Finding the Right Business Master’s Degree

online business degrees, online masters degrees, online degrees

Business Degrees Rule in the Online Master’s Degree Market

Hundreds of thousands of undergraduates study and graduate from business fields in the U.S. every year. Many find that their career ambitions are best served by completing master’s degrees. But, which business field is the right one?

In this article, we present:

  1. basic data on the current size of business master’s degree markets to provide context for prospective students interested in getting their master’s degree, and
  2. research results on student motivations for pursuing a business master’s degree.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects degree information annually from all of the accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. The 2016 data from the NCES shows that business disciplines continue to be among the most popular for student seeking master’s degrees. Which of these business master’s degrees grants the most degrees?

The chart above shows the percent of business master’s degrees awarded by field in 2016.

The Business Administration and Management discipline awards the most master’s degrees by far – this is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) category.  The MBA is still the degree of choice for the vast majority of business students interested in graduate education. Accounting awards the next largest number of master’s degrees, followed by Finance, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Leadership.

Student Motivations

Prospective business master’s students start considering a master’s degree, on average, two years before applying to a program, according to the GMAC 2017 Prospective Student Survey.  They select their short list of schools about a year before actually applying to master’s programs.

Why do students decide to get a master’s degree?

  • Enhance their current career
  • Pursue a different career
  • Better manage their own business

Cost is their biggest reservation about returning for the master’s degree

The top three concerns identified in the research include:

  • The cost of getting the degree; finding ways to finance this includes looking at employer-sponsorship, scholarships, grants & fellowships – ultimately, they say they’ll go to the school that offers the best financial package
  • The time and energy business school requires
  • How pursing the degree will affect their personal relationships and personal plans

The proportion of students that say they are interested in a non-MBA business degree has increased over the past five years; this is likely driven by growth in degree options like Master of Analytics and Master of Entrepreneurship programs. Click here for more details on Master of Analytics programs.

What are the key decisions to make along the way when you decide what type of degree to get?

In the GMAC 2016 Prospective Students Survey Report, prospective students whose first choice was the MBA also considered Master of Finance and Master of Management degrees.  Among those whose first choice was Master of Management, they also considered Master of Global Management, Master of Finance, and the One Year MBA.

Here are some of the other disciplines that students tended to consider together:

  • Master of Accounting prospects also considered Master of Finance and Master of Taxation
  • Master of Finance prospects also considered Master of Accounting and Master of Management
  • Master of Marketing prospects also considered Master of Global Management, Master of
    Management, Master of Entrepreneurship
  • Master of Supply Chain Management prospects also considered Master of Global Management
    and Master of Management

Online Degree Database is Your Best Source for Research

While there are many different resources available to you as you work your way through all of the decisions necessary to find the best business master’s program, until recently, there was no place to go for complete and objective information about available online business master’s degree programs.

The Online Degree Database gathers the details of all the most popular online master’s degree programs in the United States so you can search by the exact criteria that’s right for you.  You can select programs by Degree Type, Total Tuition, Professional Accreditation, Admissions Requirements, Location and more. Then you can get a free report that lists the institutions that offer the programs that meet your criteria. This free report also provides an active link to the program website so you can do more detailed research on your own.

If you are still trying to decide what type of business master’s degree is right for you, use our Interactive Tool to create various scenarios by type of degree, and  generate your free reports on the key characteristics of these programs to help get you started!

Getting your master’s degree is expensive, in terms of cost, time, and effort.  Let the Online Degree Database help you be sure you choose the best program possible.

Universities, work with the Online Degree Database directly to access unique and relevant intelligence about the online degree market. Contact Michelle at for more information.

Search our available programs and get your free reports today!


Why Hide Online Degree Tuition?

Online Degree Characteristic

Where Is The Online Degree Tuition?

I spend a good deal of my time researching online degree tuition and other key characteristics of online programs for competitive analyses. Recently I conducted a detailed review of all of the marketed online Bachelors, Masters, and Doctor of Social Work programs in the U.S. I have to say, I’m exhausted.

The cost of these programs is often the most difficult item to find.

Common Website Issues

The most common issue is that there are often no references or links to tuition / cost information on the program websites. Only a few programs have clear, easy to find information about their price on their websites. A few clever programs hide their tuition costs at the bottom of the landing page, under a tiny link called “Program Details”. Research with online students tells us that this is one of the most important considerations they have when they are shopping for a program!

Even when I find the university tuition information, there is often no specific information available about the tuition for ‘online’ programs, only the campus programs.

And, even in late August 2017, many programs still have the tuition tables for the 2016-2017 academic year on their websites. Many provide tuition data without referencing the academic year to which it applies.

Why Not Ask Directly?

In order to get to this information, I often end up sending a note to the contacts listed on the website asking for this detail. Here’s a fruitless e-mail chain from one such action, where I reached out to an admissions counselor / recruiter for more information:

Dear Michael, I’m researching costs of online MSW programs and can’t understand the information on costs for your program provided on the website. I understand your program only admits your state’s residents. What is the cost, per credit, for a student who begins the online program in Fall 2017?

Thank you very much for your assistance! — Michelle

His reply:

We don’t necessarily go by per credit hour. Graduate students tend to be part time with 6 hours or full time with 9+ hours. Here is a tool to help.

After checking the link and not finding what I needed, I responded back:

Hello, thank you for this information.

On this page,  it looks like I would pay about $1,014 per credit (based on in-state graduate tuition cost divided by full-time 9 hours, per your note above). However, it also says on this page that tuition for online programs varies.

Is this about right for the MSW online program? I will be publishing this rate on the Online Degree Database, so I would very much appreciate your assistance in getting to the correct amount.

