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Is An Online MBA Worth The Money?

More business schools are offering online MBA programs, but do they offer the same value as a traditional, full-time MBA?

Tue May 16 2023

BusinessBecause  

1

Business schools are taking more of their learning online. The number of accredited US schools with fully online MBA programs increased by 85% between the 2016–17 and 2021–22 academic years, according to data from AACSB.

Georgetown McDonough, Wharton Business School, and University of College London have now joined the ranks of big-name, elite schools offering online MBA programs. For business schools, going online is a way to reach a global market and diversify program portfolios to meet demand. 

For students, it is about flexibility; the opportunity to work, travel, and study at the same time. according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), enrollment in online MBA programs has now surpassed that of full-time programs: Nearly 3% more students were enrolled in online MBA programs in the U.S. during the 2020-2021 academic year than in full-time programs.

In the BusinessBecause Online MBA Guide 2024, we look into how Online MBAs are adapting and the benefits of studying virtually.

So, is an Online MBA worth it?


Considering an Online MBA?

Download our Online MBA Guide 2024

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Online MBA vs Full-Time


Patrick Gettleman, a student on Birmingham Business School’s Online MBA, said he could not have studied an MBA without the flexibility the program offered. “Online was the only option that would work for me outside of quitting my job to become a full-time student.”

Solon Magrizos, program director of the Online MBA at the University of Birmingham Business School,...

lping them to accelerate their career from nearly anywhere in the world.”

While Online MBAs may have been considered as secondary to campus-based courses in the past, advances in technology—bringing more interactive learning experiences—mean schools are increasingly offering online MBAs as direct alternatives to the traditional, full-time MBA.

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is offering the Flex MBA Online from this Fall. It is especially designed for working professionals, and graduates will earn the same degree as the in-person program. Sudipta Dasmohapatra, senior associate  dean of McDonough’s MBA Programs says that the school has "pulled together the regular MBA strengths and creatively added more flexibility to this online program while retaining quality education and our close-knit community".

Employers are increasingly viewing Online MBAs as equal to Full-Time MBAs. In fact, 54% of global recruiters agree they view online MBA grads and in-person degrees equally, according to the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey 2024.


Cost of Financial Times Top 10 Online MBAs 


Online vs full-time


When it comes to the most affordable online MBA programs, Birmingham’s Online MBA is among the cheapest at around $30,000 for the two years. Similarly the University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg's Online MBA costs just north of $35,000. Meanwhile at the other end of the scale, the Online MBA offered by Carnegie Mellon Tepper Business School is the most expensive in the Financial Times Online MBA Ranking 2023, at over $140,000. 

But with students largely forgoing the campus element of the full-time MBA, is it worth paying high fees for an Online MBA as some of the top colleges require?

One way to consider a program’s worth is by calculating its return on investment (ROI): the money paid for a program and the salary earned after graduation. By this calculation, Online MBAs generally report more modest returns than full-time MBAs.

At IE Business School, full-time MBA students can expect a 101% increase on their salaries three years after graduation, according to the FT. Meanwhile, Online MBA graduates can expect a 44% salary increase. The programs cost $89,500 and $53,700 respectively.

But comparing the ‘worth’ of an online MBA in this way is misleading. Most online MBA students continue to work, and earn a salary, alongside their studies and they don’t have to endure any travelling expenses. 

This means that there is no ‘opportunity cost’ for students from taking a year or two off work to pursue the MBA. And why GMAC says it takes alumni of Online MBAs two-and-a-half years on average to recoup their investment compared with three and a half years for full-time MBA alumni.

“The [Online MBA] program's flexibility allows you to work while you study, as the program requires students to have a full-time job to apply. This real-time applicability of what you learn in class can greatly enhance your professional development and contribute to your success in your current role and beyond,” says Andres Lattanzio Collins, global recruitment manager at IE’s Online MBA.


Who is an Online MBA for?


There is more value to an Online MBA than just the salary uplift. 

It gives you a professional qualification and experience with remote management skills. This is useful as the modern workplace is highly dependent on virtual interactions, with around 82% of companies adopting remote or hybrid work in the post-pandemic era. 

“One of the key benefits of the Global Online MBA is the opportunity to develop leadership skills in a virtual, global environment. The program provides experience in leading diverse teams from different backgrounds and time zones, mimicking today's business world where remote work and virtual teams are common,” Andres says. 

You might consider an Online MBA if you’re looking for global network. With the opportunity to complete the degree anywhere in the world you are likely to build truly diverse connections. 

“You will benefit from peer-to-peer interaction with a truly global and diverse cohort, enabling you take multiple perspectives on addressing business challenges,” says Karla Litton, business development manager at Warwick Business School.

