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Online MBA Q&A: Everything You Need to Know

Common questions about online MBA programs

If you're taking stock of your career, you may be asking yourself some of these questions: Where am I now and where do I want to be in five, 10, 15 years? Do I have what it takes to get there? What if I want to start my own business? What if I want to switch industries?

This type of self-reflection sometimes points business professionals toward an MBA, but deciding to pursue the degree can spawn even more questions. What should I look for in a school? How long will the program take and what will it cost? Should I choose a full-time, part-time, executive or online program? Are online MBAs as good as their on-campus counterparts? Would the online format work for my life and learning style?

This guide helps you explore your options so you can make an informed choice. Read start to finish if that's your style or navigate to your area of interest with these links:

What Is a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?

What Is a Master of Business Administration

An MBA is a graduate degree that equips candidates with business knowledge and critical-thinking skills essential for success in management and leadership roles.

This advanced business degree provides foundational knowledge in a number of areas including finance, accounting, analytics, strategy, marketing and ethics, connecting the dots between them all to provide a big-picture leadership view.

Why Do People Want an MBA?

Better — and more — career opportunities, promotions and higher pay are common motivations to earn an MBA. In fact, business is the most popular field of study for a master's degree with 186,834 degrees conferred in the 2015-16 year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The second most popular field (education) had 22 percent fewer conferrals than business.

business is the most popular field of study for a master's degree

In a 2017 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) survey, B-school alumni said that "they are prepared for leadership positions, have advanced more quickly in their careers, and increased their earnings since graduating from business school."

Job listings for executive-level and C-suite roles typically specify an MBA as the preferred qualification. For some, the MBA opens doors within their company — or elsewhere — that could remain closed without the degree.

The degree is also popular with entrepreneurs who have a winning idea but lack business expertise to bring it to market. Per GMAC, one in 10 B-school alumni are self-employed entrepreneurs, and 8 percent work at startups.

Some earn an MBA to reinvent their career. An analytics professional facing stagnation or burnout in the telecom industry might earn an MBA to move into marketing or healthcare, for instance. Subject matter experts earn an MBA to pursue new careers as consultants.

Which MBA Format Is Right for Me?

The structure and delivery of the format you choose — online, full-time or executive — will affect your experience as a student, so it's worth taking stock of not only your career goals but also your learning style.

MBA formats include online, full time and evening or weekend
  • Online MBA

    Popular With:Students who must fit studies around already busy lives.

    You'll study and complete assignments on your own schedule. There will be deadlines for assignments and exams, but when and how you study will be up to you. Self-motivated individuals with good time management skills usually do well as online students. Online programs are also often accelerated, meaning shorter completion times for students.

  • Full-Time MBA

    Popular With: Students who prefer immersive classroom learning.

    Enrolling in a full-time program is a big commitment, and could even involve relocation. The career hiatus will mean no pay checks, so a financial cushion is critical if you end up choosing a full-time program.

  • Executive/Evening/Weekend MBA

    Popular With: Students who prefer classroom learning and want to keep working while they earn the degree.

    Some of the more rigorous EMBA programs can take longer to complete than their full-time equivalents. These programs require in-class attendance at set times.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) offers an accelerated online MBA program tailored to working professionals who want to complete the degree affordably and quickly.

Learn more about our online MBA program!

Why Should I Care About Accreditation?

Four reasons:

  1. To ensure you get a first-rate business education.
  2. To hold a degree that is well-regarded by employers.
  3. To be eligible for federal financial aid for your studies.
  4. To be able to transfer credits or pursue doctoral studies.
AACSB accredited

Business schools that hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) must meet several criteria. Some of which are faculty sufficiency and quality, curriculum content and learning goals, and student-faculty and student-student interactions.

Accreditation is an ongoing process with periodic reviews — not a one-time seal of approval. This signifies an accredited school's continual dedication to quality.

