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Top Master’s in Management Programs 2020

Compiled and Written By Staff
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2020

A master's in management program prepares students for lucrative management positions or for additional advanced business degrees. Working professionals often earn management master's degrees when seeking promotions or a new career in management.

Although salaries vary by industry, employer, and job title, managers typically earn healthy incomes. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from May 2018 indicates a median annual salary of $104,240 for management occupations nationwide.

Updated to reflect recent changes to this growing field, the rankings below identify the best master's in management programs of 2020. These rankings can assist you in selecting a program by providing a concise evaluation and comparison of available management master's programs.

The Best Schools for a Master's in Management

Rank School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
3 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA
4 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ
5 Boston University Boston, MA
6 George Washington University Washington, DC
7 The Catholic University of America Washington, DC
8 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL
9 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
10 Saint Mary's College of California Moraga, CA

Top Master's in Business Management Programs and Schools

Note: A detailed explanation of the methodology we used to determine the best Master's in Management programs can be found at the end of the ranking.

#1 Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

The nation's oldest university offers a master's in business management through its online Harvard Extension School. The program features a unique admissions process. Applicants take three classes, and if they pass, they can continue the program. The Cambridge, Massachusetts, institution delivers some coursework online, but participants must take at least four classes on campus.

In Harvard's 48-credit curriculum, students gain a solid foundation in accounting, economics, marketing, and organizational behavior. They also learn best practices in leadership through lectures, digital media, case studies, and group projects. Learners can apply credits to certificates in more than a dozen business disciplines.

Degree candidates can select a capstone track that includes an internship consulting for a real-world organization. Those with a GPA higher than 3.5 can participate in an executive education program at the JFK School of Government.

Average Net Price: $47,562

#2 Cornell University – Ithaca, NY

Students in Cornell's master's in management engage with an intense, immersive, STEM-designated education in leadership. Learners enter a cohort and spend a year on the school's Ithaca, New York, campus. Using electives in finance, strategy, accounting, business analytics, and business law, students can develop expertise in areas of professional interest.

Though based at the S.C. Johnson College of Business, program participants can take classes at several of the university's colleges. The 30-credit curriculum features coursework in communication, strategy, critical thinking, and operations management. Degree candidates participate in three industry practicums that feature live case studies and site visits.

Applicants need an undergraduate degree and a business minor or equivalent coursework in financial accounting, finance, economics, marketing, management, and statistics. Cornell's S.C. Johnson College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Average Net Price: $29,584

#3 Lehigh University – Bethlehem, PA

Lehigh designed its master of science in management for students without a business background. The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, institution's 32-credit program provides a pathway to careers at the executive level. Participants build their business skills, hone their professional goals, and develop expertise through experiential learning.

The program opens with a required pre-term orientation and then typically takes 10 months to complete. Carefully sequenced classes progress on a lock-step schedule. The cohort works through courses in business competencies, company operations, analyzing and managing business assets, and the changing business environment before completing an experience-based capstone.

Applicants should hold no more than one year of experience. Lehigh reports that 89% of graduates find employment within three months of graduation. Lehigh's College of Business is accredited by the AACSB.

Average Net Price: $27,130

#4 Stevens Institute of Technology – Hoboken, NJ

One of the nation's oldest tech schools, Stevens built its management master's degree to give STEM students practical business skills. The program shows learners how leadership, economic, strategy, and innovation skills can greatly enhance their resumes. Learners can pursue the degree either on campus in Hoboken, New Jersey, or online.

The 24-credit core curriculum grounds participants in the managerial aspects of finance, economics, technology, operations, organizational behavior, and financial decision-making. Two additional classes in one of these areas serves as a specialization. Students gain additional experience through a field consulting program.

Applicants typically bring an undergraduate degree in STEM or the liberal arts. The program does not require work experience. More than 300 businesses recruited on campus in 2019. Stevens' business programs are accredited by the AACSB.

