MBA Alternatives: How to Choose the Best Online Master’s Degree to Advance Your Career


If you’re considering earning a master’s degree to further your career, you have a lot of options. How do you choose the right educational path to get where you want to go in your career? How can you choose the best online degree for you?

Many working professionals choose an online MBA to gain in-demand skills and management training that lead to career advancement. The Master of Business Administration degree can be a great way to grow your career, and the outcomes speak for themselves. The Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University reports an average annual salary outcome of over $100,000 for graduates of their Working Professional MBA Program.


An infographic displays career and salary outcomes for the Online MBA program.Source: Fisher College of Business


But an MBA may not be the right choice for everyone. If you want to train in a very specific skillset or benefit from a curriculum adapted for your industry, you might want to consider other MBA alternatives.

Ohio State offers a wide variety of online master’s degrees to explore. Whether you want to try out a certificate before jumping into a full online master’s degree or are hoping to apply your education within a specific industry context, we may have the best MBA alternative for you.

Many of our 100% online master’s degrees are designed with working professionals in mind and offer flexible classes or requirements that can be completed on your own schedule.

Discover Ohio State’s online MBA alternatives by exploring the programs below, and reach out to us if you’d like to chat through your decision with an advisor.


Ohio State’s Best MBA Alternatives 

Depending on your career goals and desired skill outcomes, any of these MBA alternatives could be the right fit for you. You can explore offerings by college or field by jumping to each section below. 


MBA Alternatives from Fisher College of Business

If you’re not sure about an MBA but are still interested in a graduate-level business administration curriculum, Fisher College of Business has a few options.

Graduate Certificate in IT Business Strategy: Are you an IT professional interested in gaining leadership skills and business administration expertise within the context of your field? The Graduate Certificate in IT Business Strategy is a great first step for IT professionals who aspire to lead their organization in a new strategic direction – and who may later want to embark on their journey toward an MBA. Students can apply credits earned in the certificate program toward the Online Working Professional MBA program from Fisher College of Business.

Specialized Master in Business Analytics: As the name implies, the specialized master's degree from Fisher College of Business is designed for working professionals who want to focus their expertise in the area of business analytics. This MBA alternative equips students with an understanding of the science of data analytics and its implication for business innovation, productivity and growth.

Master of Supply Chain Management: The Master of Supply Chain Management is designed to address a critical workforce need, by preparing working professionals to become in-demand supply chain experts. This program includes three on-campus, personalized learning experiences such as workshops, on-site industry tours, executive speakers and in-person networking.

Public Administration MBA Alternatives

Are you more interested in a public service career? A public administration master’s degree might be the right choice for you. Much like an MBA, these programs often focus on finance, budgeting, management, and marketing skills – just within the realm of public service and non-profit roles (They're even sometimes called the MBAs of the public sector!). Learn more about Ohio State’s public administration MBA alternative below.

Master of Public Administration and Leadership: Offered by the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, this program is designed for mid-career professionals who seek leadership roles in the public sector, or for those who'd like to start their own non-profit. Throughout the program, students develop hands-on solutions to relevant public sector problems. They can also choose to specialize their education in an area that addresses workforce needs and builds on the strengths of Glenn faculty. The customizable nature of the curriculum and the expertise of the faculty makes the Master of Public Administration and Leadership a great MBA alternative for public service professionals.

Engineering MBA Alternatives

Engineers with aspirations of leadership in their teams or organization have two dedicated engineering MBA alternatives offered by the world-renowned College of Engineering at Ohio State.

Master of Engineering Management: Engineers who hope to lead teams and develop strategy in their roles may be interested in the online Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree as an MBA alternative. This interdisciplinary program also draws coursework from Fisher College of Business and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Students will sharpen their engineering management expertise and gain a better understanding of policy and the business-government relationship.

Master of Global Engineering Leadership: If you are interested in the engineering-specific leadership training offered in the Master of Engineering Management but still want to grow your technical expertise, you might prefer the Master of Global Engineering Leadership. Like the MEM, this engineering MBA alternative draws from several disciplines to prepare you for leadership roles in your organization, while equipping you with the specialized technical training to innovate on the job. Technical tracks include Automotive Systems Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Enterprise Services and Architectures, and more.

Healthcare MBA Alternatives

For students with a healthcare background, business administration skills may represent a new learning opportunity and a chance to set themselves apart in their organizations. Online healthcare MBA alternatives at Ohio State include the Master of Healthcare Innovation – a broad healthcare administration master’s degree with a focus on leadership – and the M.S., Health-System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership, a program developed specifically for pharmacists.

Master of Healthcare Innovation: When you think about a healthcare MBA, you may think of a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA). Like an MHA, the online Master of Healthcare Innovation at Ohio State trains students in concepts related to administration, healthcare technologies and patient care – but through the lens of innovation and advocacy.

M.S., Health-System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership: Another healthcare MBA option (tailored specifically for pharmacists) is the M.S., Health-System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership. This program is ideal for working pharmacists ready to advance into leadership roles. The program prepares students to manage the healthcare pharmacy enterprise with courses in finance, quality and safety and operations.

Choosing the right online master’s degree to advance your career can be a challenge, but the good news is you have plenty of options. Whether you decide to choose the online MBA route or consider one of our MBA alternatives, there’s a flexible online program at Ohio State that’s right for you.

Still weighing your options? Reach out for more information and we’ll connect you with an advisor who can help.

Last modified: 
September 1, 2022