What is an Online MBA? Your Complete Guide

No one wants to remain in the same spot, but how do you advance your career opportunities while managing a full-time job? An online MBA offers more networking, business experience, better management and communication skills, and bigger paychecks. Most importantly, its main advantage is flexible schedules.

Still, there’s a lot for you to learn about concentrations, expectations, and more. If you’re wondering exactly what an online MBA is, then you’re in the right place. We’ve created this guide so you can make your own choice about whether it’s right for you.

What is an Online MBA?

As you probably know, MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. It’s an internationally recognized degree that helps you get the skills you need in business and management. Although courses may differ across different MBA programs, you can expect the core curriculum to include:

  • Accounting

  • Management

  • Finance

  • Marketing

  • Economics

  • Operations

  • Business Law

Accordingly, it offers you knowledge from various business-related disciplines. Not to mention, it can help you pursue managerial positions in the public and private sectors.

Of course, online MBA degrees have witnessed a rise. To demonstrate, there’s a 69% increase in the number of AACSB-accredited business schools that offer online MBA programs, as their number went from 97 in 2013 to 164 in 2018.

MBA degrees open doors for you in several fields, namely finance, consulting, management, and technology. Their titles include:

  • Investment Banker

  • Health Center Manager

  • Marketing Manager

  • Sales Manager

  • Human Resources Manager

  • Project Manager

  • IT Manager

  • Chief Financial Officer

  • Chief Technology Officer

  • Business Operations Manager

  • Operations Research Analyst

  • Management Analyst

  • Financial Advisor

  • Business Consultant

  • Senior Financial Analyst

  • Financial Analyst

  • Finance Manager

  • Accounting Manager

What Are the MBA Requirements?

You may be wondering if you’re eligible for an MBA program. Admission requirements differ across universities, but this is what we ask at Nexford University:


We require proof that you have a bachelor’s degree at an accredited institution and your official diploma and transcript. The bachelor’s degree should be in a business-related field. However, there’s a way to get your Nexford MBA with a non-business bachelor’s degree. That’d be completing four foundation courses before moving on to the MBA core courses.

If your documents aren’t in English, you’ll have to provide official translations of them by an embassy or a validated institutional official. At Nexford, we offer in-house translation services, so you can procure the documents and let us translate your diplomas and transcripts.

English Proficiency

You need to be English Language Proficient to enroll in the Nexford MBA program. So, you should procure an official transcript from a university or college. Additionally, you need at least a minimum passing score on an acclaimed English qualification exam that you’ve taken in the past two years. The minimum scores are as follows:

  • TOEFL Paper-based Test: 60

  • TOEFL Internet-based Test: 71

  • IELTS: 6.5

  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic Test: 50

  • Duolingo English Test: 100

  • Eiken English Proficiency Exam: Pre-1

  • Exam identified within the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR): B-2

Tip: Submitting your resume is an option if you want us to personalize your learning path.

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How Long Does it Take to Get an MBA Online?

With different MBA formats, you can choose the one that accommodates your lifestyle, job, and responsibilities. Some allow you to finish as fast as possible, while others move at a slower pace, allowing you to fit your studies around existing commitments. The following programs are a guide to typical timeframes:

Executive MBA – Two Years

Known as an EMBA, the first format we’re discussing is the executive MBA format. If you’re a business professional or have some managerial experience, you can choose this course. It’ll help you develop your strategy, communication, and leadership skills. Spanning over two years, this format makes room for the demands of your full-time job.

Accelerated Online MBA – One Year

The accelerated online MBA is excellent for students who want to get the degree fast and have part-time or freelance jobs. However, since it’s a one-year program, you can expect it to be more intensive, especially since it’ll include the same material as an executive MBA. So, you’ll need to dedicate about 30 to 40 hours a week to the course.

Part-Time Online MBA – Three to Five Years

Are you trying to have a good work-life balance? You can have time for work and family if you enrol in a part-time online MBA program.

