2021 Best Part Time MBA Programs [Campus & Online]

Ready to start your journey?

Are you wanting to find the best part time MBA programs? You may start by looking for MBA programs at competitive, accredited schools and considering if opportunities for professional networking or recruiting events are also a priority for you.

MBA Masters Programs

You may look at a program’s curriculum to determine whether the areas of course concentration align well with your individual career interests. If you’re already a seasoned business leader, you may want to focus on Executive MBA programs (EMBAs).

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Whether you want an immersive and accelerated campus experience or you’re seeking flexible part-time options, today’s masters in business administration programs come in virtually all shapes and sizes.

Part Time MBA Programs Online

Successful business leaders engage with a range of business initiatives. After looking for MBA programs that align with areas of concentration that interest you, you may want to ensure that a program is also designed to give you exposure to a broad range of business methods and concepts.

Large businesses and organizations also rely on specialized expertise across many departments, such as accounting, marketing, management, and human resources. The following are common MBA specializations that you may consider, depending on your individual interests and aptitudes:

Regardless of the specialty you select, you will still receive a strong foundation in business administration and related courses.

MBA – Finance

An MBA with a concentration in Finance helps prepare you to work in accounting, financial auditing, taxation, and reporting. This track may advance your leadership and decision-making skills for effective financial planning and reporting.

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MBA graduates with a finance concentration may support or lead accounting teams or work as lending specialists or bank and investor liaisons. They may also help businesses analyze assets, profits, and cash flows.

MBA – General Business

Many MBA students will focus on general business concepts that may equip them to play core leadership and management roles. These roles may include managing business growth and agendas, leading strategic decision-making initiatives, and guiding core business planning.

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If you opt for a general business concentration, it’s likely you’ll take more courses with a strong focus on organizational psychology, leadership strategies, and leadership ethics. A general business concentration may also be a strategic path for you if you’re interested in business start-ups and entrepreneurial business planning and leadership. Some colleges even offer free small business classes for entrepreneurs.

MBA – Human Resources

If you like the idea of leading recruitment and hiring operations, you may want to pursue a human resources concentration. As a leader in human resources, you may also engage in the development and negotiation of workplace policies, including salary and incentive structures.

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If you’re seeking roles in HR leadership, you may want to look for MBA programs with more courses on human resource management, administrative management, organizational psychology, and relevant courses on law and ethics.

MBA – Information Technology

cybersecurity managers working

Businesses today are increasingly dependent on a growing number of information technology tools and networks for business automation, communications, marketing, collaboration, and data management. Robotics and AI mean the IT trend is only picking up steam.

With these accelerating digital innovations in mind, you may want to pursue a concentration in information technology.

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With expertise in information technology, you might work alongside other business leaders in areas of strategic planning and project management. Most organizational initiatives are likely to involve critical IT-related analyses, purchases, expansions, or adaptations.

Other common roles for business leaders in IT may include senior roles in the planning and design of IT networks, data security and cybersecurity management, oversight of data management laws and ethics, and workforce IT support and training.

MBA – Marketing

marketing team in meeting

If you’re driven to succeed in a competitive environment, enjoy strategic planning, and like to think creatively, then you may consider a concentration in marketing.

With a marketing concentration, you’re likely to learn about a wide range of evolving marketing tools, channels, and strategies. At some point, it may be your job as a marketing leader to creatively use this knowledge to forge fresh marketing campaigns.

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If you study for an MBA in Marketing, you’re also likely to learn about customer psychology, pricing structures, survey methods, and metrics for gauging the effectiveness of different marketing messages and strategies.

Effective marketing campaigns often require tireless innovation and monitoring and can be a crucial component of business success. The annual average salary for marketing managers is $142,170, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

MBA – Operations Management

Operations Manager in manufacturing

With the onset of the fourth industrial revolution, we are likely to witness significant transformations in business production, operations, and supply chain logistics and methods.

If you’re interested in playing a part in this field’s growth, you may consider an MBA concentration in operations management. Students interested in operations management may study methods for planning, designing, scaling, and automating a range of operations related to shipping, manufacturing, sourcing, and storage.

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You may be an especially good fit for this field if you’re a strong analytic thinker, like planning and problem solving, and have some engineering aptitudes and perhaps an interest in robotics. Pursuing a role as an industrial production manager may lead to a dynamic and well-paying career.

MBA – Project Management

Project Manager with colleagues

As a highly qualified project manager, you may update management software tools and monitor the launch of a wide range of internal and external business initiatives.

