Once, some employers saw Online MBAs as poor substitutes for degrees that are taught in-person. That is changing, as seen by the recent sharp increase in salaries achieved by graduates of the best digital MBA degrees. At some institutions, the average annual salary after just three years can reach upwards of $200,000.
The pay rises enjoyed by Online MBA participants cannot match those achieved by full-time students who study largely on campus. Online students are typically older and more senior so they are starting from a higher benchmark. The increases for Online participants range from as high as 45 percent to as low as 9 percent.
Many employers are now warming to Online MBA degrees and so are prepared to pay a premium for graduates of the highest ranked business schools. One catalyst has been the coronavirus pandemic, which has made companies more comfortable with the idea of studying and working online.
And, with many organizations planning for a permanent mix of remote and office work after the Covid lockdowns, there is a sense that Online MBAs better reflect new working practices. Online students develop their virtual communication skills and their ability to lead global teams remotely using videoconferencing technology — all now important parts of any manager’s toolkit in the post-pandemic world.
Another factor has been the increase in career support services offered by business schools to students and alumni of Online MBAs. These perks were once reserved largely for full-time candidates who are typically more interested in switching careers. The Online MBA has traditionally been seen more as a degree for career accelerators who are looking to be promoted with their current employer. That is changing, as Covid forces people to reconsider their purpose and values.
Below, we rank the top 10 Online MA programs for salaries, in descending order in terms of average annual salary achieved by alumni three years after leaving business school.
Online MBA students at Warwick Business School enjoy a hefty $207,725 average salary three years after graduation, which is a 35 percent increase on their pre-MBA pay. The school is also ranked the highest for career progress by the Financial Times business newspaper.View School Profile
At Imperial College Business School, three years after graduating, Online MBA alumni are earning $184,899, which is a 19 percent bump on what they earned before taking the course. Imperial is also ranked the first for international mobility by the FT, suggesting that students enjoy careers that are both well-paid and global.View School Profile
The average annual salary achieved by graduates of University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler three years out is $183,527, a bump of 28 percent compared with their pre-degree pay. A high proportion of the cohort is from outside the US, suggesting that the Kenan-Flagler brand carries weight across borders.View School Profile
Graduates of Madrid’s IE Business School will earn on average $164,578 after earning their Online MBAs at the leading Spanish institution. That is a 32 percent increase. IE also outranks all other business schools when it comes to corporate social responsibility, meaning that graduates will be pursuing both profit and a wider social or environmental purpose.View School Profile
Babson College’s Olin Business School boasts impressive salary figures. Graduates are earning $163,044 three years out, which is a 9 percent rise over what they earned before completing the school’s highly-ranked Online MBA program.View School Profile
In Italy, alumni of Politecnico di Milano School of Management in Milan have one of the highest salary increases compared with their peers from the top Online MBA providers in the world. The average boost is 45 percent, to $153,680 three years after finishing the course.View School Profile
In the UK, alumni of University of Bradford School of Management earn $147,697 on average a few years after completing their studies, which is a 39 percent increase on what they were earning prior to starting the school’s Online MBA. With tuition fees of just £18,296 (about $25,000), Bradford scores top on value for money.View School Profile
Indiana University: Kelley School of Business runs one of the most established Online MBA programs in the US, and it has built up strong connections with leading employers. These companies are prepared to pay a premium for Kelley’s alumni, with the average pay package coming in at $145,723. The school also scores very highly for online interaction.View School Profile
At University of Maryland: Smith School of Business, graduates of the Online MBA will be making $142,263 in annual salary, on average, after three years. This is a 32 percent increase on their pre-program pay. Smith’s career services office provides a wide array of support for online students that complements the core MBA curriculum.View School Profile
AGSM at UNSW Business School is Australia’s leading business school when it comes to Online MBA education. And the school does not disappoint on post-MBA salaries: alumni will after three years earn on average $134,277, up by a third on what the students were making before enrolling at AGSM, based in Sydney.View School Profile