Thinking of pursuing an MBA? The online format is popular with working professionals who cannot pause their careers to earn the degree. Still others with young children or family duties count on online programs to earn a degree that would otherwise be unattainable.
With more and more schools offering MBAs online, how do you choose the right program? One that fits your career goals, financial means and lifestyle? Read on for answers to questions you may have as you explore your options.
Looking for something specific? Click the links below to go straight to your area of interest.
What Is an MBA?
A Master of Business Administration or MBA is a graduate degree that equips candidates with business and management skills. Typical curricula build leadership skills in operations, finance, marketing and communications. The degree provides preparation for careers in management. It is one of the most popular master's degrees in the country.
What Will I Learn in an Online MBA Program?
MBA curricula and coursework vary by university and program. In general, an MBA program should cover the core of business, including people management, accounting, finance and marketing. You'll also learn to think critically, improve your communication skills, and develop leadership and presentation abilities.
The LSUS online MBA program with a General Business Specialization, for example, is a versatile degree. When you complete the coursework, you'll receive the necessary preparation and a strong foundation for roles in management and executive leadership.
Learn more about the online MBA program
How Many Classes Does It Take to Earn an MBA?
The number of credit hours required varies by program and school; it could be anywhere from 30 to 65 credit hours.
With the LSUS online general MBA, you'll complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) to earn the degree.
You'll take seven core courses and then choose three electives to tailor the program to your interests. Elective courses include leadership communication, international business, data analytics, finance, entrepreneurship and more.
See the core courses and full list of electives for course descriptions.
Do I Have to Take the GMAT?
Many MBA programs do require applicants to take the GMAT. However, some schools offer GMAT waivers.
LSUS offers a few ways to skip the GMAT. Check the LSUS online MBA admissions section to learn more.
I decided that if I could find somewhere I didn't have to take the GMAT Exam, I'd jump right in. I found the LSUS program. I sent them my information and they accepted me on the spot. I said, 'That's perfect.' I went ahead and dove right in.
How Can an MBA Help My Career?
Career advancement and a pay boost are common motivations for earning an MBA. Some professionals leverage the degree to transition to a different field or industry.
Feeling stuck in your job, plateaued out or always had your eye on a certain field? You can steer your career in a different direction with an MBA.
What Are the Job Prospects Once I Earn an MBA?
According to a 2018 GMAC survey, four in five companies plan to hire MBA grads in 2018 . The strong demand for MBA talent should give you confidence in your decision to enroll in an MBA program.
Tanya Chatman experienced this demand first-hand. While she was enrolled in her final course in the LSUS online MBA program, she received three job offers. She accepted one as a director of marketing in Alexandria, LA.
The job is very new. I love it. It's perfect for me... The MBA definitely opens doors. I can say that for sure.
Current students are expecting similar success:
"My bachelor's degree helped me get my job, but in order to move forward, hopefully with my company, the MBA will help guide me in that direction." -- Jennifer McEachern, online MBA student in South Carolina
"I wanted something that brought me a little bit closer to the top of the field and at least gave me the opportunity to set myself apart. I'm looking for, at minimum, a director-type job and some vice president-type jobs in the future. If I didn't have the MBA, I wouldn't have the opportunity to be set apart." -- Jacob Burgin, online MBA student in Texas
How Much Do MBA Grads Make?
Whether you stay with your current company or look for new opportunities, earning an MBA can help you earn a higher salary. The GMAC's 2017 report shows that 82 percent of B-school alumni say they've experienced an increase in their earnings power.
Another recent survey by GMAC shows that U.S.-based employers plan to offer a median base salary of $105,000 for new MBA grads. Financial Times also shows significant salary increases for MBAs three years after graduation, resulting in an average salary of $127,000.
What Is the ROI of an MBA?
The 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report from GMAC shows that "graduates of professional MBA programs -- part-time, online, and executive MBA -- recoup their investment in two and a half years, on average." Full-time, two-year programs take an average of three years to achieve ROI.
Your personal return on investment will depend on how you decide to earn your MBA, your salary and how much you pay for school.
What Does It Cost to Earn an MBA Online?
The 20 lowest-priced online MBA programs average out to $16,337 and the 20 highest-priced to $76,694, per Poets & Quants, a news website devoted to coverage of business schools and MBA degrees.
At a total cost of $12,474, LSU Shreveport's online MBA is one of the country's most affordable programs.
"Having that LSU name on the degree at that price point was fantastic. You really can't find something for less than $20,000 that has that name recognition." -- Ryan Kleiss, online MBA graduate in Kansas City
You can't go wrong with the cost for what you get, for the accreditation. Plus, you can get it done in 10 months.