The John Massey School of Business at Southeastern Oklahoma State University is AACSB accredited.

What Is the Job Market Like for MBA Grads?

Promising. Eight in 10 employers planned to hire MBA grads in 2018, per GMAC, with the strongest demand for MBAs coming from the healthcare, technology and energy/utilities industries.

Job market for MBA grads is strong

A 2018 U.S. News & World Report article identified the following hot jobs for MBA grads: business operations manager, marketing manager, operations research analyst and management analyst.

Per GMAC's 2018 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report, recent alumni are more likely to work in technology or products/services. Previous alumni were more likely to choose finance/accounting and consulting.

Regional trends in Oklahoma and North Texas mirror the national demand for MBAs, with job descriptions requiring or preferring MBA grads for a wide variety of leadership roles. These January 2019 regional listings from job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor and SimplyHired all list an MBA as desirable, preferred or highly preferred:

  • Production supervisor
  • Operations manager
  • Director of commercial sales
  • VP of operations
  • Director of project analysis
  • Chief information officer
  • Engineering director
  • Regional director of supply chain
  • Manager of long-term care operations
  • Digital technology program senior lead analyst

How Much Do MBAs Earn?

Though pay will vary based on a number of factors, including experience, geography and the state of the economy, data aggregates for bachelor's and MBA salaries provide a look at the earning potential for each.

B-School master's graduates make $105,000 per year in mid-level positions

The median base salary for bachelor's degree holders with five to nine years of experience is $61,487/year (PayScale, March 2019). Compare this to $105,000/year for master's level B-school grads working in mid-level positions in the U.S. (GMAC, 2018).

You can estimate your post-MBA salary using this interactive tool developed by the GMAC research team. An eight-industry dropdown calls up salary data for entry, mid, senior and executive levels.

The following recent data will also give you an idea of MBA salaries in the U.S.

MBA Salaries by Role

Job Title Average Annual Salary
Strategy Manager $120,398
Director of Business Development $105,239
Project Manager $87,214
Senior Financial Analyst $84,902
Business Development Manager $70,122
Brand Manager $69,889
Financial Analyst $67,370 U.S. data, February 2019

MBA Salaries by State

State Average Annual Salary
California $108,285
New York $96,092
New Jersey $94,859
Colorado $85,708
North Carolina $83,728
Arizona $81,568
Kansas $78,389
Texas $76,856
Oklahoma $74,530
Florida $72,344

PayScale, February 2019

What Does an MBA Cost?

Earning an MBA is a major financial undertaking, regardless of format — full-time, executive/part-time or online. Many things, including childcare and transportation, will affect the final cost, but we'll focus on tuition here.

ThoughtCo. places the average tuition for a two-year MBA program at $60,000+, with the figure closer to $100,000 for an elite business school. Tuition for online programs ranges from $7,000 to more than $120,000.

The Southeastern Oklahoma MBA program is one of the most affordable AACSB-accredited programs in the country

State-funded public universities tend to be more affordable than private (for-profit or nonprofit) schools. Representative figures from Affordable Colleges Online show a tuition cost of $67,830 for an online MBA from Indiana University (public; state-funded) and $132,000 for a part-time online MBA from Carnegie Mellon University (private).

Tuition and fees for the 36 credit hours in SOSU's online MBA add up to $11,880, making it one of the most affordable AACSB-accredited programs in the country.

Is Online Tuition the Same for In-State and Out-of-State Students?

Many schools charge the same for both in-state and out-of-state online students, but some charge a higher rate for the latter.

Tuition and fees cost the same for in-state and out-of-state students in SOSU's online MBA program: $11,880.

Learn more about our online MBA programs!

Can I Get Financial Aid for an Online Degree Program?

Yes. Federal financial aid is available to students enrolled in accredited online degree programs. To be considered for federal aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid once you apply for admission to an online program.

