Now you’ve decided that an MBA is what you need to get your career to the next level. That means it’s time to begin looking at what type of MBA program will be the best for you. Considering that those pursuing their MBAs are not likely to fit into the category of a “typical” student, there are many options when it comes to program formats: on-campus full-time or part-time programs, evening or weekend courses for working professionals, and accelerated programs for those who want to earn their MBA in the shortest amount of time. But, if you are looking for an off-campus program that won’t require you to be at a certain place at a specific time, you may be able to find your answer online. Online MBA programs offer a unique learning experience that can often be customized according to personal preference, schedule, or goals. These types of programs can be a great choice for independent learners who prefer self-directed study where they are responsible for decisions pertaining to the amount of time set aside for class and the pace at which course units and materials are worked through.
|MBA Course Structure|
|Analytical||Accounting, economics for management, organizational behavior, quantitative analysis (operations research and business statistics).|
|Functional||Financial management, human resource management, marketing management, operations management.|
|Ethics||Business ethics, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance.|
|Electives||Common broad electives include: entrepreneurship, international business, management information systems, business law, market research, organizational design, negotiations, international finance, project management, managing non-profits and real estate investing. Additionally, many other elective options of a more specialized nature are offered by various institutions.|
|Capstone||Strategy||Strategic management and business leadership.|
|Research||Research methodology and dissertation/major project.|
|Common MBA Specializations/Concentrations|
|Accounting, entrepreneurship, finance (including corporate finance and investment management), international business, healthcare administration, human resources, management information systems, management science, marketing, operations management, organizational design, project management, real estate, risk management and strategy, among others.|
Online vs. Campus Learning
When it comes to online vs. campus MBA programs, there are similarities as well as differences. Both of these types of programs are similar in that students are essentially receiving the same education as far as courses, curriculum, and objectives are concerned. At times specific assignments, papers, or projects may differ as to better accommodate an online format. For example, a large project that may be assigned to a group of students participating in a campus program may be scaled down for the individual student enrolled in an online program. While the type of academic information is the same, one of the biggest differences is the way that information is distributed and received. Campus programs allow for in-person lectures, face-to-face discussions, and assignments that are directly turned into instructors. In online programs, technology takes the place of physicality allowing students to use the Internet to watch a streaming video lecture, participate in a class discussion via chat room, or turn in an assignment by uploading a file. Essentially, online programs deliver the same content and require the same amount of effort from students just sometimes in a different way.
The Pros and Cons of Online Programs
There are many advantages of an online MBA program, one of the most prominent being career-friendliness. Whether full-time or part-time, those with demanding work schedules often are unable to take time out of their day to attend class. Online MBA programs are great for those looking for flexible scheduling options, as they are distributed through a virtual learning environment that is accessible 24/7. Professionals trying to balance school and work don’t have to be stretched too thin as they have the freedom to complete coursework around their occupational obligations. Another advantage of online programs is that you don’t have to relocate to receive a graduate education from a top-notch business school. These days school choice is not limited by those located within a convenient mile radius but by those that offer an online MBA option. The good news is that, the number of schools offering online MBAs is increasing daily as more and more brick and mortar universities incorporate online education into their business programs. With the power of technology, it no longer matters that you are a department manager for a corporation on the west coast, you can still receive an Ivy League business education.
Just as with anything, there are also drawbacks when it comes to online MBA programs. For the student who learns best by attending lectures and studying the course material presented in those lectures, an online program might not be the most beneficial choice as it may lack the structure, accountability, or direction that is needed. Also, when it comes to the Internet, one-on-one guidance and direction can only go so far. Online MBA programs utilize tools like streaming videos, interactive chat rooms, and online discussion boards to distribute information and facilitate learning. While this may be adequate instruction for some students it may not be for others, so it’s important to take into consideration whether or not face-to-face interaction is necessary for you to have the best educational experience. If personal attention is what you are looking for, than an online program may not be for you. Another disadvantage associated with online learning is that you will be unable to take advantage of the perks associated with a traditional on-campus experience. For example, the student who is seeking internship or recruiting opportunities during their graduate education may not get what they need through an online program as on-campus programs are more likely to provide career services or host hiring events.
The Perception of Online MBAs
The negative stigmas that may have been attached to the concept of online education in the past are virtually nonexistent in today’s society. Over the years these types of programs have gained more credibility and recognition, making the online MBA a valuable asset in the corporate environment. Perhaps this is why more and more public and private universities are getting on board and adapting their traditional on-campus MBA curriculum to an online format. Those interested in earning an MBA may want to consider the value of enrolling in an online program as it allows working professionals to simultaneously obtain academic and career experience. This is something that also increases one’s job potential, as potential employers can be confident that MBAs have obtained the education necessary to succeed in business as well as developed the qualities required of those in management positions.
Additionally, an online MBA is just as valuable as one earned through a traditional program, as students are required to master the same curriculum, meet the same expectations, and rise to the same challenges. This is apparent by the fact that when it comes to receiving your diploma there will likely be no differentiation between MBAs who completed coursework on-campus and those who completed it online. The actual degree that online MBA students end up receiving will probably not have the word “online” anywhere in sight. Not that any graduate of an online MBA program should be wary in the case that theirs did. Considering that technology makes it possible to conduct business from anywhere in the world, utilizing it to complete an MBA is nothing less than a smart business decision.
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