In today’s world of thriving industries, remarkable technology, and mind-blowing start-up companies, the notion of what composes a successful business is fundamentally important on many levels. Companies of all types adhere to basic principles of business, and moreover, they rely on business leaders to implement these principles and drive teams, or the entire company itself, towards growth and success. Such leaders must be masterful in the arts of sociality, critical thinkers, and of course, must have the skillsets necessary to unite talented, diverse groups of people and motivate them toward a common goal. These attributes are hard to mimic, and impossible to fake, making true business leaders invaluable assets at every level of business hierarchies and across countless industries.
For those already invested in business education, a Masters of Business Management will provide the next level in personal and professional development that is needed to perform at the upper reaches of the business world. All Masters of Business Management programs revolve around the central mission to develop students into business leaders, making it an almost universally applicable degree that can take you anywhere–a strength and freedom that few degrees can offer. For your convenience, we have compiled a ranking of the 15 best online Masters of Business Management programs, so that you can make an informed choice and find the program that best suits you. You can find an explanation of the metrics used to create this ranking below.
MBM or MBA: What’s the Difference?:
Before diving into the ranking, it is important to make a distinction here between the Masters of Business Management (MBM) and the Masters of Business Administration (MBA). The difference here is a subtle one, but even the most subtle differences can have a large impact on your career down the road. The most notable, and probably the most important difference, between these two degrees is that the Master of Business Management is a more focused degree than the MBA. While the MBA delves deeply into certain skill sets and areas of business systems, the MBM focuses only on the aspects of business administration that are most relevant to leading and managing organizations. This small difference equivalates into sometimes vastly different coursework and learning outcomes, depending of course on the degree program itself.
In general, while the MBA tends to lead to specialization and often segways into a variety of fields such as data science, market analytics, or human performance, the MBM’s focus on management and leadership will direct graduates toward work as project managers, CEOs, HR managers, business consultants, marketing experts, etc–positions where leadership is the prominent characteristic, while MBA careers are defined by a commitment to a certain area of administration. Thus MBA programs typically provide specialization options for students to enhance their expertise in these specific areas. The MBM’s degree specialties, however, remain focused on leadership and management but direct this focus towards a particular field where the skillsets needed for successful leadership may differ from traditional ones. In essence, the MBA is designed to prepare students to take roles of leadership in particular specialties, whereas the MBM prepares students to take leadership over a variety of specialties.
There are upsides and downsides to both degrees and they are extremely similar, but the takeaway here is that if you’re seeking to be highly specialized in a certain area of business then the MBA will likely be more attractive, however, if you’re looking to double down on general business management skills, so that you can work in a variety of areas, then the MBM will likely be most appealing. It is also important to note, however, that these programs often offer enough flexibility so that you can make choices to offset these differences, and in many cases make the degrees nearly indistinguishable in terms of curriculum or career outcomes. So ultimately, the power to shape these degrees and their outcomes lie in the hands of the student.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components (1/2): The extent to which programs offered flexible course pacings, specialization options, and/or personalized coursework.
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (1/2): A combination of the relative rank of online graduate business programs from US News & World Report and a measure of online student services offered.
1. Indiana University
Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business offers a wealth of Masters of Science business degrees, including an MS in Strategic Management. The School’s online learning technology features flexible coursework while adhering to strong principles of academic rigor and scholarship. The School prides itself on innovation and creativity, and in turn strives to develop that trait in its students, so that they may usher in new developments and creations in businesses across the world. So while students are engaging the online coursework, they can be confident they are progressing through a quality program with the same principles and philosophies as comparable residential programs.
The program can be completed in just 15 months, making it one of the fastest degree options on this list. For students enduring more arduous schedules, however, there is a window of up to five years in which to complete the program. As indicated by the name of the degree, the emphasis in strategic management means that coursework focuses on the following core areas: organizational development and change, strategic thinking, operations management, competitive analysis, and entrepreneurship. The program also offers a very unique option of earning an MBA, while earning the MS in Strategic Management, so that students can earn two master’s level degrees in a much shorter time than it would take to complete them separately. For very driven students unsure of whether to commit to an MBM or MBA this is likely a godsend.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: 15 month completion time, Dual-degree track option
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (Rank): 3rd
2. University of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas is a large school mostly known for its robust student body and residential programs, however, the University has dedicated immense resources to developing a quality online learning infrastructure. Today the University offers a large variety of bachelor’s and master’s level degrees in business. Among these is the Master of Science in Management Science, a 36 semester credit hour degree that focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The program offers students a great deal of flexibility to choose one’s own course of study by choosing courses from the Jindal Graduate School of Management.
