Before you launch your business, you’ll want to be armed with the know-how to fly to the top.
If you’ve worked for someone else, you’ve fantasized about what your life might be like if you were self-employed. Some feel a greater yearning: to run their own business, manage one, or rise high enough in a corporate structure to be a real shot caller. Sure, if you were in charge, you’d do it your way, and things would be lucrative and magnificent for everyone. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize just because you’d like that to be so, doesn’t mean it would be. If you really do want to begin a new venture, or end up in charge of one, it’s going to take a lot more than dreams. This list was compiled based on flexibility, affordability, the support students receive from the administration, programming options/concentrations, and the ability to set your schedule or accelerate your completion. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some of the best MBA programs aimed at growing students skills and experience in entrepreneurship, management, venture building and financial markets.
- Affordability (1/3): an institution’s cost per credit hour for out-of-state residents provided by the degree program or institutional website.
- Flexibility (1/3): the number of options—including acceptance of prior college credits, self-paced learning initiatives, accelerated courses, and number of specializations—that allow students to complete a program at a pace of their choosing.
- Student Support Services (1/3): an institution’s rank for providing student support service such as digital library assistance, virtual office hours, and access to career services.
1) University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium
The University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium is a unique and innovative program that provides students with the opportunity to complete their MBA degree totally online by partnering with four AACSB accredited business schools within the University of Wisconsin System (UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, and UW-Parkside). UW-Eau Claire serves as the managing partner for the UW MBA Consortium. Less than 300 people are enrolled in its prestigious, highly ranked MBA consortium program. U.S. News & World Report puts it at 12 in their Best Online MBA Programs. 99% of enrollees have a job when they begin the program, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, considered the most reliable business school accreditation. Admissions are rolling, and there’s an 80% acceptance rate (due in part to mostly highly qualified applicants). The MBA Consortium ranks very highly in faculty credentials and student engagement.
This program was designed for entrepreneurs, business people, engineers, health care providers, and anyone looking to advance a career in business. It’s known for its unique construction, and offers four core modules scheduled around the business cycle. Each module is taught by multiple instructors with a variety of backgrounds. Students take a leadership course, and choose 13 elective credits focusing on topics relevant to their experience and career goals. Outcomes of the program include increased awareness of customer, employee, and stockholder needs, communication and evaluation skills, and much more. Graduates will be able to boost their organizations’ competitive advantages through innovation and technological savvy, and grow as managers and team members, irregardless of their chosen field.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $675
- Flexibility-enhancing components: flexible concentrations
2) California University of Pennsylvania
California University of Pennsylvania is a modern university with strong online offerings and a long history of public education in Pennsylvania. Founded in 1852, the university is commonly called Cal U. In the fall of 2016, the University was home to over 7,500 students. Cal U offers bachelor’s, master’s, and since 2015, doctoral degrees. Cal U’s Global Online division was ranked 3rd overall by Guide to Online Schools in 2013. Cal U MBA graduates are prepared for advanced roles in management, consulting, research and development and fundraising. Those that choose to continue working in larger organizations have found positions at Bank of New York Mellon, PNC, U.S. Department of Energy, Naval Audit Service, National City Bank and many more top employers. It was ranked very highly in admissions selectivity and faculty credentials by USNR, who ranked it at 152 among all online MBA programs.
