Considering an Online MBA – investigation into accreditation and pricing for 10 programs

Introduction It should come as no surprise that the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is highly coveted by many business professionals. And for good reason. Earning an MBA can potentially lead to more responsibility and greater income. Based on surveys conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, MBA graduates tend to experience a 41 percent salary increase on average after receiving the degree. However, it should be noted that additional factors, such as job function, industry, location, and job-related experience also heavily influence salary increases when combined with an MBA degree. Popularity According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business majors comprise the second largest academic discipline for graduate degrees after education majors. During a 25-year period spanning 1980 until 2005, business-related graduate degrees increased by 114 percent. In an August 2007 BusinessWeek article, the publication noted that over two-thirds of existing part-time MBA programs reported more application submissions from domestic students than in 2006. B-School Accreditation First, an understanding of business school (B-school) accrediting can prove useful in better assessing the quality of a college or university’s business curriculum. Business schools are usually accredited by one of three agencies: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). U.S. institutions must also hold regional accreditation. AACSB, founded in 1916, is the oldest and largest such accrediting agency. The most prestigious B-schools in the United States – Harvard, MIT, the University of Chicago, and all flagship state universities – hold AACSB accreditation. Of 551 collegiate B-schools listed in the AACSB-accredited directory, 94 reside outside the U.S. AACSB-accreditation is widely regarded in academic circles as the gold standard for B-school approval. ACBSP began operations in 1988 as an alternative to the AACSB. Of the 403 member institutions, 297 have received accreditation. Noteworthy schools with ACBSP accreditation are Kent State University, Norwich University, Troy University, and the University of Toledo. IACBE, having formed in 1997, is the most recent addition to the list of B-school approving entities. The organization claims more than 200 domestic and international members. Aside from locally known institutions, perhaps the most recognizable IACBE member is the now-independent University of Maryland University College (UMUC). UMUC was begun in 1947 to provide an extension for the AACSB-accredited University of Maryland. Shopping for an Online MBA Program If used correctly, internet search engines can function as effective tools when shopping for an online MBA program. However, prospective students are urged to exercise caution. Aside from numerous offerings by a variety of colleges, many unaccredited schools can also display in search results. The key is to determine if a selected MBA program could provide an efficient Return On Investment (ROI). Ten Online MBA Programs – A Comparison A survey of tuition rates was conducted for ten online MBA programs listed below. Programs are divided into two groups. For this survey, tuition rates are based on general or management MBA degree concentrations. Group I includes American InterContinental University, Capella University, Kaplan University, University of Phoenix, and Walden University. Group II universities are Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Mississippi State University, Morehead State University in Kentucky, University of South Dakota, and Western Kentucky University. Group I The first five MBA programs are heavily advertised by for-profit schools and frequently appear in Google or Yahoo search results. American InterContinental University (AIU) Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: None. Hours required: 48 credit hours. Cost per credit hour: $645.33. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $30,975. Capella University Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: ACBSP. Hours required: 48 credit hours. Cost per credit hour: $605. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $29,040. Kaplan University Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: None. Hours required: 52 quarter credit hours. Cost per credit hour: $395. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $20,540. University of Phoenix Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: ACBSP. Hours required: 39 credit hours. Cost per credit hour: $612. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $23,868. Walden University Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: None. Hours required: 36 semester hours. Cost per credit hour: $685, includes textbooks. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $24,660. Group II The next five online MBA programs are offered by public universities, and listed for comparative purposes. When comparing degree options, it is important to note tuition costs and accreditation. Clarion University of Pennsylvania Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: AACSB. Hours required: 33 semester hours. Cost per credit hour: $402 in-state/$416 out-of-State. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $13,728. Mississippi State University Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: AACSB. Hours required: 30 semester hours. Cost per credit hour: $473 in-state and out-of-state. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $14,190. Morehead State University (Kentucky) Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: AACSB. Hours required: 36 semester hours. Cost per credit hour: $355 in-state and out-of-state. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $12,780. University of South Dakota Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: AACSB. Hours required: 33 semester hours. Cost per credit hour: $269.35 in-state and out-of-state. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $8,889. Western Kentucky University Regional Accreditation: Yes. Professional B-school Accreditation: AACSB. Hours required: 30 semester hours. Cost per credit hour: $421 in-state and out-of-state. Total Tuition Cost Based on Present Rates: $12,630. Program information current as of September 17, 2007. Data collected from respective university websites. Conclusion As evidenced above, accreditation and cost differences between programs are dramatic in some cases. For example, the most expensive program in Group II (Mississippi State) costs $6,000 less than the least expensive program (Kaplan) in Group I. American InterContinental University’s $30,000 online MBA is almost 3 1/2 times more expensive than a similar online offering through the University of South Dakota that goes for roughly $8,900. Not one of the more expensive online MBA programs in Group I holds AACSB accreditation. Prospective students are strongly advised to conduct as much research as possible before choosing a program. A few hours spent critically examining various schools and asking questions can potentially save thousands of dollars. Related posts:

Digg! Paul closely monitors online college degree programs in the USA. His blog, e-Learning Pundit, focuses on the many distance degree opportunities that are often lost in cyberspace. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Paul_Barnette

Top Online College Degree Programs

Kaplan University - Associate's, Bachelor's, & Master's Degrees. Considered a top online college, Kaplan University offers students affordable and convenient online classes. Kaplan University is an accredited university that provides students the education to become successful professionals upon graduation.
Everest University - Associate's, Bachelor's, & Master's Degrees. Everest University offers degrees in high growth technology based careers with convenient scheduling offered for its various degree plans. Everest University offers campus and online classes for students looking for a school that offers excellence in education.
Saint Leo University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. At Saint Leo University, students have the opportunity to achieve their lifelong and educational goals. The university provides students with academic and industry professionals who are highly educated in their field of expertise and are willing to share that knowledge with the students at Saint Leo.
American InterContinental University - Associate's , Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. With campuses located around the world, American InterContinental University has been educating students for over 35 years. AIU offers flexible and interactive programs that assist the students in graduating at their own pace.
Walden University - Bachelor's, Master's, & Doctorate Degrees. Walden University is dedicated in ensuring students receive the education they need to advance in their careers. Their programs are convenient and effective, providing working students with the flexibility they need.
Colorado Technical University - Associate's, Bachelor's, & Master's Degrees. By designing their programs to meet the changing needs of today's world, Colorado Technical University prepares students for a career in the most competitive industries. Additionally, they offer accelerated and flexible programs to allow students to enter the professional world sooner than traditional programs.
Virginia College - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. Virginia College prepares students for their professional lives by providing them with the appropriate skills and knowledge for their area of concentration. The college's career-oriented programs will prepare students for the real-world in no time.
DeVry University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. DeVry University has a tradition of providing academic excellence, affordable pricing, and a well respected faculty. DeVry University gives each student personalized attention so that they have the best opportunity to succeed.
Post University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. Post University is a premiere destination for students in obtaining their college degree online. Post University offers a dynamic curriculum to every student and are taught by the very best professors in their field of study.