Many comparable programs have a set group of elective requirements, but in this program, students can choose their own electives in order to develop expertise in areas that align with personal interests or career goals. Further enhancing the specialization options, the program offers a total of 16-degree concentration options ranging from real estate, to supply chain management, to electronic commerce. For students interested in developing leadership expertise in a particular area, this program offers incredible flexibility and truly empowers the student to tailor the degree to their specific goals. The program does require at least 2 years of time, however, making it a bit more of a commitment, which does seem like a fair trade for the sheer flexibility offered in this degree.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: Student-chosen course electives, 16-degree concentrations
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 4th
3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is both progressive and innovative, offering traditional residential programs at campuses across the country and a wealth of online degree programs housed in the University’s WorldWide campus, which has received national attention and number one rankings for its online Bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News & World Report. This prestige and acknowledgment is likely due to the University’s commitment to providing world-class educators to teach even purely online courses, which can be completed anywhere anytime. In the University’s words, this is “Online technology for the modern student.”
This technology allows students of the Master of Science in Management program to design their class schedules according to their personal schedules. The program also employs a technology called Eagle vision, which allows students to interact in virtual classrooms, thereby eliminating a common limitation in online programs i.e. lack of peer interaction. The program also allows students to delve into one of these five-degree specializations: Human Resources Management, Global Management, Leadership, Operations Management, and Project Management. Students will then complete the program with a Capstone Course to demonstrate their expertise in this degree and/or their specialization. For students considering business leadership in any of the listed areas of specialization, this program is a top-tier contender.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: Virtual classroom technology, 5-degree specializations
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 1st
4. Colorado State University-Global Campus
Colorado State University (CSU) is a large state school with well-developed and highly popular residential programs. Following the boon of online learning, however, the University has since created its Global Campus, which offers online degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. Among these is a Master of Science in Management, which employs an interdisciplinary curriculum in order to prepare students for successful leadership across various industries. At its core, the program aims to provide the quintessential business management degree described the intro, that is, a degree that prepares students for management in any field.
The program is designed to accommodate even the busiest of lives and features 24/7 accessible online coursework so that students can truly choose when and how they learn. The program curriculum is designed to provide a firm foundation in the general and interdisciplinary science of management. For students looking to pursue more specific leadership expertise, however, there are 14-degree specializations offered that reflect some of the most popular career paths for a master’s of business management student. These career-oriented specializations are unique in that often times degree-specializations remain limited by an academic orientation, rather than the career-oriented design employed here. For students looking for a jumpstart into one of these careers, this program is undeniably attractive. You can find a list of the specializations offered here.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: 24/7 accessible coursework, 14 career-oriented degree specializations
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 6th
5. Concordia University –St Paul
Concordia University uses both online learning programs, on-campus programs, and hybrids between the two to cater to students with every kind of schedule. Among the online programs offered is the Master of Arts in Leadership and Management that is composed of 36 credit hours and 7-week courses. The program like most the University’s online programs is designed to accommodate busy adult students, who may not have the time for traditional education. The tradeoff, however, is the program requires a relatively large amount of self-motivation, direction, and dedication, as there aren’t any professors in the classroom to hold you accountable. Though there are built-in rewards for the particularly invested students–to whom accelerated courses are available, which cut down both on cost and time requirements.
The Master of Arts in Leadership and Management exists as an independent degree alongside an MBA, MA in Strategic Communication Management, and an MA in Human Resource Management. What this means is that the specializations and degree concentrations offered incomparable degree programs are actually arranged into distinct degree paths in this program. Thus the curriculum of the Leadership and Management degree has built-in coverage of other areas into its coursework. So while the lack of specialization options may seem like a downfall, it is actually an indication of the program curriculum’s well-roundedness. Also, the instructors teach courses by subject, not by the program, so students in this program will still take courses from MBA, communication management specialists, etc.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: Accelerated courses
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 5th
6. Northeastern University
Northeastern University has a rich history of education and was founded in 1898, and ever since has established itself on a tradition of engaging with the world. In recent decades, this tradition has been enacted through the vitalization of robust online degree programs, supplemented by campuses across the country in Boston, Massachusetts, Silicon Valley, California Toronto, Canada, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Seattle, Washington. The University offers a Master of Science in Leadership that is steeped heavily in philosophical principles and values of leadership, which are universally valued and highly marketable.
The degree notably leaves out mention of business, as the main focus of the degree is leadership, however, it is explored through areas of business management, ethics, strategic thinking, and organizational culture. As stated in the intro, the Master of Business Management is a degree that prioritizes leadership as the centralized principle of study. This program places special emphasis on this principle, which is what makes it stand out from competitors. Students looking for more specialization might be interested in the University’s Project Management degree or the Non-profit management degree. The Master of Science in Leadership degree is strongly designed around career outcomes and the current economic state of the country. As the global economy continues its recovery, there is a very large rise in need for capable leaders, as evidenced by employers increasingly evaluating leadership skills during interview processes. This program prepares students to capitalize on this need for leaders, in order to take their skills to the highest rungs of success.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: Project Management Degree, Non-profit Management Degree
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 10th
7. University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a large state school that in recent years, has received national attention for the quality of its online degree programs. Among these is the Master of Arts in Management with an emphasis on Global Business Management. This program takes leadership to a new level and introduces principles of leadership at the global level. This unique focus is designed to enhance cross-cultural communication, adaptability, and leadership skills–making graduates of the program valuable assets to any company with worldwide operations.
