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How Much Will an Online MBA Actually Cost? A Comprehensive Guide.

November 5, 2021

Choosing the right online MBA program for you (and figuring out how to pay for it) can be at least as challenging as deciding to pursue an MBA in the first place. In part, that’s because the cost of a degree is not always easy to calculate.

Tuition—the amount you pay to enroll in, take, and earn credit for courses—is the most significant expense you will incur. Schools typically list their tuition rates on their websites. Be careful in your research: many universities charge different tuition rates for different programs within the university. Also, many students pay less than full tuition because they receive scholarships, grants, employer tuition reimbursement, or military benefits. Note that some business programs charge per-credit tuition, while others charge a flat rate.

Other costs associated with earning an MBA include application and testing fees, various student fees, and books and supplies. Fees tend to be predictable and reasonably easy to find on most schools’ websites. On the other hand, books and supplies can vary by hundreds of dollars from one semester to the next, depending on the courses you take and their required texts.

To manage your MBA costs, you’ll need to understand your options concerning financial aid, scholarships, student loans, and other financing sources. You’ll also need to master your payment timeline (i.e., when each bill is due). In short, you’ll need to plan. But first, you need to know: how much will your online MBA actually cost?

The benefits of an online MBA from Howard School of Business

Weighing costs against benefits is a critical step in any important decision. What benefits will you derive from earning an MBA (and, more specifically, an Online Master of Business Administration from the Howard University School of Business)?

Benefits of an online MBA

There are many good reasons the MBA is the most popular graduate-level degree in the United States, with nearly 200,000 students earning the degree each year. An MBA develops essential hard skills in accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and quantitative analysis. In addition, it cultivates equally indispensable soft skills in communication, time management, problem-solving, and networking. At Howard, online MBA students customize their learning experience to include core courses and electives such as financial management, project management, e-commerce in supply chain management, data analytics, statistics and business analytics, information systems, and more.

Each year, an increasing number of prospective students choose to pursue their MBAs online, capitalizing on the format’s convenience to study at home and continue working while they learn.

The Howard School of Business online MBA

According to School of Business Dean Anthony Wilbon, Howard MBA degrees “open doors to get students into and diversify the executive suites. In the context of today’s environment, Howard University School of Business provides students with the opportunity and the access to create significant change in the world.” Designed and led by an award-winning faculty with expertise across the business world, Howard’s online MBA stresses modern business approaches and data-driven solutions to business challenges.

Howard’s 100% online program accommodates the busy calendars of working professionals from across all industries and job functions. Studies show that the live online lecture and class discussion formats employed in the program promote learning retention. Ample hands-on educational experiences and team-based projects bolster experiential learning and career-boosting networking opportunities, while a curricular focus on ethical management encourages students to do good as they do well. Cohorts build lifelong relationships with fellow graduate students, faculty, and administrators.

Howard faculty embody the university’s mission to create and promote inclusive, diverse learning environments for all students. Their broad experience in both US and international business, coupled with the diversity of Howard’s online MBA student body, ensures that class discussions encompass wide-ranging, cross-cultural perspectives resulting in rich conversations and creative solutions to business problems.

Student support isn’t just a marketing term at Howard; it’s a credo that defines the core of the university’s identity. “Everyone at Howard wants you to succeed,” explains Krystal Brockett, a Howard online MBA student. 24⁄7 live tech support means you’ll never be more than an email or phone call away from resolving any issues. Online office hours keep you connected to the School of Business’ exceptional faculty, while regular online and in-person events plug you into one of the nation’s largest and most active alumni networks. No wonder The Princeton Review has repeatedly ranked Howard #1 in its Greatest Resources for Minority Students category.

How much does an online MBA cost?

Online MBA students at Howard University complete a 48-credit curriculum at the cost of $1,896 per credit hour for the 2021-22 academic year. That comes to $91,008 in tuition costs for the entire program. That said, few students pay the full price for their degrees because financial aid, employer funding, private scholarships, and university scholarships cover some or all of their costs.

In addition to tuition, online students must also pay fees. These include an enrollment fee ($300 for 2021-22). Don’t forget to budget for the cost of standardized testing ($250 for the GMAT, $205 for the GRE, plus the cost of any test prep materials or courses you use). Books and other materials will add a variable per semester expense. If you decide to hire an MBA admissions consultant, you’ll need to budget for that as well.

Are online degrees cheaper than on-campus programs?

You may realize some savings by pursuing your MBA online rather than on-campus by avoiding commuting and parking expenses. If your program is not within commuting distance, you’ll also save the considerable cost of relocating and finding housing near your MBA program. You may also be allowed to forgo some fees on-campus students pay; this varies by school and even program.

However, you likely will not realize any savings in tuition, the primary cost of attending an MBA program. Why not? Why do online programs cost essentially the same as on-campus programs?

The primary reason is that online degree programs are expensive to build and manage. Hands-on, high-engagement online course content costs money to produce and update. In addition to production costs, there are also licensing fees, server costs, and the cost of 247 technical support. In fact, online graduate programs require a large staff to get them up and running, keep them running smoothly, and solve problems quickly if they should arise. Program costs are high.

But, you may be thinking, shouldn’t schools be able to enroll a lot more students online, thereby defraying the costs of launching and operating an online program? Yes, but that only reduces costs if the school is willing to herd lots of students into each virtual classroom. Most online programs—and pretty much all high-quality programs—limit class size to encourage classroom interaction and promote flipped classroom pedagogy. The online MBA at Howard University keeps class sizes small to ensure students get to know each other and the faculty well.

Schools save a little money not having to provide physical space for classes, i.e., live classrooms. The amount they spend on technology and student support counterbalances that savings.

