The 6 Best Distance-Learning MBA Programs for Veterans

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(Airman 1st Class Lauren Parsons/U.S. Air Force photo)

Businesses look for confident, assertive professionals who are well-educated, creative problem solvers. While business schools try to teach these qualities to their MBA students, former military personnel often come to class with them already ingrained. Simply put, veterans make ideal candidates for MBA programs.

A Master of Business Administration is a great educational track for separating service members. It's a versatile degree for the right person, one that can dramatically increase a job seeker's attractiveness in the civilian market.

But many veterans looking for MBA programs don't have simple lives where they can just drop everything. Some are still serving, others have families and many can't simply uproot their lives to move to a new city to join just any MBA program. This means many veterans need programs that are affordable or utilize their military education benefits and allow for job opportunities after graduation.

With this in mind, we created a shortlist of highly regarded programs that can be fully paid with GI Bill funds, but have a hybrid learning structure with programs mostly done online while also offering in-person components to allow for networking between students and professionals. In creating this list, we also considered the schools' veteran support programs and job placement rates.

While some of these schools will be completely covered by GI Bill funding, others utilized Yellow Ribbon Programs, which is first-come, first-serve at the school's discretion and requires 100% of GI Bill benefits for the veteran to apply.

1. University of North Carolina

UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School is consistently ranked among the top online business schools in the country, and the reasons are clear. It has a vast alumni network and a STEM-oriented and customizable learning program that can be completed in 18 months. The program also features two in-person sessions for students to get to know their classmates and meet professionals.

The school's online MBA program offers service members and veterans a world-class MBA, and a 90% post-graduation rate for students authorized to work in the United States. It can all be covered by military and Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits and features a highly sought-after veteran student group.

2. University of Southern California

Another school consistently ranked among the top online MBA programs in the country is the USC Marshall School of Business' online MBA. Southern Cal is one of the most veteran-friendly schools in the country, accepting Yellow Ribbon Program funding and boasting a huge network of veteran graduates and support programs. For those who can attend in person, Marshall also offers a special one-year Master of Business for Veterans (MBV).

Much of USC Marshall's online MBA program is covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It also offers the opportunity to compete for funding from the Schoen Family Scholarship Program for Veterans. The program was started by William J. Schoen, a Marine Corps veteran and USC alum.

3. Syracuse University

Syracuse has been catering to military veteran students since the first GI Bill was passed in the wake of World War II -- and its dedication shows. It boasts not only one of the best online MBA programs for veterans, its programs for veteran students are unparalleled anywhere else in the country. Syracuse is home to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and the National Veterans Resource Center.

For most veterans, GI Bill benefits and the Yellow Ribbon Program mean SU Whitman School of Management students pay no out-of-pocket expenses or fees. The school even offers more business-oriented online master's programs outside of the traditional MBA. In a survey of 2020 graduates, 68% of Syracuse University online MBA graduates reported receiving a raise or promotion after graduation or while still in the program.

The IVMF also offers a number of programs for veterans who are interested in entrepreneurship, community service and political office.

4. Arizona State University

ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business online MBA is taught by the same cadre of instructors who teach its in-person classes, but offers a deliberately paced program in five-week increments. The program is focused on building relationships between people and is usually covered by VA education benefits and the school's own generous tuition assistance programs.

The online MBA is one of the highest ranked programs that offers personalized support for veteran students. Arizona State is also home to the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, which supports veterans and veteran family members. The Tillman Center helps its 1,300 veteran students with financial aid and career guidance.

5. George Washington University

George Washington University offers a top-rated online MBA program that includes a residency period at the school to give students a chance to learn and network in an immersive environment. The school's military and veterans services office offers veteran student organizations, specialized career services for vets and checklists for admitted veterans.

On top of residency opportunities, the GWU online MBA is a self-paced program that also has global programs available to qualified students. Many veteran students will pay no tuition to attend when using the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, and the school is known to pay for other qualified veterans tuition that isn't covered. Vets even get access to an admissions counselor for their needs.

6. University of Washington

UW's Foster School of Business offers a hybrid MBA program that allows students to study both in-person and online at one of the West Coast's top online programs. Between the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program, tuition costs are fully covered. The GI Bill's living expenses stipend even covers those living in the Seattle area.

As for veteran support, Foster has a robust veteran student population that supports each other through the Foster Veterans Association. The school even says its hybrid MBA graduates are all currently employed.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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