Common Questions About Online MBA Programs

Common questions about online MBA programs

You've been in the workforce for a few years now and you're starting to wonder, what's next? You may be in a position where more education could help you manage your team or your projects. Or, you could be looking for a promotion but need an advanced degree to get you to the next level. All are common reasons why students start to look at options for graduate business education.

An MBA can do great things for your career, but it's a big step. You probably already have questions: How much do they cost? How much will I really make after I graduate? How will I have time to continue working and complete my schoolwork? The answers to those questions aren't always easy to find. So, we've compiled a list of commonly asked questions and answers about online MBA programs.

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What Is an MBA?

Master of Business Administration

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a graduate degree in business that will prepare you for leadership in the business world. The MBA is often a stepping stone to the C-suite or entrepreneurial success. Most online MBA students have a few years of post-bachelor's work experience under their belts before enrolling in a program. Boise State online MBA students average 6-7 years of professional experience coming into the program.

What Will I Learn in an Online MBA Program?

In a solid MBA program, you'll gain a deeper understanding of all aspects of business. Building on your undergraduate work, you'll expand your leadership and management skills while learning about the creative process and project management. MBA programs also provide deeper knowledge of accounting, finance, marketing and business law.

The Boise State MBA prepares students for strategic business leadership and collaborative decision-making -- the core needs for organizations of all types and sizes. Across a variety of business courses in the program, we teach students to ask the right questions to arrive at the best solutions for the organization.

The Boise State online MBA program curriculum includes the following courses:

  • Design Thinking and Strategic Management
  • Global Economics
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Managerial Communication
  • Information Technology and Business Alignment
  • Managing Successful Projects
  • Operations and Supply Chain Management
  • Business Plan Development
  • And more

We emphasize innovation and a customer focus through design thinking:

Boise State online MBA graduate Karolin Marakool
Boise State caught my attention purely because of the design thinking aspect. It was the only program I found anywhere that even remotely talked about the concept of design thinking, let alone had a course dedicated to it.

Our courses are relevant, practical and applicable -- which has immediate impact:

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I couldn't believe how applicable all of the stuff was to what I was doing in my daily job. I did receive a kind of preemptive promotion, and people definitely are surprised and very excited when I tell them I have my MBA... They definitely see me a little bit higher than maybe if I had just had my bachelor's.

Do I Need to Take the GMAT to Get Into an Online MBA Program?

GMAT is sometimes required for admission into MBA programs

The GMAT, or Graduate Management Admission Test, is a multiple choice, computer-based, adaptive test that measures an applicant's readiness for graduate-level business school work. There are four parts of the GMAT:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment
  2. Integrated Reasoning
  3. Quantitative
  4. Verbal

Most accredited business schools still require applicants to take the GMAT and score above a certain number, though this is starting to change. Many B-schools now accept GRE scores or work experience in lieu of the GMAT.

80% of Boise State online MBA students qualify for a GMAT waiver

Boise State has three options:

  • Take the GMAT: Achieve minimum total score of 500 (32 min on quant; 4.5 min on writing).
  • Take the GRE: Achieve a minimum score of 147 (Verbal) /148 (Quantitative).
  • Qualify for a GMAT Waiver: The GMAT/GRE scores are waived if you already have a graduate degree OR have a 3.0 GPA in your undergrad degree with three years of professional management experience OR a 2.75 GPA with five years of professional management experience.

Eighty percent of Boise State's online MBA students are eligible for the GMAT/GRE waiver.

Learn more about our online MBA program

What Kind of Jobs Can I Get With an MBA?

The MBA is probably the most versatile business degree you can get -- maybe the most versatile graduate degree period. Here are just a few of the positions you can achieve with an MBA.

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Marketing Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Management Consultant
  • Product Manager
  • Human Resources Director
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Corporate Recruiter
  • Financial Advisor
  • Health Services Manager
  • Accountant
  • Advertising Executive

I'd like to keep climbing the ladder and eventually get to the project sponsor and then the executive level. I believe the Boise State MBA program will help me do that. It definitely gives you a broad range of knowledge to understand all of the facets of business.

