Online MBA in Consulting Programs (Management Consulting)

Eventually, most businesses will confront an issue that cannot be overcome internally using existing employees. Whether the genesis of that issue is needing an outside perspective, a specialized skill set current employees don’t already have, a global perspective, or simply an unbiased eye, companies will often turn to outside parties in their time of need. Management consultants can offer companies a third-party perspective to help them overcome issues or improve current processes.

The pathway to becoming a management consultant varies. Some management consultants come to their careers through years of work experience, while others earn advanced degrees to get started in the consulting industry. Many consultants begin consulting with some combination of experience and higher education. Regardless of the pathway, management consulting is most suited to those who enjoy cultivating a high-level understanding of industry best practices; the people skills to interact with a range of clientele; and the analytical skills to apply what they know to diverse business realities.

In a competitive marketplace, someone who backs up a true interest in helping other businesses succeed with actual know-how and qualified insights and management techniques can be immensely valuable. In response to this need for valuable, third-party insight, many MBA programs offer concentrations in management consulting. Earning an MBA in management consulting can open up a wide variety of full- or part-time options within consulting agencies, the ability to work as an independent contractor, and the capacity to become a trainer, research analyst, or director of change.

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Earning an MBA in management consulting can also lead to a lucrative career in a growth industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022), management analysts earn a mean wage of $50.35 per hour or $104,660 annually. Additionally, the BLS predicted the occupation will grow by 10 percent between 2022 and 2032—much more than the growth-rate average for all occupations nationally (3 percent)—adding 95,700 jobs (BLS 2023).

Because real-world experience in business is part of what makes for an attractive consultant, many MBA programs in consulting are designed with the working professional in mind. Many high-quality universities offer MBAs in consulting fully online, with only occasional visits to a physical campus, or with coursework that can be completed at night, on weekends, or at the time of the MBA student’s choosing. In addition, distance learning allows working professionals to advance their knowledge and skills without relocating physically.

Discover what to expect from an online MBA program in consulting, including information about distinguished faculty in those programs.

Featured Online MBAs in Management Consulting

An online MBA with a concentration in strategy and consulting through UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School provides knowledge and practical skills for those who want consulting roles within their communities or existing organizations. Students learn team leadership, strategic thinking, and general client management through a combination of business theories, real-world case studies, and online simulations.

The 62-credit curriculum offers students the opportunity to learn about and develop strategies for existing companies and nonprofits in the U.S. and internationally. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as business communication; business strategy; advanced consulting skills and frameworks; corporate strategy; consulting skills and frameworks; design and delivery of healthcare systems; information for product and customer strategy; strategic operations; global supply chain management; and strategy and sustainability, among others. Chapel Hill’s MBA program includes immersion opportunities where students can visit different businesses and interact with their employees and management teams.

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Expected Time to Completion: 18 months to three years
Estimated Tuition: $133,691.58 for entire program

Students have the opportunity to earn an MBA on-campus through the Kogod School of Business or online through the school’s MBA@American program. The consulting focus, one of seven foci offered, combines courses from analytics and management to help expand a graduate’s strategic value to potential employers. Students in this program must participate in two three- to four-day immersion programs in places like Washington, D.C., Brussels, Beijing, or Madrid.

Students enrolled in this 48-credit program will complete thirteen core courses, two elective courses, and two in-person immersions. The curriculum’s core courses include business fundamentals; applied managerial statistics; business law, ethics, and governance; financial management; financial accounting; managing digital organizations; marketing management; and strategic thinking for decisions. Courses in the consulting concentration include management consulting practices & methodologies; integrated marketing communication; business intelligence; business insights through analytics; and intercultural communications.

The curriculum prepares students to work with government entities, non-profits, and other experts in different industries.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Expected Time to Completion: 12 to 24 months
Estimated Tuition: $1,866 per credit

The Gainey School of Business is a Christian private school that provides a 100 percent online MBA with an organizational consulting concentration. Students will develop a strong foundation in researching, assessing, and finding possible solutions to organizational and personnel problems. They will be able to understand, predict, and influence group and individual behavior in organizations and apply organizational leadership and behavioral science principles to positively influence groups, organizations, and individuals.

Over the course of the 36-credit program, students receive instruction in strategic leadership; workplace learning and professional development; and organizational consulting. Along with business concepts, the school also stresses the importance of ethics and leadership to solve problems and promote growth.

Admission requirements to the program include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the last two years of undergraduate coursework, an official transcript, at least two recommendation surveys, a completed graduate application, and approval by the MBA admission committee. GMAT or GRE scores are not required for admission.

Location: Spring Harbor, Michigan
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Expected Time to Completion: 18 months to two years
Estimated Tuition: $766 per credit

Penn State’s online MBA allows students to customize their program with one of the 27 available concentrations. Each concentration provides students with three elective courses to supplement and complement what they’ve already learned in the core courses. One such concentration is in management consulting. All students will be required to participate in a three-day virtual residency. Also, optional opportunities will be available to students to visit the campus.

