10 Best Master’s in Management Programs 2021

Date Updated: March 19, 2021

Master's in management degrees develop students' knowledge and skills in organizational behavior, economic theory, and business strategy.

These programs attract young professionals with limited work experience who recently completed their bachelor's degrees.

A master's in management prepares learners to take on leadership roles in their chosen fields, often suiting applicants without academic backgrounds in business.


Every industry needs management personnel to function properly. Driven by expanding and newly-created organizations, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average growth of 5% for management positions from 2019-2029.

To help prospective students evaluate their enrollment options, we compiled the following ranked list of the 10 best master's in management programs. After reviewing the rankings, continue reading to learn more about the master's in management curriculum and potential career opportunities for graduates.

The 10 Best Management Master's Degrees 2021

Rank School Location
1 University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
2 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
3 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
4 University of California, Davis Davis, CA
5 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
6 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA
7 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
8 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
9 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA
10 Villanova University Villanova, PA


See Detailed Rankings

What Is a Management Degree?

Modern management originated during the Industrial Revolution, from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. A transition from handmade production to machine-driven manufacturing across Europe and the United States led to significant growth in businesses and organizations.

These new, larger entities required owners to coordinate tasks with others. Industries developed solutions to aid mass production, including specialization of labor, standardized processes, workflow planning, and quality control.

The term "management" gained widespread use by the early 1900s, and the first comprehensive theories of management began to emerge. Harvard University launched the world's first MBA program in 1908.

Today, every industry and sector employs management professionals. Managers often specialize in certain fields, such as healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, education, and finance. Nearly 19,000,000 Americans worked in management occupations as of 2019. Some of the most popular positions include chief executive, financial manager, food service manager, and marketing and sales manager.

Managers complete many different tasks, depending on their employer and level of responsibility. They hire new employees, control expenses, develop goals, and monitor organizational performance. Managers are an indispensable part of modern industry — without them, goods and services would never reach consumers.

Why Get a Management Master's?

The greatest benefit of a master's in management is its flexibility. Whether your academic background is in business, the liberal arts, or a technical discipline, earning a master's in management empowers you with the skills required to lead and manage teams, departments, and organizations.

As a career field, management tends to offer a high level of job security and excellent compensation. A graduate degree in management enhances these benefits by increasing your competitiveness in the job market.

    • Transferable Skills: Most master's in management programs accommodate students with academic backgrounds outside of business. The degree provides highly transferable skills in leadership, communication, and analytics.


    • Job Market Demand: According to BLS data, the growth of organizations and formation of new companies will drive a growing demand for skilled managers from 2019-2029. Managers can apply their transferable skills to find opportunities across sectors and industries.



Ranking the Top 10 Master's Degrees in Management

To ensure quality education, secondary institutions seek the help of third parties, or accrediting organizations, to review the curriculum and academic standards. All of the schools ranked below have been approved by one of the following accreditation bodies:

  • – Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • – WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • – Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • – New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • – Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)


Some programs on our list also hold subject-specific accreditation from one of the following accreditors:

  • – Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)


To learn more about the methodology behind our rankings, click on the following link.

Our Ranking Methodology

1. University of Texas at Austin

Public university in Austin, TX, accredited by SACSCOC

The University of Texas at Austin offers 237 master's and doctoral programs, compared to 156 undergraduate degrees. UT Austin's focus on graduate education makes it a prime spot for students seeking a master's in management. UT Austin now educates over 50,000 students from 124 countries.

Management MBA

Offered by the McCombs School of Business Management Department, this MBA program allows students to personalize over 70% of the curriculum. Degree-seekers select 14 credit hours during their first year and all classes their second year, and they can pursue 22 different concentrations.

Several specializations, primarily in the financial, accounting, and marketing fields, are STEM-certified, giving students the necessary skills to excel in the workforce after graduation.

To gain even more skills and opportunities, students can complete a dual-degree program. They may pair an MBA with another degree, such as Latin American studies, public affairs, or communication.

Applying to UT Austin

Applicants fill out an online application and mail in official transcripts and EA, GRE, or GMAT scores. Additional requirements include a professional resume, two years of full-time work experience, letters of recommendation, and a $200 fee. The final step involves an interview upon invitation from the university.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $51,020/year (in state); $56,572/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 62 semester hours
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

2. University of Florida

Public university in Gainesville, FL, accredited by SACSCOC

Since 1858, the University of Florida has been educating students for a brighter future. With innovative research centers across 16 separate colleges, UF provides academic excellence in numerous fields of study.