Boise State online MBA graduate Kjell Ooms

How Much Do MBA Graduates Make?

With so many career options available to MBA grads, the salaries are also quite varied. The average salary for MBA holders is $85K, according to PayScale as of December 2018. Here are just a few positions and their correlating average salaries (PayScale December, 2018):

  • Chief Executive Officer: $179,969
  • Finance Manager: $95,587
  • Director of Operations: $104,972
  • Marketing Director: $109,987
  • Project Manager: $82,551
  • Human Resources Director: $89,103
  • Information Technology (IT) Director: $132,571

Salaries can vary widely by geography as well. Below are a few examples of average salaries for MBA graduates by state (PayScale December, 2018):

California $102,589
Washington $97,544
Oregon $89,313
Texas $85,116
Utah $84,649
Idaho $74,455

Source: PayScale December 2018

Will Being in an Online MBA Program Require Time Away From Work?

Online MBA programs are built for working professionals. Most schools require their applicants to have at least some work experience, and they don't expect you to quit your job. Not many people can take two years off mid-career. So, while you will be busier during the time you're in an MBA program, your job shouldn't suffer.

In fact, many students begin using what they are learning in class before they graduate, improving their performance, skillsets and knowledge on the job.

Typically, Boise State online MBA students spend about 20-25 hours on coursework per week for each 4-credit course. While it is additional time that you need to devote to your education, the flexibility of the online MBA program makes it much easier to fit into a busy schedule while still working full-time.

I had to give up some of my time at home, but the goal all along was to have zero interruptions at work so school would be invisible at my job. I would encourage people to do it. I liked the flexibility of not having to go anywhere to get classwork done. It was all on my own schedule.

Online MBA graduate Phillip Teintze

Does Boise State Offer Career Services for Its Online Students?

Yes! Boise State offers an array of career services to its graduates. Beyond the standard job fairs, we provide online Virtual Workshops (Career Planning Modules), a video series covering skills you'll need in the workplace, job market data, and resume and cover letter workshops.

Career services for online MBA students

Go to, email [email protected], or call 280-426-1747 for more information.

College of Business and Economics (COBE) advisors at Boise State are happy to meet with students in-person or virtually to discuss career needs. You'll also be invited to on-campus and live-streamed events that can lead to career opportunities and networking.

How Much Does an Online MBA Cost?

Affordable online MBA programs

The cost of an MBA can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors. The good news is that online programs are typically more affordable. (Remember to check for additional, or hidden, fees when choosing a school.) Online MBA programs range from under $10,000 to well over $100,000.

The tuition for the online MBA program at Boise State University is $36,750, and that includes books -- a $2,800 value. Boise State's course material (textbooks, etc.) is completely digital and, as such, completely portable! The application fee is $65 and the graduation fee is $25. All other fees are covered in the price of tuition.

Affordable online MBA programs

Is the Tuition the Same for In-State and Out-of-State Students?

Boise State online MBA program for the Pacific Northwest

Some schools do charge their out-of-state online students a higher tuition rate. However, tuition for the online MBA program at Boise State is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Be sure to check on out-of-state tuition or fees when doing your research on MBA programs.

Are There Financial Aid Options for Online MBA Programs?

MBA students attending accredited universities are eligible for federal financial aid in the form of student loans. As you consider your options, remember that student loans must be repaid with interest. For information about federal student loans go to

The majority of Boise State online MBA students receive a scholarship

Scholarships are also available to qualifying students -- options are often based on need and merit. You don't need to pay back scholarship monies. Also, it's always a good idea to ask your employer about tuition reimbursement policies.

Boise State has some great scholarship and discount programs available to its online MBA students. In fact, 88 percent of students receive a scholarship.

