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The 10 Best Online Leadership Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) Programs

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

-John F. Kennedy

Leadership is more than great business acumen, and goes beyond a simple authoritative character trait. Leadership is a set of aptitudes and skills- strategic, interpersonal and analytical- which must be developed through study and practice. Even those with a natural capacity to inspire, motivate and coach groups need formal training to reach their full potential. For those looking to develop an elite leadership skillset, an online Leadership MBA is the way to go.

The Master of Business Administration Degree is the gold standard in the world of business, and has remained so for decades. The latest Alumni Perspectives Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that 95% of MBA graduates regarded their degree as a “good, excellent or outstanding value,” and that employees who plan to stay with their current employer can expect, on average, a 39% increase in salary after earning their MBAs.
An MBA with a concentration in Leadership is the ideal path for those looking to lead teams, steer organizations through change, and to set and execute global business strategy. An MBA in Leadership typically takes three years to earn, though online leadership MBA programs are frequently offered in an accelerated format, lasting two years or even less.

Acquiring an MBA in Leadership requires a significant investment of time, effort and capital. As a prospective student, you’ll want to find the online Leadership MBA program with the strongest academics and best value. Our ranking of the 10 Best Online Leadership MBAs represents the best of the best in online MBA programs, ranked for affordability and academic quality, as measured by the metrics below.

Methodology:

  • Affordability:
    • Tuition (1/2): Average cost for out-of-state tuition (where applicable) per credit hour.
    • Financial Aid (1/2): Percentage of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded financial aid at any level.
  • Academic Quality:
    • Student Retention (1/3): Full-time retention rate for first year undergraduate students.
    • Class Size (1/3): Average undergraduate student to faculty ratio.
    • Graduation Rate (1/3): Percentage of students completing program requirements and graduating on time.

1. The University of Mary

The University of Mary (“UMary”) is a private, Benedictine, Roman Catholic institute which is based outside of Bismarck, North Dakota. UMary is North Dakota’s only Roman Catholic university. The school was founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery to educate young women, and had a starting enrollment of only 69. In modern times, UMary is a coeducational university open to students of all faiths, with a total enrollment of 3,314 students. UMary offers degrees at the undergraduate, and graduate, and doctoral level. The school’s core values include ethical conduct community service, the open exchange of ideas and fostering leadership, and UMary provides ample opportunities for faculty mentoring and community engagement, and leadership experiences for all students. Graduates of the school have a high job placement rate of 98%. The university is the only school in North Dakota to be recognized as a College of Distinction, and U.S. News and World Report ranks UMary 109th in Regional Universities Midwest.

In partnership with the Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute (HVLI), the University of Mary offers an affordable and accelerated online MBA with a concentration in Virtuous Leadership. The program emphasizes ethical leadership, training student to exercise character, moral conduct, and virtue in making leadership decisions for long-term business success. Classes are accelerated, and incorporate robust experiential learning. In addition to online coursework, all student attend a four-day leadership immersion seminar, set several convenient locations across the United States. The entire degree can be completed in as little as 18 months. Courses include Law in the Managerial Environment, Marketing, Operations Management, Managerial Finance, and Executive Economic Analysis, and the program concludes with a comprehensive Capstone Project which synthesizes prior learning. UMary’s MBA in Leadership boasts an impressive combination of academic quality and affordability, easily taking first place in our ranking f 10 Best Leadership MBAs. The program has a high student retention and and graduation rate, at 80% and 54% respectively, and small class sizes, with a student to faculty ratio of 15 to one. It’s also exceptionally affordable, with tuition costing only $520 per credit, the second-most affordable of any surveyed here.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $520
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

2. Concordia University- Nebraska

Concordia University, Nebraska is a private institute which is based in Seward, Nebraska. The school is affiliated with the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and a member of the Concordia University System. Concordia dates back to 1894, when it was established as the Evangelische Lutherische Schulleherer Seminar, a preparatory teacher’s school. In its first year, the school had a starting class of 12 all-male students and a single room used as living space, dining hall and classroom. By 1919, the school had grown into a junior college and become co-educational. Today, the university offers over 50 undergraduate degrees and several graduate programs, most of which are offered exclusively online. Concordia has a total enrollment of 2,719. U.S. News and World Report ranks Concordia 38th in Regional Universities Midwest, and 10th in Best Value Schools, in recognition of its affordable tuition.

