When you've started researching business schools and there's anything from full-time, executive two-year MBAs to fully-online programs to choose from, where do you even start? Do you sacrifice your job to study? Or do you study online and miss out on the full business school experience? Enter: blended learning.
A blended MBA program gives you everything a traditional program offers, such as global immersions, networking opportunities, and real-life consulting experiences. The only difference is that it’s delivered in a more convenient, flexible package.
Why should you consider blended learning for your MBA?
The MBA for the working professional
It’s a Catch-22 situation. You want to broaden your horizon and develop your skillset, whether that’s your leadership skills or experience working internationally, but the thought of risking financial stability by sidelining your career for one or two years can be off-putting.
Head of MBA marketing and recruiting at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), Chris Healy, says, for these candidates, a blended program makes sense.
“Nowadays, professionals think: ‘I like the company I’m working for––and the industry I’m in––and I see further opportunities to grow here,’” he says. “But they can’t commit to full-time.”
Having the flexibility to enroll in a part-time course offering more variety means candidates have more control over how they choose to structure their personal learning experience.
This is reflected in the class profile, with the average age of students being 36 and over 10-years of professional experience. Interestingly, AMBS is seeing an upward trend in the number of younger professionals––in their mid- to late-20s––enrolling on its blended learning courses.
Practically, too, being able to keep up your full-time job alongside study means you have a regular source of income to fund school. 60% of AMBS students enrolling on blended learning programs self-fund their MBA studies, with the rest having some form of company sponsorship.
Both MBAs are part-time and staggered over a two-year period. The Global Part-Time MBA also offers an accelerated pathway lasting 18 months.
Unlike online MBAs, blended MBAs offer opportunities to study abroad, just as full-time MBAs do. The only difference is that semester-long stints aren’t required.
The Global Part-Time MBA includes 30 days of physical teaching in total, and the Kelley-Manchester MBA 18 days. The Global Part-Time MBA offers six residential segments and the Kelley-Manchester offers three; it depends how much flexibility Manchester candidates are looking for when deciding between them.
“We have the Global MBA and the Kelley-Manchester MBA, but we’ve got one MBA qualification, and everyone graduates with the exact same qualification,” Chris says. “You will learn the same things, but through a different delivery vehicle.”
Exclusively to the Kelley-Manchester MBA, students have an optional five-day workshop in Washington DC and also five days at the Kelley Business School in Indiana.
With AMBS’ blended MBAs, residential learning can take place abroad, which is more logistically convenient for international students who might not have the time to travel to the UK. Students can choose to study at any one of AMBS’ six global locations: Manchester, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Sâo Paulo.
“For example, a student from Tokyo can choose to study on the Hong Kong campus, rather than travelling to Manchester,” Chris says.
Blended Vs Online
Logging in online for lessons is easy and convenient––particularly when it means learning doesn’t have to disrupt your work life.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, candidates are being drawn away from part-time MBAs and looking to online equivalents, with one in 10 US business school applicants saying they would prefer to enroll online.
The downside to online is value for money and whether that’s worth sacrificing for the sake of convenience.
“You can find online MBAs at a fairly cheap price point, but then you don’t get face-to-face teaching sessions with world class academics,” Chris points out. Without face-to-face contact, it can also be hard to build a sense of community within an MBA cohort.
At AMBS, students come prepared for intensive face-to-face sessions. "The relationships they form on campus then continue online," says Chris.
That's why blended learning makes sense. Blended MBAs offer online components to allow for increased flexibility, but you can still attend classes, interact with your cohort and your professors, and build your business school network in a similar way as you would on a full-time course.