Is Tuition Higher for Out-of-State Students?
Some online programs do charge different tuition rates for out-of-state students. Be careful to check this when researching your program. With the LSUS online MBA program, in-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition. Residents from all 50 states are eligible to enroll and benefit from the affordable tuition.
How Will I Pay for the Online MBA Program?
Consider the following options for your online MBA program:
- Tuition Reimbursement
Check with your employer regarding full or partial tuition reimbursement for staff development. Because employers sometimes require a minimum length of service once you graduate, it's wise to become aware of any contractual obligations in advance.
- Federal Student Aid
To apply for a federal loan, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you decide to enroll in the LSUS online MBA program, follow the steps on the LSU Shreveport Financial Aid page.
- Private Loans
You may be able to secure loan terms that work for your financial situation. It helps to consider that online program graduates recoup the cost of their MBA within 2.5 years after graduation, per GMAC's 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report.
- Retirement Money
The IRS waives the early withdrawal penalty when retirement savings are used for higher education. Use extreme caution with tapping retirement funds even if you feel sure of a post-MBA earnings boost. And keep in mind that you'll owe taxes on the withdrawal for the year you take out retirement funds.
With LSU Shreveport, you pay as you go for the courses you take. If you take one course at a time, you'll pay approximately $1,250 per seven-week term. If you continue to work while earning the degree or you have savings to pay for tuition, you may be able to avoid a loan.
Is There Financial Assistance for Military Members and Veterans?
At LSUS, we want to help military and veteran students pursue higher education. LSU Shreveport's Veterans Services Office can assist in securing the benefits available to you.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an MBA Online?
Completion times vary by school, program and the student. A typical on-campus program is two years. An online program can be faster if students take more than one course at a time.
At LSUS, the courses are accelerated and compressed. You get a full semester's worth of content in a 7-week course. If you take two courses at a time, you can finish in as few as 10 months. Most students, however, finish in about 18 months.
"I fast-tracked myself by taking two courses at a time. That's the one thing that really drew me to the program. I'm just going to knock it out, get it done and be cool." -- Sara Sullivan, online MBA student
"If you can throw a few hours a week to it, it's going to pass quickly. Look at it by term, not like, 'I have a year-and-a-half to do this.' It's so much better to look at it that way and get through the seven weeks. As soon as the first week starts, the other six will go by in a blink." -- Tanya Chatman, online MBA graduate
How Many Hours Per Week Will I Need to Study in an Online MBA Program?
About nine hours per week for every 3-credit course you take.
The actual number of hours will vary based on the course material and assignments and your comfort level with the subject. Your style of studying will have a bearing, too.
Can I Enroll in the MBA Program If I Don't Have an Accounting, Finance, Economics or Statistics Background?
Yes, LSUS has you covered. We offer four optional foundation courses that you can take before or during the online MBA program to bring yourself up to speed. The foundation courses are one credit hour each. Tuition for these courses is in addition to the total program cost.
Be aware that other MBA programs may require an undergraduate business degree or foundation courses.
What if I Already Have Some Graduate-Level Credits?
Some MBA programs will accept transfer credits, while others do not. Be sure to check with your prospective institutions about this.
LSUS may accept up to six transfer credit hours.
I Work Full Time and I Travel for Work. Will the Online MBA Work for Me?
You're not alone. Nine in 10 online MBA students were working full time when they enrolled, per employment data provided to U.S. News & World Report.
If you're a road warrior, you can access coursework from anywhere with an internet connection, including hotel rooms and airplanes.
MBA student Steve Sheridan, who works full time for a family business, successfully divides his time between job demands and the online program.
"There are some tougher weeks than others. Some nights it's come home, have a little dinner, then I'm doing classwork from six to nine, three or four days a week. Then, I just have to start winding down because I have to do it again the next morning. At lunch, I can go online and study and check out what's going on in the class." -- Steve Sheridan, online MBA student in California
I Have Kids, Too. Can I Make It Work?
Yes. You can study when it's most convenient for you. You don't have to rearrange your life around a class schedule -- and a campus commute. You can knock out some reading or check into a discussion board while your kids are at soccer practice.
"My sons are involved in a number of sports -- archery, football, basketball, baseball. It took a lot of evening practices in the car with my laptop and my phone on a hotspot to be able to complete the MBA program." -- Christina Hathorn, online MBA graduate in Louisiana
Success in an online MBA program takes hard work and self-discipline. Sure, you and your family members will make sacrifices, but there'll still be time for R&R. That's the beauty of the online format. It's flexible. You can work toward your degree while making time for things you enjoy.
