By Andrea Coulis
Andrea Coulis is a senior tutor for MyGuru, a provider of online GMAT tutoring. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and an MBA from the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School.
The possibility of earning an MBA online has been around for a while, and until recently has not received much acclaim.
However, with the business world’s continually growing attention to decreasing costs and increasing flexibility, work from home options have become commonplace for many executives. The online MBA may be a sensible method of preparation for an increasingly virtual business world, and has consequently received significant attention in recent years.
If you answer ‘yes’ to the following four questions, then an online MBA may be the best option for you.
1. Do you have a strong need for flexibility?
You’ve got a two-year-old constantly latched to your side, a newly-hatched entrepreneurial venture at your fingertips, a sick relative’s needs to attend to, a volunteer commitment you’re unwilling to neglect, or a combination of several of these commitments.
Sound familiar? You’re in a position where giving up one or two years of your life to fully commit to a set schedule of classroom instruction and events is not ideal.
An online MBA offers students with significant outside commitments to continue to fulfill their obligations (and maintain their sanity!) while pursuing their studies on their own schedules.
Take the Online MBA from Birmingham Business School in the UK for example. Birmingham’s Online MBA is delivered 100%-online—no hidden residential weeks—it’s also accredited by AMBA—the first 100%-online MBA program in the world to gain AMBA accreditation—and, upon the course’s completion, students gain the exact same qualification and certificate that they would on the school’s full-time MBA.
For busy professionals, a traditional MBA simply will not offer the flexibility inherent in an online program.
2. Do you have limited financial resources?
It makes sense: eliminating the need for students’ tuitions to cover the cost of a physical academic presence and avoiding the cost-of-living expenses normally associated with a traditional MBA program will both dramatically drive down the cost of an MBA.
If you’re set on earning an MBA but are financially limited, an online MBA program may be a practical option to take a step forward without breaking the bank.
3. Do you have a strong idea of where you want to take your career post-graduation?
Students often enter an MBA program with a goal of getting to know other students and their industries, exploring options outside of their own areas, and subsequently making a career switch based on an extended exploration process over one to two years.
Exploring a significant career change can be quite difficult from an online perspective, without the presence of other students in the classroom to constantly offer their viewpoints in areas you may be newly discovering. If you have a strong idea of what you want to do with your MBA and where you want to take your career post-graduation, however, this obstacle may not pose a roadblock at all.
4. Are you interested in the networking aspect of traditional MBA programs?
Let’s face it; many people pursue an MBA not for the academic content, but for the relationships formed along the way. A huge advantage to an in-person MBA is being able to become a part of a tight-knit community of students who spend a large amount of time together on a daily basis and who can call upon each other for favors, advice, and friendship long after graduation.
But, increasingly, online MBA programs can offer something like that too. Over 9,000 students are currently studying the Online MBA offered by Edinburgh Business School at Herriot-Watt University—that’s a massive potential network. On USC Marshall’s Online MBA, students join a business school network over 390,000-strong.
Just like in the workplace, with new technologies, online MBA students can connect with bigger, more global networks of like-minded people at the click of a button. On Birmingham’s Online MBA, students and faculty connect through fortnightly live sessions.
Choosing the right MBA program is often one of the most important decisions of a person’s career, so be sure to think carefully about weighing your personal goals against the online MBA’s unique aspects. Being honest in answering the above questions will be instrumental in determining your fit for an online MBA program.
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