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Cheapest MBA Programs in the USA for International Students

Mar 21, 2023Date Published
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UniSearch - Cheapest MBA Programs in the USA for International Students

The overall cost of an MBA in the USA can vary depending on the university and the student's lifestyle choices. Tuition fees and living expenses are the two main categories of costs. The average tuition fee for an MBA in the USA is around USD 65,000 per year, with an additional USD 19,700 per year for living expenses.

Managing funds is not a cup of tea for everyone. This is especially true when considering the sizable costs of studying abroad. So, looking for the cheapest options has become very common.

The good news here is that “cheapest” does not have to mean poorer quality. Here are the cheapest MBA programs in the USA for international students that check the box for affordability and top-class education.

Cheapest MBA Programs in the USA for International Students

Name of the University
Program type
Tuition fees
University of South Dakota
Under $13,000
The City University of New York
On CampusCPA
Under $19,000
University at Buffalo
On CampusN/A
Under $20,000 
Cameron University
On CampusGMAT$638.00 per semester hour 
Southeast Missouri State University
On Campus GRE/GMAT$663.25 per semester hour

1. University of South Dakota

The reason the University of South Dakota lands in the first place is its outstanding MBA program. The course scores within the top 5% in both management and marketing, and places in the top 10% in the remaining three categories of financial management, strategic integration, and managerial accounting. 

Compared to other universities in the US, the University of South Dakota offers its MBA program way cheaper. You can apply for their Business Administration: Finance (MBA) and Accelerated Business Administration (MBA) programs as both of them are on-site programs.

The tuition fees for the MBA program here are under $13,000. The requirements are:

  1. Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT) - A minimum score of 79
  2. Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT)- 550
  3. TOEFL Essentials - 8.5
  4. IELTS Academic - 6.0
  5. PTE - 53

2. The City University of New York

The City University of New York is a renowned public institution in the USA. This University provides quality education to 500,000 students of all ages and backgrounds, with a history of creating inclusive education opportunities stretching as far back as 1847.

CUNY’s MBA program is one of the most famous MBA programs around the world. The university's annual tuition is $19,000, which is comparatively very inexpensive for international students.

The CUNY ranks among the top 450 universities in the world for Business & Management Studies, according to QS Top Universities. An MBA here promises you the bang for your buck, with a recognized yet affordable degree.

Before finishing the 150 semester hours of instruction necessary to become a CPA, students are encouraged to sit for the CPA Exam by the NY State Board for Public Accountancy.

The City University of New York provides financial aid in the form of scholarships and student loans. This creates further opportunities for a bit of financial wiggle room! So, you can undoubtedly keep this on your wishlist.

3. University at Buffalo

If you want to follow your passion, work more efficiently, advance faster, explore new courses, and push yourself to reach your full potential while still making a difference in the world and earning money, you can go for the MBA program at the University at Buffalo.

The University at Buffalo offers full-time, online, and professional MBAs. They have two MBA programs on-site and one online. About 93% of their students receive employment 3 months after graduation!

And the good news is, there are no strict rules for GMAT/GRE/IELTS enrollment. Your total cost for the completion of your MBA degree will be under $20,000.

4. Cameron University

The MBA program at Cameron University has the lowest tuition fees for the program in Oklahoma. This program offers traditional and Interactive courses to meet your needs.

The university’s highly qualified faculty are recognized leaders and experts in their industry. All of the graduate faculty in the Department of Business hold doctorate degrees. They have almost 20 years of experience teaching in higher education, so you’ll be under the wing of subject-matter experts!

Cameron University will charge you $638.00 per semester hour. So, the total cost will depend on the total credit hours you take.

5. Southeast Missouri State University

Being a graduate student at Southeast Missouri State University involves more than just getting good grades. You're here to challenge yourself, progress in your profession, and discover your potential.

The faculty members will be right there by your side at every turn. Their comprehensive curriculum, research, and assistantship possibilities will not only bring you where you want to go but will also position you to advance further than you ever imagined.

