Should You Get an MBA Online ?

WHAT IS AN MBA?

A masters of business administration (MBA) degree is for students who want to either begin their careers or advance their careers in areas such as management, consulting and finance. You do not have to have an MBA to have a career in business. However, in recent years, it has become the industry standard for many higher management and executive positions. In the last decade, the number of MBAs that are awarded each year has climbed by about 50%.

THE PROS AND CONS OF AN ONLINE MBA?

If you are interested in pursuing an online MBA, you should understand the advantages and disadvantages of earning an MBA online.

PROS

Flexibility

One of the most obvious advantages to an online MBA is that these academic programs offer you flexibility in your schedule that many traditional on-campus programs cannot. If you choose to enroll in an online MBA program, you will be able to watch lectures, finish reading assignments and do your homework whenever you have the time.

Promotions and Raises

In many situations, earning an MBA is the best way for business professionals to get promotions and larger salaries. Graduates who hold professional degrees like MBAs generally have higher salaries and lower rates of unemployment than graduates with any other type of degree. However, it is important to note that although many MBA graduates earn 6-figure salaries, an MBA degree does not guarantee a high salary.

Large Networks

Online MBA programs often enroll students from all over the U.S. and the world. As economies becomes more and more globalized, the opportunity to work with and learn from classmates who come from different regions of the U.S. and the world can be a beneficial experience for your future business career.

CONS

Lack of Internships

Internships offer the chance to work with a real businesses while you are still in school and are an important part of many traditional MBA programs. However, some online MBA programs do not offer internships, especially programs that are offered by Internet-only schools. By contrast, brick-and-mortar schools that offer both traditional and web-based programs often make the same internship opportunities available to both online and on-campus students.

Expense

MBA programs in general are not cheap, and online schools often cost as much as tuition at a brick-and-mortar university. The tuition for 1 year in an MBA program can range from $25,000 per year to more than $50,000 per year. Many of the highest-ranked business schools also charge the highest tuition rates. In addition to understanding how an MBA will help further your career, you should also fully understand the financial commitment that you make when you enroll in an MBA program.

Bad Reputations

It is important for you to note the difference between online MBA programs that are offered by traditional schools and online MBA programs that are offered by Internet-only schools. Although many Internet-based schools offer a rigorous and competitive curriculum, they often have a bad reputation in the academic and business communities. Earning a degree from such a school might not be worth the investment, even if the school or program is accredited. MBA graduates who earn the highest salaries tend to be graduates of the highest-ranked business schools, and none of these are Internet-only schools.

SHOULD YOU ENROLL IN AN ONLINE MBA PROGRAM?

Although you should be very cautious when you start to look for an online degree, there are many web-based MBA programs that meet the accreditation standards of the U.S. Department of Education and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The best online MBA programs are accredited, provide plenty of academic and career support and provide you with the flexibility to study at times that best fit your schedule.

There are several factors that you should consider before you enroll in an online MBA program, including your job situation, family and geographical location. If you plan to continue to work while you earn your MBA, an online program may offer you the flexibility that you require to do both. The same may be true if you have family obligations and responsibilities that make it impractical for you to enroll in a traditional, on-campus MBA program. If you live in an area where there are no schools that offer an MBA degree, an online MBA program may be your only option.

SHOULD YOU WORK BEFORE GETTING AN ONLINE MBA?

In general, it can be beneficial for you to work before you enroll in an online MBA program. Although business schools sometimes accept applicants with a wide range of work experience, they tend to look for candidates who can contribute to the learning experience of other students. Therefore, applicants who have some work experience are often more attractive candidates for MBA admissions committees.

Working after you earn your bachelors degree and before you enter an MBA program will expose you to the different types of work environments and job responsibilities you may find yourself with after earning an MBA. This experience can shape your interests and guide your specific concentration within your MBA program. If you already know which areas of business interest you, you can also create a more informed list of MBA programs that will suit your interests and career goals.

Additionally, some employers participate in tuition reimbursement programs where they agree to pay for part or all of an employee’s tuition in exchange for a promise to continue working at the company for a specific amount of time after they finish their MBA degree. Because tuition costs can be high, working before and during your MBA program often makes the financial aspect of returning to school less burdensome.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AN MBA AND A MASTERS OF ARTS OR SCIENCES

An MBA has a number of things in common with a masters of arts (MA) or a masters of science (MS). All 3 degrees are postgraduate degrees that are only available to applicants who already have a bachelors degree. And all of these programs usually take between 1 and 3 years to complete. In addition, MBAs, MAs and MSs all tend to lead to better career opportunities and higher salaries.