Made up of 48 credits, the program includes 39 core credits and nine credits of specialization coursework. The curriculum’s core courses include team performance; financial accounting; leadership communications and change management; data analysis for decision-making; marketing in a global environment; economics for business strategy; global strategic management; and corporate innovation and entrepreneurship. Courses in the management consulting concentration include business transformation consulting and management consulting methods and practice.

Location: University Park, PA
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
Estimated Tuition: $1,248 per credit

The management consulting concentration is available through the University of Buffalo’s MBA program. There are nine concentrations available, including analytics, finance, information security management, information systems and E-commerce, marketing management, operations and supply chain management, health care management, international management, and management consulting.

The 60-credit-hour MBA program requires students to complete 27 credits of core courses, three internship credits, and 30 elective credits. The management consulting concentration requires four total courses, including consulting practices; predictive analytics; theory and practice negotiation; and executive presence & emotional intelligence. The program’s core courses include organizational behavior; financial analysis for managers; management communications; marketing for managers; accounting for decision-making; and operations management, among others.

Location: Buffalo, New York
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Expected Time to Completion: Two years
Estimated Tuition: In-state ($7,500 per semester); non-resident ($12,195 per semester)

Faculty Teaching in Online MBA in Consulting Programs

  • Shawn M. Clark, PhD Pennsylvania State University

    Dr. Shawn M. Clark is a clinical professor of innovation and entrepreneurship and the director of the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University. He teaches or has taught courses such as business transformation consulting, corporate innovation, business planning, entrepreneurship, enterprise modeling, strategic management, and project management.

    His research efforts are focused on corporate innovation, business architecture modeling, enterprise transparency, the strategic alignment of business and information technology, and global prescience. He completed his PhD in business administration (management and organization) from The Pennsylvania State University, a master of organizational behavior from Marriott Graduate School of Management, and a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from Brigham Young University.

  • Katerina Bezrukova, PhD University at Buffalo

    Dr. Bezrukova is an associate professor at UB’s School of Business, specializing in organization and human resources. Her courses include negotiations, organizational behavior, managing diverse workforces, and statistics and research materials. Dr. Bezrukova has also served as a consultant to various public and private groups in Russia.

    Her research interests include group faultlines and diversity, occupational health and work-life balance, conflict evolution and conflict management, and ethical dilemmas in engineering teams. Her research has been published in journals such as Computers & Graphics, Quality & Quantity, and the Journal of Organizational Behavior. She completed her PhD, master’s, and bachelor’s, all from Moscow State University (Russia).

  • Sreedhari Desai, PhD University of North Carolina

    Dr. Sreedhari Desai is an esteemed Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Crist W. Blackwell Scholar at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. She is renowned for her research on individual behavior within organizations, particularly focusing on ethical decision making, fairness, and gender diversity. Her work delves deep into the impact of ethical nudges on moral decisions, the influence of past unfair experiences on present behavior, and the effect of traditional marriage structures on attitudes towards working women. Dr. Desai's research methodology involves a blend of meticulously designed laboratory experiments and real-world data. Her scholarly contributions have been recognized in reputed journals like Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, among others. Besides, she has been the recipient of prestigious grants and fellowships, such as the Research Initiative Grant from the National Stock Exchange of Mumbai and the Mariner S. Eccles Fellowship in Political Economy at the University of Utah. Dr. Desai holds a rich academic background with a PhD in Organizational Behavior from the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business, an MS in Finance from the University of Utah, and a BS in Metallurgical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India.

Admission Requirements for Online MBA in Consulting Programs

In general, MBA admissions departments request:

  • A bachelor’s degree in business or other related fields
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement or essay
  • Academic transcripts demonstrating a strong GPA (e.g., >3.0)
  • Some related professional experience
  • GMAT or GRE test scores (these can be waived with significant industry or academic experience)
  • TOEFL results for foreign students

Accreditation and State Authorization

Accreditation is a process by which universities demonstrate they are delivering programming that adheres to high standards for quality and relevance. Third-party accrediting organizations award accreditation by evaluating whether the university can prove that the programs, technology, and instruction adhere to specifically delineated quality standards. Campus visits, faculty and student surveys, graduation rates, alumni support, and career placement may all be considered during the accreditation process.

For MBA programs, one common accrediting organization is the Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) which looks closely at business administration, real estate, management, and human resources programs, especially at larger, research-based institutions. Some schools also seek accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

While not needed to work as a consultant, those in the management consultant field can earn certifications to demonstrate to potential clients that their knowledge and expertise meet industry standards. Certifying bodies for management consulting include the Institute of Management Consultants and the Society of Professional Consultants. These organizations also provide resources, mentoring, and industry trend information.

In addition to looking at accreditation to ascertain the quality of programming, those seeking distance learning should ensure programming is available in their state of residence. Each university must follow state regulations for each state in which they offer programming or follow universal reciprocity standards as outlined by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) if they are member states. State authorization information can be found on the program’s website or by speaking to an admissions officer.

Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani

Farheen Gani is an expert in online MBA programs, having covered MBA programs in computer science, economics, healthcare management, and fraud and forensics, among others, since 2018. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).