Thanks to its self-pacing, you can do your assignments at your convenience and choose how many classes you want each semester and how long the breaks between them are. Typically, students who prefer a part-time format take one to two courses per semester.

Hybrid MBA – Three to Five Years

A hybrid MBA format is an option for anyone who isn’t sure they have the discipline for online learning. Thanks to its accelerated series of classes, the hybrid program blends the convenience of online courses and the discipline of face-to-face interactions.

Adding that element can make for an enriching learning experience. Still, hybrid classes aren’t too demanding since you can take the program over three to five years.

What are MBA Specializations?

We’ve referred to the core courses that MBA programs include. But other than those, what will you study?

After going over the basics in your first year, you can choose an MBA specialization. To illustrate, at Nexford University University, you take nine core MBA courses and three specialization courses. This way, you’ll get an MBA diploma and specialization certificate. Here are some of the main specializations across various universities:

General Management

One of the most common MBA specializations is General Management. If you choose this specialization, you’ll acquire management skills that you can use in various industries. For example, you’ll learn corporate strategy, marketing, product marketing, finance, and customer relationship management.

International Management

If you’re thinking globally, you’ll benefit from learning about finance, strategies, operations, and problem-solving in a global context.

International Business

Since most companies are operating across borders, there’s a rise in international business operations. With an International Business concentration, you can dissect cultural complexities and go beyond domestic practices. You can also do business in China, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa.


If you’re passionate about sustainability, we’re here with you. Our MBA with a sustainable specialization, also known as our green MBA, delves into social issues, such as corporate social responsibility, green energy, healthcare policy, renewable energy, and sustainable accounting. Such a specification puts you at the intersection between sustainability and business success.

Tourism and Hospitality Management

The hospitality section is thriving now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted. Tourism and hospitality have field-specific business practices and operations, which necessitate their own specialization.

With a hospitality specialization, you’ll become better at managing people, providing customer service, solving problems, communicating efficiently, and attracting an international clientele.

Information Technology

You can integrate IT skills with management skills by picking this specialization. It’ll give an edge over other candidates as someone who knows how to employ technology to further their business. That’s because you’ll have courses, including data security, IT project management, and telecommunications.


There’s a growth in business opportunities for E-commerce since many business services have made the switch to the online market. You’ll stand out with a specialization in digital transformation or B2B, B2G, or B2C e-commerce.


Marketing specialists are valuable because they help promote services or products to their target audience and represent the brand properly. If you’re passionate about marketing, an MBA marketing specialization will give you the general marketing strategies that you can apply in multiple fields.

To elaborate, a marketing specialization allows you to explore theoretical or actual concepts, such as:

  • Consumer behavior

  • Big data

  • New product development

  • Marketing analytics

  • Brand management

  • Pricing strategy

And if you opt for a digital marketing one, you’ll learn about social media marketing and search engine optimization.


You can choose a consulting specialization to enhance your presentation, communication, and business case cracking ability. It’ll also allow you to lead teams and overcome different business challenges.


Students who have a startup idea can benefit from an MBA in Entrepreneurship and transfer their concept to an actual business. That’s because they’ll learn the hard and soft skills and analysis approaches they’ll need for a startup.

The learned skills include creating business models, creating ventures, critical management, business development, securing funds, communicating with stakeholders, disrupting platforms, building teams, and pitching ideas to expert panels of venture capitalists and accelerators.


Pick an MBA finance concentration to acquire a rounded view of global and domestic financial practices. You’ll learn asset management, fintech and digital finance, strategic and financial risk management, investment, valuation and M&A, private equity, and venture capital.

Advances AI

An MBA with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence is a solid option. After all, it can provide you with the skills that accommodate market trends and employer needs, such as robotic automation and statistical modelling application.

How to Choose an Online MBA Program

You might find the many options available slightly overwhelming, so here are the factors you need to consider when choosing the right MBA.


