The online learning revolution is gathering pace.
According to GMAC’s 2015 application trends survey, online MBA programs have recorded constant growth in applications over the past few years, outstripping traditional part-time and executive courses.
Pre-experience business masters too are increasingly going online with young professionals combining study with work as they forge out their new careers.
For many, online business programs offer an advantageous alternative to traditional campus-based courses. Here’s 10 reasons why:
MBA programs in Europe and the US can cost up to and beyond $100,000. Birmingham Business School offers both an Online MBA and the Online MSc International Business costing £18,000/$24,000 and £12,000/$16,000 respectively. The difference is huge.
Plus, online programs can offer a better return on investment, as students don’t have the extra cost of travel, accommodation and, crucially, can continue to work alongside their studies.
With an online program you can study where you want, when you want.
Andrew Lavin works as global head of fleet management at temporary power supplier Aggrekko. His role has taken him from the UK to the UAE, and Azerbaijan. An Online MBA offers him the flexibility he needs.
“As I spend a large proportion of time on airplanes and in hotels, online learning gives me the time to complete the reading and course work,” he explains.
3. Applying your learning
Implementing a new marketing strategy? Looking into your accounts? Meeting with a big client in China?
An online business program makes you better at your job. And by studying while you work, you can apply your new learnings – both “hard” technical skills and soft skills - every day in your real-life work environment.
Early this year, Birmingham’s Online MBA became the world’s first and only 100% online MBA to receive full AMBA accreditation.
Across the board, online programs are growing in credibility. And employers appreciate the extra effort and unique commitment that an online program involves.
Digitization is democratizing education. And the internet is giving students around the world access to high quality institutions which might otherwise be unreachable.
Across Birmingham’s online MBA and Online MSc International Business combined, 63% of students are international and 86 different nationalities represented.
With a diverse classroom comes a diverse network. And online, networking opportunities are limitless.
“[Online programs] provide you with the thrilling experience of connecting globally through your computer,” says Ceridwen Scerri, a Malta-based student on Birmingham’s Online MBA.
“During my first online session, I was simply amazed as the class went live with students from America, Australia, Africa and Asia,” Ceridwen continues. “I don’t think that this can be experienced on-campus, to the same extent.”
7. Tech innovation
Live sessions, campus tours, 360-degree cameras, virtual reality and the augmented reality of Pokémon Go fame. Studying online, you experience the latest developments in educational technology - or edtech - first-hand.
The days of the lonely long-distance learner are over. Today, online courses can replicate or even better the level of interactivity you experience in a classroom.
“There’s no doubt that with Skype, video and audio conferencing, messaging services and shared documents, there are many ways in which you can collaborate with each other online that are actually more efficient and effective than in a face-to-face environment,” says Ian Myatt, director of educational enterprise at the University of Birmingham.
“We have everything you would find in an onsite program,” says Birmingham Online MSc International Business student Helena Feibert.
Online programs are now seen as direct equivalents to business school-based courses. On many, the learnings, the outcomes and even the professors are the same. At Birmingham, online students receive the same certificates upon graduation as their onsite counterparts.
“As everything is mandatory it enforces interactivity and a similar learning curve for all students,” Helena continues. “You have to be as much engaged to an online course as an onsite one. There are no free rides, and that is one of its appeals.”
Online students are just as supported in terms of careers. At Birmingham Business School, the careers team is on hand for online students from day zero.
“As soon as students have accepted an offer – even before they join – they can talk online to the careers team,” says director of online content, Michael Shulver (pictured above).