In Australia, MBA programs range from top-shelf courses at prestigious universities to more affordable alternatives through reputable smaller institutions. When choosing between an expensive course and the cheapest online MBA in Australia, it’s important to remember that no one program can guarantee a better outcome. Here’s why.

Finding the cheapest MBA that offers the most value to you

For some students, brand is everything. These students aim to study at a specific institution known for excellence or successful graduate placement, regardless of the cost.

The thing is, an expensive MBA doesn’t equal a better MBA. Cheaper courses can catapult your career too.

While cost is naturally a factor, the right MBA should balance your circumstances with your needs and budget.

At the less expensive end of the Australian MBA cost spectrum is a range of modestly priced courses offering value. Such courses offer participants a full and broad education, introducing a powerful, new set of business skills without the perceived prestige – and expense – of pricier alternatives.

These courses are certainly comprehensive enough to meet the needs of certain students – a growing cohort that includes entrepreneurs, small business and startup founders and managers within the SME environment.

Matthew Jackson, founder of BizziEvents graduated with an MBA before starting his business. He says, “I think my MBA journey was quite influential in the decision to start my own business. It gave me the tools to get started and enabled me to conduct better research, and that’s through the networking introductions I made during my MBA.”

Whether you spend $36,324* per year for an online MBA from CQUniversity, or $58,000* per year with the University of New South Wales, Matthew agrees that return on investment boils down to commitment and effort. “Everyone talks about the learning you get, but it is about the practical application and the people you meet too. You get back what you put in,” he adds.

Choosing a more affordable online MBA also leaves you with extra funds to start a business, back a startup, or invest in a new marketing campaign that aligns with your enhanced strategic business knowledge.

*Accurate as of November 2023.

What’s the average cost of an online MBA in Australia?

When comparing prices of online MBAs in Australia, it can help to begin in the middle.

The average price of any type of MBA in Australia was $57,353 in 2022. This includes on-campus and online MBAs. The University of Melbourne’s Senior Executive MBA is the most expensive, which will set you back almost $120,000. The cheapest option is the Victorian Institute of Technology’s online offering at $16,000.

While many on-campus MBAs are offered partly online, studying 100 per cent online will cost you upwards of $16,000, depending on your area of focus.

The cost of each course listed below is the most up-to-date pricing for 2023 or 2024.

University Course name Cost for 2023/24 Cost per unit FEE-HELP and scholarships
University of Melbourne Executive MBA $119,700 N/A FEE-HELP
University of Queensland Master of Business Administration $86,559 $3,607 FEE-HELP
RMIT Master of Business Administration (Online) $56,160
(12 courses)

(16 courses)

$4,680 FEE-HELP
Queensland University of Technology Master of Business Administration (MBA) $70,704 $2,946 FEE-HELP
Australian Catholic University Master of Business Administration (MBA) $56,000 $3,500 Scholarships and fee assistance available
CQUniversity Master of Business Administration (Global) $50,487 $3,365.80 Scholarships available
Macquarie University Master of Business Administration $44,500 N/A FEE-HELP
James Cook University Master of Business Administration Global (MBA Online) $44,400 $3,700 FEE-HELP
Victoria University Master of Business Administration (Online) $43,800 $3,650 FEE-HELP
Kaplan Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA) $$42,840 $3,570 Scholarships available
University of Southern Queensland Master of Business Administration $42,600 $3,550 FEE-HELP
Southern Cross University Master of Business Administration (MBA Online) $38,880 $2,990 FEE-HELP
Swinburne University Master of Business Administration (MBA Online) $33,600 $2,800 FEE-HELP
Victorian Institute of Technology Master of Business Administration (MBA) Domestic $16,000 $1,000 FEE-HELP


How much is the cheapest MBA in Australia?