All scholarships and discounts provide 15 percent off the total price of the program -- bringing the total tuition to $31,237.50. The scholarships/discounts below may not be combined. The following four scholarships / discounts are offered:

  • Affiliate Partner Discount: Employees of our partner companies may be eligible for an Affiliate Partner Discount of 15 percent. To find out if your company qualifies, call 855-290-3840.
  • Dean's Experience Scholarship: Students who have five years of experience managing people, budgets or customer accounts above a basic supervisory level are eligible for this scholarship.
  • Boise State Alumni Association Discount: Members of the Boise State Alumni Association are eligible for this 15 percent off discount.
  • Military Discount: Current or previous active duty, reserve military, or National Guard members and their spouses are eligible for a Military Scholarship (15 percent off the total tuition). Applicants who are interested in applying should indicate on your admissions application that you are a part or have served in the military.

For information on scholarships and discounts, please contact an enrollment specialist. For federal financial aid (loan) questions, please call the financial aid office at 208-426-1664 or visit to find out more.

Learn more about our online MBA program

How Long Does It Take to Earn an MBA?

The time it takes to complete an online MBA program depends on a number of factors, but one of the main factors is you. If you have a hectic life, you may want to spread your classes out over time. On the other hand, you may have time available to complete the degree more quickly. Some online MBA programs can be completed in under a year, though two years is more common.

Students can complete the 49-credit hour online MBA program at Boise State in just 12 months. This is a full-time course load and recommended for students who have the time, flexibility and motivation to commit to this rigorous schedule.

The following table shows the breakdown of how long it takes Boise State online MBA students to complete the program.

Time to Completion Percentage of Graduates
12 Months 13%
13-22 Months 29%
24 Months 37%
25-36 Months 20%
36+ Months 2%

Online MBA graduate Morgan Prince
I did the program in the fast track, in one year. It was double classes, which was a little bit stressful at times, but it was all about time management -- spreading it out during the week and staying on top of everything. As long as I prioritized, wrote myself a list of things to do, put time aside for each thing and started early, it was fine.

How Many Hours Will I Need to Study Each Week for Online MBA Classes?

Just like on-campus classes, the amount you need to spend studying varies -- less time if you're comfortable with the material and more if you're not. For most online MBA courses, we recommend planning 20-25 hours of time each for each 4-credit course. This time will be spent reading, working with teammates, completing homework assignments and finishing other required work. After you get into the swing of things, you can make adjustments to your study schedule -- just remember that each term may have a different workload even if you're taking the same number of hours.

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Set a schedule for yourself. Go through the first week, figure out what kind of assignments are required, when the due dates are, and then at that point you will be able to figure out what can I do Monday through Friday.

Is There Assistance for Military Members and Veterans?

At Boise State, we pride ourselves on being military friendly. We have dedicated advisors to help past and present military members and their families from application to graduation. Our online programs work perfectly for students who may not have the most predictable schedules. Not only do we help veterans apply for the GI Bill, but we offer various other services such as scholarship guidance, employment opportunities, a veterans writing group and a Veterans Crisis Line (800-273-8255).

17% of Boise State online MBA students are veterans

The flexibility of an online MBA program is also great for students who may need a quicker route to graduation due to GI Bill limitations. Additionally, with no in-person class requirement, students can learn all over the country and create their weekly study schedule to fit their needs. Military students with previous leadership experience are great assets to the class -- your experience is valuable and important in online discussions and learning.

To support our students that have served or are serving, the military discount is available. Also available to military family members, the 15 percent discount helps to reduce the total tuition cost at Boise State. It's a small way that we can thank you for your service.

, an Air Force veteran, graduated from Boise State's online MBA program in 2017. She was able to use the last of her Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to cover the cost of the program.

For more information call 208-426-3744, email [email protected] or visit

Are Online MBA Programs Accredited?

Accreditation is crucial when picking an MBA program. When you choose an accredited school, you can feel confident that you've chosen a school with rigorous academic standards and outstanding faculty. If you decide to continue with your studies -- earning a Ph.D. for example -- it's important that your credit hours are from an accredited university. Employers also take note of applicants who graduated from accredited programs.

