Leading innovation in distance education for over 50 years
The Best Online MBA Programs Challenge and Change You
When you’re evaluating your online MBA options, look for a program that offers you experience and skills as much as it does homework and reading.
The point of studying online isn’t isolation. Online MBA programs meet the flexible needs of working adults, but students shouldn’t have to sacrifice interaction, support or academic rigor in return. The CSU College of Business’s top-ranked MBA program has layers of support to help busy professionals learn and achieve.
How? The College of Business delivers a unique learning experience compared to other online MBA programs. Our lecture capture model gives students the best of both worlds: live faculty lectures available at your convenience.
Our experience impacts your outcome. We’ve been innovators in the field of distance education for over 50 years and we continue to adapt and grow to meet the needs of adult learners.
What do the Best Online MBA Programs Have in Common?
Online MBA programs are becoming more common, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Programs can vary wildly from school to school and even between delivery models.
A highly ranked program doesn’t mean a high degree of difficulty. Instead, a top-ranked online MBA program may benefit from more support services or other advantages when compared to peer programs.
As you narrow your search, look for these common indicators of quality:
What it is: Accreditation is an external audit that validates the quality of a program, its curriculum and faculty. Accreditation status may also affect whether you can receive federal financial aid to help with tuition costs.
What to look for: Look for two types of accreditation: regional and programmatic. The best online business programs are accredited by the AACSB. CSU's College of Business is AACSB accredited, something only the top 5% of business schools in the world achieve. Our dedication to an exceptional student experience, tenured faculty-led courses, high retention rates and promising student outcomes all contribute to this accreditation.
Online MBA Rankings
What it is: Media outlets rank MBA programs based on standardized evaluation criteria such as student engagement, faculty credentials and training, expert opinion, student services and technology support and student excellence as the basis for evaluation.
What to look for: Evaluate the reputation of the media source citing the ranking. Then, check the evaluation criteria to see how the outlet selected peer groups and how they collected data. Some rankings are based on student- and alumni-provided data, others compare graduation and retention information. Decide which factors are most important to you.
What it is: The curriculum outlines the degree’s learning standards. It includes the academic content that will be covered and the types of assignments you can expect.
What to look for: Top online MBA programs cover all the major functional areas of business, including leadership, finance, data analytics and ethics studies. Compared to an undergraduate business degree, an MBA program should emphasize how to put business theories, tools and concepts into practice. Your classwork should be directly applicable to your career. Some schools offer different curricula on campus and online, so check carefully to see what’s included. Highly ranked online programs use identical curricula for both online and on campus experiences and even offer graduate certificates to allow you to specialize in a particular area of business. The College of Business offers both an Online MBA and Evening MBA program, which follow the same curriculum, utilize the same five competency areas of study, and our graduate certificates can be earned at the same time as your master’s degree.
What it is: Faculty members are academic staff who design and teach the classes. At some schools, classes are designed by fully tenured (or tenure-track) professors but delivered by teaching assistants or less experienced faculty. Other schools rely on curriculum designers who never teach.
What to look for: In top-rated MBA programs, professors drive the curriculum. Expect faculty members who design and teach the material to hold an MBA or a terminal degree in their field of study. Ask about the professional experiences and research interests of faculty members, too. The best teachers bring active research to the classwork and demonstrate concepts through real-life experiences.
Proven Distance Learning Model
What it is: Distance learning can take different forms depending on where you study. Some programs are exclusively online, while others require in-person orientation sessions or residency periods. Online MBA programs can run synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous classes meet at a consistent day and time, whereas asynchronous learning happens at times different from when the class or content was produced. This means students can download and watch the class lecture at their convenience.
What to look for: If a program requires travel or in-person attendance, that can add to the program cost. Find out whether classes are held synchronously or asynchronously, or if you’ll have the flexibility to choose. Confirm which classes, resources and support services you can access online. Finally, find out how long each school has delivered MBA classes online and how they’re investing in online programs. Schools that are serious about producing quality MBA classes online have dedicated staff, resources and technology.
What it is: Classwork is more meaningful when it’s combined with participation, discussion and relevant interactions. Online students need opportunities to engage with the content, faculty and peers to get more value out of their assignments.
What to look for: Investigate how each program builds a community for its online students. What’s the average response time if you have questions about a lecture? How will you receive feedback on assignments? How often will you hear from someone at the school? The best-rated online MBA programs consistently connect students to academic leaders, the content and their peers.
Online Learning Technology
What it is: At some schools, all you need is an internet connection to pursue your MBA online. Other schools require specific programs or camera equipment.
What to look for: A school’s technology strategy can affect the quality of lectures and class materials. Ask for the technical requirements to attend and participate in class and evaluate how much of the burden falls on the student versus the university. In the best online MBA programs: faculty teach, students learn and technology seamlessly adds value to the experience.
What are they: Student services add value to the classroom experience. They range from admissions support to career management services.
What to look for: At top programs, online MBA students are afforded the same services as on-campus students, like access to advisors, library staff and job search tools. Programs that connect online students to quality resources typically have higher retention and graduation rates. The College of Business supports students at each stage of their journey. Our program allows for a variety of start dates, multiple learning models and career management services for our graduates.
What are they: Student outcomes are more important than GPAs or test scores. At the MBA level, ranking outlets look for the personal and professional value students gain from their MBA, general salary stats and retention and graduation rates.
What to look for: Job placement rates aren’t typically a good metric for MBA graduates, since most online students hold jobs throughout their studies. Instead, look for evidence of salary increases or promotions earned during or after the program. Armed with the right terminology and tools, online MBA graduates can broaden their connections and collaborations in their organizations and move their careers in exciting new directions. Our Career Management Center works with current students and alumni to help them find careers that suite their talents and interests.
