Earning a Master's in Management Online

The management industry attracts people with diverse interests. The highly transferable skills gained from management work draw those pursuing work in many fields, such as financial services, food and hospitality, and nonprofit services. Some gradually work their way to these positions without degrees, but an advanced management degree can jumpstart a career and greatly expand one's professional opportunities. An advanced degree impresses potential employers and offers specialization opportunities. Additionally, the experiential learning model used in business management programs provides many benefits for after graduation. To get on an affordable, practical track to a management position, consider pursuing an online master's in management.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Management?

The quick and affordable track offered by an online master's in management attracts both traditional and nontraditional learners. Many bachelor's-level students majoring in management strive to advance their career by pursuing an advanced degree. Others choose a specific specialization that requires additional credentialing. Some working professionals want to expand their professional opportunities or earning potential. Others pursue an online master's in management after weighing the benefits against those of a professional certification.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Management?

Pursuing Specialization

For some, an online master's in management provides the opportunity to pursue a specific specialization in a compact format. For instance, many online management programs offer concentrations in human resource management. Taking a concentration in your program provides specialized knowledge and experience, and also impresses future employers. These concentrations help you pursue a specialized area or gradually move into a wider variety of industries.

Career Advancement Opportunities

An advanced degree opens opportunities for career advancement. Employers view advanced degrees like an online master's in management as qualification for higher level, higher responsibility positions. These positions often entail higher earnings. Your online master's in management gives you a greater skill set to draw upon, and employers compensate highly skilled workers well. Starting out in a position of greater responsibility and authority puts you in line for progressively higher ranking positions later.

Online Learning Technology

The online learning model offers many benefits to those pursuing a master's in management. With no need for textbooks, your online instructor can quickly update course materials to fit with developing industry innovations. Additionally, schools often select industry professionals to teach online courses in management. Their professional expertise uniquely qualifies them for experiential learning. Networking with your instructor and peers in an online environment could lead to professional development opportunities such as internships or job offers.

Prerequisites for Online Management Programs

Before you start looking for your ideal online master's in management program, consider the following list of prerequisites, and remember that program requirements can vary widely.

  • Work Experience: Your online master's in management may require three years of relevant work experience. Other programs may accept entry-level learners, but even these programs may strongly recommend relevant professional experience. Oftentimes, schools design these programs with highly experienced working professionals in mind.
  • Exams and Test Scores: You may not need to present GRE or GMAT test scores for admission to an online master's in management, especially if the program tailors to working professionals. Some may require you to present a GRE or GMAT score that is within at least the 25th percentile. GRE and GMAT test scores remain valid for two years.
  • Coursework: An online master's in management could entail prerequisite coursework such as intro to management, intro to business, and statistics. Some schools may accept previous work experience for credit. Most graduate programs require a 3.0 GPA in former coursework for it to count.
  • Recommendations: Your application to your online master's in management may require you to seek recommendation letters or references, specifically from former professors or employers. If you need recommendation letters, give your choices at least two weeks' notice.
  • Essays: You might need to submit an essay, generally around 400-500 words. Your essay may ask for a personal narrative on your professional background or an explanation of how you think a master's in management fits into your future plans.
  • Interviews: You may need to complete an interview with your prospective school for consideration. If the school incorporates an in-person residency, you may need to complete an in-person interview. Otherwise, the school may conduct a video conference or phone interview. Schools often ask about professional background or post-graduation plans.
  • International Students: Some schools may require international students to submit scores from an English proficiency test such as TEFL or TESL. Seek help from tutors for your English proficiency exam. Others may ask to see your scores on concluding secondary school exams from your country of origin.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Management?

The management industry offers attractive salary prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10th to 90th percentile earnings range from $48,220 to more than $200,000 annually. Though much of what helps your career comes from work experience, the broad skill set you acquire from an online master's in management prepares you for a range of working environments. Think creatively and consider nontraditional careers, such as nonprofit management or agricultural management.

Traditional Careers for MSMs

Career Stats Description

Chief Compliance Officer

Median Pay: $112,36

Job Growth: 8.2%

The executive-level compliance officer monitors regulations for a company's general business practices and finances. This is typically a full-time, office-based position.

Ideal for: Analytic-savvy professionals who understand risk management and mitigation best practices.

Industrial Production Manager

Median Pay: $100,580

Job Growth: -1%

Industrial production managers work in manufacturing, overseeing the production of goods, such as office products, computers, and cars. On a typical day, one might work on the floor, overseeing operations directly, or in their office planning how to best use workers or manufacturing equipment.

Ideal for: Assertive, forward-thinking leaders who enjoy a fast-paced environment.

Administrative Director

Median Pay: $94,020

Job Growth: 10%

An administrative director manages the functions of an organization's supportive services. On a typical day, this individual may supervise clerical and administrative workers or direct and maintain the organization's records. This full-time position entails both onsite and office-based duties. Specific responsibilities vary.