While there is concern that career opportunities at Online MBAs do not equal full-time MBAs, recruiters are becoming more appreciative of the degree with 60% of global recruiters say they view Online MBA grads and in-person degrees equally. With the help of the involved careers department and through networking, Online MBA grads
 go on to work in high-paying industries such as consulting and finance, with world-renowned companies such as Amazon, EY, and JP Morgan. 

“As well as range of webinars and online resources, participants gain access to three different elements of 1-2-1 career support; one executive coaching session, one career consultation, and the option to join Warwick Business School’s award-winning mentoring program,” Karla explains.

To choose an Online MBA it's worth taking note of the 'aims achieved' rating in the FT ranking. Most of the FT’s top 10 Online MBAs had a 70% or higher ‘aims achieved’ rating. 


Next read:

Online MBA Guide 2024: All You Need To Know


This article was first published in June 2019, updated in March 2021, last updated in March 2024

Student Reviews

Birmingham Business School - University of Birmingham

Student

Verified

7/10/2023

On Campus

An amazing experience

Great, knowledgeable faculty with a beautiful campus. Lots of societies and clubs to choose from in accordance with your interest. One can also discover scholarship opportunities here. The course is perfectly designed and the career services at the uni are very helpful

Melanie

Verified

6/10/2023

On Campus

The beautiful campus and teaching expertise.

Overall the University of birmingham is just an incredible institution. From the array of expertise teachings and how phenomenal the campus is definitely enhances its beauty and is enriched with the amazing resources and incredible people that are always willing to help and make you feel welcomed everywhere you go. I would 100% recommend the University of Birmingham to be one of the best universities out there and through not only the various courses that they offer but all the social societies definitely adds to the fun and great opportunities that it provides

chikondi

Verified

4/10/2023

On Campus

Exceptional Support for international Students

Exceptional Support for International Students As an international student, my experience at the University of Birmingham has been nothing short of extraordinary, thanks to the outstanding support provided for international students. I would like to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the exceptional support I've received during my time here. From the moment I arrived on campus, it was evident that UoB prioritizes the well-being and success of its international students. Here are some key aspects of the support I've received: 1. Orientation Programs: The university's comprehensive orientation programs helped me acclimate to campus life, navigate administrative processes, and understand the academic system. I never felt lost or overwhelmed, thanks to the informative sessions and friendly staff. 2. Academic Advising: The academic advisors for international students are incredibly knowledgeable and approachable. They assisted me in creating a personalized academic plan, selecting courses, and understanding degree requirements. Their guidance ensured that I stayed on the right track academically. 3. Language Support: UoB offers exceptional language support services, including English language courses and conversation partners. These resources were invaluable in improving my language skills and building confidence in my communication abilities. 4. Cultural Integration: The university fosters a diverse and inclusive environment, making it easy for international students to feel like part of the community. There are numerous cultural clubs, events, and workshops that allow us to connect with fellow students and celebrate our diverse backgrounds. 5. Mental Health and Counseling Services: Recognizing the challenges that international students may face, the university provides excellent mental health and counseling services. It's comforting to know that support is available when needed, and these services are respectful of cultural differences. 6. Career Services: UoB offers exceptional career services tailored to international students. From resume workshops to job fairs, they've been instrumental in helping me prepare for my career post-graduation. The university's strong network of alumni has also been a valuable resource. 7. Visa and Immigration Assistance: Navigating the complexities of visa and immigration regulations can be daunting, but the university's dedicated staff provided guidance and assistance throughout the process. Their expertise made the experience seamless. 8. Housing Support: Securing suitable housing can be a challenge for international students, but the university offers assistance in finding on-campus housing options with flexible payments. This support ensured that I had a safe and comfortable place to live. 9. Financial Aid and Scholarships: UoB offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. Their commitment to making education accessible is commendable, they also provide financial support for graduation through the guild of students.

Student

Verified

16/02/2023

On Campus

student experience

I highly recommend the University of Birmingham. I think the school environment is very friendly to international students. I was able to get guidance and help from students in the school. I was also able to get support and guidance from the professional team on my career path. I would recommend the University of Birmingham to first-time international students and Masters students.

Student

Verified

29/01/2023

On Campus

There is always somebody to help!

The university respects the culture and background of their highly diverse student. It carters to everybody's need and puts its student first. It tries to the make the student feel at home and helps them deal with the university life.

Student

Verified

27/01/2023

On Campus

Variety

I love studying Pharmacy at Birmingham and would absolutely recommend it, especially because of the variety in every aspect of the course. Firstly, the variety of people you meet from all areas around the country, and even countless others from outside the country. Each person has a different background and experiences creating a melting pot of personalities to interact with. Next, the lessons - there are numerous types of lessons we encounter on a weekly basis from lectures to dissections to a computer workshops. Additionally, specific to medical degrees, I have 7 placements annually in hospital, community, and GP pharmacies. The only lack of variety in the pharmacy course is the classrooms since there are limited number we can use and the medical school is separate from the main campus. The only part I don't enjoy about pharmacy is the distances and unreliability of public transport in Birmingham. Living in the vale, the university is a long 25-minute walk away and my closest shop is over 10-20 minutes to walk. Although there are closer accommodations, I really love my flat with its modern decor, large room, and social aspect of the shared kitchen.

