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In the modern day, businesses often rely on consultants to help them solve pressing issues and challenges. Consultants are integral across a wide range of industries, locally and globally. Management analysts, business tax consulting experts, market research analysts, and environmental scientists and specialists fall under the sphere of consulting.
Consulting roles are unique in a way that career progression is fast and easy, with firms offering a wealth of opportunities for promotions. However, consultants must always be at the top of their game, as most consulting firms are known for their “up or out” policy.
Those who can’t meet the expectations and fail to get promoted will be asked to leave the firm. Understandably, consultants with an online master's degree have better chances of staying at the game because of their enhanced credentials and necessary knowledge and skills.
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Quick audio summary:
Working professionals who wish to pursue MBA programs and other consulting degree options in business-related fields can benefit a lot from online programs on offer. Online MBA programs allow graduate students to carve a flexible setup from their busy schedules to advance their education.
An online master’s degree in Consulting provides the same credentials to help them grow in their business consulting career path and fully manage the business obligations entailed by the role.
Today, many universities and colleges in the country offer master’s in consulting degree programs which can help business students acquire the qualifications they need for consultant and associate roles, boosting their compensation and benefits.
We picked the best Online Master's in Consulting programs based on these factors:
- Offered as a Master of Consulting degree, often with a distinctive specialization and delivered online or as a hybrid program,
- Features rigorous online Consulting coursework covering general business practices integral to numerous fields, including strategic marketing, project management, strategic leadership, and supply chain management,
- Utilizes a Learning Management System that offers easy online access to the master's degree coursework and a dependable virtual platform for classes,
- Taught by seasoned Consulting professionals who hold a terminal degree,
- Accredited by academic agencies that are considered industry authorities in setting the teaching standards for master's programs, including in the field of Consulting,
- Recognized by Consulting organizations and groups that advocate professional advancement,
- and, Positively reviewed by Online Master of Consulting students and alumni
Read our Methodology page for more information on our Consulting master's program ranking process.
Best Online MBA Programs for Business Consulting
Townsend Institute at Concordia University Irvine
Students who want to pursue a meaningful career in business sectors and other industries may want to consider earning a Master of Arts degree in Executive Coaching and Consulting offered by the Townsend Institute at Concordia University Irvine.
This online program is accredited by the ICF Approved Coach Training Program (ACTP). Students who wish to finish the degree faster may opt for the accelerated option, which allows them to complete the program in 12 to 19 months.
This graduate-level degree is one of its kind, training students in two marketable areas: Executive Teaching and Consulting. The consulting track equips students with the necessary knowledge and skills integral to the actual world of the organization.
It will help them to achieve the organization's goals through strategizing, quality training, guiding, and developing the leadership and their team. Students are expected to learn the best ways to facilitate transformational relationships. This training will help them become practical, skill-based practitioners.
To earn the degree program, students must complete a total of 33 credits, taking one or two 7-week courses at a time. The coursework involves approximately 12 to 15 hours each week. For working professionals, the ideal pace is to take one course at a time.
Some of the core coursework included in the program curriculum include Personal Development Skills Process Group, Building Healthy Culture and Performance, Leading Change and Motivation, Executive Coaching, and Character Development, and Mindful Leadership, Neuroscience, and Emotional Intelligence, among others.
Students who successfully complete the program will help them earn 163 hours’ worth of coach-specific training and mentor coaching needed for the International Coaching Federation’s (ICFO Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Considered one of the most exciting consulting online degree programs, the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Organizational Development Consulting at Regent University.
In this degree program, students will get to delve into consulting in both the process and career aspects. They will learn how to help leaders solve consulting challenges by developing and guiding strategic change. They will be able to hone their collaboration and communication skills in actual leadership situations. Students are also expected to conduct research and present their findings regarding contemporary issues.
This degree program requires the completion of 33 credit hours, featuring courses that are fully available online. The curriculum is designed to explore tools and research in effectively auditing, assessing, and implementing changes that are required for organizational development.
It is also part of students’ learning to be experts at intervention strategies and contingency frameworks that are applicable in various industry settings.
