Earning an MBA Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue an MBA Online?

Versatile and flexible, online MBA programs appeal to students from many different professional and educational backgrounds. Ideal for focused, driven individuals who are dedicated to rising above the competition, accredited online MBA programs make it possible to earn an income while pursuing an advanced degree. Whether your interest lies in business, management, law, or beyond, an MBA can help you achieve your career goals. MBA online programs provide the skills and knowledge required to take on high-level positions and leadership roles, many with six-figure salaries. In this guide, we cover what you need to know about pursuing an online MBA, including common course offerings and curriculum structure. We also take a look at some popular career paths for graduates and the salary potential for each, along with professional certifications that can enhance your marketability.

Employment Outlook for MBA Graduates

Master's in MBA Salary

As the tables below demonstrate, factors such as geographic location and experience play a significant role in earning power, and some states offer online MBA graduates greater salary potential than others. For example, while the national average salary for chief executives was $194,350 in 2017, South Dakota residents enjoyed an average yearly income of $242,220. Some cities and states feature higher costs of living which may negate higher wages. Professional experience also influences salary, and seasoned workers typically out-earn recent graduates. Individuals with over 20 years of experience make nearly $110,000 more each year than entry-level candidates in the same field.

Top Paying States for Chief Executives

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
South Dakota 560 $242,220
North Carolina 4,310 $226,540
Rhode Island 390 $222,790
New York 15,410 $219,410
Texas 5,890 $218,880
United States 223,260 $194,350

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $120,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $154,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $193,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $229,000

Source: PayScale

MBA Careers

Top online MBA program graduates enjoy a variety of employment opportunities in diverse industries. Possessing versatile knowledge and skills, graduates perform a spectrum of functions and take on many different roles. Some are drawn to information technology or finance, while others pursue careers in human resources or marketing. The following job titles are only a few of the exciting, lucrative positions available to graduates.

Human Resources Manager

Annual Median Salary: $110,120

Projected Growth Rate: 9%

HR managers oversee their company's administrative functions. They hire staff members, organize professional development and training programs, manage employment benefits, and develop policies for handling disputes. They must collaborate with other managers to resolve personnel issues, hire outside vendors, and manage support staff and other HR employees.

Top Executive

Annual Median Salary: $104,700

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Often known as CEOs, top executives are ultimately responsible for their company's success or failure. They set strategic goals, negotiate and sign significant contracts, conduct managerial reviews, and review financial data. CEOs are also charged with making important decisions that determine their organization's direction.

Financial Manager

Annual Median Salary: $125,080

Projected Growth Rate: 19%

These professionals maintain organizational financial health by monitoring spending, creating budgets and long-term spending goals, and developing cost cutting strategies. By preparing financial statements, they ensure that individual departments and the company as a whole adhere to spending guidelines. They also monitor market trends to encourage profits or prepare for a downturn.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager

Annual Median Salary: $129,380

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Individuals in this line of work create and sustain interest and awareness in their client's business offerings. In addition to marketing plans and campaigns, these managers create branding guidelines, commission market research, work with other departments to develop pricing standards, and negotiate advertising costs with outside companies.

IT Manager

Annual Median Salary: $139,220

Projected Growth Rate: 12%

IT managers oversee their companies' technical needs, maintaining and upgrading computer systems as necessary. They monitor network security, research technology costs, and determine both immediate and long-term departmental needs. Some also manage other IT staff members and negotiate with outside vendors to obtain discounts.

Management Analyst

Annual Median Salary: $82,450

Projected Growth Rate: 14%

While some of these professionals work for a single company, others provide consulting services to multiple clients. By gathering data related to managerial issues or challenges and interviewing employees, they work to create solutions and enhance company efficiency. They must present their findings to stakeholders and develop appropriate plans to implement their ideas.

Financial Analyst

Annual Median Salary: $84,300

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Like management analysts, these individuals may work for an individual company or as consultants. Financial analysts assess a business' current bond and stock performance, recommend investments or portfolios based on market trends, and collaborate with company leaders to help them achieve their financial goals.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect From an Online MBA Program?

Course offerings vary considerably by school, and every program features a slightly different curriculum; however, most students pursuing an accredited MBA degree online can expect to encounter certain integral concepts and courses. Many programs include one or more of the following classes in their MBA curricula.

Curriculum for an Online MBA

Financial Management

This class introduces governing financial management principles, including securities valuations, corporate liabilities, risk assessment and management, and interest rates. Candidates learn to make sound investment decisions by examining the ways in which optimal capital structures affect a firm's value.

Business Marketing

This advanced course looks at historical and contemporary topics in the field, emphasizing marketing environment assessment and client motivation. Students master the skills needed to succeed in competitive markets, including strategic planning, pricing, distribution models, and emerging promotion and advertising methods. Learners also explore tactics used to evaluate competitors' marketing strategies.

Entrepreneurship

Ideal for individuals interested in business ownership, this class provides an overview of market research methods, venture and startup planning, and organizational needs assessment. Coursework may also teach students to develop financial statements and garner investments.

Creating Organizational Diversity

Prospective managers learn to hire and interact with team members from varied backgrounds, create equitable workplaces, and provide opportunities to marginalized communities. Candidates acquire methods used to create synergy in diverse teams as they gain a stronger understanding of privilege, bias, and equality in the workforce.

Working With Boards

This class examines corporate governance structures and their role in the overall business structure. Learners survey topics related to performance assessment, modern governance practices, succession planning, and financial statement approval.

Certifications and Licenses an MBA Prepares For

  • Chartered Financial Analyst: Individuals applying for this prestigious credential must possess at least four years of investing experience, pass a three-tiered exam, and gain membership in the CFA institution. The program prepares individuals to work in the field's highest echelons, provides waivers for regulatory agencies and graduate programs, and unites holders in a professional network.
  • Series 63: Offered through the North American Securities Administrators Association, this credential designates qualified securities agents. Applicants must demonstrate their knowledge of fiduciary obligations, tax codes, and ethical practices by scoring 72% or higher on a rigorous, 60-question exam.