Concordia University- Nebraska awards an affordable and high quality online MBA in Leadership and Managing Teams through Change. This innovative program was created to prepare graduates to build and lead efficient and cohesive teams in an ever-changing business environment. The curriculum stresses ethical business conduct, clear communication, and conflict resolution, and has been specifically designed to have immediate real-world applications. A total of 12 courses, comprising 36 credits, are required for graduation, and last just 8 weeks each. Class topics include Cross Cultural Management, Effective Decision-Making and Communication, and Creating and Leading Effective Teams. The program concludes with a 3-credit MBA Leadership capstone. At $555, tuition is highly affordable, and 81% of Concordia students also receive financial aid. Class sizes are small thanks to a low student to faculty ratio of 13 to one, and the graduation and retention rates are high, at 67% and 74% respectively.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $555
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 81%
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

3. Belhaven University

Belhaven University (“Belhaven”) is a private Christian university which is based in Jackson, Mississippi. The school was first established in 1883 as the Belhaven College for Young Ladies, merged with the Mississippi Synodical College, and became coeducational in 1954. In modern times, the school maintains a close relationship with the Presbyterian Church, particularly the deminanations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Presbyterian Church in America, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and offering faith-based disciplines including Christian ministry and biblical studies, as well as teaching general curriculum from a Christian worldview. Belhaven has over 70 programs of study, with strong academic offerings in the liberal arts, visual and performing arts, and business. Class sizes are small, and more than 80% of professors hold the highest-available degree in their field of expertise. Belhaven is ranked 52nd in Regional Universities South and 20th in Best Value by U.S. News and World Report.

Belhaven University offers a high quality online MBA with a Leadership Concentration. The program provides in-depth training in resolving conflicts, setting goals and leading teams in a business setting, from a perspective informed by Christian values. Courses are just 8 weeks long, and all classes are three credits each, with 42 credits required in all. Sample classes include Managerial Economics, Marketing Management, Ethical Problems in Business, Leading High Performance Teams, and Leadership and Organizational Change. At $550, Belhaven’s online MBA in leadership has one of the most affordable tuitions of any such program, and 97% of students receive financial aid, more than any other school surveyed for our ranking of the 10 Best Leadership MBAs. Class sizes are also exceptionally small, with the second-lowest student to faculty ratio we’ve seen, at 11 to one. High academic quality and low cost make Belhaven’s online MBA in Leadership an exceptional value and an excellent choice for a graduate degree.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $550
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 97%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
  • Graduation Rate: 36%

4. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is a private, Catholic college with a liberal arts focus which is located in Standish, Maine. It is the state’s only Catholic college. The school provides education at the bachelor’s level on campus, with 40 majors, minors and partnership programs, and offers graduate studies online. Saint Joseph’s The most popular majors are nursing, business, education, sports management, and biology. The school was established in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, an Irish Catholic order, in Portland in 1912 as an school for women. The school moved to nearby Standish in 1956, and currently occupies a 430-acre campus situated on the banks of Sebago Lake. Today, Saint Joseph’s serves a coeducational student body of 2,775, the majority of whom are enrolled in online classes. The school has been recognized as a Community Engaged Institute by the Carnegie Foundation and was named to the 2013 and 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine offers an accelerated and affordable online MBA in leadership. The Leadership MBA program is open to students with at least two years of full-time professional employment experience, and emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving and strategic planning in the context of the fundamentals of business, organizational dynamics, and interpersonal relationships. With just 14 classes required for graduation, students can earn their Leadership MBA degree in as little as 18 months, and can start right away by selecting one of five available start dates per year. Course topics include Business/Organizational Dynamics, Cross-Cultural Leadership, Strategic Leadership of Human Capital, and no final capstone or thesis is required. The school’s tuition of $520 and student to faculty ratio of 12 to one are among the lowest of any school surveyed for our ranking of 10 Best Leadership MBAs, and mean students can a high-quality learning experience at a low cost. A retention rate of 81% indicates a high level of student satisfaction at Saint Joseph’s as well.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $540
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 60%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

5. Liberty University

Liberty University is a large, not-for-profit, private, evangelical Christian institute which is based in Lynchburg, West Virginia. The school was established by the reverent Jerry Falwell in 1971, and is the largest Christian university in the world, with a total enrollment of 110,000. This enormous school awards a vast array of on-campus and online certificates and degrees, including 290 bachelors, 315 masters, and 32 doctoral degrees. The vast majority of the school’s students are enrolled online, yet the 11,000 on-campus students still represent a large student body, and Liberty boasts a well-appointed, 7,000-acre campus, one of the ten largest in the country. Students enjoy private bathrooms and kitchens in each room suite in the 30 dormitories, and have a wealth of on-campus opportunities for outdoor recreation, including an artificial ski slope, archery and paintball fields, motocross facility, skating rink, and mountain biking trails. The school is recognized for strong programs in engineering and criminal justice, and the Carnegie Foundation has designated Liberty a “research university of moderate research activity.”