 Federal financial aid is available to students enrolled in accredited online degree programs

The Office of Student Financial Aid at Southeastern Oklahoma State University can assist with questions you may have as you explore how you'll pay for your MBA.

The $11,880 tuition is not be a lump-sum payment — you'll pay as you go for the courses you take, making your payments much more manageable. When you pay by the course at SOSU, you're spending just $990 per course (if you take one course at a time, that payment is every seven to eight weeks).

Some companies provide full or partial tuition reimbursement for professional development. Even a partial reimbursement or scholarship can lighten your financial load, so it's worth checking with your HR department for education benefits.

Do I Have to Take the GMAT for an MBA Program?

No GMAT required at SE for online MBA programs

Many MBA admissions boards still require GMAT scores. However, some change is happening in this area. As online programs open up the possibility for working professionals to earn an MBA, admissions boards are reevaluating what it means to be a qualified applicant.

Some schools now offer online MBA applicants options for waiving the GMAT. Some have eliminated this standardized test from the admissions process all together.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University does not require the GMAT for its online MBA applicants.

Mohamed Abdellatif, online MBA graduate
One of the great advantages that SOSU offers is an AACSB-accredited MBA program with no GMAT requirement. Many business schools believe that the GMAT is a very important requirement. However, a rising number of business schools, such as SOSU, consider relevant experience as a substitute to the GMAT requirement.

What Assistance Is Available for Military Veterans and Service Members?

Military assistance available for families

GI Bill benefits can help cover the cost of online degree programs for military veterans and service members. Spouses and dependent children should also check into benefits that may be available to them.

Using the GI Bill Comparison Tool, you can estimate the tuition, housing and book allowances you are eligible for (online programs included). Spouses and dependent children of service members or veterans can estimate benefits using the same tool.

SOSU's Office of Veterans Affairs is ready to assist service members and veterans. You can also check the website for resources to apply for VA benefits, verify enrollment, and transfer benefits from your previous school.

How Long Will It Take to Earn an MBA?

It largely depends on the type of MBA program and how many courses you take at a time.

Earn an MBA in one to two years

Candidates in SOSU's online MBA General program can finish in one year by taking two courses per term. Students who take one course at a time can complete the program in two years. Most students fall somewhere in between, completing the program in 14-18 months.

Full-time MBA programs usually take two years to complete and follow a standard semester format.

Executive/Evening/Weekend MBA programs are designed — and named — for the working executives they cater to. Typical completion times range from 12 to 24 months.

What If I Have to Take a Break From the Online Program?

Life happens, and online programs offer the flexibility you need to deal with the unexpected.

In SOSU's online MBA, the terms are seven weeks each, so you can afford to sit one out if something comes up. It's easy to re-register for the next term when you take a break. A longer break of two or three terms is not a problem either. As long as you are in good academic standing, all it will take is a few extra steps to resume the program.

How Many Hours a Week Will I Need to Study?

Plan on 15 to 20 hours per week

Plan on 15 to 20 hours per week for each course you take in the SOSU online MBA program. The actual number of hours will vary depending on how much you enjoy a subject and how easy or challenging you find it.

What Will I Learn in an Online MBA Program?

Students earn a Master of Business Administration to prepare themselves for management and leadership roles. Successful programs equip MBA graduates with foundational knowledge in all aspects of managing a business or team.

SOSU's online General MBA consists of 10 core courses that cover a wide range of subjects, including finance, economics, accounting, data analysis, strategic management, marketing, ethics and organizational behavior. Two additional courses — Entrepreneurship & New Venture Management and Applied Business Projects — round out the curriculum.

Stephanie Metts, online MBA graduate in Oklahoma
I learned a lot by seeing how it all comes together — the marketing, management, finance and accounting. In my undergrad years, my perspective was that accounting was the only subject that mattered. After all, my major was accounting. I completed the other subject matter courses required for the degree but didn't allow myself to see how it is all integrated in business. My MBA courses rectified that thinking. I'm glad I did it.

