An accelerated MBA from an online school can offer you with a relatively quick way to boost your credentials without leaving your job to study, as you need to do with most campus-based MBA programs. But the landscape of “fast track” MBAs is a bit more complex in the online world than in “brick and mortar” universities. Traditionally, a master’s in business has taken two years of classroom study and a total of about 50 to 60 credits to complete. At most schools, that boils down to taking 5 courses per semester for four semesters.
How Many Credits?
But the meaning of the word “credit” can be confusing with online MBA programs (read about confusion over credits in undergrad programs). As a result, you want to make sure you understand the scope of the program you’re considering. A full MBA online can, in fact, take less than two years if you work at a very intense pace. But programs shorter than that can actually be one-year or “executive” MBAs, or simply be programs that don’t require the number of credits traditionally associated with this type of degree. And given that many online students take less than a full course load, an accelerated MBA via distance learning can actually take more than two years.
Knowing whether you’re getting into a full MBA program or not is key to matching your degree program to your specific career goals. Unfortunately, there’s no simple formula for this, particularly since some schools use confusing terms like “semester credits” or “credit hours.” Still others, most famously Western Governors University, use a system of “competency credits” designed to de-emphasize the traditional credit system in favor of one that focuses on students demonstrating a true understanding of the course material, regardless of how many hours they have spent studying. The best advice as you look at accelerated online MBAs is to ask lots of questions at any school that interests you about whether or not the program gives you the same credential as a traditional two year campus based program.
Here’s a listing of some of the best-known accelerated online MBA degrees, ranked by the length of time they typically take to achieve. Time to completion numbers are based on the student taking the maximum number of credits allowed or close to it each term, and taking no time off between any semesters. If you work at a slower pace, the program will obviously take longer.
Accelerated Online MBAs, Ranked By Length Of Time To Completion
Benedictine University, Chicago, IL
Benedictine is a Catholic University, offers one of the best varieties of accelerated MBAs online, in specialties including accounting, finance, healthcare administration, marketing, international business and entrepreneurship. The school, which has about 6,800 students, has been highly ranked by Forbes Magazine. Benedictine’s advises students in a hurry to “jump on the fast track by taking two courses at a time in the accelerated MBA program.”
– 64 credit-hour MBA which “can be completed” in 12 months.
Info on Benedictine
Post University, Waterbury, CT
Established in 1890, Post offers masters of business in finance, leadership, marketing, entrepreneurship and management.
The accelerated MBA is a 45 credit degree program taking 14 to 20 months
Info on Post University
Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA
An interdenominational Christian university with about 5,000 students, Regent offers an MBA program with a traditional basis that is “enhanced by the incorporation of Judeo-Christian values, which yield a balanced, Biblical perspective on global integration.” The online MBA is available in General Management, Accounting, International Business, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Franchising, Human Resources Management, Leadership and Marketing.
– 42 credit hour program that can be completed on an accelerated basis in 16 months.
Info on Regent
Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, ID
A private Christian school affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene, the school was established in 1913 and has about 3,000 students. As with other religion-based schools, there is a strong focus on ethics in the MBA program.
The school is fairly up front about the intensity of the workload required to finish the degree on an accelerated basis, noting on its website that “the typical MBA student can expect to spend 12-16 hours per week per course.”
– Generalist MBA program, with 42 semester credits.
– Students who take two 8-week courses at a time can complete the degree in 16 months.
Info on Northwest Nazarine
California State University-Dominguez Hills, CA
A school of California’s public university system, CSUDH has over 13,000 students and is set in the southern part of Los Angeles.
The school’s 30-33 unit MBA program can be completed online within 18 months, if the student has already taken significant business courses before entering or is willing to take several “bridge” courses to build up business knowledge before starting MBA study.
The school’s website is a bit confusing. Information on the online MBA program is here
University of Rochester Simon School of Business, Rochester, NY
This is a very highly-rated business school that generally has less than 200 graduate students on campus. Admissions are selective.
Accelerated online MBA offered in 15 different concentrations including Finance, Electronic Commerce, Health Science Management, Entrepreneurship and others.
– 67 credit full MBA
– 18 months at an accelerated pace. (Accelerated program starts in January)
Info on University of Rochester MBA
Norwich University, Northfield, VT
Norwich is a private military university with a history stretching back to 1819. Most of its 3,400 students are actually military cadets, but the school does accept non-military personnel, particularly to its online programs.
Norwich offers MBAs with concentrations in three areas: Finance, Project Management or Organizational Leadership.
The format is a bit unique in that you are assigned to a small group of up to 16 students at the start of your program, and you go through the program collaborating with them all the way to graduation.
– 48 credit program.
– Complete in as little as 18 months.
Info on Norwich University
Marylhurst University, Marylhurst, OR
A private Catholic liberal arts college founded way back in 1893, with just under 2,000.
Marylhurst has a very well developed series of accelerated online MBAs. The format involves taking a single intensive five-week course at a time in this program. There are some unusual concentrations offered in the MBA including Green Development, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business, Natural & Organic Resources and Nonprofit Management, as well are more standard ones like general management and marketing.
– 48 “quarter credit” program (12 courses)
– Completion can be achieved in 18 months
Info on Marylhurst
Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, UT
Since Western Governors was founded in 1997, its nonprofit model, low prices and unique approach to awarding credits (along with a powerful marketing) has allowed it to grow into a major force in online education, with over 35,000 students. All courses are delivered over the internet. Strictly speaking, all degree programs at WGU are accelerated – if you want to make them that way. Students pay a flat fee per term and are allowed to take as many courses at a time as they want. If you can truly work at an accelerated pace, this can help keep the cost of your degree way down. MBAs are in General Management, IT Management and Health Care Management.
– 33 “Competency Units,” WGU’s equivalent of credits. This system leans more heavily on your ability to demonstrate an understanding the course material than on spending a specific number of hours studying.
– With intensive study, can be completed in 18 months. Students who have previously taken some business courses are best suited to handling the heavy course load needed for acceleration.
Info on Western Governors University
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA
A school operated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, CLU has just under 4,000 students and has operated since 1959. Though it clearly has a religious affiliation, the school is a bit more understated on its website about the ethical focus of its degrees than some other religious colleges.
– 45 credit program, condensing 11 week courses into an 8 week format.
– Accelerated students can complete the program in “less than two years.”
Info on California Lutheran
Texas A&M University – Commerce, TX
Part of the Texas state university system, the schools master in business prepares students for the “advanced management positions that demand analytic and strategic leadership solutions to an interrelated set of economic, ethical, and environmental issues.”
Students can choose a basic MBA or a degree with a minor, with choices including Accounting, Finance, Economics, International Business, Management Information Systems and Marketing. 30 to 48 credit hours, depending on chosen specialty.
– Non-Texas residents pay a higher tuition than residents.
– Can be completed in a minimum of 24 months.
Info on Texas A&M Commerce