Cal U’s Entrepreneurship MBA concentration is geared towards 100% online completion. Despite taking all your classes online, students won’t lose any of the integrity, quality and up-to-date information Cal U’s MBA programs are known for. This degree can be finished in just 12 months if taken full-time, which is part of its high ranking on this list. The curriculum is targeted at moving students into a more advanced role in business whether working for themselves or others. Classes start three times a year, in fall, spring and summer. All classes in this MBA are aimed at improving student skills, strategy and theoretical knowledge in accounting, economic, management, finance, marketing and business. If you’re looking to figure out how to take an idea you’re passionate about and make it into a business, this program is for you. Cal U’s program prides itself on helping students take a leap from theoretical knowledge to practical experience.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $559
- Flexibility-enhancing components: Accelerated
3) Ball State University
This public research university is based in Muncie Indiana. It was founded in 1918, and has a student body of over 21,000 students. It’s known for its doctoral degrees, high research activity and eight highly respected schools including College of Applied Sciences and Technology, College of Architecture and Planning, the College of Communication, Information, and Media, College of Fine Arts, College of Health, College of Sciences and Humanities, Teachers College and of course, the Miller College of Business, established in 1965. Miller is known for its contributions to public policy and economic research. Its Entrepreneurship Center is top ten in the nation. It also has renowned programs in Professional Selling, Actuarial Science/Risk Management, and Capital Markets and Investing. It’s produced executives at Burberry, Apple, UPS and Papa John’s. Applications are received on a rolling basis, and all applicants are employed.
This program is one of the most affordable and flexible on this list. Ball State has offered its MBA with to distance learners for over 30 years, and the program is accredited by AACSB, and recognized by Quality Matters and OLC as a national leader in online education. Its staff is assisted by industry leaders who aid its professors in developing cutting edge curriculum, and advise them on online delivery. In 2013 USNR ranked the Ball State MBA faculty first in the state for faculty credentials and student services for all online graduate business programs. The program is designed to convey the exact quality of MBA education students would receive on campus, with the flexibility needed to keep a full time job while attending school. There are weekly assignments and deadlines, but students can choose when to attend webcast lectures and discussions. Miller keeps students abreast of their courses through email, discussion boards, file sharing, telephone, all with advanced technical assistance to maximize your experience. Students average two courses a semester and usually finish in five to six. The program focuses on innovation, recognizing opportunities in an evolving economy, managing change and consistently generating unique solutions to complex problems.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $590
- Flexibility-enhancing components:
4) Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Clarion is a public university that was founded in 1867. It’s one of fourteen universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). It confers associate bachelor’s, masters, doctorate degrees and post masters certificates. Just over 5,000 students attend the university, with slightly over 1,000 attending at the graduate levels. Clarion’s College of Business Administration & Information Systems offers 15 different undergrad and graduate programs through departments of Accountancy, Computer Information Science, Finance, Library Science, and Management and Marketing. Its MBA program offers three unique concentrations including Finance, Healthcare, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. All three are offered entirely online or in person on campus. 90% of students who enter Clarion’s MBA program are already employed. Admissions are rolling, and Clarion is accredited by the AACSB.
Clarion’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship MBA program is the most affordable on this list, at $522 per credit. USNR ranked Clarion’s MBA programs at 86th among all online MBA programs. It ranked incredibly highly in faculty credentials and training. The Entrepreneurship concentration is focused on creation and execution of valuable innovation. Students will be prepared to enter or continue careers as entrepreneurs, venture capital, and much more. Clarion believes the intersection of innovation and entrepreneurship is the engine powering region and American job creation and economic power. Students will learn to read and understand market potential, customer needs, in an actionable form that leads to greater opportunity. Graduates learn about the problems facing new businesses, and how to thrive despite limited resources. Other important issues addressed include scaling up after starting a business, finding capital investments, keeping on top of daily operations, managing employees, and exit strategies. This program was made to give graduates the tools they need to begin new ventures.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $522
- Flexibility-enhancing components:
5) City University of Seattle
Also known as CityU, this private non-profit is based in Seattle but has campuses all over the world, including Slovakia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Vietnam and China. The school was founded in 1973 by Dr. Michael A. Pastore to give working adults a chance to continue their higher education. It has grown exponentially, and by 2014 had graduated over 50,000 students. In 2013 the school received full accreditation from the ACBSP, the gold standard, after previously being accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). CityU offers certificates, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Business Administration, Education, Accounting, Computer Systems, Criminal Justice, Project Management, Counseling, Psychology, Communications, Database Technology, Networking/Telecommunications, Leadership and Sustainable Business.