Boise State MBA programs are AACSB Accredited

Boise State's College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, AACSB International -- the gold standard of business school accreditation. The top 10 percent of business schools earn this accreditation. To become accredited, a school must first apply for AACSB accreditation, and then go through an extensive self-evaluation and peer review process. B-schools must submit to an improvement review every five years to maintain accreditation.

What Is an Online MBA Program Really Like?

Example screens from Boise State Learning Management System -- Click or tap to expand

online MBA LMS screen

Online MBA courses have similar content and requirements as on-campus programs, the difference is that everything is done digitally and at an accelerated pace. Students will have discussion board posts, research papers, case studies, portfolio projects and some group work. Students communicate with each other and their professors through email, chat, video and phone.

Because so much of the work done in the workplace is collaborative, Boise State's online MBA program focuses heavily on group work. The program also allows students to choose an industry- or company-specific focus based on the area in which they work or have an interest.

Example screen from Boise State Learning Management System

Is the Faculty the Same as On-Campus Faculty?

Some prospective students may worry that their online instructors are not the same as the faculty they would get in an on-campus program. Rest assured that the faculty who teach on campus at Boise State also teach its online MBA courses.

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All of our faculty in the online program teach essentially the same classes in our live, face-to-face MBA programs. The faculty are very engaged and active in the classes, and they are also interested in what are you going to do with the education they're giving you.

Is an Online MBA Program Easy?

While online programs are more convenient than on-campus programs, they are not easier. The coursework is the same for both types of programs. The time commitment per class will also be the same. The fact that courses are condensed and accelerated means that students must be disciplined and good at managing their time. While online isn't easier, it is more convenient for many students.

"The fact that I could do it all online was the driver in picking it. I liked it because it's essentially self-paced within the weeks. It allowed me to keep my current employment and work through the program. I really like the flexibility. It's huge." -- Kjell Ooms, online MBA grad, 2018

What Are the Technical Requirements of the Online MBA Program?

technical requirements for an online mba program

Some students worry that they won't have the right equipment or know-how to go to school online. Not to worry; you probably already have the hardware and software you need. And even if you're not the most tech savvy student, you likely know enough to do great in an online program. If you feel a little behind, there are tech resources to help you along the way. Here is a list of the hardware and software you'll need to succeed in an online program.

  • Computer with 1.5 GHz CPU or greater, 1 GB of Ram, 1 GB of free disk space
  • Window 7 or better, Mac OS 10.11 or better
  • MS Office 2013 or later
  • Speakers/headphones
  • Fast, reliable internet connection (cable, satellite, DSL)
  • Webcam (used for proctored exams through ProctorU Services)
  • Windows Media Player
  • Web browser with plugins (Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer)
  • Antivirus software

Again, it's likely that you already have much of this equipment and software at home. If you don't, Boise State offers free Microsoft Office software for current students and other discounts.

For any questions you may have before you begin, or anywhere along the way, we have the tech support you need.

online students have use of the library

Do Online Students Have Access to the Library?

Online MBA students have access to the all the databases, articles and eBooks they may need 24/7. You can contact a librarian who specializes in the subject you're researching by email or phone. There is also a chat function on the library page. Call the library at 208-426-1204 or text 208-546-9982.

Will I Need to Write a Thesis?

A thesis is a research paper based on a specific aspect of your course of study, and is often required to graduate from a master's program. Graduate students typically work on a thesis for a year, and it usually replaces six credit hours.

However, Boise State's online MBA program does not require candidates to write a thesis. Students complete a capstone course at the end of the program. In the capstone course, students prepare a business plan with in-depth analysis of a company -- complete with analysis of the industry and recommendations for future opportunities. Students work closely with faculty who provide weekly feedback on progress of the business plan. Many students choose to research their current company or one they aspire to work for.

Karolin Marakool online MBA graduate
I enjoyed the breakdown we did week by week of the overall business development. You end up researching and gaining quite a lot of insight into the company you have selected. That approach helps solidify some hypothesis or assumptions you have in the beginning, and makes you more analytical and strategic in your decision-making.