Average Net Price: $37,250

#5 Boston University – Boston, MA

BU established its management master's degree as a pass/fail program for students with non-business undergraduate degrees. Learners join a cohort and progress through the 36-credit curriculum together. Moving in lock step, participants form close teams and build a network for the future. The process requires two semesters of full-time work.

The university created its curriculum with the help of industry leaders, and many classes revolve around real business challenges. Executives visit class, and program participants attempt to solve problems they faced. Many learners receive job offers before they graduate. BU emphasizes strong communication, decision-making, negotiation, and leadership skills.

Applicants must submit GRE or GMAT scores and their undergraduate transcripts. BU's Questrom School of Business is accredited by the AACSB. BU only accepts transfer credit from AACSB-accredited programs.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $53,572

#6 George Washington University – Washington, DC

At GW's School of Business, students can stack graduate certificates to create their own personal pathways. The Washington, D.C., institution hosts a business management master's degree that readies graduates for executive-level careers in business, even if they possess a liberal arts or STEM background.

Degree-seekers complete a core curriculum and choose from two dozen certificate courses as their electives, enabling them to leave school with additional credentials. Students can complete the 33-credit course of study in a single year by studying full time or take a more leisurely pace by enrolling part time.

Available online, on campus, or in a hybrid format, the program features a rolling admissions policy to allow students to get started at their convenience. GWU's School of Business is accredited by the AACSB.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $30,834

#7 The Catholic University of America – Washington, DC

The Catholic University of America offers a master's in business management with specializations in human resource, project, sales, leadership, and federal contract management. Intended for working professionals, the 36-credit program allows students to attend courses online, on campus in Washington, D.C., or in a hybrid format.

The university stresses that its master of science in management focuses entirely on management and leadership, unlike MBA programs. The 12-class curriculum features coursework in strategic planning, decision-making, communication, and the foundations of leadership. Students can select from a range of electives within each of the concentrations.

Degree candidates typically take two classes per semester and need at least a B to pass. The school reports that the average professional with a master's in management earns a salary of nearly $76,000.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $46,800

#8 Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago, IL

Fitting for a tech school, IIT offers an innovative master's in management science that emphasizes quantitative methods and computer models in its curriculum. The STEM-designated program takes a data-intensive approach to business problem-solving and decision-making. Students can select from concentrations in analytics and quantitative finance.

The core curriculum features two math classes for management science and two statistics classes for management science. The remaining credits come from specializations and electives. IIT takes advantage of its location in Chicago's business district to provide experiential education and networking opportunities.

Applicants need an undergraduate degree from an accredited university earned with a 3.0 GPA or better. The institute's Stuart School of Business is accredited by the AACSB.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $55,440

#9 University of Florida – Gainesville, FL

UF's master of science in management was among the first programs of its kind in the country. Designed for individuals with no background in business, the curriculum features the same professors who teach the school's highly ranked MBA program. The 32-credit degree runs both online and on campus in Gainesville.

The curriculum features 22 credits in the business core, including classes in strategic thinking, global markets, financial accounting, marketing, and organizational behavior. Electives in areas such as entrepreneurship, finance, information systems, and real estate allow learners to tailor their program to their professional goals.

UF encourages students to pursue an internship to earn first-hand experience and build a network. The school also welcomes learners to take nine credits outside of the school of business, which many use to earn graduate certificates. Graduates join an alumni network more than 73,000 strong.

Average Net Price: $19,052

#10 Saint Mary's College of California – Moraga, CA

A liberal arts institution outside of Oakland, SMC uses its technology and Catholic heritage as focal points for its master's in business management. The program welcomes applicants from any discipline and uses practical, applied learning to ground students in modern management and the use of business analytics.

The cohort-based curriculum features classes in ethics, leadership, creative thinking, and communication. SMC leverages its Bay Area location, bringing in mentors from Apple, Oracle, Salesforce, and Kaiser. Two field projects give participants hands-on business experience.