Southeast Missouri State University is one of the cheapest universities in the USA to attend for an MBA program. This does not make it any less of a great institution for your academic goals though!

Only 10% of business universities in the US are completely recognized by AACSB, the leading certification body for business administration universities. Southeast Missouri State University is one of these AACSB-accredited schools.

You can be assured that at this university you will receive a degree of the finest standard with a cost of $663.25 per semester hour.

Top 5 Most Popular Universities With MBA Programs In The USA - At A Glance

Your budget may fall short, but your dreams shouldn’t. If you want to do your MBA program at one of the most popular universities in the USA, you can go through the list below.

You might find a financial aid or scholarship opportunity that brings the degree of your dreams within your reach! It's important to note that the prices below may vary depending on the specific program and school, and may also change with time. 

1. The University of Texas at Austin

The MBA program at the University of Texas at Austin is one of the most affordable options for international students. The program costs around $22,000 for international students, making it one of the cheapest MBA programs in the USA.

This university places in the global top 60 for Business & Management Studies, according to QS Top Universities. The University of Texas at Austin is itself one of the world’s top 80 universities, making it a fantastic jumping-off point for your academic and career growth!

2. The University of Missouri

The MBA program at the University of Missouri is another affordable option for international students. The program costs around $19,000 for international students, making it one of the most budget-friendly MBA programs in the USA.

Another one of the USA’s world-ranking universities, this school places within the top 400 for best Business & Management Studies, and in the top 520 worldwide.

3. The University of Alabama

The MBA program at the University of Alabama is another great option for international students. The program costs around $18,000 for international students, making it one of the cheapest MBA programs in the USA. You can earn a degree from one of the world’s top 300 universities for Business & Management Studies here!

4. The University of Utah

The MBA program at the University of Utah is another affordable option for international students. The program costs around $17,000 for international students, making it one of the most budget-friendly MBA programs in the USA.

The university is among the top 400 of the world’s best universities, according to QS Top Universities, and ranks in the global top 450 for business subjects.

5. The University of South Carolina

The MBA program at the University of South Carolina is another great option for international students. The program costs around $16,000 for international students, making it one of the cheapest MBA programs in the USA.

The University of South Carolina also happens to be one of the top 200 universities in the world for business management studies! As with our other recommendations on this list, an MBA from USC is both world-class and affordable - the perfect fit for international students on a budget.

Why Study MBA in the USA?

Having an MBA also provides graduates with a broader understanding of the business world, including different industries, markets, and cultures. This allows them to approach problems and opportunities from a wider perspective and make better decisions.

Additionally, the skills and knowledge gained through an MBA program can be applied to a wide range of roles and industries, making graduates more versatile and adaptable in their careers.

The MBA also provides a strong network of alumni and peers, which can be a valuable resource for professional development and job opportunities. Many MBA programs also offer internships, networking events, and mentorship opportunities that can help students build their professional networks.

Overall, the American Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program is a valuable investment for professionals looking to advance their careers and gain a competitive edge in the business world.

3 Benefits of Choosing the Cheapest MBA Programs in the USA

There are so many advantages to an inexpensive MBA! Some of the main benefits of inexpensive MBAs are as follows:

1. You can still receive an MBA degree while working

Affordable MBAs are the ideal alternative for job progression for many individuals. Affordable MBAs can help you achieve your goals, whether you want to change careers or expand your current firm. Affordable MBA programs provide online choices with flexible schedules so that you can pursue higher education without giving up your job or your family.

2. You can change direction or advance your career

With a cheap MBA, you can stay up with the rapid changes that frequently occur in your field throughout the early stages of your career. You can move from a high-powered entry-level role to a high-powered mid-career position with the aid of a cheap MBA.

You can improve your abilities and increase your income in any industry with a cheap MBA. Additionally, because they may be used in a variety of careers, inexpensive MBAs are growing in popularity.

A cheap MBA degree is becoming more and more recognized as being essential for success in the business world since it teaches students how to manage their time and keep up with rapidly evolving technology.

The affordable MBA programs that may be right for you depend on your career goals, work schedule, time commitments, and affordability needs!