However, there are also some significant differences between MBAs and other types of masters degrees. For instance, masters degrees in the arts and sciences are typically considered academic degrees while MBA degrees are considered to be both academic and professional. Graduates from MA and MS programs are usually able to demonstrate a level of academic mastery in their chosen discipline. MBA programs teach students the skills that are necessary to work in real-world business settings as well as the academic theories on which those practical skills are based.

WILL AN ONLINE MBA BE WORTH IT?

Only you can determine if an online MBA is worth the investment of your time, money and energy. Consider your personal and professional goals as well as your financial situation, and evaluate how you think an online MBA will help you work toward successfully meeting these goals.

MBA degrees are not necessary to work in business settings, but the degree can positively affect your career opportunities. If you are particularly interested in business strategies, consulting, financial investment, management and marketing, then the benefits of having an MBA may be worth the investment.

CAN YOU WORK WHILE EARNING YOUR ONLINE MBA?

It is possible to work while you earn your online MBA, and many students hold a job during their studies. There are several factors that can influence whether or not it is a good idea for you to work and study at the same time.

One of the main reasons that many students choose to work while they earn their degree is to avoid or reduce the financial burden of paying back student loans after they graduate. And, as mentioned previously, there is also a chance that your employer offers tuition reimbursement plans that cover part of all of your school expenses.

Another good reason to keep working while you study is that you like the company for which you work and do not want to lose your position there. Many students actually earn their MBA because they want to advance within the company where they already work. If that is the case, staying in your current position can increase the likelihood that you will find a higher position in that company after you graduate.

Depending on your personal situation, you may want to continue to work while you earn your online MBA. Being a working student can be time consuming and stressful, but you might find that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

ARE YOU READY FOR AN ONLINE MBA PROGRAM?

There are certain skills and personal qualities that will help you succeed in an online MBA program. The most important of these, however, is simply having the motivation and commitment to invest the necessary time in studying and completing assignments. Online MBA programs can offer you more flexibility than traditional programs, but they also require a higher level of self-discipline. This is especially true if you have obligations outside of school like a job or a family.
There are also practical skills that will help you succeed in an online MBA program and in online classes:

Computer, Technology and Internet Skills

When you enroll in an online MBA program you should be sure that you have basic computer and Internet skills. You do not have to be an expert technician, but you should know how to send and receive e-mails, upload and download documents, learn new software systems and post comments in online discussion forums.

Scheduling and Time Management Skills

Time management skills are critical to success in your online MBA program. The freedom to set your own study schedule is not only a luxury but also a responsibility. You must create a study schedule that includes all of your various tasks and gives you enough time to complete each 1. Additionally, you must also be able to prioritize your responsibilities. Sometimes unexpected situations arise and disturb your study plan. You must be flexible enough to reorganize your remaining time and determine which tasks are most important.

Study Skills

Students who succeed in online MBA programs have good study skills and are able to use them effectively in an independent learning environment. Although students who study online may have contact with their virtual classmates, the Internet format can make it difficult to organize study groups. Although you may be able to find study partners for certain classes, you should not rely on support and motivation from others.

HOW WILL AN EMPLOYER VIEW YOUR ONLINE MBA?

An employer’s perception of your online degree will depend on several factors. The first and most important factor is whether your degree program and school are accredited by a nationally recognized education organization. Accredited online programs almost always have more legitimacy than those that do not, and this is especially true for online degrees.

Another factor in how an employer will view your online MBA is whether or not you are working for the employer when you earn your degree. If you continue to work during your online MBA program and your employer endorses your degree, they will probably view your degree favorably once you have finished.

If you graduate from an online MBA program and then look for a job with a new company, they may be less likely to view your online degree favorably. This is true even for degrees that are earned from accredited schools and programs. A 2006 research study found that employers were more likely to choose a candidate who has earned a degree from a traditional school over a candidate who has a degree from an online program. Although an increasing number of respected colleges and universities are beginning to offer online programs, you should still be aware that an online degree can be a disadvantage on the job market.