According to PayScale, SMC's graduates rank among the top 10 percent in the nation for earning potential. The program itself boasts an 88% employment rate. Applicants with an undergraduate 3.0 GPA or lower must take the GRE/GMAT.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $39,077

#11 Babson College – Wellesley, MA

A Greater Boston institution with a reputation for developing entrepreneurs, Babson offers one of the nation's best master's in management programs. The curriculum blends classic management traditions with the latest in entrepreneurial education. Unlike many graduate-level business programs, Babson does not require work experience.

Degree-seekers join a cohort and build skills in six theme areas, including entrepreneurial thinking, global management, and social consciousness. Each student completes four action-based projects, and learners can finish the program in two 14-week semesters.

Applicants with a 3.0 GPA or higher often receive waivers for standardized testing requirements. Babson reports that 95% of program graduates find employment within six months. Babson's F.W. Olin Graduate School is accredited by the AACSB.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $82,496

#12 Ithaca College – Ithaca, NY

One of the nation's top small liberal arts colleges, IC offers a unique take on the master's in management. Known for its performing arts programs, the upstate New York institution hosts an MBA degree in entertainment. In just one year, students learn how to develop, market, and manage creative talent.

IC's core curriculum features the same coursework as many traditional MBAs, including accounting, finance, business law, leadership, and marketing. IC combines these with a deep dive into the world of modern entertainment. Most learners can earn all necessary credits within a single year.

Students enjoy hands-on, experiential learning working at SXSW, the PBS affiliate WCNY, and the local State Theatre. They also build a network using IC's many entertainment industry connections.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $20,832

#13 Elon University – Elon, NC

A mid-size liberal arts institution in North Carolina, Elon focuses on providing experiential education. The school's student-centered, hands-on focus extends to its management master's degree. The cohort-based program promotes camaraderie and teamwork, and practicums give participants real-world experience.

Elon crafted its 33-credit curriculum to appeal to both working professionals and recent college graduates. Learners can enroll part time and continue to work or enroll full time and finish in less than a year. The STEM-certified program stresses the use of data mining, predictive modeling, and enhanced communication in global business.

A capstone experience allows students to work at companies such as SAS, IBM, Wells Fargo, Hanes, and Fidelity. Elon's Martha and Spencer Love School of Business is accredited by the AACSB.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $13,482

#14 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign, IL

Based in Champaign, Illinois established its business management master's degree to add value to an undergraduate degree, no matter the field. Students learn valuable leadership, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

The university's 34-credit curriculum features business fundamentals, including marketing, process management, data analysis, finance, and quantitative reasoning. Degree candidates can use electives to develop expertise in entrepreneurship, design, sustainability, and nonprofit management.

Company visits and action learning give students work experience and new connections in the business world. The course of study begins in June and concludes in three semesters.

Illinois boasts a 100% placement rate for 2019 program graduates.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $21,644

#15 The Pennsylvania State University – University Park, PA

Penn State's master of professional studies in management and organizational leadership teaches individuals from any background how to lead. Taught by the same faculty as the institution's top-ranked MBA, virtually every class in the 30-credit curriculum features management techniques. A leadership immersion capstone project puts learners' newfound skills to the test.

Penn State uses lectures, readings, team and solo projects, and experiential education to deliver a comprehensive management education. Core subjects include finance, strategy, decision analysis, accounting, marketing, and high-performance team development. The capstone course takes participants to places such as Quantico, the FDNY, and West Point to test leadership abilities under stress.

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, hold a degree from a regionally accredited institution, and provide GRE or GMAT scores. Those who successfully complete the program join a network of more than 125,000 alumni.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $29,257

#16 University of Saint Joseph – West Hartford, CT

Located in West Hartford, Connecticut, USJ offers an organizational management master's degree that boasts a flexible format. At the Catholic university, students can pursue their degree in the evening, on weekends, or online, on a full-time or part-time basis. They can continue working or enroll as recent college graduates with no work experience.