Spotlight on MBA Skills

Below we take a look at a few of the many skills gained or sharpened in an MBA program.

You'll hone your presentation skills.
"The key to success, in my experience, is your ability to speak in front of a group. If you cannot speak in front of a group, your success is going to be extremely limited. So of course, you are required to do a presentation in my course, present a case and you do it, usually what I have them do is I have them YouTube it. And upload it." – Dr. Lawrence Silver, John Massey Endowed Chair and Professor of Marketing

Strong presentation skills are crucial for managers to pitch ideas, gain buy-in and inspire confidence. Per GMAC, "Four of the top five skills employers seek in new hires include oral and written communication, listening skills, and presentation skills."

You'll develop a business plan.
"The entrepreneurship course is really a hands-on and how-to course in developing a business plan. In fact, the major project in the course is developing a ready-to-go business plan. Complete with industry and market research, pro forma financial data, and everything necessary to be able to submit that business plan to a lender or possible investor." – Dr. Martin Bressler, John Massey Endowed Chair and Professor of Marketing and Management

You'll become a pro at online collaboration.
"Now one of the things about online groups that's particularly good is that a lot of employers now are scattered throughout the world, and so they have to do the group work virtually. And so when you come into my class, you're doing virtual group work, which I think is excellent training, and you're presented with real-life marketing problems that have to be solved."  – Dr. Lawrence Silver, John Massey Endowed Chair and Professor of Marketing

You'll expand your thinking.
"It's great that you're able to take some of the issues that are current and get on a discussion board with the students and ask them questions about, 'Well, what do you think about it?' … We have enough students from all over the United States, well, all over the world, that you can get those opinions. And you can get everybody chiming in... If it can open up something in your mind, that you're able to say, 'I can see your point. I don't agree with it, but I can see it.' Then hopefully you've been able to take a format and delve into people's minds and get them to thinking about their job." – Robert Howard, Instructor in Management & Marketing and MBA Director

What Are Online MBA Students Like?

Online classes tend to attract a more diverse student body than on-campus programs. Students in an online program typically have several years of professional experience, are working full time, and come from a variety of industries, occupations and backgrounds.

While the majority of students enrolled in SOSU's online MBA program are from Oklahoma and Texas, there is representation from around the country, with students from several other states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey and New York.

The places and industries your classmates are in, along with where they are in their career, can lead to a rich exchange of ideas and experiences. The discussion boards and group work in an online MBA program will expose you to real-world insights beyond the assigned reading.

What Is Online Learning Like?

Learning online isn't scary or difficult

Don't worry if you've never taken a course online. It won't take long to acclimate. If you regularly use a computer for work or at home, you're probably already familiar with the basics of email, Microsoft Word and Excel, and chat — these are all tools you'll use in an online degree program.

Some universities have students go through an online orientation to help them navigate the learning portal. Through the first course or two, you'll understand how online learning works. You'll also figure out how to fold studies into your life.

SOSU requires online MBA students to take an orientation before they start any coursework to make sure they're all comfortable with online learning before their grades depend on it.

What Kind of Computer Do I Need for Online Study?

Modern laptop required for online MBA programs

Because technology is so crucial to online learning, you'll want to ensure your computer (hardware and software) and internet connectivity meet the specs for your online program. If you have a laptop manufactured in the last seven years or so, you shouldn't have any issues. Some coursework can also be completed on a tablet or smartphone.

SOSU has created a detailed list of system requirements for an optimal experience. Blackboard, SOSU's learning management system (LMS), will be your online hub for every course you take. As far as software goes, you'll start off strong if you know the essentials of MS Word and Excel.

How Will I Learn and Participate in an Online Program?

Participate in online degree programs through video chat and other digital means

Think of the LMS as a hub where you will "meet" your instructors and your online classmates. You will receive course content through the LMS, and you will use it to take tests and participate in discussion boards, among other things.