Some of the courses in this program include Consulting Practices, Organizational Diagnosis & Intervention, and Measurement & Analysis. Students who wish to get admitted into the program will need to submit requirements that include unofficial college transcripts and a government-issued ID.
University of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas - Master of Science in Leadership and Organizational Development is available fully online. This degree lets students explore essential issues surrounding leadership and human systems in organizations.
They are encouraged to use knowledge-based behavioral science. Students will gain skills that help them increase the effectiveness of an organization in a constantly changing environment.
This program is taught by high-quality faculty who have professional experience in the field. The curriculum offers the flexibility that working professionals need while allowing them to build a strong network and learn from peers who come from multiple industries.
Students are expected to demonstrate a strong leadership and organizational development foundation that will help them design interventions at various levels, including at the system, group, and individual.
They must be able to apply best practices stemming from empirical research to relevant issues in organizational cultural contexts. It is also essential for them to use assessment tools and diagnostic methodologists to manage and analyze change initiatives.
If a specialized concentration is not selected, students will still be able to acquire an Academic Certificate in Transformational Leadership in addition to the MS degree. The program offers students the opportunity to attend Expert Forums.
The specialization options in this program include organizational consulting, transformational leadership, coaching, and project management.
Boise State University
From Boise State University comes an online program designed for students who wish to enhance their careers in the areas of organizational development and performance consulting. The Master of Science degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning. The program can be completed in as few as 12 months.
Students will need to meet at least 36 credit hours in order to earn the degree. Some of the required courses they need to comply with include Needs Assessment, Evaluation, Principles of Adult Learning, Foundations of Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning, Instructional Design, and Workplace Performance Improvement.
Students will also need to work on a few research courses, including Survey Design and Data Analysis, Data Visualization, and Quantitative Research in Organizations. They can also choose among elective courses and complete at least eight credits or three elective courses.
These electives include Contracting and Consulting, Learning Experience Design, Organizational Culture and Leadership, Project Management Fundamentals, and Change Management, among others.
Financial options are available to interested graduate students. They can apply for financial student aid from the federal government. They can also take advantage of graduate assistantships, scholarships, and grants.
New York University
New York City, New York
New York University’s School of Professional Studies offers the MS in Executive Coaching & Organizational Consulting program. This graduate program meets the growing demand for highly skilled executive coaching and organizational consulting professionals.
They are equipped with the proper academic training to help prepare them when it comes to enhancing individual and organizational effectiveness.
Students are expected to learn the ins and outs of goal-setting, presence, performance, and effective communication. They must be able to consult with leaders with regard to organizational culture, systems, and design. Students are empowered to become influential and strategic executive coaches and organizational consultants, utilizing evidence-based science and applied practice.
The minimum credit requirement to earn this program is 30, with courses fully available online. Full-time students can complete a degree program in one year. For part-time students, program completion can take two to three years.
The curriculum features core courses that will help students build a strong business foundation in the field. This includes the Science of Behavior and Change, Coaching Special Topics, Business Strategy, Business Communications, Consulting Practices, Research Process and Methodology, Consulting Mastery, and Capstone, among others.
Students looking for financial assistance can avail of the Bravely Scholarship for Executive Coaching. They will get financial support amounting to $7,500 for one incoming student in the program.
West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University offers a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. It is a master’s degree program that comprises 56 credit hours in total, with coursework being delivered online. Courses are split into 6-week long sessions, and with multiple start dates, students can complete the program within two years on full-time enrollment.
The Purdue University MSM program focuses on effective management and organizational strategies & concepts that prepare students for leadership positions in today’s globalized and highly dynamic business landscape.
Throughout the program, students are trained in identifying real-life professional challenges, as well as in crucial analytical and critical thinking skillsets, as well as a strong sense of leadership, social responsibility, and ethics. Upon graduation, students will have built up a portfolio of case studies and projects.
