How Many Credits Do Online MBA Programs Require?

sponsored


Online master’s of business administration (MBA) programs are as varied as the students who participate in them. Overall, standard online MBA programs typically start at 36 credits, but they can quickly reach up to over 70 credits, creating a range of programs with many variables that students should consider. Quarterly or semester systems affect the total credit hours of a curriculum, as well as whether a program allows students to waive required courses because of their work experience or previous education.

Students who go on to pursue opportunities for dual degrees, specializations, or concentrations will see further fluctuation in the total credits necessary for graduation. To estimate the total number of credits one needs to complete an online MBA program, prospective MBA candidates must first have a broad understanding of the many options available to them.

Quarters vs. Semesters

While many programs operate on a semester-based program, others use a quarter system. A quarter system divides an academic year into four segments, as opposed to the semester system, which divides the academic year into two. This is an important distinction when weighing credit requirements. MBA programs that operate on a quarter system, like the one at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, often require more credit hours, but that does not necessarily translate to a longer program. In the quarter system, classes are offered in ten-week sessions, allowing students to complete their credits faster than those enrolled in a traditional semester system.

Advanced Standing and Remediation

Some schools allow students to enter MBA programs with advanced standing if they meet specific criteria that prove competence in core business subjects. Criteria vary by school but may include an undergraduate degree in business, or good performance on subject-specific exemption tests, like those at Rutgers University. Students who enter a program with advanced standing can enroll in accelerated MBA programs, such as the one at the University of Dayton, which can reduce core requirements by half, thus reducing overall cost and time to graduation.

The opposite of advanced standing is remediation. Many programs require students who do not have prior business experience to take pre-MBA foundational classes in business-related subjects. For example, Southern New Hampshire University’s foundational courses include mathematics and statistics for business, economics for business, financial reporting and analysis, business law, and human behavior in organizations. This type of coursework is usually completed before the program start date and can take up to an entire semester to complete.

Core Requirements vs. Concentrations

Most online MBA programs dedicate at least 30 credits to core curriculum classes, such as accounting, financial reporting, business communications, organizational behavior, and marketing. The core curriculum usually comprises about two-thirds of a program’s total credits. The remaining credits are dedicated to elective courses, which can focus on a range of subjects, such as data analytics, global finance, branding, supply chain, and entrepreneurship, among many others.

Many online MBA programs offer the opportunity to concentrate or specialize in specific areas like healthcare management, financial businesses, or organizational leadership. In some instances, a concentration or specialization can be achieved simply by completing a unified set of classes within the elective criteria of an MBA program, with no additional credits necessary. Villanova University’s online MBA program can be completed in 48 credits regardless of whether students enroll in one of the school’s four concentrations (finance, marketing, analytics, international business, or strategic management).

Other programs may require a specific concentration module that does not entirely overlap with elective requirements, or may offer the option to specialize in more than one area (e.g., University of Delaware) such scenarios can add nine or more credits to the final total.

Dual Degrees

Dual degree programs are offered through many schools for students who wish to obtain an MBA as well as a second master’s degree in a different field. Johns Hopkins University, for example, offers a dual MBA and master’s in environmental engineering for students interested in learning about the technology that drives environmental protection. There are many other dual degrees options across finance, healthcare, biotechnology, and more.

Dual degrees typically require an additional ten to 20 credits for graduation, depending on the school and the second degree. These programs are designed so that students can complete both degrees at the same time. The aforementioned Johns Hopkins dual degree requires the completion of 66 credits, while the MBA degree requires the completion of 54 credits.

A second option is to add a second degree directly following an MBA, which is offered at Johns Hopkins as well. The Carey Business School Second Degree program is designed for students who have an MBA to obtain a second master’s degree in just two semesters or for students who have a master’s degree to obtain an MBA in just three semesters. Another possibility is to add a graduate certificate to an MBA program, an option available at George Washington University.

While dual degrees or added certificate programs like these are the most time-intensive due to the number of credits required, they almost always provide a credit discount compared to what students would encounter if they pursued two degrees separately.

When In Doubt, Reach Out

Many other credit variables exist, such as corporate placements for credit, internship requirements, and other credit transfer possibilities. Students are advised to contact school representatives with specific questions so that they can receive tailored answers according to their scenario. This is especially true considering that sometimes the information available on a school’s website may not be entirely up to date. The business world is changing fast, and so MBA curriculums must as well. Don’t get left behind.

Related Posts

  • 5 Reasons to Pursue an MBA Degree

    14 June 2018

    According to new research, the reasons driving the overwhelming majority of business school applicants to pursue MBA degrees have little to do with higher salaries. This article explores that misconception and examines the actual reasons why students seek MBA degrees.

  • A Guide to Uncommon Business School Interview Questions

    14 August 2019

    Our guide to interviewing principles, “How to Crack the Personal Interview for the MBA,” focuses on the admissions interview questions MBA candidates will most likely face. For those readers familiar with the fundamentals in that piece, this guide focuses on uncommon questions in MBA admissions interviews.

  • Acing the MBA Essay Questions – Tips & Reviews

    10 April 2019

    Focusing on Harvard Business School application essays written by candidates who won admission, our previous guide in this series presented general principles for writing compelling long-form MBA essays. However, this article presents specific tips for writing short-answer essays constrained by tight word limits.

  • B-Skills: An Interview with a Professor on the Importance of Communication

    5 June 2019

    The realization that softer skills are a key variable in the success of a business is not new. Business schools around the world have been teaching students best-practices in administration, management, organizational behavior, and entrepreneurship for decades.

  • B-Skills: An Interview with Author Beth Smith on Hiring for Attributes

    26 June 2019

    Beth Smith set out to learn how to conduct more effective interviews and in her research, she created a framework and science for interviewing and hiring the right people. She discovered that most managers do not know what questions to ask and what answers to listen for, making the interview process excessively ineffective.