In keeping with the institution's Catholic heritage, USJ's 36-credit program takes a values-centered approach to business. Ethical decision-making is one of the highlights of the core curriculum, which also explores leadership, accounting, finance, high-performance organizations, IT, and stockholder relations.

Participants can customize their degree plan by adding specialized graduate certificates in project management, healthcare systems management, homeland security management, and health informatics.

Qualified USJ undergraduates can often add a year of graduate study for free.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $14,532

#17 DePaul University – West Lafayette, IN

Based in Chicago, DePaul takes full advantage of its location in a major business hub. The nation's largest Catholic institution, DePaul hosts a management master's that provides early career professionals with a route into the executive ranks. Students can network and learn at several of the city's 35 Fortune 500 companies.

DePaul's curriculum involves 13 total classes in fundamental business areas, including finance, ethics, sustainability, consulting, and leadership. Learners also select four electives from the Kellstadt School of Business. Many pursue classes in the program's focus areas, which include human resources, project management, and sales and marketing.

Applicants submit a resume of their work experience, college transcripts, and an essay. DePaul reports that 90% of 2018 graduates found employment within six months of graduation. Graduates can immediately network with 116,000 Chicago-area alumni.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $19,422

#18 Regis University – Denver, CO

A private Jesuit institution, Regis offers a handful of management degrees on its campus in Denver. These include a master's that focuses on the in-demand discipline of project management. The university laid out the curriculum according to the Project Management Institute's Talent Triangle of Technical Skills.

Available on campus and online, the program features 30 total credits. Coursework covers topics such as communicating with shareholders, leading change and innovation, and managing project performance. Classes meet in the evening and run in accelerated, eight-week terms.

All degree candidates must complete a capstone in corporate responsibility and stewardship. The program is accredited by the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education and the Project Management Institute. Regis does not require GRE or GMAT scores.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $13,177

#19 Concordia University – Saint Paul, MN

A Christian university in Minnesota's Twin Cities, CSP delivers career-oriented education with a biblical worldview. The school offers a management master's based in leadership, motivation, and influence. The program trains students in the use of interpersonal skills to improve dynamics, drive teams forward, and maximize business performance.

Offered online or on campus in St. Paul, the curriculum requires students to earn a total of 36 credits. Classes explore subject areas such as applied ethics, organizational research, structural change, quality management, and process implementation. The culminating course features an action project and a formal report.

CSP schedules classes in seven-week sessions. The school reports that its graduates earn 44% more than the national average. Applicants need an undergraduate 3.0 GPA or better.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $8,550

#20 George Mason University – Arlington, VA

Mason's MS in management prepares students without a background in business for management careers. Located in Arlington, Virginia, the university designed its program using the core business disciplines common to all AACSB-accredited schools. Learners typically complete the full-time, cohort-based course of study in 11 months.

Highlights of the 36-credit curriculum include performance evaluation, firm performance, statistical analysis, organizational behavior, and business strategy. Professors emphasize the modern global business environment and place many courses in this context. Degree-seekers often pursue an internship to gain portfolio-building work experience.

Mason requires applicants to have completed their undergraduate studies within two years of applying. Candidates should hold no more than two years of professional experience. The average starting master's in management salary for program graduates sits at $62,222.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $22,029

#21 Merrimack College – North Andover, MA

Among the nation's fastest-growing colleges, Merrimack established its master's in management as a practical alternative to an MBA. The Greater Boston institution offers the program in a variety of formats to accommodate working professionals and recent college graduates. Students can enroll full time or part time.

The Girard School of Business uses case studies and real-world problems to educate learners in financial reporting, management planning, statistical analysis, and effective team leading. Hallmarks include the Catholic college's commitment to integrity, communication skills, and decision-making. Many students apply for one of the school's competitive fellowships.