The cheapest MBA in Australia can be based on the yearly fees you’re expected to pay to study, which is accumulated by the cost of each unit. Here are the top five cheapest MBAs in Australia:

  • Victorian Institute of Technology – $16,000
  • Swinburne University – $33,600
  • Southern Cross University – $38,880
  • University of Southern Queensland – $42,600
  • Kaplan Business School – $42,840

Let’s break that cost down per unit

MBA courses are generally divided into individual units, each focusing on a particular subject or segment within broader areas such as marketing, human resources, personnel management and accounting. It’s important to note that not all units in the one course will necessarily cost the same.

Southern Cross University’s 100 per cent online MBA, for example, requires up to 16 units to be completed at $2,990 per unit, for a total cost of $38,800 (total cost is dependent on how many units are completed). Course duration is two years part-time, with intakes on offer every two months, allowing greater start time flexibility. Open to students without a bachelor’s degree, this comprehensive program provides flexible early exit possibilities, including a graduate certificate based on your completed units.

Similarly, the 100 per cent online MBA available through James Cook University costs $3,700 per unit across 12 units, totalling $44,400. While this course is only open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree or other qualifications or practical experience recognised by the Dean, the intake and early exit options remain the same.

RMIT University and Victoria University also offer similar courses, which you can compare by unit cost.

When comparing the value of any given MBA, remember that some courses have cheaper unit costs but require the completion of more units, and vice-versa. Spreading a course over multiple years can reduce the yearly expense of a pricier MBA.

The cost benefits of an online MBA

A cheaper MBA saves you money, however, there is also a cost-benefit of studying an online MBA as opposed to a traditional, on-campus MBA.

A full-time, on-campus MBA may mean you have to leave your current job, which may pose a financial strain. Studying a part-time MBA while working full-time might be a better option for you.

Opting for an online MBA can allow you to manage employment alongside study and reduce the travel, parking, accommodation and other costs of studying on-campus.

Adding to the cost equation, some on-campus MBAs offer (optional) study tours and off-campus excursions. These can vary from visiting local offices to exploring overseas markets, adding extra participation fees. They also commonly involve paid memberships to various professional and social clubs as part of the networking and learning experience. For example, QUT offers an immersive study tour to the MIT Sloan School of Management in the US and other student exchanges to business schools around the world.

Watch out for additional, on-campus fees too. Enrolment, technology, course material, exam and residency fees can quickly add up.

Online MBAs, on the other hand, involve fewer costs. They are flexible to fit around work and other responsibilities, often encouraging integration with projects in your current role and rarely involving travel, excursion costs and hidden fees.

No matter which mode of study you choose, it’s important to remember that studying for an MBA is an investment in your future. A short career break now will boost your skill set, create valuable network connections and may increase your earning potential.

The role of MBA ranking and accreditations

Another way to judge the comparative value of MBAs in Australia is to consider how they rate by rankings and cost. There are several ways to do this, depending on which ranking system suits your purpose.

There are four major ranking systems at play, including:

  • QS Rankings – focused internationally on academic and employer reputation.
  • AFR Boss MBA rankings – focused locally on survey results.
  • CEO Magazine MBA rankings – focused internationally on complex data points.
  • Times Higher Education rankings – focused internationally on five key areas: teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income.

The challenge with exploring rankings during your decision-making process is that current ranking systems rarely sync, so you might find a particular university high on one list but not on another.

While rankings can show value, they shouldn’t be the only determining factor. Accreditations are another marker of educational excellence. Look for courses that are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) or the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Programme Accreditation System (EPAS), or similar. These are external measures of whether a course is of a certain quality and whether it strikes the correct balance between practical relevance and academic rigour.

Whichever way you measure the value of an MBA, it’s important to choose a course that aligns with your career goals and aspirations. “Do your research, speak to the universities on your shortlist and find other students on Linkedin to seek advice,” suggests Matthew.

And keep an open mind. Online MBAs have become increasingly accessible to a broad cross-section of people in the professional world – which is good for you and for business. “The value of connecting with others you wouldn’t normally give you further opportunity to learn.”

Ready to invest in your future?

Remember that selecting the best online MBA for you should be guided by the value it brings to your table, not just the price tag. Need help? Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor today.

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Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

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