Cost savings associated with online degrees

While the total cost for online and on-campus programs may not differ much, there are ways in which online education can save you money. You’ll avoid commuting to and from campus, saving on gas, parking, tolls, wear-and-tear on your vehicle, and, perhaps most important, the amount of time spent in transit. Also, you’ll be able to attend a program anywhere in the world without incurring the expense or hassle of relocating. Uprooting your life for a master’s program is expensive—and so is moving back across the country (for employment) when you complete your degree. You’ll avoid both of those expenditures.

Part-time online study is the optimal choice for students who wish to continue working full-time while pursuing their MBAs. Your busy schedule hardly has time for commuting to and from campus; you’d be much better off studying during that time, and as an online student, you can do just that. You’ll also benefit significantly from the ability to apply what you learn immediately to your day job. Your biggest savings will come in the form of the income you won’t have to forgo while attending school. Unlike full-time students, you’ll continue earning throughout your MBA experience.

What is the return on investment (ROI) for an MBA?

Regardless of whether you pay full price or a reduced rate for your MBA, you’ll likely pay something to earn your degree. Will it be worth the expense and effort?

To answer that question, Poets & Quants commissioned a salary study from the job posting website PayScale. The results indicate that an MBA does indeed yield lifetime benefits that far exceed the cost of the degree. According to the study, someone with an MBA from a top 50 program enjoys an average lifetime earnings premium of $2,235,000 over what they would earn with a bachelor’s degree only. The average lifetime benefit for students in all MBA programs is just under $800,000.

And that’s just based on salary. MBAs are also more likely to receive larger bonuses and more valuable incentives, such as stock options. They’ll do more interesting and impactful work throughout their careers, meaning they are more likely to be satisfied with their accomplishments. For many, that alone makes earning an MBA worthwhile.

How to pay for your online MBA

Let’s not bury the lead here: once you are accepted to the online MBA program at Howard University, you are assigned a financial aid advisor from the school who works with you to find ways to finance your education. These aid experts know all available scholarships, grants, programs and benefits, and loans that can reduce your financial burden. Know that you will receive the support and guidance you need when you commit to a Howard online MBA.

Like all MBA students at federally approved programs, Howard MBA students are eligible for all federally funded financial aid opportunities, including loans, grants, work-study programs, fellowships, and scholarships. Check with your employer to see whether it offers a tuition reimbursement benefit. According to Dean Wilbon, approximately 20% of Howard MBAs receive employer assistance.

Howard University offers its online MBA students several scholarships (which, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid), including:

  • Howard School of Business Endowed Scholarships: These awards, funded by alumni and corporate sponsors, are granted based on need, academic excellence, test scores, application materials, MBA essays, and applicants’ contributions to their field of study.
  • Howard University Donor Scholarships: You need only submit a brief application to qualify for these graduate-school scholarships.
  • The Howard University Endowed Scholarship for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Members: Full-time and part-time MBA candidates who are current or alumni members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and have a minimum GPA of 3.25 can apply for the Delta Founders and Past National Presidents Endowed Scholarship.

External scholarships—funded by nonprofit organizations, corporations, and other donors—are also available. These range in value from a few hundred dollars to full tuition. Likewise, qualifications vary widely. Some are earmarked for HBCU students, others for students with specific backgrounds, skills, or affiliations. Your financial aid counselor at Howard will be able to direct you toward some of these and let you know how to apply for them.


Howard University School of Business admits online MBA students twice a year. The spring term starts in January. Priority 1 applications are due by mid-September. Priority 2 applications are due by late September; all applications are due by the first of November. The fall term starts in January. Priority 1 applications are due in mid-May. Priority 2 is due in late May, and all applications are due by early July.

It makes sense to apply as early as possible, especially if you seek financial assistance. Financial aid funds are limited; the earlier in the process you apply, the more of it there is for the school to distribute. Don’t rush to apply if it means submitting an incomplete application, however. You want your application to portray you in the best possible light. Admissions officers and financial aid counselors will assist you in the application and financing process.

Scholarship application deadlines dot the calendar, with many falling in March. However, some accept applications as late as July. Scholarship requirements and deadlines vary from one to another; you’ll need to research the specific deadline and requirements for each one. If you’ve served in the military, you may qualify for benefits under the Veteran Educational Benefits Bill.

Howard University typically requires tuition payments one month in advance of a semester’s start date. Scholarships and federal loan funds are usually sent directly to the school and credited to your account. If you have secured third-party funding (e.g., a scholarship from an outside party), you will need to present proof to the Third-Party Billing Department (email them at If your financial aid exceeds the cost of attending, the school will send you a check for the balance. The university offers installment plan options. You may pay your bill by credit card, money order, cashier’s check, or certified check.

Why choose the online MBA at Howard University?

Howard University School of Business has been exceptional from the start. The first business school in Washington, D.C., to earn AACSB accreditation. Howard offers the best online MBA program at a historically black college and university (HBCU), according to US News & World Report.

Howard’s 100% online MBA program delivers the same academic excellence and hands-on teaching as its traditional MBA, but with the added convenience of remote learning. The broad-ranging coursework grounds students in accounting, finance, marketing, operations, business analysis, global business, and leadership. Howard’s location in the nation’s capital allows it to draw instructors from among the nation’s leaders in business, government, nonprofit management, institutional management, and entrepreneurship. The school’s alumni network is celebrated for its engagement with the school, its students, and its MBA graduates.

If you have at least two years of work experience and a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university, the online MBA program at Howard University may be a perfect fit for you. Why not start your application today?

Download a brochure and learn more about Howard University School of Business online Master's programs.