Consider your priorities, and find a program that accommodates them by enabling self-pacing. For example, at Nexford, a typical MBA degree takes about 18 months, but you can condense it into one year or stretch it out into three to five years.

Do you want to juggle this degree with a full-time position and a demanding household? Perhaps a part-time program would be best. This way, you’ll take one course at a time. In comparison, an accelerated program is excellent for those who want their degree fast and can dedicate time to it.


As we’ve illustrated, there are numerous concentrations. They allow you to hyperfocus on the skills that you need the most for your career goals.

For instance, do you want to launch your startup, learn skills to use in your current position, get promoted, or switch careers? Answering these questions will help you select a suitable specialization. But if you aren’t sure about your career goals, you can get an MBA with a more general concentration, such as General Management or Marketing.

Accreditation and Reputation

There are countless online MBA programs, and you want to choose the best ones, so accreditation and reviews are critical. An MBA has to be accredited, so check that it is before signing up for a program. That ensures the degree fulfils particular standards.

Nexford University is licensed by the Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC) from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in the District of Columbia, other states in the U.S., and locations worldwide it’s approved, exempted, or licensed.

Not to mention, Nexford is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

Additionally, you can evaluate the degree’s reputation by checking the official ratings and the ratings for your specific concentration.

To illustrate, business media, including Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S News, the Economist, and World Report, give rankings to B-schools so that you can filter out the low-quality ones. They factor in admissions selectivity, faculty credentials, student engagement, and more.


Faculty members dictate the quality of the education you receive, so doing your research about them is a good idea. You want staff with professors and industry professionals who are up to date with the latest industry practices and trends and who can help you solve realistic everyday scenarios.

Also, look for faculty members with lengthy careers, numerous research papers, and community leadership positions in the areas that interest you.

Check whether any professional journals have published the professors’ papers and whether they have experience with online teaching or not. This can ensure a smooth online learning experience. And if they’re your role models or are well regarded by other students, you’re in good hands.

The Cost of an Online MBA

Finances are always a factor to consider, especially in higher education. And MBA degrees and related expenses tend to be costly, including staff salaries, housing costs, transportation, and more. A regular two-year program may cost over $60,000 and $100,000 to 200,000 if it’s at a top U.S. business school.

Thankfully, part-time and online MBA degrees are less expensive. At Nexford, you can get an MBA for about $3,960. That’s a monthly fee of about $220. Also, we calculate your monthly fees with your local economy in mind.

What is the Easiest Online MBA Program?

Looking for the easiest online MBA isn’t the best way to choose your degree. To complete your program and develop in your career, you will need to be prepared to put in hard work. However, there are certainly some factors that make an MBA easier to incorporate into your life. Choosing a flexible online MBA with no fixed class times means that you can study on your own schedule. And picking a university that offers ongoing support will mean you have help if things get tough.

What Are the Benefits of an Online MBA?

Now that you have a good grasp of MBA programs, we’ll walk you through their benefits; some are specific to online programs, and others aren’t. They include:

Acquiring Skills

This is a given, but an MBA, on-campus or online, is a tool to develop valuable skills in business, management, and other areas. It’ll help you understand the best practices in each field. Also, you’ll learn systematic thinking, decision making, communication, negotiation, and many other skills that we’ve detailed earlier in our discussion of specializations.

The result is that you’ll become a more qualified person with vast knowledge and experience. And you’ll be able to apply these skills in everyday situations at work. Even better, you can launch your startup and become your own boss.

Employment Opportunities

If your target is a top-level finance position, an MBA might be required. And if it isn’t, it’ll set you apart from other candidates and open new doors for you, whether that’s in finance, sales, human resources, management, investment banking, accounting, or marketing management.

Even better, these opportunities might be from the local or global market since the MBA is internationally recognized.


Networking opportunities are available for traditional MBAs, but online MBAs take them to the next level. After all, an online MBA allows you to enter the global community of business professionals.