The program contains seven concentration areas, namely:
- Global Business
- Human Resources
- Health Care Management
- Information Technology
- Organizational Design and Development
- Project Management
Indiana University offers a Master of Science in Strategic Management program. It is an online program that explores a range of topics in management, including organizational development and change, operations management, strategic thinking, competitive analysis, and entrepreneurship. The end goal is to prepare students to be effective in making businesses more competitive, productive, and profitable.
The program is around 80-99% online, and coursework comprises a total of 30 credit hours. Twenty-one of these are dedicated to the core courses in Strategic Management, with the rest to Elective courses.
With Strategic Management in mind, the program prepares students with the fundamentals of business operations, as well as the theoretical and conceptual bases for assessing competitive conditions, evaluating corporate capabilities, and establishing competitive advantages for businesses.
Students are taught skillsets necessary to identify the needs and goals of a business, as well as to monitor their progress with regard to meeting various performance standards.
University of the Cumberlands
The University of the Cumberlands offers a Master of Science in Strategic Management, developed in order to address the growing industry-wide demand for decision-makers equipped with the right Strategic Management skillset, fulfilling the goal of preparing students to help organizations achieve efficiency and profitability. The program is offered online.
Positioned as an MS alternative to a Master of Business Administration degree, the program provides students with strong theoretical foundations specific to the discipline of Strategic Management and has more focused coursework, as opposed to the more generalist curriculum design of the typical MBA program. The program focuses on expertise crucial for managing a business’s operations and resources strategically and is designed to teach a tactical approach to business management and leadership.
With the overall program goal in mind, among the core practices students are trained in include analyzing market conditions and competitors, gaining a thorough understanding of an organization’s internal dynamics, setting business objectives, and implementing and evaluating effective business strategies.
Throughout the program, students are taught various theories, concepts, and applications, with courses ranging from strategic management accounting, management in a globalized environment, managerial accounting, and competitive strategy, to human resource management.
The program has a total of 31 credit hours. The program’s coursework is delivered in an 8-week bi-term format and a 16-week main course.
Pepperdine University offers a Master’s in Management and Leadership (MSML) degree program designed to prepare students to effect meaningful change across a range of settings, from large-scale companies to cutting-edge start-ups, to not-for-profit institutions.
The program is delivered chiefly online, except for one of the two required immersions taking place at the Los Angeles campus during students’ first term. The other required immersion takes place during the last term and is online.
These immersion sessions typically feature hands-on workshops, live case learning, as well as individual coaching, not to mention the valuable networking opportunities between fellow students and faculty members.
On top of the two immersions, the program consists of 10 courses, with a total of 36 credit hours. Going by a full-time enrollment basis, students can complete the program in 16 months. However, the program allows for flexibility, and students can also choose to complete the program at their own pace to align with their professional and personal commitments.
The curriculum focuses on leadership and is designed to train students in effective change management at all levels of their respective organizations. Content areas and skillsets that are part of the program’s curriculum include group dynamics, self-awareness, project management, organization, and work design, as well as team and organizational structure.
The final highlight of the program is the Education to Community (E2C) Capstone, which sees students working in small teams partnered with nonprofit organizations. The capstone project lets students hone their consulting skills by letting them implement recommendations in a range of areas familiar to organizations, which include talent management, team building, leadership development, sustainable organizational structure and design, and leading effective change.
Norwich University offers a Master of Science in Leadership degree program. It is designed to help a wide range of professionals develop their own leadership styles and the skills to become leaders and change agents in their respective organizations.
The program is delivered 100% online. It is composed of 6 courses that are 11 weeks in length each, adding up to a total of 36 credit hours. The program follows a sequential, one-course-at-a-time format, giving the program an average completion time of around 18 months. Norwich University also observes small class sizes, with each class being strictly limited to a maximum of 15 students.
The program teaches a range of skills in strategic communication and leadership. It also features a curriculum that is designed to inculcate an innate strategic outlook, solid ethical conviction, emotional intelligence, and passion among its students.
The program has a choice of four concentration areas: Human Resources Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Public Sector/Government/Military Leadership, and Leading Change Management Consulting, with each adding up to a total of 12 credit hours. All specialization areas likewise conclude in a capstone project.