Ideal for: Detail-oriented leaders who enjoy record-keeping and maintenance-related work.

Director of Training and Development

Median Pay: $108,250

Job Growth: 10%

These directors plan, coordinate, and manage an organization's training and development programs. They spend their time largely working with their organization's employees. On a typical day, they strategize on how to best develop employees' skills and knowledge, assess their needs, and develop budget-friendly training programs.

Ideal for: Leaders who enjoy working alongside team members and those who remain motivated to see others flourish and advance professionally.

Non-Traditional Careers for MSMs

Career Stats Description

Sales Manager

Median Pay: $121,060

Job Growth: 7%

Sales managers direct sales teams. This multifaceted position encompasses forming the organization's sales goals, analyzing data, and training sales representatives. Sales managers often work overtime and frequently travel for work. On a typical day, a sales manager may present findings in a meeting, resolve customer service issues, and design training programs for new sales staff.

Ideal for: Analytically minded, goal-oriented leaders interested in both directing a team and examining raw data.

Operations Research Analyst

Median Pay: $81,390

Job Growth: 27%

These analysts investigate the complex issues organizations face and then develop, plan, and coordinate strategies to resolve them. On a typical day, one might present findings in a meeting, survey records or employees to gather information for solving a problem. Professionals may also spend time poring over data. This position requires a background in advanced mathematics.

Ideal for: Analytically minded thinkers with a passion for math and complex problem-solving exercises.

Medical and Health Service Manager

Median Pay: $98,350

Job Growth: 20%

These managers coordinate, plan, and develop medical and health services. Sometimes they work in one department of a health services facility and other times they direct services for the entire facility. On a typical day, one might train staff, manage the facility's billing or financial accounts, or maintain records of the facility's resources.

Ideal for: Leaders with strong people skills, willingness to specialize, and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment.

Public Relations Director

Median Pay: $111,280

Job Growth: 10%

A public relations director serves as the public face of an organization, often a nonprofit. These directors create a positive image of their organization, using tools such as social media and marketing campaigns. They work to bring in donations for their organizations through campaigns that reach large groups of people.

Ideal for: Those with a strong interest in marketing, technology, and writing.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Management

Planning your master's carefully and keeping certain factors in mind can cut the cost of an online program significantly. Different schools offer varying tuition rates, so choose your program carefully. The more time you spend on your degree, the more your degree ultimately costs. Taking classes full time can reduce your tuition, and taking your program in an accelerated program can further reduce tuition. You can also take advantage of financial aid, grants, and scholarships specifically for management students.

Tuition Timelines

The time it takes to complete your online master's in management depends on the study timeline you follow. You can take coursework part time, full time, or on an accelerated track.

Part-Time Path

Taking classes part time often appeals to working professionals and other non-traditional students. This allows you to balance multiple demands while working on your degree at a relaxed pace. Most students take two or so classes per semester. This path can take more time to complete.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Southern New Hampshire University
Total Credits Required: 36
Summary: Southern New Hampshire offers a comparatively low tuition cost, with their online master's in management ultimately costing $22,572. On a part-time track, the degree takes roughly three years to complete. SNHU requires a minimum of three credit hours per semester.

Full-Time Path

Taking classes full-time often appeals to more traditional students who want to take a conventional path. This path involves taking about four classes per semester and usually takes just over a year for degree completion.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Michigan State University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: Taking classes full-time at Michigan State University's 30-credit master's of management program takes 16 months to complete and costs $32,700. Students must register for a minimum of one credit per term. The program tailors to professionals with a bachelor's and three years' managerial experience.

Accelerated Path

The accelerated path often appeals to students with limited time who want to quickly jumpstart a career upon graduation. By taking a course load of around 18 credits per semester, you can complete your degree in as little as two semesters.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Hodges University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: Hodges University's affordable tuition rate of $21,300 makes it an attractive option for working professionals on a budget. The 30-credit program takes two semesters or about nine months to complete. Hodges limits class sizes to 12 students to provide a more personalized learning environment.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

Scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid make paying for your degree easier. The following national scholarships provide aid to master's in management students.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Management Program

Online master's in management degrees tailor heavily to industry professionals in search of advanced training and education, hence the reason many programs require work experience for admission. These programs generally culminate in a capstone project that takes the form of a presentation. Oftentimes, this capstone relates directly to the student's internship or work experiences. Most online courses come in a self-paced, asynchronous format that is built around discussion board assignments where students engage with each other.

Major Milestones

  1. Intent to Graduate Confirmation - Final two semesters

    Different schools follow different standards, but most graduate schools require you to complete an intent to graduate form at least two semesters in advance. Failure to complete the form could result in delay of receipt of your degree.