Master of Science in Management

The Warrington College of Business offers this degree program exclusively to students who do not hold an undergraduate degree in business. The program takes only one year to complete, and its core courses provide a solid business foundation. Required courses include managerial accounting and a capstone in global strategic management.

To graduate, enrollees must complete 10 elective credits. Those who wish to continue on to an MBA program at UF can study specific electives to fast track their next degree.

Applying to UF

Those with undergraduate diplomas in business cannot apply. Prospective students need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. UF stipulates a minimum 465 GMAT score; the school does not require a minimum GRE score. Degree-seekers must complete a pre-application form, an online application, and a statement of purpose. They also submit official transcripts, test scores, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a $30 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $531/credit hour (in state); $1,255/credit hour (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 32 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Delivery Format: On campus or 100% online

3. University of California, Los Angeles

Public university in Los Angeles, CA, accredited by WSCUC and AACSB

Over the past century, University of California, Los Angeles has graduated several award-winning alumni, including Pulitzer Prize-winners and MacArthur fellows. UCLA's graduates and faculty show that the institution provides top-notch education.

Graduate Program in Management – MS, Ph.D.

UCLA offers a master's in management only for students pursuing a doctoral degree as well. Since the MS is part of the Ph.D. curriculum, students do not need to focus on one particular area of management. They can spread out their courses among various fields, including global economics and management, finance, and behavioral decision-making.

Once enrollees have completed at least six management courses and three electives, they participate in a capstone plan, which ends with an exam typically given to Ph.D. students in their second year. Before continuing on with their doctoral studies, learners submit a master's thesis.

Applying to UCLA

To apply for the graduate program, potential students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. Along with the online application, each candidate must submit a statement of purpose, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT test scores. UCLA also requires a $120 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $17,567/year (in state); $32,669/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 36 units
  • Program Length: 2 years to complete MS; 5 years to complete MS and Ph.D.
  • Delivery Format: On campus

4. University of California, Davis

Public university in Davis, CA, accredited by WSCUC and AACSB

University of California, Davis prioritizes a community atmosphere, offering over 800 clubs and 25 athletic teams, plus numerous organizations. The students and faculty make sure to care for the local community, as well, through sustainable practices, like the biodigester.

Master of Business Administration

During the first year of study, students spend most of their time in traditional learning environments, taking classes such as financial theory and policy, data analysis for managers, and marketing management. They also prioritize preparing for and finding quality internships.

The second year provides plenty of hands-on experience. Enrollees work on a 10-week capstone course with a prominent company and explore multiple elective courses. UC Davis also offers students the opportunity to study abroad for either a semester or an intensive two-week period.

Applying to UC Davis

Degree-seekers begin the process with an online application and a $125 fee. They must also submit transcripts, a resume, GMAT or GRE test results, at least one essay, and two professional letters of recommendation. Finally, a representative from UC Davis organizes a virtual interview with the applicant.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $41,750/year (in state); $53,995/year (out of state)
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus and online

5. Ohio State University

Public university in Columbus, OH, accredited by HLC and AACSB

After 150 years, Ohio State University at the main campus has made quite a name for itself. Business Insider ranks Ohio State 12th for smartest public college. The school runs 18 colleges with over 12,000 courses, ensuring a strong education for all students.

Fisher College Master of Business Administration

An MBA from the Fisher College of Business includes experiential, integrated, and personalized learning.

Instead of only spending time in a classroom, degree-seekers gain experience by working with leading local and global companies. Hands-on projects, such as the core capstone experience and the social impact challenge, allow students to gain invaluable management experience.

Success in a management position requires a variety of skills. Ohio State prepares students for this success by providing them with projects and courses that integrate various fields of study.

Since electives almost exclusively fill students' second year, each enrollee can customize the degree to fit their goals. Plus, with the help of a support team, each student can create a personalized class schedule for increased success post graduation.

Applying to Ohio State

In addition to the online application and mandatory $60 application fee, prospective students must submit at least two essays, a resume, official transcripts, and GRE or GMAT test results. Letters of recommendation are optional. Before undergoing a face-to-face interview, students must record a video answering certain questions.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $31,139/year (in state); $55,855/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

6. University of California, Berkeley

Public university in Berkeley, CA, accredited by WSCUC and AACSB

Since its founding in 1868, students and faculty at University of California, Berkeley have been making history with dozens of groundbreaking discoveries, including the flu vaccine and robotic legs. This innovation continues today through extensive research initiatives and almost 200 academic programs.

Master of Business Administration

For the MBA program, students must pass 12 required management courses covering leadership skills, ethics, finance, and macroeconomics. Elective courses, which comprise 60% of the degree, allow enrollees to experience a well-rounded plan of study.

