Australia’s Online MBA Take Over: A Rapid Shift to Online MBA Courses

The majority of MBA students in Australia are studying online, thanks in part to improved online courses.
MBA study mode chart for Australia

Andrew Lancaster


Founder and Director of

In Australia today, close to two-thirds of MBA candidates are studying online. And COVID isn’t the main reason. A surge in online MBA education began over a decade ago.

The shift in Australia towards doing your MBA online has a technology explanation, as I’ll outline shortly. If you are interested in starting an MBA, Australian universities offer some excellent online courses. See our MBA course page here.

Online courses used to account for only a third of MBA enrolments in Australia.

Looking back to the early 2000’s, only about one in three Master of Business Administration candidates studied online. Somewhat surprisingly, the ratio remained stable over most of that decade.

Each year, only around 13,000 to 15,000 postgraduate students were enrolled in online courses to do with management and commerce. These online student numbers were modest compared to the roughly 30,000 people who were attending graduate business schools in person.

The big shift to online MBA courses started in 2009. External and multi-modal programs began taking an increasing share of the enrolment count.

In 2012, the rise of online and mixed-modal study accelerated and, by 2019, 60 percent of postgraduate business school students were studying off campus. In that year, more than 22,000 students were 100% online, another 3,500 were combining study modes, and fewer than 17,000 were regularly showing up to classes in person. Online learning had become dominant.

Why was this shift towards online learning so dramatic?

The demand for convenience has clearly played a major part. With so much of our lives intertwined with technology, few of us have the time or inclination to travel to classes in person. But it must be said that innovation in online course delivery has also been instrumental.

In the past, online courses had some drawbacks.

In the early 2000’s, online learning was generally seen as a second-best option. Students had to settle for distance education in circumstances where physically attending classes was impractical.

Unfortunately, most online courses were a crude adaption of the on-campus version. If online learners felt that they were missing out on something, they were generally correct.

  • Students got to watch videos of lectures where only the on-campus attendees could ask questions.
  • And interaction with classmates was minimal.
  • They also had to stick with the on-campus timetable, meaning study was restricted to 2 semesters a year that culminated with intense exam periods.

Modern online MBA courses are flexible and engaging.

Online MBA student with tablet

Today, online MBA courses have improved dramatically. Typically, online learners benefit from several study periods each year. That provides study load flexibility and allows students to focus on one subject at a time if they wish.

Programs are also being designed from the ground up for distance learning. Online study has become more engaging through features such as:

  • intuitive learning platforms
  • interactive digital content
  • online group projects
  • online discussion forums
  • non-exam assessment.

Innovation is happening because universities are partnering with private companies.

Interestingly, the institutions driving innovation are generally not the traditional powerhouse universities. Disrupters, such as Ducere Global Business School and other global online learning companies, are partnering with Australian universities to produce cutting-edge programs.

You can see a list of Australia’s best and most innovative online degrees on our MBA page. Courses are from providers such as the University of Adelaide, James Cook University, the University of New England and Southern Cross University.

Thanks to innovation and competition, it’s pleasing to observe that MBA candidates in Australia today enjoy access to affordable, high-quality online programs. The best courses are producing excellent learning and career outcomes for the people who really matter: the online students.

6 Responses

  1. Kelly Westbrook

    I believe COVID has helped students and potential students realize that online courses (including online MBA courses) can be advantageous and that these courses are no longer second-rate methods of instruction. There are a handful of areas I’d want personal, in-house instruction (like nursing, welding, trades, etc.) but even there, you could have some classes online.

  2. Awili

    Hi where can i enrolled in online course? Can i transfer from a different uni?

    • admin

      Hi Awili – You don’t need a transfer. But you should try to get credit with the new provider for any relevant units you have completed with your old uni. We have “Brochure” buttons on our course pages with links to more info and enrolment pages.



    Would like to part of your online university study.


  4. Jordan

    I totally understand why Universities are partnering with private companies to improve their classes. Private companies (the best ones) know how to engage someone and how to structure information so that it sticks and students want to learn more. Classic Universities will soon be a thing of the past. If they don’t adapt and innovate, students will go somewhere else. You either innovate and grow continuously or you get left behind. This is the case for both individuals and institutions.

  5. Diane

    The continual improvements in technology and our need to get results quicker have contributed to so many students opting for an online MBA in Australia and the rest of the world. We’re pressed for time and want to get more done in 24 hours. If we can reduce 2+ hours we would spend traveling to classes then most of us will definitely want that. Modern MBA classes are very engaging which also makes it worthwhile to attend them and do things this way instead of in-person.