Business Schools in Ohio (OH) with Online MBA Programs


The challenging economic times in Ohio embody precisely the kind of climate in which an MBA can be most beneficial. The federal government reported that Ohio lost 3,500 manufacturing businesses and more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the first fifteen years of the 21st century. These job losses have ravaged some regions of the state. A September 2018 Bloomberg opinion piece suggested that Ohio “is a state operating at several different speeds, some of them in reverse.”

The report explains that Cleveland was once the biggest city in Ohio and the seventh-biggest in the country but now has less than half of the population of Columbus. Furthermore, “the struggles of Dayton, the center of the state’s fourth-largest metro area, were the subject of a Frontline/ProPublica report last week on ‘Left Behind America.’”

Nevertheless, things have not deteriorated as much in Ohio as they have in nearby industrial states like Michigan or Illinois. Employment in Ohio finally climbed back to near its peak 18 years ago. Ohio also remains home to many Fortune 500 companies and global brands, including Cardinal Health, Kroger, Procter & Gamble, Marathon Petroleum, Nationwide Insurance, Macy’s, Progressive Insurance, Goodyear, Sherwin-Williams, and Smucker’s.

Moreover, Ohio carries a sparkling Aa1 general obligation (GO) credit rating from Moody’s. Ohio’s rating stands in marked contrast to other Midwestern industrial states like Illinois. In June 2017, Moody’s downgraded Illinois’s credit rating to the lowest in the nation.

An MBA can benefit Ohio’s mixed economic climate. Harvard Business Review argues convincingly for the value of an MBA during a recession. Research in our BSchools guide “What Can I Do with an MBA Degree?” demonstrates that most MBA holders can more than double their compensation following graduation.

Additionally, Georgetown University study titled “America’s Divided Recovery: College Have and Have-Nots” highlights the benefits of having an advanced degree during an economic downturn. Professionals with graduate degrees—and especially those with MBAS—were the least affected during the 2008 recession.

They did not experience a decline in jobs during the recession and maintained stable employment growth throughout the recovery, with an additional 3.8 million jobs. Furthermore, the consulting and business services industries, which are dominated by MBA holders, added the most jobs—about 2.5 million—in the recovery. And finally, management occupations saw the most growth in jobs since the start of the recession—more than 1.5 million.

Finally, online MBA programs play a vital role in a challenging economy because they can cost less to students. For example, the new University of Illinois iMBA program charges a small fraction of what other top business schools charge. Even when tuition rates are identical, online MBA programs can provide more cost-effective alternatives to residential programs because of savings on relocation, childcare, and transportation. And finally, many programs allow students to continue working while enrolled, allowing students more financial stability.

Read on for profiles of seven online MBA programs—and three of their best professors—from universities in Ohio.

Featured Business Schools with Online MBA Programs in Ohio

The Ohio University online MBA program gives students skills in understanding business across integrated disciplines, evaluating and solving business problems, and leading effectively. The program’s business core courses appear fairly standard among AACSB-accredited schools. Alongside this core-heavy curriculum, students elect three-course concentrations in finance, healthcare, executive management, or business analytics.

Although all courses are available online, some schedule live classes. Professors also provide live virtual office hours and encourage students to participate in class. The program requires students to attend a weekend-long on-campus professional development workshop. The school also offers an optional hybrid professional MBA option with on-campus courses one Saturday per month. Ohio requires two to five years of professional work experience and a minimum 3.0 GPA but omits the GMAT.

Location: Athens, OH
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
Format: Online with live classes and faculty office hours, along with a blended hybrid option
Tuition: $1,004 per credit for Ohio residents; $1,023 for non-Ohio residents
Program length: 18 months to two years

Dayton’s distinctive “three-way MBA” curricula offer three online MBA programs designed to appeal to students with different backgrounds and needs. These programs offer different curricula depending upon whether the candidate has extensive work experience (eight years or more) and an undergraduate degree in business. Our University of Dayton school profile explains the differences in more detail.

For candidates with business degrees, Dayton offers an accelerated program for working professionals with extensive experience, and a one-year MBA for recent graduates. These program names might seem confusing because the “12-month track” takes fewer months to complete than the “accelerated” path, which requires at least 15 months. The terminology becomes less confusing once students understand that the accelerated option saves time through waiving courses in Dayton’s foundational MBA track.

The foundational program is the most complete MBA curriculum and is intended for career changers with neither business degrees nor eight years of experience. This track requires the most instruction and time—at least 36 credits and 18 months.

Outside of these three paths, Dayton seems fairly typical of Catholic business schools in that the school displays several hallmark characteristics. One of these qualities involves very traditional business core curriculum topics that, in Dayton’s case, focus on organizational behavior instead of leadership and include managerial economics.

Another feature is small class sizes at or below 15 students. Other aspects involve emphasizing ethical integrity and community service. Dayton resembles two other nearby Catholic business schools, Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University, which we profile in our guide to Illinois online MBA programs.