Instead of just exploring other fields through electives, students can opt for one of three dual-degree programs. Learners may pair an MBA with a master of public health, a master of engineering, or a juris doctor degree.

The Haas School of Business also offers an exchange program in partnership with the Columbia Business School. Select students travel to New York for one semester to learn about management from prominent local businesses.

Applying to Berkeley

Applicants complete an online form and send all transcripts to Berkeley. They also need to submit a professional resume, GMAT or GRE scores, completed essays, two letters of recommendation, and a $200 fee. Berkeley then reviews the application and may invite the candidate to an interview.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $64,246/year (in state); $68,444/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 45 units
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

7. Harvard University

Private, nonprofit university in Cambridge, MA, accredited by NECHE and AACSB

For nearly 400 years, Harvard University has celebrated a prestigious reputation and impressive international influence. Today, the school educates over 5,000 international students on campus and over 6 million global online learners.

Master of Business Administration

For the whole MBA program, the learners study with their given cohort of approximately 90 students. Together, cohorts learn real-world management experience through the case and FIELD methods.

Through the case method, students analyze real people's problems to find solutions. Through small-group discussion and in-class debate, enrollees gain vital real-world experience. The FIELD global immersion course spans students' first year, encouraging learners to take on leadership positions and apply their knowledge. This course allows students to work with global companies.

Applying to Harvard

Harvard applicants must submit an online application, transcripts, GMAT or GRE scores, an essay, two professional letters of recommendation, a resume, a signed form accepting the policies, and a $250 application fee. Prospective students may receive an interview invitation. If so, the final step is to submit a post-interview reflection within 24 hours of the interview.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $73,440/year
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

8. Johns Hopkins University

Private, nonprofit university in Baltimore, MD, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB

As the first university focused on research, Johns Hopkins University believes that research and teaching must occur together. While primarily recognized for its medical programs, Johns Hopkins applies the same mentality of research and hands-on learning to all areas of study.

Master of Business Administration

As part of the Carey Business School, an MBA from Johns Hopkins includes both in-class and real-world learning opportunities. Students start with "foundations week," which covers basics in behavioral science, data science, and experiential learning.

The MBA's core classes cover finance, data science, marketing management, and behavioral science. Enrollees also participate in field projects, consulting projects, and other experiential components.

Students may choose to personalize their MBA through electives in various fields. Some options for degree customization include operations management, finance, and marketing.

Applying to Johns Hopkins

After filling out the online application, potential students must mail their official transcripts to Johns Hopkins. The university also requires two short essays, a resume, a letter of recommendation, GRE or GMAT scores, and a $100 application fee. The final step includes an interview upon invitation.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $62,500/year
  • Required Credits: 54 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus, 100% online (asynchronous), or hybrid

9. Boston College

Private, nonprofit college in Chestnut Hill, MA, accredited by NECHE and AACSB

Established in 1863, Boston College was the first secondary education institution in Boston. To this day, BC continues to provide high-quality education with Jesuit, Catholic values. The college promotes education around the world through global partnerships and by encouraging students to serve and study abroad.

Master of Business Administration

In BC's MBA program, degree-seekers complete a variety of courses, including data analytics and financial management. Students choose half-semester electives to complement their core classes. They also must fulfill 20 hours of community service as a requirement for the Carroll School of Management.

Small classes and experienced faculty provide a positive learning environment. Enrollees work with organizations and companies while studying at BC to gain practical, real-world experience. Thanks to the hands-on experience, graduates of the MBA program go on to work at renowned companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Hasbro, Deloitte, and Reebok.

Applying to BC

In addition to the online application, potential students must submit a letter of recommendation, a response to one of the given essay prompts, and their professional resume, preferably demonstrating at least two years of experience. Enrollees must also turn in college transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, and the $100 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $27,690/semester
  • Required Credits: 57 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus

10. Villanova University

Private, nonprofit university in Villanova, PA, accredited by MSCHE and AACSB

Villanova University provides quality education to over 10,000 students. The school has instilled values of service, critical thinking, and leadership since 1842 as the only Augustinian Catholic school in the U.S.

Master of Business Administration

The Villanova School of Business offers several ways to complete the MBA part time. The fast-track method closely resembles a full-time courseload and takes two years to complete. For a more customizable option, students may choose the flex track and study at different locations each semester.

Another option of study includes the shorter executive MBA, which lasts only 19 months. Enrollees only meet for these executive MBA classes every third weekend. Students may also opt for the joint-degree program, which combines an MBA with a juris doctor. The coursework takes three years to finish and includes classes from both the Villanova School of Business and the Charles Widger School of Law.