Learners can complete the program in as little as nine months. Merrimack boasts a 96% career outcomes rate and salaries 60% higher than the national average 10 years after graduation.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $29,100

#22 Rockhurst University – Kansas City, MO

A Jesuit, liberal arts university, RU offers a master's degree in organizational leadership through its Helzburg School of Management. The 35-credit program focuses on management, business development, human resources, and interpersonal skills. Learners meet one night a week on campus in Kansas City, Missouri.

Students must earn a minimum of 33 credits to complete the program. Degree-seekers can specialize in organizational leadership, healthcare management, or nonprofit management. Because of RU's Catholic heritage, ethics play a major part in coursework. RU schedules classes in eight-week terms and offers five start dates each year.

Using electives, learners can customize their degree plan in areas such as human resources, organizational change, innovation, and conflict management. An optional global experience explores cultural and business practices overseas. RU's Helzburg School of Management is accredited by the AACSB.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $16,060

#23 New Jersey Institute of Technology – Newark, NJ

NJIT's master's in management enables early and mid-career professionals to advance their careers in STEM fields. The interdisciplinary program combines an MBA's core business education with a focus on technology and management. Full-time learners can earn their degree in a single year.

Students in NJIT's 30-credit program choose from concentrations in web systems and media, business analytics, financial technology, and global project management. Half of the curriculum focuses on these specialty areas, giving students a deep immersion in their area of choice. Classes meet in the evenings to accommodate work schedules. Core business classes also run online.

NJIT boasts status as a top 10 percent school for return on investment, with a median salary of $65,300. The institute's Martin Tuchman School of Management is accredited by the AACSB.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $25,096

#24 Azusa Pacific University – Azusa, CA

At APU, students can tailor their master's in management to their interest areas. Uniquely customizable, the course of study offers ready-made concentrations in eight areas. The 39-unit, Christ-centered program runs online, on APU's main campus in Azusa, California, and at three other locations in California.

The program opens with a class in ethics that sets the stage for the curriculum's Christian focus. Core classes consider team management, applied research, performance improvement, and people management. Students can choose from concentration options such as entrepreneurship, human resource management, institutional research, and international business.

Graduate programs at Azusa's School of Business and Management run in accelerated, eight-week sessions and typically meet 1-2 times a week. APU is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $17,362

#25 California Lutheran University – Thousand Oaks, CA

A Lutheran institution in Southern California, CLU established its master's in management to train the next generation of leaders in non-traditional businesses. Specifically designed for students from liberal arts, STEM, and technical backgrounds, the curriculum meets the needs of those who would not necessarily fit into an MBA program.

CLU emphasizes operational leadership and interpersonal communication in its 31-credit, year-long program. Participants use hands-on, experiential learning to understand business fundamentals. The capstone offers the option of an international immersion or an internship with a local organization.

CLU hosts classes on campus and online, typically in the evenings or on the weekend. In alumni surveys, 86% of respondents reported that their CLU management degree improved their individual competencies.

Avg. Net Price of Program: $19,215

What Can You Do with a Master's in Management?

Master's in management curricula vary widely by program type. Often more focused than a master's in business administration (MBA), a master's of science in management (MSM) features coursework on concrete skills in marketing, accounting, and information systems.

A master's in management (MIM), on the other hand, often emphasizes personal development and general business soft skills such as leadership, entrepreneurship, and communication. MIM degrees provide a great introduction to graduate-level business education. MIM programs usually boast diverse electives and learning modalities, often emphasizing teamwork exercises and real-world applications such as internships.

Whereas MBA programs usually require a business-related bachelor's degree and 3-5 years of prior relevant work experience, MIM programs often accept fresh bachelor's graduates from a variety of majors. The MIM typically serves as a shorter, less expensive alternative or precursor to the MBA. Like MBAs, MIM degrees exceed the bachelor's degree education requirements for many entry-level managerial positions in diverse industries including information technology, healthcare, and hospitality.

Also popular with international students, MIM programs sometimes incorporate second-language learning, study abroad experiences, and global business perspectives provided by international guest speakers.

Discover More Management Master's Degrees

What Do the Top Management Master's Programs Have in Common?