CityU’s MBA program is aimed at real-world applications and worldwide solutions to complex problems. Students will learn to lead, manage and expand varied organizations. Students can customize the program to meet personal interests and goals by focusing on accounting, human resource management, project management and more. CityU’s MBA program has received consistent high rankings. In 2014, it’s online MBA program was ranked among the top 15 programs in the country by over 70,000 students surveyed by GraduatePrograms.com. Recent data has shown former students’ opinions of higher education programs are among the strongest indicators of their quality. CityU offers small class sizes, an extremely accessible admittance process and will position graduates for advancement into managerial positions. Students will learn to recognize and exploit business trends and opportunities in varied and rapidly evolving industries, while applying theory and technological savvy in implementing advanced business strategies. CityU MBA graduates have gone on to become CEO’s, COO’s, CMO’s, Business Analysts, Marketing Directors and much more.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $678
- Flexibility-enhancing components:
6) Walsh University
Walsh is a private, non-profit, Catholic University based in North Canton, Ohio. It was established in 1960, and serves approximately 2,800 students, less than 500 of them graduates (based on 2014 numbers). Walsh offers over 70 majors and seven graduate programs. Its graduate programs include Counseling, Education, Business, Nursing, Occupational Therapy and Theology, and a clinical doctorate in Physical Therapy It has several Ohio satellite campuses, as well as a campus in Italy, and a robust online wing. Part of why Walsh made this list is its accelerated structure, geared towards allowing working adults to complete their degrees at a pace that fits their lifestyle. Walsh offers rolling admissions and a strong library of recorded and archived classes for its online students.
Some of the accolades that Walsh’s MBA program has received in 2017 were ranking as a Best Online Program by USNR, and a Top 50 Best Value Accelerated Online MBA Program by Values College, #9 in the country by Online MBA Report and a Top 50 Accelerated Program by Affordable Colleges Online. In, it was named a Best Online Program for Veterans. Walsh offers three specialty areas for MBA online students: Management, Healthcare Management and Marketing. Its individualized attention, 8 week format for some courses and inside knowledge of top businesses make it highly desirable for those eager to achieve an MBA. It’s also AACSB accredited, marking its place as an elite MBA provider.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $665
- Flexibility-enhancing components: acclerated courses
7) University of Arizona (Eller)
The Eller College of Management grew out of the business program at the University of Arizona, which traces its roots back to 1913. What was once a bachelor’s program grew to become its own school in 1944, and is now one of the largest colleges of the gargantuan University of Arizona system. Eller serves 5,400 undergraduates and 700 graduate students, and boasts over 55,000 alumni worldwide. Eller offers students 130 world class faculty members, and programs in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Marketing, Management Information Systems (MIS), Operations Management, Business Administration, and Management and Organizations, and most pertinently, Entrepreneurship. Its Entrepreneurship has consistently been ranked among the best in the world, due in part to its pioneering promotion of ”social entrepreneurship and awareness.” Eller is one of the first schools to integrate that aspect of entrepreneurship into a conventional business school curriculum.
Eller offers students six starts per year. Students have the option to complete their entrepreneurship MBA in between 14 months and four years. Eller’s accelerated program is part of why it made this list. 96% of students are employed when they enroll in this program. USNR currently ranks the Eller MBA program at 55th among Best Online MBA Programs. It ranked especially highly in faculty credentials and training, as well as student engagement. As part of the program, students will learn how to build new ventures, team up with other students, work within corporate structures and work at venture capital firms. The curriculum is focused on planning new ventures and industrial analysis to assess and discover new opportunities. Eller’s program vows to give students the ability to take an idea from its inception to a viable venture through a practical, hands-on learning process.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1000
- Flexibility-enhancing components: accelerated, many start dates
8) Regent University
Regent is a private interdenominational Christian research university based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. It was founded in 1977. Regent offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in over 70 different programs. Over 16,000 students attend Regent. It’s Chancellor is noted media mogul and conservative Christian spokesman Pat Robertson, but the students of Regent refer to him as P-Rob. Regent’s Business program began in the mid-80’s. In 2015, high school counselors ranked Regent 184th nationally. That same year, USNR said Regent had the 10th best faculty in the nation, and the 2nd most conservative students. Most notably, in 2013, Regent’s online MBA faculty were ranked first in the nation by USNR. Its business program he focuses on producing opportunities in a global economy, while taking a strong, Christian-based focus on ethical decision making.