An MBA at Villanova includes three capstones and the opportunity for students to pursue one of 10 specializations, with options including healthcare, cybersecurity, and sustainability.

Applying to Villanova

Students must first complete an online application, including two essay questions, and mail official transcripts to the university. They also need two professional recommendation letters, a business resume, and GMAT or GRE scores. The application fee totals $65.

Program at a Glance

  • Tuition: $1,240/credit
  • Required Credits: 48 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Delivery Format: On campus, online (asynchronous) with some in-person requirements, and hybrid

What to Expect From Master's in Management Programs

Completing an in-person or online master's in management typically takes 1-2 years. Students can enroll on a full- or part-time basis, and many schools offer on-campus, online, and hybrid learning options.

Online programs may use synchronous or asynchronous formatting. Synchronous courses require students to attend class via live web conferencing. Asynchronous courses allow students to access course material independently and at their convenience.

Most master's in management programs comprise 30-40 credits of coursework. Along with core courses and practicum opportunities, students receive added flexibility in tailoring their program through open electives. Classes combine lectures, discussions, and exercises.

To apply, each prospective student typically needs to demonstrate a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and hold a bachelor's degree in any discipline. Candidates can possess little-to-no work experience, but each applicant should supply GRE or GMAT scores, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

Management degrees have varying curriculum and admission requirements. Learn more about your graduate study options in the next section.

Management Degree Options

Prospective graduate students looking to study management often choose from three options:

    • Master of Science in Management: An MS in management increases students' management abilities through technical and analytical skills. Course topics include managerial economics, marketing strategy, and financial accounting. Applicants often possess little or no work experience.


    • Master of Arts in Management: An MA in management develops learners' management abilities through practical and theoretical study. Course topics include managerial strategy, organizational change and development, and leadership in management. Applicants typically need undergraduate business prerequisites and several years of work experience.


    • Master of Business Administration: MBAs boost management skills through technical, theoretical, and practical coursework. Enrollees select from concentrations in finance, project management, and healthcare administration, among others. Applicants typically need undergraduate business prerequisites and several years of work experience.


An MS in management offers the best option for individuals looking to begin graduate school immediately following their bachelor's. Regardless of the undergraduate major, the MS program prepares graduates to efficiently lead teams, departments, and organizations. The MBA and MA in management serve experienced professionals looking to advance and hone their existing skills.

Popular Management Courses

A master's in management requires approximately 12-20 courses, including core classes, electives, and a final capstone project or experience.

Curriculum focuses on developing degree-seekers' hard skills in key managerial areas like finance, data analysis, communication, and decision-making. Learners also develop interpersonal skills like communication, team development, and leadership.

For a better understanding of the course content in a management master's program, take a look at five sample course descriptions below.

    • Financial Analysis: This course provides a broad understanding of financial analysis and its applications in business and investment decisions. Students develop fundamental knowledge of accounting concepts and procedures by examining financial statements, balance sheets, and cash flow analysis.


    • Management Communication: A course in management communication teaches enrollees how to communicate clearly and persuasively with different audiences. Coursework examines best practices to improve writing, presentation, and interpersonal skills.


    • Marketing Management: This course provides a comprehensive introduction to marketing management. Students learn to assess marketing opportunities, develop marketing strategies, and implement plans. Topics include marketing research, consumer behavior, sales forecasting, brand management, and marketing ethics.


    • Entrepreneurship and Innovation: This common elective course focuses on creating new businesses and markets through innovation and entrepreneurship. Topics include business model innovation, new ventures, and entering foreign markets. Learners examine business models, funding options, barriers, and risks.


    • Capstone/Practicum: A master's in management capstone typically requires each enrollee to participate in a real-world consulting practicum with a business client. Students integrate knowledge and skills gained throughout the program to solve practical leadership challenges.


What Jobs Can a Management Degree Get You?

According to a CareerBuilder survey of nearly 4,000 workers, 26% of managers said they felt unprepared to lead when they started managing others. Fifty-eight percent said they received no management training at all. Earning an in-person or online master's in management can help you to stand out from the competition.

When you pursue an online master's in management, you acquire the knowledge and skills required to lead departments and organizations across diverse sectors.

A manager may oversee a single, small team within a small business or handle major decision-making at the top rung of a multi-million dollar company.

The master's in management commonly attracts students without business experience who aim to climb the ranks and secure higher salaries in their chosen fields. Explore three potential careers for master's program graduates below.