With a concentration in project management, you may also lead and coordinate any number of individuals and teams. In an MBA program with a project management specialization, you’re likely to study cutting-edge workforce leadership skills, leadership ethics, and how to incentivize individuals and teams.

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These valuable human and social capital leadership skills may reward you with eventual promotions into top executive roles that pay average annual salaries of $107,680 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Part-Time vs. Full-Time MBA Programs

Your personal circumstances may prove to be the determining factor as to whether you decide to enroll full time or get a business degree online. If you choose part time, you may then decide whether to seek the best weekend MBA programs, best evening MBA programs, or best online learning options.

Enrollment

MBA students in university

A full-time MBA program, whether on campus or online, may be an immersive learning, collaborating, and networking experience.

If you already have a rewarding job in your field of interest or have family responsibilities, then part-time program options designed for working professionals may make earning your MBA degree more manageable.

Part time programs are available online, and there are even on-campus MBA evening program or weekend program options. You may find admissions for even the top part time MBA programs are less stringent or less competitive at many schools.

Part time online MBA programs are more likely to offer you flexible enrollment timelines and open enrollment options. You may also find that part time MBA programs provide more flexibility if you don’t plan to stay continuously enrolled while earning your degree.

Time to Completion

MBA students in class

Enrolling full time often allows you to finish your MBA program more quickly than part-time study options.

Timelines vary by school and program, but accredited MBA programs generally take about 2 years to complete when you study full time and follow a traditional semester schedule. In an accelerated online MBA program, you might even be able to finish in 12 to 18 months.

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Students who opt for an accredited part time MBA program, whether on-campus or online, usually finish in 3 to 5 years, depending on other life commitments and the pacing they elect for themselves.

If you stay enrolled year-round and follow a part-time schedule of taking 1 class per term with 5 week or 8 week classes, then there’s a chance you may finish around the same time as full-time students.

Pros and Cons

Part-Time MBA Full-Time MBA
Pros
  • Flexible schedule options
  • May keep working full-time while learning
  • More options for employer-based tuition assistance
  • Less competitive admissions
  • Faster completion time
  • More networking and collaboration opportunities
  • More scholarship opportunities
  • More accelerated career move
Cons
  • Longer time to completion
  • Limited scholarship and financial aid opportunities
  • May have less opportunities for networking or collaborating
  • May have a higher bar for admissions
  • More difficult to work full-time while you learn
  • More upfront costs
  • More intense and rigidly scheduled academic workload

MBA Careers & Salaries

MBA Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobs you can pursue as an MBA graduate correspond to a wide range of industries and offer very attractive salaries.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $141,490
Financial Managers $134,180
Sales Managers $132,290
Compensation and Benefits Managers $125,130
Human Resources Managers $121,220
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430
Industrial Production Managers $108,790
Top Executives $107,680
Administrative Services Managers $98,890
Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents $72,270

Whatever your aptitudes in the business arena, getting an MBA with a concentration that’s right for you could be a strategic career move. With many top schools offering flexible part time weekend, evening, and online options, you may be able to fit a part time MBA into your current schedule.

If you would like to further your education beyond your MBA, you may be interested in one of the part time PhD programs that some universities offer.

MBA Curriculum & Courses

Top Executives in meeting

Your MBA curriculum will help develop your business management and organizational leadership savvy across a broad range of domains.

  • Business Development: You’ll learn about sound business planning and decision-making methods and strategies.
  • Project Management: This course gives you a background of the tools and methods that business leaders use for the successful implementation of large-scale strategic initiatives.
  • Financial Analysis and Risk Assessment: You’ll learn sound practices for analyzing a range of financial indicators and risk factors used in business valuation assessments and reporting.
  • Accounting, Budgeting, and Financial Oversight: This course gives you foundational understandings of accounting practices, budget management, and methods and regulations for conducting responsible financial oversight.
  • Marketing and Sales: This course is an introduction to strategies and concepts for leading effective marketing and sales initiatives, including contemporary marketing methods and marketing channels, pricing strategies, and managing large sales teams.
  • Entrepreneurship: You’ll learn about the skills involved in the discovery and development of new business ideas and business plans, accessing capital, and the challenges of scaling new phases of business growth.
  • Organizational Leadership: You’ll learn about a variety of results-oriented leadership theories and principles, including systems-based leadership theory and design theory.
  • Business and Management Ethics: In this course you’ll learn core principles for ethical decision-making, learn practical decision-making protocols, and debate how to navigate challenging and ethically ambiguous policy decisions.
  • Business Operations and Logistics: You’ll learn about models that can effectively guide your role in planning, designing, scaling, and improving efficient and reliable operational and logistical processes.
  • Economics for Managers and Decision Makers: You’ll learn how to research and apply economic concepts and indicators for informed business forecasting and decision making.