Graduation rates speak to a programs ability to support its students and offer the skills and confidence they need. College of Business MBA students have a 70% three-year graduation rate in the Online MBA program.
How to Find a Top Online MBA Program That’s Right for You
Don’t decide based only on ratings. Find a reputable program that’s a good fit for your professional aspirations.
Before You Pursue an Online MBA
- Set a goal — Get clear and specific about what you hope to gain from an online MBA program. Then, you can make sure the curriculum and course outcomes align with your ambitions.
- List your hesitations and concerns — Figure out what’s impeding your educational goals. Some people travel frequently for work, while others recall difficulty studying during their undergraduate years. Once you understand the potential obstacles, you can find a delivery model that fits your lifestyle and start building appropriate support.
- Get support — Recruit family, friends and coworkers who can support your MBA journey. An online MBA is a significant commitment. You’ll need help balancing other demands while you’re in school.
- Create a plan — Figure out how much time you can dedicate to schoolwork, when you’ll study and where. A study plan can help you select a class format that works for you.
During the Admissions Process
- Ask questions — Make sure you understand the time commitment, outcome and financial obligations of a program. Ask to see the curriculum, faculty qualifications and accreditation information.
- Sample the material — Ask the admissions team if you can attend a class broadcast or view a recording. That way you know exactly what to expect from the class format.
- Introduce yourself to the community — Speak with advisors, current students and alumni. An admissions team should be able to connect you to a network of peers who are working in your field or balancing similar life circumstances. Collect first-hand experiences about the program and start building a student network.
- Sell your experience — The best online MBA programs elicit your potential, not your past. If you struggled through undergraduate work, that’s okay. Don’t let it dissuade you from learning and growing today. Leading online MBA programs value professional and life experiences more than test scores and transcripts.
Once You Begin an Online MBA
- Connect to people—Online programs connect you with people you might not ordinarily meet. Attend every orientation session and welcome opportunity that’s offered to you. The sooner you start building a network of names and faces, the faster you’ll get comfortable with the program.
- Find balance—Create a routine that allows you to balance school and life without burning out. If the time or financial commitments of school start to overwhelm you, explore your options. Some programs allow you to flex between full-time and part-time study to accommodate different seasons in your life.
Are You Eligible for a Top-Rated Online MBA program?
View the College of Business’s eligibility requirements or speak with an admissions manager about your professional experience.
How to be Successful in a Top-Rated Online MBA Program
In the College of Business, our Online MBA program is completely online. But you’re never alone.
CSU’s College of Business has teams and resources to help you succeed. We understand the unique challenges facing online learners and we stand ready to help.
You can call on:
- Professional Advisors — Professional advisors help you pick the right roadmap toward graduation. You can complete our online MBA program in 21 months or take up to 5 years—and you’re welcome to change your mind along the way. Advisors proactively check on your progress and make sure you have the right resources to excel, while suggesting courses and certificates that can help you achieve your professional goals.
- Instructional Coordinators — Instructional Coordinators are qualified professionals who support our faculty. They have expert knowledge of the class content and can help when you have questions about a lecture or an assignment. They’re responsive, too. Most Instructional Coordinators respond to student inquiries within 2 to 4 hours.
- Fellow Rams — Online MBA students engage in discussions, group projects and networking opportunities. Even online, it’s easy to connect with students in your classes – you may even find Rams in your geographic area. Peer interactions are an important part of graduate work and help you connect the material to real life.
More Students Find Success at CSU
CSU’s retention rate is 8% higher than the national average.
How We Deliver the Best Online Learning Experience
The College of Business at Colorado State University wants you to focus on the classwork, not the technology that’s bringing it to you. Here’s what you can expect from one of the best online MBA programs in the world:
- Professionally produced recordings — Our on-campus classrooms are equipped with multiple high-definition cameras. As faculty teach, the cameras are managed by professional videographers.
- Quality class materials — The quality of our lecture capture recordings is superb— it’s almost like being in the classroom yourself. Each capture is professionally edited and quality-checked before being released to students. The quality of the content is also outstanding since faculty stay focused on the material and class interactions.
- Flexible consumption — Online MBA students have the option to tune into live broadcasts of faculty lectures or download the recordings later. You can access class lectures anytime, anywhere and from any device.
- Bonus features — Three-hour lectures are edited into 20-minute segments so they’re easier for online students to squeeze into their busy days. The recordings include closed captioning and transcripts, so it’s easy to search and replay segments when you’re studying.
- Live support — Online classes are supported by real people. A professional production team is available during every lecture to help online students troubleshoot technical issues. Similarly, Instructional Coordinators can answer questions about class content. As a College of Business student, getting help with your courses is just an email or a chat away.
How a Top-rated Online MBA Changes Your Career
Your connection to our Online MBA program doesn’t end after you graduate. Our students and faculty stay in touch, building a lifetime network of support. Once you become a Ram:
- You keep the class materials, including video recordings. Once you download a lecture, it’s yours for life. Refer to it as often as you’d like.
- You can use the Career Management Center for mentoring, networking, job searches and more. Career Services are available to current business students and alumni.
- You can attend networking events on campus and online. The Ram community is proud, strong and eager to help one another succeed.
- You can help future Rams by mentoring incoming students or sharing your experience at orientation sessions.
A top-rated online MBA can change your career. Being a CSU Ram can change your life.
Learn more about the CSU College of Business Online MBA program