  2. Internship and Job Shadowing Opportunities - Final two semesters

    In your final two semesters, you may see numerous opportunities to network with colleagues or professors to find internships that could jumpstart your career. Your school may require you to secure an internship or job shadow to complete your degree.

  3. Thesis Preparation and Defense - Final two semesters

    Occasionally, master's in management degrees allow students to pursue a research-oriented thesis as their degree's culminating project. Begin working on your research project as early as possible to separate your work from your thesis defense for the department board.

  4. Capstone - Final two semesters

    Many master's in management degrees culminate in a capstone project. Your program may ask you to give a presentation in a media format of your choice on a specific company or job shadowing assignment.

  5. Certification Completion – Final Semester

    Some programs may include completion of management certification from organizations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) with completion of the degree. These professional certificates can help you secure a job post-graduation.


An online master’s in management coursework develops communication, leadership, and business management skills. The following course list represents some typical offerings from an online, master's-level management program.

Dynamic Leadership

A management program typically requires a special course in leadership that teaches ethical values in leadership decision-making, self-understanding, and professional development. You learn how to make ethical, informed decisions, motivating others and yourself.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation

A conflict resolution and mediation course teaches you to de-escalate workplace issues in an ethical, compassionate, practical manner. Students learn to identify the main kinds of workplace conflicts and how to manage, resolve, and mediate them through an experiential model.

Budgeting and Resource Allocation

In this course, students learn how to effectively manage resources such as funds, equipment, and workers. The course often addresses ethical issues relating to sustainability and resource scarcity.

Communication for Managers

Students learn how to use verbal and written communication effectively as leaders. Course topics include intercultural factors on effective communication and sociological theory behind interpersonal relationships.

Intro to Human Resource Management

An introductory course on human resource management may appear in both programs featuring or not featuring human resources management. The transferable skills in communication and effective resource allocation gained from this course make it common.

Requirements to Practice

Currently, managers do not need specific licensure or certification in order to practice. You can still pursue numerous certificates both online and in person. Potential employers look favorably on candidates holding certifications from organizations such as the PMI. These certifications show initiative and expertise, and often lead to job offers and opportunities for professional advancement. Earning a management certificate can lead to higher pay, quicker career advancement, and a stronger sense of pride in one's work.

  • American Management Association Certificate in Analytical Skills: This certificate helps managers use computer applications such as the Microsoft Office suite to analyze data and make more informed business decisions. The certificate, which costs $3,495, refines analytical skills.
  • PMP Project Management Professional: The PMI offers this certificate in project management, which costs $404 for members and $555 for nonmembers. To qualify for the certificate, a master's-level candidate must present 35 hours of project management-related education or 4,500 hours of management experience.
  • Master Project Manager: Project Management Resource Group offers this certificate in project management, which requires no prerequisites. Training occurs over the course of four days. The course costs $2,500-$3,000 depending on registration date.
  • Professional in Project Management: The Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) offers this online-proctored certification in project management. The final exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes two hours to complete. After two failed exam attempts, candidates must wait a minimum of 14 days to try again.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Joining a professional organization can advance your career and help you connect with other like-minded professionals. Resources such as the PMI's various professional certifications can help you expand your skill set and even count for continuing education credit. Students can access many continuing education opportunities online for added convenience. Ultimately, these organizations foster a sense of community, putting you in touch with a large professional network.

  • Project Management Institute: The PMI, founded in 1969, supports project management professionals globally. This nonprofit offers certification programs, continuing education, and networking resources.
  • Global Association for Quality Management: The GAQM offers many certifications for management professionals, including IT training programs and software testing. The organization is accredited by the Accreditation Services for International Colleges.
  • Project Management Resource Group: PMRGI offers access to continuing education classes, specialty classes, and certifications. The organization's training programs are approved by the American Academy of Project Management.
  • American Management Association: The AMA, established in New York City in 1923, offers a variety of certifications and continuing education opportunities. Members can access free seminars and discounted prices on meeting room rentals and onsite sessions.
  • National Management Association: Founded in 1925, the NMA advocates for business leaders across diverse fields. The organization hosts an annual conference and offers members access to special discounts from many national companies.
  • ProjectManager.com: This software development organization offers national scholarships to students in management-related majors. The site also offers electronic guides, video seminars, and project management books.
  • Lead Roster: This online mailing list marketplace offers national scholarship awards to students in business-related majors. Members can purchase mailing lists of leaders in their field.
  • Biz Library: Students can take advantage of free public access to a range of informational videos and guides for business professionals, including many pertaining to topics such as project management, leadership, and human resources management.
  • The Managers Resource Handbook: This nonprofit website features many informational blogs on management-related topics tailored to new managers. The site also features book recommendations for managers and numerous how-to guides.
  • AfterCollege.com: This job listings site geared toward recent graduates offers a national scholarship for students in business-related majors. The site's blog features articles with tips on getting a job after graduation.