MBA programs, instead seeking to engage students on a deeper level than a simple memorization of concepts and theories. While the program is identical to the on-campus program, online students are required to attend a three-day on campus orientation session before classes begin. The 17 month program spreads out 24 required courses over four semesters, with students taking courses every six weeks. Classes are done in weekly sessions and are recorded so that students can go back over the information at their leisure. RIT has actually gone a step beyond the on-campus program by having most online courses with a secondary instructor who hosts additional sessions. Students are required to attend a seven-to-10 day international seminar held towards the end of the program, though all airfare and lodging costs are covered by the program.

7. University of North Alabama College of Business – Florence, Alabama

The University of North Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Florence, Alabama. UNA is Alabama’s oldest four-year public university, and has graduated more than 57,000 students since its founding in 1830. With the relatively low student population of only 7,333 UNA has a comparatively high student-to-faculty ratio, of 20 to 1. Over 80% of the classes at the university are taught by the 275 full-time faculty members. As a whole, The University of North Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelor’s, master’s and education specialist degrees. Beyond that, many of the university’s individual programs are independently accredited by the appropriate organizations or licensing agencies, including the Master of Business Administration, which is accredited by AACSB International.

Designed for professionals with a minimum of five years of business experience, the Executive MBA program is one of 10 concentrations offered through the MBA program from the University of North Alabama. The EMBA program consists of seven core classes as well as six electives, coming to a total of 34-credit hours. Applicants to the program are required to present an updated resume showing at least a five-year work history. GMAT and GRE requirements can be waived by providing a resume showing at least three years of “demonstrated responsibility in professional or entrepreneurial positions.”

8. Pace University

Originally founded in 1906 as a business school for men and women, Pace University shifted its focus to liberal arts and sciences following World War II. From its humble beginnings in rented facilities, Pace has grown into one of the largest universities in New York State. Today, the university has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, and has a total student enrollment of 13,245. Pace currently offers seven associate’s degrees, 146 bachelor’s degrees, 132 master’s degrees, and 29 doctoral degrees between its six colleges: College of Health Professions, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. For 2017, Forbes ranked Pace University 184th for Research Universities, and 309th for Private Colleges. U.S. News and World Report ranked Pace 188th for National universities, and #36 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

Combining a mix of online courses and weekend residencies, which occur every 10 weeks, the Pace University Executive MBA program affords students the flexibility to earn an MBA while working full-time … and all within a scheduled and structured learning environment. While weekend residencies may be a turn-off for some students, the on-campus time commitment is only 34 days. The weekend residencies run from Friday to Sunday and consist of group discussions, presentations, examinations, as well as a celebratory dinner. The cohort-based program is divided into nine modules, which include both individual assignments as well as collaborative team-based projects.

9. Howard University

Howard University is a private, nonsectarian, research university located in Washington, D.C. An historically black university, Howard has been ranked as the “top producer of African-American undergraduates who later earn science and engineering doctoral degrees” by the National Science Foundation. In its 150 years of operation, Howard University has awarded more than 120,000 degrees and certificates in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Today, Howards 13,000 students pursue degrees in more than 120 areas of study within the university’s 13 schools and colleges. Forbes ranks Howard University 149th for 2017’s Best Research Universities, and 259th for Private Colleges. U.S. News and World Report ranks Howard 124th for National Universities, and #2 for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The Executive MBA program from Howard University was designed to serve up and coming professionals, as well as those who are already established in industry. The program focuses on delivering applicable knowledge while forging in the student an understanding of the causes and factors that shape the world of business. The program consists of 15 courses totaling 42- credit hours, and can be completed in as little as 18 months. The courses include: Strategic Communications, Financial Management, and Marketing Strategy, all of which cover the topic from the perspective of leadership. Applicants to the program should preferably have five years of work experience in a management or senior level role.

10. University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming officially opened in 1887 with a grand total of 42 students and five faculty members. When it was originally founded in 1886, Wyoming was still a territory. It would take another four years before Wyoming was admitted as the 44th state. Despite its humble beginnings, the University of Wyoming has grown to a total enrollment of over 12,000. UW currently offers over 190 fields of study between the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Business, Education, Engineering and Applied Science, Health Sciences, Law and the School of Energy Resources. The University of Wyoming has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission for the last 94 years, with their most recent reaccreditation in 2010. U.S. News and World Report ranks UW 171st for National Universities, and 90th for Top Public Schools.

Fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International – the part-time, Online MBA program from the University of Wyoming is tailored to experienced business professionals seeking to further their education while maintaining a full-time work schedule. Admission into the 100 percent online program is incredibly competitive, and in the university’s words “Only top candidates will be considered.” This cohort-based program consists of 30 credits and is should be completed in two years. Rather than unrelated modules that can cause students to lose focus on what they’ve previously learned, courses within the program are designed to build upon one another, ingraining knowledge and allowing students to apply learned theory to real world situations.

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