Thanks again — Michelle

His last reply to me:

Hi Michelle,

You would need to speak with a student accounts representative for specifics about cost.

And Finally…

So, even the direct approach left me empty-handed. I get that universities are often big bureaucracies. Getting things done can be difficult. But, how could someone recruit for an online program and not be fully informed about the cost of the program to students? How about providing a warm-hand-off to the student account rep?

I counted at least 20 times when I clicked on a program website link that promised tuition details that led me to a 404 error page! This is always frustrating, but when you are knee-deep in the search for tuition costs, it’s downright maddening. It’s also harmful to the SEO ranking of your program website!

To make matters even worse, many websites demure their discussion of cost to information about how to ‘fund’ education costs. Here they introduce their process for helping students get loans and scholarships. As a consumer, I always get a little worried when someone offers me financing options before I even know the total cost. And online students have told us that they are experiencing buyer’s remorse in part because they had not completed enough research on tuition and fees before enrolling in their online program. It’s time for online program websites to step up to this challenge.

And most importantly, in many cases the university tuition information found is very complicated. In-state vs. out-of-state, multiple additional fees that have names that make no sense to someone outside of the university, all different for each school or division, undergraduate vs. graduate, multiple campuses, total tuition numbers without clarifying the number of credits each represents. Any or all of these numbers may or may not apply to an online program.

The Online Degree Database Difference

I know universities and online programs can and should do better than this. Here’s an example of a university that gets it right by clearly laying out its online degree costs. There are many more, but this is a great example for others to follow.

Gathering detailed online degree program information takes hours, if not weeks, of time scanning university websites. This is why the Online Degree Database exists. It is the only comprehensive, unbiased, free source of online degree program data available in the market today.

We collect details from university websites for the universe of most popular online master’s degrees like the MBA, MPA, MPH, MHA, MSW, MSN and more. Our interactive tool allows you to work with the degree information in the database to find the best online programs using the criteria that are important to you. Plus, we give prospective students helpful information on thinking through what program characteristics are most important and tips for how to talk with online program advisers for the most popular master’s degrees.

Visit our website today to see what we have to offer. Let us do the heavy-lifting on web-surfing university program websites for you!

If you work at a university, let the Online Degree Database help you find your most competitive price and program characteristics. Contact for more information on our market intelligence reports today!


Research Online Programs to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

Online degrees help you improve your career options

Research Online Programs to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

A recently published study (2017) with online students reveals a startling fact: nearly 60% have buyer’s remorse. They say that if they could start over again, they would:

  • contact / research more schools when shopping for the right program (23%)
  • learn more about tuition and fees (17%)
  • learn more about their financial package (16%)

Let’s examine these a little closer…

Research More Schools

This same study indicates that over the past few years, online students look at a surprisingly small number of programs when they shop. Most contact one, two, or three schools only, before making a final choice. These factors may drive this behavior:

  • with nearly 29,000 online programs in the market in 2016 (pulled from IPEDS), prospective students face an overwhelming task if they conduct a comprehensive and thorough search for the best program
  • evaluating the differences in online degree programs is difficult unless you know what questions to ask
  • taking the time, if you are working full-time, to complete this shopping exercise thoroughly is ridiculously difficult
  • online education directories (the marketing ‘tools’ of the trade – see here for more) and paid search google ads for online degree programs quickly take the prospective student off the path and into the weeds. Just try googling “Online MBA” to see what I mean.

These are just a few of the factors that lead prospective students to buyer’s remorse. I’ve written even more about how students are “passive shoppers” here.

Let’s move to costs next.

Understand The Costs

Another area of buyer’s remorse is wishing for a better understanding the overall tuition, fees, & financial package before buying. As with all purchases of intangible products, determining what you want to pay for a university degree is difficult. The challenge lies in trade-offs: we want the best price possible while still meeting our preferences and professional goals (quality). A few examples include:

  • how much more should we pay for earning the degree from a school with a strong reputation?
    • in the virtual sea of rankings on the web, which are the best measures of reputation to use?
  • how to evaluate the ‘quality’ of the faculty and put a dollar value on this?
    • is quality measured by student reviews of teaching or by academic publishing / grant awards?
  • what about the quality of the online experience? Is the program delivered via lecture capture or through more advanced techniques?
  • and, importantly, does the program website clearly lay out all of the costs involved to students? Is there is any type of scholarship or tuition reduction available to prospective students?
    • is there a tuition promise, say if you start in 2017-2018, the total tuition including cost of materials and fees is $XX,XXX?

There are so many differences in how programs deliver and charge for online education that it takes an expert to differentiate the pros and cons. And these differences will, without doubt, affect your perception of the program’s price vs. its quality. Students with buyer’s remorse in this area must experience a price vs. quality gap. Considering the thousands of dollars an online degree costs, you don’t want to experience this gap. So what can you do?

The Online Degree Database™ Difference

So where should a prospective student turn to avoid buyer’s remorse? The number of online students and online degree programs is growing dramatically. Today, the prospective student faces the most challenging market for shopping ever. How can you be SURE that you avoid buyer’s remorse?

This is exactly the reason why we built the Online Degree Database™.  Read through our decision guide to think about what’s most important to you. Check out the questions we’ve developed for you, to ask of online program directors as you shop for the right program. And most importantly, use our available programs search tool. This tool allows you to create a comprehensive and free list of possible program options from an unbiased source of information.

Why are we the best source? We gather the details of all the most popular master’s degree programs in the United States directly from university websites so you can search by the exact criteria that’s right for you.

Let us save you weeks of searching! The Online Degree Database™ is designed to help you make the best decision for one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Visit our website today to start your research and get our free reports!

Universities, work with the Online Degree Database directly to access unique and relevant intelligence about the online degree market. Contact Michelle at for more information.