The focus on global business management emphasis–while still the same at the foundation–requires a much different and much more unique curriculum than similar programs on this list. This is because learning leadership at the international level necessarily entails the study of areas including but not limited to: Accounting in global management, global economics, international marketing, global ethics, and international financial systems. And unless a student is pursuing an equivalent specialization, these areas of study are far from the norm. So for students interested in global business, and taking their leadership skills to the international level, this program is likely the perfect option.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: N/A
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 12th
8. Champlain College
Champlain College is a well-known name in online education and has received numerous positive reviews from such institutions as U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review. The University offers a fully online Master of Science in Executive Leadership, which can be completed in just one year. The program emphasizes a philosophy of transformational leadership, where the leadership is centered around the energy, enthusiasm, and vision that generates positive change in those around the leaders, thus creating further positive change across entire businesses and organizations. This notion of transformational leadership is a crucial characteristic of executive leadership, as executives are not just charged with, but expected to create such positive change.
The Executive Leadership program draws from the University’s proven roster of gifted instructors, and also employs select national experts from the field. This allows students to obtain real-world perspectives directly from the industry, preparing them for their careers in a way that online education programs sometimes fails to do. With the retirement of baby boomers imminent, there are large portions of the executive leadership industry that are about to open up. The program is designed to prepare students to capitalize on this opportunity, making the program uniquely oriented around career and success outcomes. For students with the desire to lead large companies at the executive level, this program is impossible to ignore.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: 1 year completion time
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 6th
9. Liberty University
Liberty University is a pioneer of online education and was one of the first to break into the field of distance learning, and today is the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online university. It is also unique in its strong dedication to Christianity and implementing a Christian philosophy into its distance learning degree programs. The University’s philosophy is that a student’s calling towards a certain profession is one of God’s hands and that it is, therefore, the school’s duty to provide the best education and support possible so that the student may follow their calling. While these beliefs are strong in the University’s foundations, the University is accepting of all viewpoints and perspectives in its students, so students from other belief systems can still expect a strong education at Liberty.
Liberty University offers a fully online Master of Arts in Executive Leadership, which is designed to prepare students to excel as leaders at the top tiers of business. As a powerhouse of online education, students can expect the newest and greatest online learning technology and systems for both flexibility and quality learning experiences. The program also gives credit for life experiences, so that older or more experienced students can capitalize on past work, school, or actual life experiences to reduce both the time and cost requirements of the program–a fantastic feature for busy adult students with loads of experience that might not be recognized in other programs. Liberty’s degree programs are characteristically career-oriented, taking in industry trends and the recommendations of experts to constantly tailor and update the curriculum. The Executive Leadership degree is designed for graduates pursuing careers including but not limited to Business Development Executive, Business Owner, Company Executive, Organizational Manager, and Program Coordinator.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: Credits awarded for work and life experience
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 9th
10. University of Wisconsin — Platteville
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville has a long and vibrant history dating back over 150 years and has been a leader of distance education for 35 years. The University has demonstrated its prowess in online education and earned impressive acknowledgments from ranking institutions such as U.S. News & World Report, GetEducated.com, and more. The University prices its programs competitively and has removed many of the application requirements of comparable programs, making it uniquely appealing for many prospective students of online education. The University also employs academic advisors to assist students from enrollment to graduation, so that students never feel isolated or confused by the online learning systems.
The University offers a Master of Science in Project Management and a separate degree in Supply Chain Management. As mentioned in the introduction, the Master’s in Business Management is a characteristically broad and generalized degree. The degree options offered here, however, are specialized versions of the degree, narrowing the focus of coursework, so that students who have their eyes set on these career paths can enter the field with relevant specializations. Both programs are highly focused, and students can expect coursework to be built around either project management or supply management. For those who have pre decided on either one of these career paths, these degree programs are likely a perfect fit.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: Degrees in both Project Management and Supply Chain Management
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 8th
11. Webster University
Webster University has campuses located worldwide and houses online degrees accessible from all over the world as well. This unique interconnectedness with the larger world–evidenced by students from over 100 other countries–makes the school stand out from others on this list. This interconnectedness is also showcased in the University’s remarkable travel options, where even distance learners may travel the world to Webster Campus locations with fellow students and faculty. This global engagement is also interwoven into all the school’s degree programs. Every student can expect a global learning component in the coursework of his/her specific degree curriculum.