3. You can learn from management leaders

Affordable MBA programs could give you access to business experts who are currently managing organizations, as opposed to listening to a professor who has never worked outside of the academic system. You might have access to recent management research, case studies, and ideas that are pertinent to your professional objectives.

Students who enroll in one of the many affordable MBA programs have access to a variety of resources, including alumni networks, career chances, research facilities, and more. You have the chance to learn new skills that will set you apart from the competitors in this cutthroat employment market by enrolling in an affordable MBA program!

Cheapest MBA Programs in the USA for International Students - General Requirements

Whether or not you are looking for a cheaper option, requirements for MBA programs in the USA are pretty much the same for international students. Fulfilling these requirements can boost your chances of getting admission to your desired university. So, you need to carefully go through the university-specific requirements and complete and submit them within the deadline to ensure your seat.

Here are the top 9 general requirements that you’ll need to fulfill.

  1. A bachelor's degree program with a minimum GPA of 3.40 from a regionally accredited institution or; A graduate degree previously earned from a school accredited by a body in the U.S. Department of Education list (Ph.D., JD, DBA, MD, MS, MA, etc.)
  2. A minimum of five years of full-time, post-undergraduate work experience with an increase in responsibility during the previous eight years.
  3. A GMAT or GRE score that is no older than five years. We advise a score of 500 or higher.
  4. Minimum two letters of recommendation from professionals
  5. Your updated resume
  6. A $40-$60 non-refundable fee (varies from university to university)
  7. The university official transcripts
  8. Filled out Covid vaccination online form

MBA Scholarships in the USA for International Students

If your desired university doesn’t offer lower rates but you still want to cut expenses, then you can look for scholarships. Every year, US organizations, including government initiatives and education boards, support numerous international students in their studies.

Such scholarships are available to students on a budget or in financial need, from developing or underdeveloped nations, as well as for students who are excelling in academics, sports, leadership, etc.

Here are the Top 5 MBA scholarships for international students who want to achieve an MBA degree from a US university.

1. Foreign Fulbright Scholarships

Graduates, artists, and professionals can get a Fulbright Foreign scholarship. Such financial aid is provided for American higher education by the US government. Approximately 4,000 applicants receive the award each year. If you are pursuing a Ph.D. or Master's degree, you can look into applying.

Even a non-degree postgraduate student can be eligible for the program. The scheme benefits a wide range of areas. It covers study costs, books, monthly stipend, health insurance, and flight ticket.

2. Rotary Peace Scholarship

Each year, 50 candidates for Master's programs receive Rotary Peace Scholarships. It offers a fully funded scholarship program for students who want to study in the USA. This plan relates to Duke University and the University of North Carolina enrollment. This program is also hosted by some other universities outside the United States.

The system offers significant financial advantages. such as tuition, books, exam costs, lodging, travel expenses, etc. The scholarships are available for a maximum of two years.

3. Joint Japan Scholarship

Candidates from emerging nations are eligible to apply for a joint Japan or World Bank scholarship. The scholarship is open to individuals from emerging regions for master's degrees. A student can enroll in any university in the USA with the aid of the program.

Each year, the foundation awards a few scholarships. It covers all of the expenses associated with being a student, including housing, travel, monthly expenses, and tuition. To cover accident-related medical expenses or urgent care, insurance cards are also issued. Typically, the scholarship program pays for all costs during a two-year term.

4. The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation provides mentorship and leadership development opportunities for its scholars, as well as access to internships and job opportunities. Additionally, the program focuses on community service and encourages scholars to give back to their communities through volunteer work and social entrepreneurship projects.

The selection process is based on academic achievement, financial need, leadership potential, and community involvement. Only a small percentage of applicants get into the program, but as long as you have a solid portfolio, don’t let this discourage you from applying!

MBA Scholarships from Universities

Need-Blind and Need-Aware Scholarships

Some colleges in the USA offer need-based scholarships for international students who demonstrate financial need. These scholarships are often awarded based on the student's ability to pay for their education and may include a combination of grants and loans.