Useful for sparking career change or advancement, online or hybrid MIM programs allow students with work or family obligations to earn a graduate degree from home during hours that are convenient for them. Online programs eliminate commute times and costs, and hybrid programs combine this convenience with the networking benefits of periodic in-person learning.

As you research prospective programs, pay close attention to any on-campus requirements, since hybrid programs require occasional commutes to campus. Additionally, ensure that prospective MIM programs' capstone projects appeal to you and fit into your current schedule, location, job, and family constraints. Programs that allow you to complete your project at your current job site can save you time and make it easier to juggle your school and work responsibilities.

MIM programs also vary considerably in curriculum structure and course content, so take the time to find programs closely aligned with your academic interests and career goals. MIM programs include both core courses and electives, and some programs allow students to choose a concentration or track with a tailored curriculum. Popular MIM concentrations include marketing management, human resources, entrepreneurship, and international business.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Management?

The length of management master's programs depend on their structure. Most programs entail about 36 credits (nine credits per semester for four semesters) and take one to two years of full-time attendance to complete. Some programs permit students to hasten graduation by taking more than the typical nine credit full-time course load per term. Other programs accelerate the degree earning process by providing four or more terms per year. Working professionals often choose to pursue their degree part-time, which extends the length of the program.

Capstone requirements, another factor in program length, often include a six-credit, applied project designed to prepare students for jobs with a master's degree in management. Capstone projects often involve creating a business or conducting a consulting project in an approved context. Keep in mind that many program projects require considerable time spent on-site during regular business hours.

Rankings Methodology

Programs within this ranking were first vetted based on a master's level education focused in management and leadership, and then evaluated by the following six factors:

Accreditation: Since accreditation affects a program's value and brand recognition, it must be taken into account. Accreditation has the potential to affect a graduate's competitive advantage in the job market. Each master's program in this list is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting organizations recognized by the US Department of Education.

Additionally, each program was evaluated on whether it holds a third party business accreditation from one of the top business school accrediting institutions: IACBE, ACBSP, and AACSB. AACSB is regarded across the globe as the most prestigious business accreditation, thus the schools that hold this accreditation were given the highest scores.

Affordability: Each management master's program was evaluated on the estimated total base tuition for the full program. Tuition costs directly affect accessibility and return on investment, thus it is an important factor to consider when ranking programs across the nation. Each tuition cost was gathered from the most recent data given on each program or school's website. The lowest tuition in this ranking is $10,632, the highest came in at $125,336, with the average resting at $41,295.

Average salary: This salary data was collected from PayScale's Graduate School Salary Report, which shows the average early-career salary reported by recent master's graduates from each institution. The highest early-career salary reported for this ranking is $86,800. Any school without a recorded PayScale early-career salary was calculated at zero because of no available third-party data.

Prestige: This criteria was collected from two of the most prestigious sources in educational rankings, US News and World Report and The Princeton Review. Each program was ranked on their score within the US News and World Report's Top Graduate Business School Ranking, as well as whether they were included in the Princeton Review's Best Regional Colleges Rankings.

All data was collected, weighted equally, and then averaged for this ranking for the Top 50 Master's in Management Programs.

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 through job boards and conferences.

American Management Association

AMA's 26 business courses educate management professionals seeking new skills in areas including project management, analytics, and human resources management. AMA's women's leadership center supports women students and professionals in management.

Association of Change Management Professionals

ACMP provides an impressive array of resources including webinars, networking tools, events, and continuing education programs. ACMP also helps generate the change management field's professional standards.

Strategic Management Society

SMS seeks to unite strategic management scholars and industry professionals through its annual conferences, journal publications, and funding initiatives.

Academy of International Business

A nonprofit organization designed for global management professionals, AIB hosts events and a career center to facilitate international business networking.

International Association of Administrative Professionals

A nonprofit devoted to improving the administrative profession, IAAP supports office and administrative professionals through conferences, certification programs, and leadership development.