Instruction includes weekly live classes and live faculty office hours, all of which the school records for online playback. Only two concentrations are available (marketing and analytics), and they require extra credits. Dayton requires two on-campus immersions, the second of which can take place as a trip outside the United States.

The school expects applicants to have an undergraduate degree but does not ask for a minimum GPA. Dayton requires GMAT scores, but waivers are available for applicants with 3.0 GPAs or higher and three years of work experience. Overall, much of the competitive advantage that Dayton offers comes from its flexible three-track curricula.

Location: Dayton, OH
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Format: Online with live synchronous classes and faculty office hours
Tuition: $1,290 per credit
Program length: Minimum 12 months depending on program track and prior course waivers

Poets & Quants ranks the University of Cincinnati’s program in the top 20 best online MBA programs in the country. The school offers an accelerated online MBA program that students complete in only twelve months of full-time enrollment. Linder’s curriculum allocates 26 credits to core courses, which amount to the core topic set found at most AACSB-accredited schools, and 12 credits to a concentration in marketing, healthcare (four concentrations), corporate taxation, or individual taxation.

Linder has drawn attention for its healthcare emphasis, and especially for the school’s healthcare administration concentration within its MBA program. This concentration requires two core courses on health systems administration and the healthcare marketplace. The specialization also requires that two elective courses be selected from topics in health policy, health quality, and healthcare finance. The university also offers three similar online healthcare MBA programs with concentrations in operations, finance, policy, and regulation.

Cincinnati says candidates should have at least a B grade average in their undergraduate studies—the average student has a 3.55 GPA. The school grants GMAT waivers for students with at least three years of experience. Although the average student scored a 643, practically nobody—only 2 percent—provided scores. This public institution provides global immersions, career coaching, and student clubs, but does not offer live synchronous courses or consulting projects.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Accreditation: AACSB International
Format: Online
Tuition: $890 per credit
Program length: 12 to 24 months

The U.S. News & World Report ranked Kent State #90 on its chart of the best online MBA programs. Kent offers two concentrations as part of its 36-credit curriculum; one in international business, the other in supply chain management. KSU operates a small 57-student program; in 2018, 33 candidates applied, of which the school accepted 23, and 22 enrolled.

Kent does not appear to offer course waivers for prior academic work. Instead, the school requires five eight-hour mini-courses, which students must pass with at least a 75 percent score before gaining access to the corresponding MBA core course. Webinar topics include economics, economic statistics, spreadsheets, accounting, and finance.

Some differences appear from the core courses typically found at AACSB-accredited schools. The first is that Kent requires two economics courses, a managerial economics course and a separate class on global macroeconomics. Additionally, outside of one leadership course, Kent requires courses on HR management, management information systems, and global technology strategy, among others.

Our editors found inconsistencies on the school’s website. For example, Kent told the U.S. News & World Report that all entrants must have work experience—averaging seven years—and this page explains that the school requires at least two years of experience. Furthermore, the school’s curriculum page explains that students with less than two years of full-time professional work experience must finish an additional one-credit professional development course.

Moreover, Kent also told U.S. News & World Report that only half of their entrants provided GMAT scores with a 515 average score. However, on its website, Kent writes that all candidates must take the GMAT without exception, and our editors could not find a GMAT waiver policy on the school’s sparse website.

Location: Kent, OH
Accreditation: AACSB International
Format: Online
Tuition: $830 per credit
Program length: 12 months to six years

Xavier’s MBA program is currently unranked. The school requires two pre-core, waiver-eligible foundation courses on financial accounting and economic statistics. After those, Williams requires 36 hours of core requirements that seem fairly typical among AACSB-accredited schools. The traditional curriculum includes managerial economics but de-emphasizes leadership.

For example, Williams only requires a single course—strategy and organizations—in which leadership appears to be one of several management topics, which stands in stark contrast to renowned programs like Stanford’s, which require a handful of leadership courses within the first year.

Xavier does not appear to offer concentrations, and although the Williams College of Business mentions electives, it is not clear how much time the curriculum leaves for any non-core courses. Williams encourages the GMAT but offers waivers for five years of work experience.

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Accreditation: AACSB International
Format: Online
Tuition: $815 per credit
Program length: 18 months to three years

Wright State University offers a relatively standardized AACSB-accredited core curriculum. The Raj Soin College of Business core courses include managerial economics but de-emphasize business ethics by rolling that topic into its leadership course.

Wright continues to require business law, a topic that most other schools have dropped. What is more surprising is that Wright’s law course does not focus on the legal environment of business, but instead briefly teaches topics like contracts, torts, employment law, and corporations—much like a CPA exam prep course in business law.

Wright offers a vast selection of eleven concentrations. Some of these specializations are traditional, and others are unique. Examples include two concentrations in entrepreneurship (new venture creation and management, innovation, and change), as well as investments, healthcare, and international business.

While students cannot obtain credit for previous school work, they can take placement examinations for the economics, finance, and quantitative analysis classes.