My family and I recently took a trip to Disneyland in California. I studied on the airplane. My husband is amazing -- he took the kids to ride the rides. I went to the hotel and took an exam and caught up with them later. It's the best of everything. It was wonderful.
When Can I Start an Online MBA Program?
With multiple start dates to choose from, you can enter the LSUS MBA program when it suits you. Sessions start three weeks after the application deadline. You're up and running within weeks of deciding to enroll. You don't have to wait for traditional semesters.
Why Is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation signals an up-to-date, relevant and high-quality education -- important when you're a student getting that education. Accreditation is just as important when it's time to look for jobs. You'll have an edge with prospective employers who prefer MBA grads from accredited schools.
For business schools, the three main accrediting agencies are AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs), and IACBE (International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education).
LSU Shreveport's School of Business is AACSB-accredited. Because only about 5 percent of the world's business schools hold AACSB accreditation, it is held in high regard by the academic and business communities.
"I'm getting an LSU-branded, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-accredited degree, and the price is so affordable." -- Dana Salisbury, online MBA student
"When I heard that you can finish on the fast track with seven-week semesters in one year, it was an attention-grabber. The accreditation and affordability at LSUS sealed the deal.
Is the Faculty and Support Good for an Online Program?
Yes. You'll get the same first-rate instruction you would get if you were in a classroom. Because LSUS' School of Business holds AACSB accreditation, it attracts and recruits top-tier faculty.
"After 20 years in the business world, I returned to school to pursue my doctorate so I could teach full time at a university." -- Dr. Michael Meeks, Associate Professor
What if I Have Questions for the Professors?
At LSUS, we want our online MBA students to succeed. Our professors know that you take learning seriously, and they will assist you as you progress through the program. You can reach them via Blackboard (the online forum), email and phone calls.
"What sets this program apart is, the professors at LSUS really care. They are not afraid to challenge you, but at the same time they are there to help. That's a huge difference between LSUS and other institutions. Prepare to put in the effort and you'll get a lot out of it." -- Ryan Kleiss, online MBA graduate
"Because I never take learning for granted, I understand that learning is a serious enterprise for you." -- Dr. Felice Williams, Associate Professor
Seek out your professor's help if/when you need it. In my class, students typically say that the video conference office hours are very helpful.
How Will I Connect With Other Students in an Online Program?
The LSUS online MBA program offers the best of both worlds: online flexibility and cohort interaction. Some of the courses require group work.
"Dr. Michael Meeks had you in groups, and you had to really interact with the people in your group each week. Then, there was a big project at the end. It kept you real involved with the people in your class." -- Tanya Chatman, online MBA graduate
"I have heard people say, 'I would never do an online degree program because you don't have the social and networking experiences as in a real-life classroom setting.' There is not a more untrue statement. I talk to my husband about my classmates as if I've met them. A lot of the classes have group activities in which you are making much deeper connections than in an in-person class." -- Dana Salisbury, online MBA student
Are There Study Abroad Options for Online MBA Students?
At LSUS, yes! Online MBA students are allowed to participate in study abroad opportunities. LSUS is one of the few universities that do allow this for their online students. Students in the General Business concentration can choose to do an international trip as one of their elective courses. It's required for students in the international concentration program.
Can Online Students Attend Graduation?
Yes! We encourage online students to come to campus for graduation ceremonies, held in May and December each year. You can meet the classmates and professors you connected with online. Some students attend graduation with their families to inspire their kids.
"I'm so glad that my wife made me go, because I got to meet the instructors in person. We had Skyped a lot. We had some phone calls. But, to actually make that face to face connection was great. My daughter thought it was so cool that one of daddy's teachers sat down and had breakfast with us. She thought that was the craziest, coolest thing in the world." -- Chuck O'Connor, online MBA graduate in Louisiana
"The chancellor had my fiancee and me stand up at graduation and talk about the fact that we had flown down and got engaged. I wasn't expecting anything like that. It was kind of neat. It was a great experience." -- Ryan Kleiss, online MBA graduate
An online MBA is hard work, a mostly virtual accomplishment. If you persevere and complete the program, you deserve a festive finish, a real one -- handshakes, cap toss and all.
Any Advice From Other Online Students?
"You've got to have resilience and stamina to make it through this program. If you don't already have them and you're dedicated, you will leave the program with those skills. There's never a good time to get started. Just start. Just make the commitment. Invest in yourself, and it will change you for the better. -- Dana Salisbury, online MBA student
"Stay on top of your goals and celebrate every single completed task -- every paper that was submitted, every exam completed, every posting on the discussion boards. I celebrated them as mini victories to keep myself going." -- Chuck O'Connor, online MBA graduate
Learn more about our MBA online program