Scholarships may be need-blind or need-aware. Schools accepting need-blind applications don’t consider your financial background as part of the admissions process, whereas need-aware schools do.

Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships, on the other hand, are on offer for students demonstrating exceptional talent and/or ability. Students with a track record of academic excellence or leadership prowess can qualify for a merit-based scholarship.

Research Scholarships

Another type of scholarship available to international students is the research scholarship. These scholarships are usually awarded to students who are pursuing research in a specific field or area of study, typically at the graduate level. These scholarships often come with funding for travel and research expenses, as well as a stipend for living expenses.

Some colleges also offer specialized scholarships for international students. These scholarships are typically awarded to students who are pursuing a specific field of study or have a particular skill or talent.

Overall, international students have many options when it comes to scholarships for college. While merit-based scholarships are the most common, there are also need-based and specialized scholarships available.

Some examples of MBA scholarships from universities include:
  1. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  2. Harvard Business School
  3. Columbia Business School
  4. University of Pennsylvania, Wharton
  5. Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business
  6. Dartmouth Tuck School of Business
  7. UCLA Anderson School of Management
  8. The University of Virginia Darden School of Business

How Much Does an MBA Cost in the USA for International Students?

There are other costs, primarily pre-arrival costs, that are typically not covered by the tuition at top colleges in the USA. The pre-arrival costs associated with an MBA in the USA are entirely out-of-pocket costs that must be taken into account since they are not covered by any scholarships or financial aid.

Take a look at the chart below for pre-arrival expenses for an MBA in the USA if you're curious about what they are and how much you should set aside for them.

Fees Cost (USD)
IELTS registration fee
GMAT registration fee
TOEFL registration fee
GRE registration fee
Visa application fee
Service fee
$1300-$2700 (Approx.)

Affordable MBA in the USA without IELTS

It is important to note that each university and college has its own specific requirements for international students, so it is important to research and check with the institution you are applying to.

Additionally, some universities may have conditional admission programs for international students who do not meet the required English proficiency scores but will need to complete additional language courses before starting their degree program.

It's also worth mentioning that even if a university or college does not require IELTS, it may still be beneficial to take the test as it can be useful for obtaining scholarships, internships, and job opportunities after graduation.

In summary, while some universities and colleges in the USA may welcome international students without IELTS, it is important to check with the institution you are applying to and be aware that you may still need to take alternative language proficiency tests or conditional admission programs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which country is best for MBA with low fees?

In Norway, many universities offer MBA programs with no tuition fees, including the Norwegian School of Economics, the University of Oslo, and the BI Norwegian Business School.

Germany is also known for its affordable MBA programs, with many public universities offering MBA programs with low or no tuition fees. Such as the Technical University of Munich, the University of Mannheim, and the University of St. Gallen. So, studying for an MBA in Norway or Germany can be an excellent choice for those looking to save money.

Our Concluding Thoughts

Before you make your decision, here are a few tips to help you find the best low-cost MBA program for you:

  1. Research the different formats of affordable MBA programs. Some programs are online, while others are hybrid (a combination of online and in-person classes). Determine which format works best for your lifestyle and schedule.
  2. Look for schools that offer concentration options. Many affordable MBA programs offer specializations in areas such as finance, marketing, or healthcare management. This can give you a more focused education and increase your chances of finding a job in your desired field.
  3. Check for accreditation. It is important to ensure that the MBA program you are considering is accredited by a reputable organization such as the AACSB or the ACBSP. This will ensure that the program meets the standards of quality and rigor required by employers.
  4. Consider the school's reputation. Look into the school's reputation and the qualifications of the faculty. This will give you an idea of the quality of education you will receive and the level of support you can expect.
  5. Look into financial aid options. Many affordable MBA programs offer financial aid and scholarships to help offset the cost. Make sure to explore all the options available to you to reduce the cost of your MBA program. 

You can find the cheapest MBA Programs in the USA for International Students by following these tips. With the right program, you can achieve your dream of studying in the US and start your career in the business field.