The school admits candidates with GPAs as low as a 2.7 (and 2.5 by petition) and GMAT scores as low as 400. To be clear, a GMAT score of 400 corresponds to only a tenth percentile-ranking below the global mean of 561—well below even the current 119-point standard deviation for all test takers. Wright exempts candidates with 3.0 undergraduate GPAs from taking the GMAT, but oddly enough, work experience does not qualify candidates for exemptions.

Location: Dayton, OH
Accreditation: AACSB International
Format: Online, with blended hybrid format available
Tuition: $660 per credit for Ohio residents; $1,125 per credit otherwise
Program length: Two to three years

AACSB International has not accredited many one-year online MBA programs, but CSU has won this distinction. That said, this small program enrolls only 35 students and is currently ranked #90 by U.S. News and World Report.

CSU is one of the few to require not one but two tiers of foundation courses. The first level encompasses basic verbal and math skills: two business English and one math course that the school will waive automatically based on the required GMAT scores. The second level includes nine courses that duplicate work in undergraduate business requirements. The school may waive courses in this group based on past academic performance.

The 23-credit business core includes most of the standard AACSB assortment, with unique classes on the management of innovation and technology and human resources management and labor relations. CSU does not offer concentrations but leaves time available for three electives from a choice of eight disciplines.

The average GPA for admission is 2.9, and the average GMAT score is 495. One aspect unusual among state universities is that this program fails to offer reduced tuition to in-state residents; however, tuition includes all books and course materials.

Location: Cleveland, OH
Accreditation: AACSB International
Format: Online
Tuition: $35,989 for the full program ($530 per credit for 68 credits)
Program length: Three semesters minimum

Hybrid MBA Programs in Ohio

Hybrid programs are increasingly popular because students enjoy the flexibility of online coursework and the support and networking on on-campus instruction.

Some hybrid programs require all on-site visits to be on campus while others may have satellite campuses or provide international experiences as part of their in-person instruction. Typically, in-person activities happen multiple times a semester.

Candidates interested in in-person instruction, networking, and career support may benefit from hybrid programs like those offered by the following universities:

Professors to Know in Online MBA Programs in Ohio

  • Joanna Campbell, PhD - University of Cincinnati

    Dr. Joanna Campbell serves as an associate professor of management at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. She teaches the business strategy capstone course in the school’s MBA program along with doctoral seminars in research methods and strategic management.

    Dr. Campbell is an expert on the effects of top executive characteristics on organizational outcomes, corporate governance, and stakeholder strategy. Her research has appeared in the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, the Strategic Management Journal, the Journal of Management, and the Journal of Management Studies. She also serves as a referee on the editorial boards of the Journal of Management and the Academy of Management Journal.

    Dr. Campbell holds an undergraduate degree in finance from Arizona State University and a doctorate in strategic management from Texas A&M University.

  • Gabriel Giordano, PhD - Ohio University

    Dr. Gabriel Giordano serves as the chair of Ohio University’s department of analytics and information systems. He also holds an endowed chair as the Robert H. Freeman associate professor of management information systems. He teaches a course on the strategic use of information in OU’s online MBA program and other courses in information management and business intelligence.

    Dr. Giordano's research focuses on the hot topic of online deception, as well as virtual collaboration and computer-assisted communication. His research has appeared in journals like Communications of the ACM, Computers in Human Behavior, and the Business Transformation Journal. He was previously an assistant professor teaching courses in three MBA programs at the University of Navarra’s prestigious IESE Business School in Barcelona. IESE’s MBA degree recently ranked number one in Europe and sixth in the world in The Economist´s 2018 ranking of global full-time programs—the only non-U.S. school in the top ten.

    Dr. Giordano holds an undergraduate business administration degree in business computer systems from New Mexico State University and a doctorate in management information systems from Florida State University.

  • Elaine Hollensbe, PhD - University of Cincinnati

    Dr. Elaine Hollensbe is a professor of management who teaches graduate classes and has received four teaching awards from the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. She also designs and facilitates executive programs and workshops on leadership, team building, and work-life balance.

    Dr. Hollensbe's research focuses on individual and organizational identity, work-home balance, and organizational identification. Her published papers have received national awards that include the Owens Scholarly Achievement Award, the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award, and the Outstanding Publication in Organizational Behavior Award.

    Dr. Hollensbe holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and mass communications from Iowa State University, an MBA from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate in organizational behavior and human resource management from the University of Kansas.

Douglas Mark
Douglas Mark

While a partner in a San Francisco marketing and design firm, for over 20 years Douglas Mark wrote online and print content for the world’s biggest brands, including United Airlines, Union Bank, Ziff Davis, Sebastiani, and AT&T. Since his first magazine article appeared in MacUser in 1995, he’s also written on finance and graduate business education in addition to mobile online devices, apps, and technology. Doug graduated in the top 1 percent of his class with a business administration degree from the University of Illinois and studied computer science at Stanford University.