Because of their scope, MBA degree programs may give you a huge career boost, whether you’re still finding your niche or trying to break out of one!

Admissions Requirements

MBA student

Some part time MBA degree programs may have less stringent or less competitive requirements for admissions compared with full time programs at top schools.

In general, applying to an MBA program may require:

  • A BA or BS degree from an accredited school
  • A satisfactory college GPA
  • GRE or GMAT scores, if required
  • Relevant work experience or training, if required

Many MBA programs don’t emphasize prerequisites courses, but a background in areas such as accounting, finance, statistics, calculus, and economics may make you a stronger candidate. The most qualified candidates for competitive MBA programs might have some prior work experience in business or a related field, such as finance or economics.

Accreditation

MBA Accreditation

When you’re searching for the right MBA program for your needs, we recommend only applying to regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation means that a qualified third-party organization has assessed key school indicators for academic quality.

By choosing an accredited school, you can help ensure that you’ll be getting the academic training you’ve signed up for and that other schools and prospective employers will honor your accomplishments.

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An organization such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) can help you learn more about accreditation and about accredited schools.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

MBA Financial Aid

If enrolling full time seems daunting in terms of the all-in financial costs, a part time campus MBA program or part time online MBA program may be a good alternative.

That said, many people will want to go with the study option that best fits their needs and goals, and if money is an issue, they’ll often seek out financial aid.

Common forms of financial aid include state and federal education grants, need-based or merit-based scholarships, employer-based tuition assistance programs, and student loans. Filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ahead of time may save time later.

What Can You Do with an MBA Degree?

Financial Managers in meeting

An MBA can help equip you with a broad range of skills and insights for working in businesses or organizations.

Popular career choices for MBA graduates include sales and marketing manager, human resources manager, industrial production manager, financial manager, project management lead, and top executive roles.

Some roles may stress broad and interactive leadership skills while some call for more creative and entrepreneurial skill sets. Some roles put more of a premium on specialized knowledge and administrative expertise.

MBA programs may emphasize different concentrations, so it may be beneficial to think about the kinds of roles that would best fit for your interests and aptitudes when considering different schools.

What Are the Best Part Time MBA Programs?

marketing team in meeting

Sometimes the best MBA program is, simply speaking, the one that best fits your individual needs, goals, and preferences.

That said, the best part time MBAs are often those that have highly qualified faculty with lots of real-world experience. Other features of good programs might be those with the best courses in your area of interest and well-developed networking and recruiting structures.

Exciting and lucrative career MBA concentrations might include an finance, marketing, IT management, entrepreneurship, and global Perspectives. Another lucrative degree option is a General Business MBA with an emphasis on Leadership Formation.

How Long Does a Part Time MBA Take?

PR Managers in meeting

A part-time MBA might take between 3 and 5 years to complete, and enrolling full time generally allows students to graduate at the end of 1 or 2 years.

A number of part time online programs are designed to help you finish your MBA degree more quickly while also providing you a maximum amount of flexibility with your schedule.

Likewise, some online programs have accelerated class terms, such as 8 week or even 5 week classes and monthly, rolling start dates. This means you might only have to tackle one course at a time while juggling other commitments and still maintain a brisk pace toward graduation.

What Is the Difference Between Part Time vs. Full Time MBA?

advertising team in meeting

If you are in a full time MBA program, you’re typically studying day in and day out in designated cohorts. You may also be offered a menu of immersive and academically enriching learning, conferencing, and collaboration activities that might be useful for professional networking.

Since many MBA students are trying to build their resumes while holding down a job, you’ll find MBA programs tailored to the needs of working professionals. Students may study on varied schedules with many classes happening on evenings or weekends or happening 24/7 online.

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In a part-time program, because many students are juggling multiple commitments, you may have to trade a more immersive experience for more flexible pacing. You may still find engaging designs, though, for academic collaboration or for networking with other students and faculty in a part time MBA for working professionals.

What Is the Difference Between Executive MBA vs. Part Time MBA?

An Executive MBA program represents one of the first MBA programs designed for working professionals. Executive MBA programs are also part time MBA programs, but they are targeted toward slightly older, more experienced, and more senior business executives.