Some classes, I thought, 'Wow, this is extremely relevant to what I am doing right now.' Especially with the capstone, deep diving and doing serious research into the past and future of the company that I am working at. That's great.
Peter Epstein online MBA graduate

Will I Need to Complete an Internship?

Most online MBA programs do not require internships, though some offer a "summer abroad" or a capstone project which may involve some onsite work at a local business.

The online MBA program at Boise State does not require internships; 98 percent of students are working full-time while in the program and apply their education at their current company.

Can I Attend Graduation?

Yes, online MBA students at Boise State are encouraged to attend graduation. We look forward to seeing you! We even host a special online MBA graduation celebration prior to the Saturday commencement to give you time to meet fellow classmates, advisors and professors in-person.

Are Nonprofit Schools Better Than For-Profits Schools?

When looking for an online MBA program, you're likely going to run across different types of schools: nonprofit and for-profit. Often, it's difficult to tell the difference. What makes one better than the other? What difference will it make in my education and in my career?

First of all, as the name suggests, for-profit schools like University of Phoenix, DeVry and Walden University are in the business of making money. Their practices and the decisions they make are geared toward making investors happy, not quality education. This is not to say that all for-profit schools are bad, but it is something to keep in mind when making a decision about your MBA education.

Nonprofit schools, on the other hand, are dedicated to providing students with a top-notch education. The focus is on helping their students achieve their academic goals, not making shareholders happy.

Here are a few reasons you might want to avoid for-profit schools:

  • Degrees from for-profits are not always acceptable to potential employers.
  • The cost of tuition is often higher.
  • Nonprofits have better name recognition.
  • For-profit schools often don't have the same support services -- tutoring, etc.
  • Many for-profit schools aren't accredited.

Will I Have an Advisor?

Throughout students' time in Boise State's online MBA program, they have access to advisors who will be there to help with anything from registration to working with employers to obtain tuition reimbursement.

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Know that your advisor is always available to talk through any questions or concerns that you may have. It's not uncommon for students to call me and say, 'What am I doing? Is this right?" And I promise I'll always talk honestly and openly with you to help you understand if this is a good fit, if you're on the right track, if a break would help, or if we need to make some adjustments to help you be more successful in the program.

Will I Be Able to Talk to My Professors?

Prospective online students sometimes worry that they won't be able to talk to their instructors, but that isn't a problem. The faculty who teach in the online MBA program at Boise State are easily accessible by phone, email, text or video chat. They pride themselves on returning calls and messages quickly. Contact information will be on the syllabus for each class.

With this particular degree, I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not having the classroom element. Reading the material and having access to the professor was enough for me to feel like I got everything I needed in the program.
Suzanne Johnson online MBA graduate

What About Networking With Other Students?

56% of Boise State online MBA students live in states other than Idaho

For obvious reasons, students question whether they will have the same networking opportunities in an online program. The fact is, the networking opportunities may even be better. Your classmates come from all over the country and provide perspectives you may not have gotten in an on-campus program. In fact, 44 percent of Boise State MBA students are from Idaho, while the remaining 56 percent hail from 36 other states across the country.

Boise State MBA faculty make efforts to make connections between student of similar backgrounds, geographical areas and companies. We facilitate introductions and sometimes intentionally set up teams to give you opportunity to network with other students.

You'll also be exposed to industries outside of your geographic location, and the group assignments and discussion boards make communication crucial to your success. You'll likely correspond with people you wouldn't have in an on-campus program.

Boise State MBA professor Christy Suciu
Discussion boards are so important -- it's about content and thought -- not just blogging or off-the-cuff comments. Students shy away at first -- but when they find that they learn from other students, they are encouraged to contribute. It's really powerful.

When Can I Start the MBA Program at Boise State?

The online MBA program at Boise State has six start dates throughout the year. Check out for specifics. The average time from application to decision is 16 days at Boise State.

Learn more about our MBA online program!


U.S. News & World Report: What an MBA Degree Is and What You Need to Know Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree

Boise State Career Services Affordable Online MBA Programs

AACSB International

AACSB International

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