Also, if your MBA course includes an internship, you’ll get to work with established companies and gain experience from business professionals.

Additionally, you can network with your colleagues pursuing online MBAs. Coursera CEO, Jess Maggioncalda, says, “What you learn from your classmates is more diverse because they’re from all around the world and come with a more mature perspective.” So, an online program has that advantage over a local one.

Not to mention, he notes that students in an online MBA are typically older than students of an on-campus age. In other words, you’ll be networking with seasoned business experts. Of course, the degree of networking depends on how interactive your program is.

Higher Earning Potential

You increase your professional worth when you invest in yourself; it’s simple math. So, a CV with an MBA should help you get a better salary. To elaborate, Payscale estimates that the average base salary of an MBA degree holder is $92K a year.

Needless to say, location, job title, and, unfortunately, gender contribute to your market worth. For instance, a Project Manager might earn an average of $86,630, whereas a Chief Financial Officer might make an average of $153,573.

Convenient Learning Experience

Arguably the best aspect of online MBA programs is their flexibility and accessibility. Online programs enable learning from anywhere, adjusting your lessons and assignments to your work schedule, and working at your own pace.

This way, you can advance your career without putting your current job responsibilities on hold. Even better, you don’t have to commute to a university or spend money and time on transportation.

Workspace Simulation

As you know, the move to the digital market is in place, so an online MBA will get you accustomed to these work environments. As Jeff Maggioncalda says, “What you’re learning when you do your MBA online, to some degree, is a more accurate representation or simulation of the way you’re going to be working.”

Are you ready to take your career to the next level?

Nexford's Career Path Planner takes into account your experience and interests to provide you with a customized roadmap to success.

Receive personalized advice on the skills and qualifications you need to get ahead in areas like finance, marketing, management and entrepreneurship.

Take the quiz to get started now!

Is an Online MBA Right for You?

If you’re enrolling in an online MBA program, we want you to get the full picture and decide if an online MBA degree is the right choice for you. So, there are some points to discuss before you sign up.

Self Discipline

Like any online program, course, or job, an online MBA requires self-discipline. When there’s no one to hold you accountable, you have to be disciplined, committed, and excellent at time management. This is the only way you’ll attend your classes, get your assignments done on time, and contribute to group projects.

Lack of self-discipline can cause you to drop your program. In fact, 47% of online MBA students don’t finish their degree. But if you need some form of accountability, hybrid formats might be a better choice for you.

How Hard is an MBA Online

An online MBA is similar to a traditional one in terms of difficulty. So, the media change doesn’t make the course material any less challenging or thorough.

In other words, an online MBA provides solid cross-disciplinary training in business and management and comes with similar coursework to traditional MBA programs. However, the 24/7 support that your Nexford Success Advisor and faculty offer help you through it.

Fierce Competition

An online program is accessible to people from all around the world. Accordingly, it won’t be easy to stand out in that large student pool. Still, we believe healthy competition will only drive you to challenge yourself more. Not to mention, the work environment is mainly online-based, so you’ll be getting a sense of what that competition is like.

Next Steps: How to Study MBA Online

Ultimately, online MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs are similar to on-campus ones in their material, covering the needed skills and top practices in various business and management areas. However, their main advantage over on-campus programs is the flexible and convenient online learning experience.

Internationally recognized, MBA degrees give weight to your CV. They can help you network with professionals and colleagues worldwide, get your dream job, and earn high salaries.

The most crucial point is to choose the MBA program that works for you. Consider your professional and personal commitments and career goals to choose the suitable MBA format and specialization. Then, apply for your MBA degree, and invest in your future!

Ready to take the next step? Download our brochure or book a call with our Nexford Advisors!

About the author
Joe McGoldrick
Joe McGoldrick

Known for strategy and attention to detail

Joe has more than 10 years of marketing experience, working within the public sector, client-side, and agency side.

He is passionate about using data and customer insights to improve marketing performance.

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