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Should I Get an MBA Online?

Apr 16, 2021

MBA Trends

Is an MBA worth it?

Can I balance business school with my current job? 

Are there benefits to an online MBA program vs. an on-campus MBA program?

If you’ve been thinking about pursuing your Master of Business Administration (MBA), chances are you’ve asked yourself these questions. After all, a business degree is a major commitment, and one that requires a significant amount of time, money, and effort. As with any big life decision, it’s important to understand your options so you can make an informed choice for your future.   

For many people balancing work and family, an online MBA degree is a great option. Just like an on-campus business program, an online MBA degree can open many doors for graduates. It can give MBA students the skills they need to excel as a company executive, tackle ambitious business projects, and develop smart solutions that drive organizational success.

If you’re thinking about an online MBA program, you’re not alone. As many as 47% of online MBA programs in the United States reported growing application numbers in 2017—and that number rose to 86% in 2020.

No matter which MBA degree option you choose, studies show an MBA can help give you an edge in the job market. In fact, a recent GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey found that 89% of employers said they plan to hire MBA graduates in 2021.  

How Much More Can I Earn with an MBA?

There are no guarantees when it comes to exactly how much more money you can make with an MBA degree, but in general, the more education you have, the more pay you can demand. It’s worth noting though that, according to research, most MBA graduates do see a significant salary bump. That’s because an MBA degree often serves as a stepping stone to business leadership positions, and these management roles usually come with higher salaries than non-management jobs.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), salary projections for MBA recipients in 2021 is about $29,000 higher than the projection for individuals who receive a bachelor's degree in business this year.

Furthermore, recent compensation projections by NACE predict the average starting salary for 2021 MBA program graduates will be around $87,000. That’s 11.3% higher than the average starting salary among 2020 graduates. 

The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), which administers the GMAT for business school admission, also has some insight into the subject of salary. Their 2019 Business School Hiring Report revealed the median base starting salary is $115,000 for MBAs, more than double the median for new bachelor’s degree hires and the highest ever recorded in the United States. 

Also keep in mind that some industries see bigger salary spikes than others. According to GMAC, here are the expected increases in salary after earning an MBA for several major job categories: 

  • Products/Services: 59% increase

  • Nonprofit/Government: 45% increase

  • Technology: 35% increase

  • Manufacturing: 34% increase

  • Finance/Accounting: 34% increase

  • Healthcare: 33% increase

  • Consulting: 32% increase

  • Energy/Utilities: 24% increase

What Are the Differences Between On-Campus and Online MBA Programs?

Let’s compare the two:   


  • MBA students attend classes full-time or part-time at a business school with a physical location.
  • MBA students may be able to network with other business school students and faculty
  • Alumnus may come to speak to students regularly to provide networking


  • Students attend virtual classes, or if the MBA program is flexible like the one offered at WGU, full-time students never have to attend lectures
  • Students have the ability to study wherever and whenever they want
  • Full-time or part-time students often pay much lower tuition cost

Now that we know some of the differences, below are some of the similarities between an on-campus and online MBA:  

  • Admission requirements are generally the same 

  • Finance, accounting, management, economics, strategy, and communication classes will likely be offered

  • Alumnus networking opportunities will still be available

  • Students have access to student services 

  • Most programs earn the same accreditation, usually from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

All in all, an on-campus vs. online MBA program can offer essentially the same opportunity for students. So, if you’re trying to decide which program will give you the most successful outcome, it really comes down to your personal learning preferences.

Should I Get an MBA Online?

The short answer is yes. In general, employers are likely to care less about whether a degree was earned online and more about a program’s reputation and accreditation, coursework, and what type of specialized experience or skills a graduate brings to a position. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, 61% of hiring managers view online programs as equal to or better than those completed in person.

Will an MBA Help My Career?

It depends on your career goals. An MBA is a good path if you’re looking to gain business, finance, and leadership skills that will prepare you for a career switch or a significant career advancement. They’re often a stepping-stone to leadership roles at large corporations and a huge asset for aspiring entrepreneurs. MBA courses can also give you the opportunity to solve real-world business problems. Ultimately, this can help you become a more creative thinker and problem solver, something that can have a lasting impact on your career. In these instances, an MBA can be a valuable tool for your professional development.

Although there are no guarantees that an MBA will help your career, many graduates see benefits such as: 

  • A higher salary 

  • An educational edge on the competition 

  • Greater networking opportunities 

  • Additional skills and knowledge to advance in their careers

  • The potential to meet with other employers through MBA internships

Should I Get an MBA Online?

Ultimately the choice of an online MBA vs. traditional MBA is up to you, but going the online route can be a good fit for many reasons. 

1. You don’t have to quit your job. 

Getting an online MBA allows you to continue working your current job, making it possible to take classes in the evenings or on weekends and from the comfort of your own home. 

2. Your boss might help pay for it. 

Employers might be more willing to help pay for an online MBA because it will interfere less with your work.

3. The application process is the same. 

Applying to an online MBA is usually the same as applying too an on-campus program, and there might be fewer admissions requirements.

4. You can finish faster. 

Getting an online MBA means you can complete coursework on your own time and at your own pace so you can advance as soon as you’re ready. In fact, most WGU grads earn their MBA in just 1.5 years, as opposed to the average 2 years is takes to complete a traditional program. 

5. It can be more affordable. 

Many online students benefit from the flat tuition rates and accelerated courses many online programs offer. At WGU, you can enter the MBA program for just $8,400 per year, which means you’re paying less than $20,000 for your tuition if you finish in two years. That's about half the cost of other online MBA programs, and significantly less expensive than traditional programs.

6. You may not have to take the GRE or GMAT.

Many reputable colleges and universities that offer online MBA programs don’t require the GMAT/GRE, instead preferring to focus on other indicators of success. 

While an online degree offers the same career benefits and professional outlook as an on-campus degree, ultimately getting an MBA is a personal decision that comes down to your needs and career goals. If you believe an online MBA is your next step to a successful career, WGU can help. Our flexible online degree program can help you work and maintain all your responsibilities while moving your career forward. 

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