Liberty University offers an online MBA in Leadership which is respected, rigorous, and taught from a Christian perspective. The program is based around the study of organizational design & structure, operations management, leadership theory, and leading organizational change. Leadership MBA classes are just 8 weeks long, and include such subjects as Leadership Theory, Leading Organizational Change, Organizational Design & Structure, and Operations Management. The program concludes with an optional, hands-on, intensive capstone course. With a full-time student retention rate of 83%, Liberty’s Leadership MBA program is second-highest on this metric in our entire ranking of Best Online Leadership MBAs. Tuition is priced at $565, and no less than 84% of students receive some form of financial aid.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $565
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
  • Graduation Rate: 51%

6. Gwynedd Mercy University

Gwynedd Mercy University (“GMercyU”) is a private, Roman Catholic university located in Lower Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, with additional locations in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania. It is one of the 16 Catholic colleges and universities that comprise the Conference for Mercy Higher Education. The university was established as Gwynedd-Mercy College, a junior college, in 1948 by the Sisters of Mercy, an Irish Catholic order, and became a baccalaureate institution in 1963. Today, GMercyU has a total enrollment of 2,020 undergraduate students and 627 graduate students, and awards over 40 degrees in nursing, education, business, and the arts & sciences. The school places a high value on community service, holistic education, and affordable tuition. PayScale ranks GMercyU among the top 20% in the state for Return on Investment, and College Scorecard ranks it among the state’s tips 20% for Salary After Graduation. U.S. News and World Report ranks GMercyU 146th in Regional Universities North.

Gwynedd Mercy University awards an accelerated online MBA with a concentration in Strategic Management & Leadership. The degree program is designed to develops students’ ability to navigate international business environments while effectively managing people, resources, and processes. The curriculum teaches practical skills in writing, presenting, research, finance, and business technology, and emphasizes social responsibility and ethical decision-making throughout. The course of study consists of 10 courses: seven foundation courses (totaling 21 credits) and three courses in the Leadership concentration (9 credits). Classes are accelerated, lasting just 7 weeks, and are meant to be take one-at-a-time. Topics include Managerial Finance, Organizational Leadership, Global Management, and Managing Human Capital. The program concludes with a Business Plan Capstone. Tuition is priced at $640 per credit, and 78% of student receive financial aid. The university has the lowest student to faculty ratio, at 11 to one, and the second-highest retention rate, at 84%, of any school surveyed for our ranking of Best Online Leadership MBAs.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $640
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
  • Graduation Rate: 51%

7. Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor University (SAU) is a Christian university which is based in Spring Arbor, Michigan, and is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. The school was founded in 1873 by leaders of the Free Methodist Church as an elementary and secondary school, and became Spring Arbor Seminary and Junior College in 1923. The school evolved into a college by 1960 and achieved full university status, and assumed its present name, in 2001. With a student body of 2,940, and over 70 majors and programs, SAU is now the second-largest Evangelical Christian University in Michigan. Popular areas of study include Education, social Work, Health Sciences, and Psychology. U.S. News and World Report ranks SAU 64th in Regional Universities Midwest and 39th in Best Value Schools.

Spring Arbor University administers a highly accelerated online MBA with a concentration in Executive Leadership. The program aims to develop skills in planning corporate growth, strategic development, critical thinking, communications, and long-term development within a business environment. With a shortest-possible completion time of just one year, this is one of the very fastest MBAs in Leadership available. Students not washing to accelerate may also take courses one-at-a-time, and still finish their Leadership MBA degree in just 18 months. Class topics include Strategic Planning & Management, Strategic Leadership, and Management of Organizational Behavior. Tuition costs $717 per credit, and a high percentage of students, 84%, receive financial aid. SAU boasts an exceptionally low student to faculty ratio of 12 to one, and a high student retention rate of 78%. Online MBA Today include SAU’s Leadership MBA among the Best Online MBAs in Michigan.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $717
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