Common Courses for MBA Programs and Related Business Consulting Degrees
The degree programs that lead the way to a career in professional consulting may differ in structure, nature, and emphasis, but they are designed around a set of largely similar learning objectives. They are also oriented towards the overall goal of preparing professionals with skillsets that go into analyzing organizations, identifying potential areas for improvement, and leading the way to implement solutions to achieve positive change.
Here are the courses these degree programs share:
Pretty much all the degree programs featured here have a focus on honing the leadership skills of business students as they go on to occupy not only management or other leadership roles in their respective organizations but also as external consultants who help lead the way in effecting meaningful change in other organizations.
As such, these programs have fundamental courses dedicated to leadership, particularly various theoretical bases, and concepts that guide today’s contemporary views on effective leadership
Strategic Management/Strategic Leadership
Some degree programs, particularly Master’s in Strategic Management, will have courses that are focused on situations, issues, and techniques related to today’s typical management environments and settings.
These courses may teach specific techniques and soft skills that are essential to today’s managers and leaders, such as effective communication, conflict resolution and mediation, problem-solving and decision-making, resource management, and ethical practice.
With the future goal of being leaders, change agents, and consultants, it is essential that business students of these degree programs have a good grasp of both the overall picture and a detailed view of the interrelated dynamics and relationships that exist in organizations of various scales and settings.
They also need to learn how individuals interact with each other within and with the organizations they are part of and how these can be harnessed to effect change. Courses on organizational behavior tend to be based on specific sets of psychological and sociological theories.
Some degree programs may also focus on management challenges and techniques related to the dynamics of the global business/organizational landscape. Global/international factors bring their own set of realities that add a degree of complexity to the role played by managers and leaders, and as such, can be treated as a separate course by some degrees.
Students can learn to understand areas such as international law, ethical leadership, and economic analysis while gaining a global perspective in the process.
As the core subject skillset of interest, the process of consulting has its own set of phases that require specific techniques. Aside from conducting research, generating actionable information, and formulating solutions, business students are trained in other skill sets, such as contracting and techniques related to implementing solutions.
Change Management Consulting
Some degree programs may not feature a course on consulting but instead package related skillsets into a practice/process called Change Management. The degree to which organizations are open/receptive to change and their adeptness to implement change differ, and often this fact can make or break organizations.
Helping them recognize the need for change, becoming receptive to it as part of their culture, and guiding them through the process of implementing necessary change is a specialized skill set. As such, it has its own set of skill sets and theoretical bases.
Common Skills Needed for Online Graduate Business Programs
While an understanding of the essential business concepts and tools is vital for consulting professionals, a host of other skills can also help prospective students successfully earn the degree. By demonstrating strong skills integral to management consulting and organizational leadership, students will be able to take on a variety of roles across business sectors of all sizes and settings.
Here are some of the skills needed for business consulting online programs:
This will help students position themselves for future career growth, allowing them to take on new challenges within their current roles. This skill involves various concepts, including strategic planning, organizing, and controlling organizational aspects that can advance organizational changes.
Critical Thinking Skills
Problem-solving is often at the heart of many management consulting roles. Business consulting professionals are often faced with complex challenges that require them to make careful and thorough analyses before recommending the best course of action. They need the fundamentals of business intelligence and business analytics to make informed decisions.
Students in business consulting programs must know how to relay information and convey ideas with clarity. As Integrated Marketing Communication subjects are commonly part of the coursework, they are expected to make presentations, conduct case studies, and analyze current situations, hence the need for them to employ impeccable communication skills.
Data Gathering and Analysis
Often the determining factor in business efforts, data, and analytics help improve decision-making processes and outcomes. Students in business consulting programs should know how to utilize the massive data at their disposal.
Building a professional network is so important when it comes to MBA programs. Networking is a strong resource that can help students alter their careers for the better. It is vital that they take advantage of networking early on.
Beyond data analytics, MBA students must also be technically savvy as they will often be exposed to recent developments in technology, including machine learning and artificial intelligence. Many project management strategies involve technical skills, from Microsoft Excel to Python.