Executive MBA (EMBA) Programs Part-Time MBA Programs
  • Targeted to high-level business executives
  • Past work experience is a key admissions requirement
  • Students interact with other high-level business executives
  • Accessible to a broad range of students
  • Admissions requirements often less stringent than for EMBA or full-time MBA
  • Student cohorts include a wide range of applicants

EMBAs may offer weekend or evening classes or intensive short-term learning modules. While EMBAs may also include some online formats, it’s possible that part-time MBA programs offer the greatest range of flexible placing, including fully online learning options.

Is a Part Time MBA Worth It?

business administrators in meeting

Yes, a part time MBA is worth it for many students. Jobs in the management field are projected to grow at a rate of 5% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Common MBA careers in this field include sales manager, marketing manager, administrative services manager, financial manager, and top executive. By choosing a top part time MBA program, you may be able to work full-time while you learn online or take evening or weekend classes on campus.

As an MBA graduate, you may better position yourself for rewarding jobs that best fit your aptitudes and interests. In addition, a top tier MBA program may give you exposure to a broad network of other gifted and successful business professionals.

Universities Offering Part-Time MBA Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University campus

Carnegie Mellon University’s MBA program is known for its celebrated academics and esteemed facility. This program is offered full time or part time and can be taken online or using a hybrid option.

CMU’s MBA focuses on future solution-based learning, providing innovative approaches to working in the business world that help students become leaders in this industry.

Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Emory University

Emory University campus

Known as one of the country’s most renowned schools for business, Emory University’s MBA program offers full time and part time schedules with more than 90 elective courses to help students concentrate on areas of interest to become experts in their field. There are two program options in EU’s MBA program.

Emory University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

New York University

New York University campus

New York University’s part time Masters in Business Administration allows students to complete their degree in as little as 2 years. In addition to the rigorous core classes, students can choose one to three specializations and participate in the many free, hands-on workshops offered by NYU.

Students in these part time masters programs develop the practical skills needed in the business world.

New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University campus

Working with future leaders in the business industry, Northwestern University’s MBA is a top-ranked curriculum by U.S. News & World Report that offers the skills and knowledge needed to develop future leaders in business. Students enrolled in NU’s MBA program can choose from an accelerated schedule or a traditional path to complete the degree in 1 to 5 years.

Northwestern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of California – Berkeley

berkeley

The University of California – Berkeley assists students in becoming qualified to excel in the business enterprise and become industry leaders with its Masters in Business Administration.

Students enrolled in this program receive an engaging, practical curriculum based on problem-solving and innovative learning strategies. UCB’s part time MBA has a flexible evening and weekend schedule.

The University of California – Berkeley is accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges.

University of California – Los Angeles

University of California Los Angeles campus

The University of California – Los Angeles’s Masters in Business Administration has three flexible schedules for students to choose from.

Core classes focus on topics such as leadership, data, marketing, and finance. Students have an option of several elective courses that help personalize their learning experience, and they will also have classes in global access.

UCLA is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of Chicago

University of Chicago campus

Choosing the right path to earn an MBA at the University of Chicago is as easy as deciding if weekends or evenings work best for a student’s personal needs. Both pathways include extensive curricula that blend rigorous learning practices with research and collaboration to ensure students are ready to excel in their field.

The University of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

University of Michigan campus

Attending the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor’s Masters in Business Administration allows students to learn on weekends to make gaining higher education easier for the working professional. Students in this program must attend classes every other weekend and complete their degree in as little as 2 years.

U-M – Ann Arbor is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Washington

University of Washington campus

Obtaining an MBA at the University of Washington helps prepare students to become leaders in the business world. UW’s MBA program gives students the flexibility to attend on a part time basis and expands their leadership skills and industry knowledge in the field. Teambuilding and mentoring help students succeed at UW.

The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Washington University

Washington University campus

Washington University offers one of the top MBA programs in the area (U.S. News & World Report). This program teaches students how to problem-solve real-world challenges that businesses face. Offering a part time schedule, WU helps students find ways to advance their skills, move up in their profession, and even work in a global setting.

Washington University in St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Part Time MBA Degree Online

MBA Degree Online

If you’re wanting to advance in the competitive but highly rewarding world of business, you may consider earning your MBA with a specialization that fits your professional goals and interests.

There are various full time and part time MBA programs out there that offer both on-campus and online options. It may be worth considering accredited part time MBA programs if you need scheduling flexibility. There are part time programs designed for working professionals that offer weekend, evening, or fully online schedules.

If you’re interested in supercharging your business savvy and advancing your career, then you may begin by exploring MBA part time programs from accredited schools

Ready to start your journey?
Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in education leadership, innovation, and policy.