The University offers a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership, which is designed for individuals seeking broad management and leadership perspective. As mentioned in previous entries, schools seem to take one of two strategies in delivering graduate-level leadership and management degrees: They either deliver a broad and general degree, or they deliver a highly focused degree designed around specific careers or outcomes. This program falls in the former category and delivers a broad curriculum, however, for students seeking more specialization there are separate degree programs available in both Technology Management and Human Resources Management.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: Degrees in Technology Management and Human Resources Management
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 11th
12. Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University is a comprehensive, evangelical, Christian University located 26 miles northeast of Los Angeles, California. The University is very active in the Christian higher education industry and is a leader in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, and offers a wealth of degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level through fully online programs, hybrid programs, and residential programs located at six locations across Southern California. The University is consistently recognized as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report.
The University offers a Master of Arts in Leadership, which lays a foundation of broad learning principles in the main curriculum. For students seeking to specialize, however, the program offers five-degree emphasis options: Executive Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Studies, and Sports Management and Integrated Leadership. The program also offers particularly invested students the opportunity to take the accelerated degree track, allowing graduation in just 15 months, which cuts down on both the time and financial requirements of the program. The program also employs impressive minds, including Ph.D. academics who are involved in cutting-edge industry research, which contributes well-roundedness and real-world applicability to the program.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: 15 months accelerated tack, 5-degree emphasis options
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 13th
13. Montreat College
Montreat College offers a Christ-centered education in degree options at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. With a reputable and historic residential campus, the College decided to branch out into online education in recent years and now offers nationally recognized distance learning degrees. The College, following suit with its Christian philosophy, prioritizes the financial support of its students. Evidencing this is the fact that over 99% of Montreat College students receive some form of financial aid–with 100% of the College’s Annual Fund allocated to financial aid. This level of financial support of students is both rare and highly impressive, and likely encouraging to students who are off-put by schools that seem driven by profits.
The College offers a Master’s Degree in Management and Leadership that unlike other Christian universities is firmly rooted in Christian Values. The program delivers a broad curriculum, however, it emphasizes areas considered to be of critical importance: Human Capital Management, Research Methods and Management, and Ethics and the Legal Environment. Students seeking deeper concentration of coursework can pursue one of three-degree track options: General, where students study the broader and more universal learning principles of leadership and management, Cyber Security, or Criminal Justice Administration. This program is unique in that if offers both options to complete the degree through highly general and universally applicable coursework or to focus on highly specialized areas of study.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: 3-degree concentration options
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 14th
14. Granite State College
Granite State College is one of the four institutions of the University System of New Hampshire’s public university system. The College’s primary mission is to serve as a college for busy adults, and this is also the state’s leader in online education. The College has received national recognition for its affordable tuition, flexible class schedules, and generous prior learning crediting and credit transfer options. Furthermore, the College emphasizes small class sizes in both residential and online degree programs, so that students can expect personalized attention from instructors they deserve.
Granite State College offers a Master of Science in Management, which is designed around several key learning outcomes. Students will learn to increase their capacity to lead in organizational structures, to apply a conceptual understanding of relevant disciplines, to adapt and innovate to solve problems, and to understand management issues from a global perspective. With these broad course goals, the mission is to provide graduates with highly marketable and highly transferrable skillsets, so that they can pursue the careers that best suit their needs and goals. Whether you already hold a managerial position or not, this program is sure to provide the skills needed to advance in the industry.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features: N/A
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 2nd
15. Tarleton State University
Tarleton State University is a member of the Texas A&M University System, and so offers students degree options with the value of Texas A&M University degree with its own brand of personal attention, development opportunities, history, traditions, and community. The University offers a Master of Science in Management & Leadership, which is designed to accommodate busy working adults, who might not be able to attend a traditional degree program. With this in mind, the program also emphasizes interdisciplinary skills, which are valuable in any job market, making this degree a great option for a working professional who is currently in the industry but wishes to ascend higher into higher and more competitive positions.
The Master of Science in Leadership & Management is based on experiential learning designs, which are often a weak point of online education programs. This design ensures that students obtain applicable skillsets and knowledge to put to use in the world. The program also employs a unique emphasis that sets it apart from other programs on this list. The program threads a common principle throughout the curriculum, that is, successful managers should be agents of positive change. Thus much of the program’s coursework is focused on how to create such change, how to manage potential repercussions or drawbacks, and how to apply principles of positive change to organizations that are particularly rigid in belief or design. For students who are passionate about inspiring such change, this program is likely an excellent option.
- Flexibility Enhancing Features:
- Course Rigor and Quality of Education (rank): 15th