Your instructors may assign readings from textbooks and other sources, while some of the content is delivered directly through Blackboard. Other types of assignments include case study analysis, written papers and video presentations.

How Does Grading Work for an Online MBA?

Grading and evaluation will depend on the course and the instructor, but most online MBA programs use a combination of quizzes, exams and term papers as well as participation in discussion boards. Some courses require case presentations over Skype or other video conferencing tools.

Are There Proctored Exams in Online MBA Programs?

Some online MBA instructors will include proctored exams as part of the coursework for their classes. Use of proctored exams may vary by professor and/or university. There are several different software programs for these types of monitored tests. Though ProctorU is one of the most common, it’s not very popular with students due to the additional exam fees. Proctored exams from Southeastern Oklahoma MBA instructors are handled through Respondus, which students download for free from the university. The program does require a webcam.

I Work Full Time. Will an Online Program Work for Me?

The flexibility and convenience of online MBA programs makes them great for working students.

Asynchronous online programs, especially, don't require students to log on at set times. Online or in-person classes that require attendance at set times are often not an option for people whose schedules change from week to week. The online format gives these professionals a way to earn advanced degrees without changing their work schedules.

SOSU's online MBA program is asynchronous, so you can study when and where it suits you. Online learning enables working professionals and parents of young children to earn a degree that would otherwise be out of reach.

This program is a perfect fit for the working student. To me, there's no other way I could have done it. End of story. Even if it only required a couple of classes in the classroom, I could not do it.
Scott Hampton, online MBA graduate in Oklahoma

Are Online Programs as Challenging as On-Campus Programs?

Most universities aim to provide the same learning outcomes for online and on-campus students. Students in SOSU's online General MBA program can count on receiving a comprehensive, rigorous graduate business education.

"Going in, you need to know it's not going to be easy. It's an advanced degree! It's challenging, but it's worth it. Don't go into it thinking that you're just going to have to spend a few hours a week on it." – , online MBA graduate

Why SOSU for an Online MBA?

No GMAT required: SOSU makes it easy for mid-career professionals and those with no work experience to start an MBA program. If you have a decent GPA, you can start within weeks of applying. Check out our admission requirements for details.

You can start with soft skills courses: Most students in SOSU's online MBA program are advised to start with ethics and other soft-skills courses that give them a chance to ease into the program. You have the option of taking the more rigorous courses like Research Methods and Accounting for Managers once you're comfortable with the online format.

Get personalized attention: At SOSU, we pride ourselves on providing our online students with a great learning experience. Our faculty maintain office hours they post in course syllabi to make themselves available virtually. You can reach your instructors through Blackboard, too, and they're just an email away for support with coursework.

Dr. Lawrence Silver, Professor of Marketing
If you decided to come to Southeastern Oklahoma State University for your MBA, and I certainly hope you do, we can go along this journey together.

Earn a world-class MBA for under $12K. SOSU's AACSB-accredited MBA is one of the country's most affordable programs. If you've postponed earning an MBA for any number of reasons, you now have an option that checks the boxes for quality, affordability, flexibility and convenience.

Learn more about our MBA online programs!


Alumni Perspectives Survey Report 2017
Alumni Perspectives Survey Report 2018
Corporate Recruiters Survey Report 2017
Corporate Recruiters Survey Report 2018
Interactive Tool: Estimate Your Post-MBA Salary

U.S. News & World Report: Hot Jobs for MBA Grads

ThoughtCo.: What Is the Average Cost of an MBA Degree?

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: GI Bill Comparison Tool

PayScale: Average Salary by Degree
North Carolina
New Jersey
New York

PayScale: Bachelor's Degree by Years Experience MBA Salaries in the United States

Affordable Colleges Online: What Does an Online MBA Cost?

FAFSA: Apply for Aid

Business Accreditation
Eligibility Procedures and Accreditation Standards for Business Accreditation

Office of Student Financial Aid
Office of Veterans Affairs