In various business settings, students are engaged in negotiation. While most of this can happen informally, formal negotiations are also pretty common and critical to the success of an organization. Negotiation skills encompass cooperating, strategizing, communicating, and compromising to reach a consensus. It can also be closely integrated with client management skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to complete online graduate business programs?
Generally, a master’s degree duration largely depends on various factors. One major factor is the curriculum and how rigorous the program requirements are considered. Students enrolled full-time can finish the degree faster compared to those enrolled on a part-time basis.
Online programs in consulting often allow students to complete the coursework at their own pace, which means they can earn the degree faster or slower, depending on their schedule and career goals.
Still, there are business schools that allow accelerated learning, letting students earn the degree much more quickly compared to regular programs. Many online master’s in consulting programs can be completed in two years, but some may take up to five years to fully earn the degree.
What are the general admission requirements for online programs in Consulting?
There are schools with competitive criteria for admission, while others are more accommodating to interested students. Some might require prospective students to submit GRE test scores or meet a minimum GPA. In general, the admission requirements often include the following:
- Bachelor’s from an accredited college or university
- Official transcripts of record from all attended colleges or universities
- Updated resume
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
Still, it is better for students to check with the university of their choice and consult the admission office regarding the specific requirements for the program of their choice.
What should be considered when choosing business schools for online master’s degrees in Consulting?
When choosing an advanced collegiate school for online MBA programs, it is important to take a look at different important factors that make it one of the best value schools. This includes accreditation. An MBA program is high quality if it is accredited by an accreditation council, preferably by the AACSB International or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Many national universities and even regional universities that are accredited offer quality training and necessary knowledge for prospective students.
Another factor to take a look at is the coursework and curriculum. It is good to examine the curriculum and determine if it contains the required online classes for a standard MBA degree program. Also, it often helps to know precisely what one will be learning.
Students may also want to know the cost and value of the online MBA program. Not only do they need to know how much the tuition will cost. They must also find out the entire cost of the program, including miscellaneous fees and other learning materials.
Students who prefer to take the entire coursework online may want to see if the online program is entirely available in a 100% distance learning format. Some schools may be available online, but they might require an on-campus presence for a week or two.
How much does a Master’s in Consulting typically cost?
If we go by total cost, a great degree of variance exists between particular universities since they tend to have different cost structures for their degrees, they may impose separate in-state and out-of-state tuition rates or not, and some universities are located in states that are generally more expensive, and this will reflect in the total cost.
In this case, there isn’t a single degree program that leads to a career in consulting; rather there is a set of similarly structured business-related degrees that lead to a consulting career, and this adds to the variance.
An excellent place to start with cost estimates is to take the total number of credit hours multiplied by the cost per credit hour. Typical programs run up to around 30-36 credit hours, while in terms of cost, some graduate programs are at around $500-$700 per credit hour at the lower end. Some degree programs, though, can run up to $1,900 per credit hour.
These degree programs, as with other online programs, can be a significant financial investment. As a whole, it is best to contact particular universities directly in order to not only get the most exact cost of tuition figures but also to find out what means of financial aid they offer on top of the standard FAFSA, such as grants, scholarships, special sector discounts, and in some cases, payment plans.
Instead of a single degree program, there are a number of Master’s Degree programs that lead to careers in consulting. These programs generally fall under the discipline of business management and may be a bit more focused, such as strategic management degree programs.
Taking the meaning that is relevant to the purposes of this article, consulting refers to the activity of analyzing businesses/organizations and their activities, dynamics, goals, and joint problems, with the goal of coming up with and implementing necessary changes that are meant to achieve increased efficiency, profitability, or any generally meaningful and positive change.
Degree programs that lead to consulting careers also open the door to other career opportunities for students, both in terms of career advancement and launching new ones, including roles such as that of financial advisors and project managers.
These degree programs typically teach sought-after hard and soft skills, including strategic thinking, business acumen, leadership, and knowledge of particular tools and processes. All of these are designed to prepare students to take on fulfilling roles that often include the best way to fully manage business obligations and other business administration strategies.