8. Oral Roberts University

Oral Roberts University (ORU) is a private, interdenominational, Christian, liberal arts university located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. ORU was founded in 1963 by Charismatic Christian televangelist, Oral Roberts. The university has an enrollment of about 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and offers a diverse range of academic programs in 65 disciplines, including theology, business, music, communication arts, modern languages, and behavioral sciences. Students from the ORU College of Science and Engineering have a notably high rate of acceptance into dental and medical school- 75% and 86% respectively. The 323-acre campus is notable for its distinctive mid-century futurist architecture, and prominent, 200-foot, saucer-shaped Prayer Tower, which features a 360-degree observation deck. The Carnegie Foundation classifies ORU as a “Master’s University”, and U.S. News and World Report ranks ORU 47th in Regional Universities West and 20th in Best Value Schools.

Oral Roberts University awards an online Leadership MBA which is specifically geared towards working professionals looking to advance their business careers. The curriculum is designed to be highly interactive, with frequent group discussions and collaborations, and as with all ORU subjects, is taught from a faith-based perspective. A total of 35.5 credits are required for the degree, with classes such as Strategic Organizational Development, Competitive Business Intelligence, Leadership of Organizational Dynamics, and Global Management Concepts. Tuition costs $720 and a full 87% of students receive some form of financial aid. Class sizes are relatively small, at a student to faculty ratio of 16 to one, and the school boasts and impressive retention rate of 82%, they third-highest of any school surveyed for our 10 Best Leadership MBA rankings.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $720
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 82%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
  • Graduation Rate: 57%

9. Southern Wesleyan University

Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) is a Christian college located in the town of Central, South Carolina, with regional learning centers in Central, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and North Augusta. The school was founded in 1906 as Wesleyan Methodist Bible Institute by the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and the school, now a full university, remains affiliated with that institution. Today, Wesleyan offers 35 major areas of study for undergraduates, including business, education, religion, music, medicine, and law, as well as graduate degrees in education and business. SWU is dedicated to providing ethical and faith-based, student-centered education, and fosters leadership and community service across all disciplines. Total enrollment comes to 1,872 students. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school 114th in Regional Universities South.

Southern Wesleyan University awards an online MBA with a concentration in Leadership. The Leadership MBA degree program aims to equip students with essential business skills related to strategy development, organizational leadership, effective communication and collaboration, and the execution of strategic objectives. In keeping with the school’s religious affiliation, students also receive training in Christian values, ethical concerns, and the legal issues relevant to the modern business environment. The course of study consists of 36 credits (12 courses), and classes are accelerated, lasting only 7 weeks. Courses include Business Policy and Strategic Planning, Strategic Leadership, Culture and Ethics in International Business, and Organizational Change Management. Tuition is very reasonably priced, at a cost of $565, and 81% of students receive financial aid. SWU has an impressive graduation rate of 60%, the third-highest in our ranking of the 10 Best Leadership MBAs.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $565
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 81%
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
  • Graduation Rate: 60%

10. Queens University of Charlotte

Queens University of Charlotte is a private university located in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. The school was originally founded in 1857 as the Charlotte Female Institute, and later merged with the nearby Presbyterian Female College, and remains affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The school became coeducational after the end of World War II, and had achieved full university status by 2002. Today, the school serves a total of 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students, offering a total of 34 undergraduate majors and 66 concentrations, and 10 graduate programs. The most popular areas of study are Business and Marketing, Communications and Journalism, and Health Professions. Queens University is ranked 20th in Regional Universities South by U.S. News and World Report.

Queens University offers a prestigious and flexible online MBA with a concentration in Leadership and Change. The Leadership MBA program features two week-long immersive residency experiences held on the Queens campus, during which time students engage in dynamic team-building activities, work with mentors and executive coaches, and engage in-person with faculty and classmates. The curriculum comprises 36 credits, including foundation, core, and elective courses, allowing students a high degree of flexibility in planning their course of study and building on areas on interest. Classes within the Leadership concentration include Contemporary Leadership Theory & Application, Organizational System Change, Conflict & Negotiation, and Interpersonal & Group Dynamics. The online MBA program was ranked first in the nation for 2016 by CEO Magazine. Tuition is priced at $1,133 per credit, and a high percentage of students, 83%, receive financial aid. With an incredibly low student to faculty ratio of just 9 to one, Queens University has the smallest average class size of any school surveyed for our ranking of the Best Leadership MBAs.

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  • Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,133
  • Students Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9:1
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
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