Regent’s MBA’s concentration in entrepreneurship will prepare students to own and operate a business. It teaches entrepreneurial approaches to business and how to capitalize on new ventures. Regent’s MBA program puts heavy emphasis on concepts of change, adaptability, research and planning to expand business. Sample classes include Strategic Management, Investment, Financing & Funding Relationships, Fundamentals of Franchising, Managing People and Managerial Economics. You’ll also learn advanced principles of investment and financing. Graduates have gone on to own businesses, consult and strategize for them, manage effectively and even reach executive positions at top organizations.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $650
- Flexibility-enhancing components:
9) Colorado Technical University
CTU is a for-profit university based out of Colorado Springs, CO. It’s primarily an online university today, but began its operations in 1965. Almost 92% of its 21,200 students take classes entirely online. The school draws most of its funds from the federal government, mostly from the Department of Defense and GI Bill (95% of its funding comes from the government). The relationship CTU has with the government could lead to careers in national defense, either in an official government capacity, or working for outside contractors like General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin. In 2015, CTU was ranked 58th on the U.S. News & World Report list of Best Online Programs. In 2016, Colorado Tech was again ranked Best for Vets by the Military Times. CTU offers degrees in Business & Management, Engineering & Computer Science, Health Sciences, Information Systems & Technology, Security Studies and Project Management.
CTU’s online MBA program takes on the great range between global marketing, entrepreneurial leadership and managerial accounting to offer students skills that will apply across a wide spectrum of industries, careers, ventures and goals. You’ll learn skills and gain experience that is indispensable to business leaders around the world, while coming into your own. This program emphasizes tried and tested methods of planning, organizing and controlling work in organizations to produce best business outcomes. Students will learn how to direct, coach and motivate people to maximize performance. This program is accredited by the ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs). CTU’s MBA program offers 11 concentrations including global leadership, healthcare management and of course entrepreneurship.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $585
- Flexibility-enhancing components:
10) Indiana University-Bloomington Kelley
Kelley is Indiana University’s Business school, based out of Bloomington, Indiana. The school’s student body is broken down into approximately 1,750 at its Indianapolis campus, 5,500 students at its Bloomington Campus, and around 1,300 online students through Kelley Direct. Its roots go back to 1920, when it was founded as the “School of commerce and Finance.” In 2007, the Wall Street Journal ranked it fifth among regional MBA programs, and in 2014, its MBA program as ranked 16th by “Business Week.” Poets & Quants has noted that Kelley’s MBA program is 5th in the nation at producing Fortune 500 CEOs. Kelley is accredited by the AACSB. It offers MBA’s to students in 31 countries, five continents and all 50 states. This advanced network allows graduates to leave with a degree and a potential network of global contacts, all without leaving their homes. Kelley ranked highly in USNR’s latest rankings in admissions selectivity, student engagement and faculty training and credentials.
Kelley’s MBA program focuses on economics, business law/ethics, finance, operations, marketing, information technology and project management. Students can choose to earn an MBA and a dual MS with a concentration in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, along with five other MS concentration choices. This program gives students the foundation they need to begin business ventures or effect deep, structural corporate change, or both. Students can complete the program in between 15 months and 5 years at their own pace. Students will learn how to begin and pitch venture concepts, prepare and present business plans to investors, network and build teams, and learn how to advise a startup or small business in an emerging market through a study abroad or virtual consulting opportunity as part of the MS in E&I. Kelley offers a program called AGILE—Accelerating Global Immersion Leadership Education each quarter as an elective. Current opportunities within AGILE take students to emerging economies in Gaborone, Botswana, Sao Paolo, Brazil, Beijing, China, New Delhi, India, Myanmar and Johannesburg, South Africa to apply theoretical knowledge and gain practical experience.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1300
- Flexibility-enhancing components: dual degree offered in entrepreneurship