Human Resources Managers

These managers plan and direct organizations' administrative activities, including recruitment and talent management. HR managers mediate employee disputes and consult with top executives on strategic planning. This career commonly requires several years of related work experience. HR managers can pursue voluntary certification, as well.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $116,720

Social and Community Services Managers

Social and community services managers coordinate and supervise initiatives that support public health and well-being. Common employers include nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service companies, and government agencies. This career requires related experience in social work, substance abuse counseling, or a similar field.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +17%
  • Median Annual Salary: $67,150

Marketing Managers

These professionals estimate consumer demand for products and services offered by their organizations and competitors. Marketing managers identify potential markets, develop pricing strategies, and monitor trends. Possessing related internship or work experience in sales, marketing, or promotions helps candidates thrive in these roles.

  • Required Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Job Outlook (2019-29): +7%
  • Median Annual Salary: $136,850

Selecting Your Master's in Management Program

Our school rankings offer a springboard to begin your college search, but selecting a master's program requires plenty of additional thought and consideration.

Applicants can start their search by verifying each prospective school's accreditation status. Accreditation involves a rigorous, third-party evaluation of minimum standards regarding academics, finances, student services, and faculty qualifications. Regional accreditation generally holds more prestige, but you can also consider schools with accreditation from national accrediting agencies.

Once you ensure a school's accreditation status, you can evaluate how well it fits your remaining priorities and selection criteria. Factors you may want to consider include:

    • School Size: Small schools offer more intimate classes, a close-knit community feel, and increased one-on-one attention from professors. Larger schools offer more diverse social opportunities, bigger sports programs, and additional campus events, along with a greater selection of academic options.


    • Cost and Financial Aid: Graduate school is expensive, but you don't need to break the bank to get your degree. Seek out schools with affordable tuition and diverse financial aid options like scholarships, grants, and assistantships.


    • Admission Competitiveness: Different types of master's in management programs fit varying student backgrounds. If you possess little work experience and lack undergraduate business courses, consider applying to programs specifically designed for non-business majors.


Should You Get Your Master's Online?

With short, 1-2 year timelines and small class sizes, master's degrees work extremely well in an online environment. Online graduate school has become increasingly popular in recent years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 40% of graduate students attended some or all of their courses online in the fall of 2018.

The best online master's in management programs provide students maximum scheduling flexibility. Along with full-time, part-time, and accelerated enrollment options, many online graduate degrees feature asynchronous formatting, allowing learners to log in and complete course components at their own convenience. Sometimes remote learners can maintain part- or full-time jobs while pursuing degrees.

Before deciding to study online, however, prospective students should evaluate whether the online experience fits their learning preferences and lifestyle. Some factors to consider include:

  • Program technology requirements
  • Your learning style and time management abilities
  • Your at-home learning environment
  • Whether the degree requires any in-person components
  • Your comfort level in communicating digitally with professors and peers


If a fully online degree does not seem right for you, that's okay. Some schools offer their master's in management programs in a hybrid format for those who prefer a mix of online and in-person classes.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a master's in management worth it?

For the right candidate, a master's in management makes for a great investment. This degree provides highly transferable leadership and communication skills that graduates can apply to their field of choice.

What can I do after a master's in management?

After earning a master's degree in management, graduates can pursue opportunities in many industries and fields. Managers work in for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

What kind of management degrees are there?

Popular management degree options include MBAs, MS in management degrees, and MAs in management. Students can also pursue management degrees with a narrower focus, such as a master's in human resource management.

What is better — an MBA or MS in management?

MBAs and management degrees both offer excellent education options. MBAs suit experienced professionals looking to advance in business, while management degrees provide young professionals with broad management skills applicable to the field of their choice.

What does a manager do?

The specific job duties of a manager vary by industry, employer, and leadership structure. Managers commonly oversee particular functions or departments within organizations. They supervise and lead teams, set goals, and make strategic decisions.

Professional Organizations in Management

For help choosing a management degree and career path, consider joining professional development organizations designed for management students and professionals. These organizations keep professionals current on industry and career trends by providing continuing education opportunities, publications, and relevant news. Professional organizations also typically facilitate networking opportunities through job boards and conferences.

    • American Management Association
      AMA offers 26 business courses to educate management professionals seeking new skills in project management, analytics, and human resources management. Its Women's Leadership Center supports female students and professionals in management.


    • Association of Change Management Professionals
      This association offers its members webinars, networking tools, events, and continuing education programs. ACMP also helps generate the change management field's professional standards.


    • Strategic Management Society
      SMS unites strategic management scholars and industry professionals through annual conferences, journal publications, and funding initiatives.


    • Academy of International Business
      As a nonprofit organization designed for global management professionals, AIB hosts events and a career center to facilitate international business networking.



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