Student

Verified

4/01/2023

On Campus

Experience at University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham has been an outstanding university. They have provided complete support during COVID-19. The university is incredible when accessing support with mental health. I currently study criminology at the university of Birmingham. The course has been brilliant, with constant support from lectures and tutors to ensure that you achieve the best grade possible. I could not recommend University of Birmingham more!

John

Verified

2/12/2022

On Campus

Cool

Great campus for studying with kind and professional staff and the campus is very well connected to the city center. There were so many people who wanted to enroll in the course that they had to queue for a new course for six months in advance. The classes were always crowded, but the professors never let anyone through. I love this uni

Joshua

Verified

30/11/2022

On Campus

A very welcoming uni

This university is regarded as one of the best in the world. They provide a welcoming environment that enhances the lives of the students because each one of them has a sense of community and a desire to study.

Beining

Verified

21/12/2023

On Campus

The professor's instructive pedagogical approach.

Professors in the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham tend to employ a facilitative pedagogical approach in their teaching. They guide students in language analysis through the application of discourse analysis and methods of linguistic research, fostering the students' ability to analyze various texts. The overarching goal is to maximize the impact of language. The entire process is characterized by a systematic and gradual progression, infused with a sense of humor and engaging elements.

Student

Verified

7/10/2023

On Campus

An amazing experience

Great, knowledgeable faculty with a beautiful campus. Lots of societies and clubs to choose from in accordance with your interest. One can also discover scholarship opportunities here. The course is perfectly designed and the career services at the uni are very helpful

Melanie

Verified

6/10/2023

On Campus

The beautiful campus and teaching expertise.

Overall the University of birmingham is just an incredible institution. From the array of expertise teachings and how phenomenal the campus is definitely enhances its beauty and is enriched with the amazing resources and incredible people that are always willing to help and make you feel welcomed everywhere you go. I would 100% recommend the University of Birmingham to be one of the best universities out there and through not only the various courses that they offer but all the social societies definitely adds to the fun and great opportunities that it provides

chikondi

Verified

4/10/2023

On Campus

Exceptional Support for international Students

Exceptional Support for International Students As an international student, my experience at the University of Birmingham has been nothing short of extraordinary, thanks to the outstanding support provided for international students. I would like to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the exceptional support I've received during my time here. From the moment I arrived on campus, it was evident that UoB prioritizes the well-being and success of its international students. Here are some key aspects of the support I've received: 1. Orientation Programs: The university's comprehensive orientation programs helped me acclimate to campus life, navigate administrative processes, and understand the academic system. I never felt lost or overwhelmed, thanks to the informative sessions and friendly staff. 2. Academic Advising: The academic advisors for international students are incredibly knowledgeable and approachable. They assisted me in creating a personalized academic plan, selecting courses, and understanding degree requirements. Their guidance ensured that I stayed on the right track academically. 3. Language Support: UoB offers exceptional language support services, including English language courses and conversation partners. These resources were invaluable in improving my language skills and building confidence in my communication abilities. 4. Cultural Integration: The university fosters a diverse and inclusive environment, making it easy for international students to feel like part of the community. There are numerous cultural clubs, events, and workshops that allow us to connect with fellow students and celebrate our diverse backgrounds. 5. Mental Health and Counseling Services: Recognizing the challenges that international students may face, the university provides excellent mental health and counseling services. It's comforting to know that support is available when needed, and these services are respectful of cultural differences. 6. Career Services: UoB offers exceptional career services tailored to international students. From resume workshops to job fairs, they've been instrumental in helping me prepare for my career post-graduation. The university's strong network of alumni has also been a valuable resource. 7. Visa and Immigration Assistance: Navigating the complexities of visa and immigration regulations can be daunting, but the university's dedicated staff provided guidance and assistance throughout the process. Their expertise made the experience seamless. 8. Housing Support: Securing suitable housing can be a challenge for international students, but the university offers assistance in finding on-campus housing options with flexible payments. This support ensured that I had a safe and comfortable place to live. 9. Financial Aid and Scholarships: UoB offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. Their commitment to making education accessible is commendable, they also provide financial support for graduation through the guild of students.

Student

Verified

16/02/2023

On Campus

student experience

I highly recommend the University of Birmingham. I think the school environment is very friendly to international students. I was able to get guidance and help from students in the school. I was also able to get support and guidance from the professional team on my career path. I would recommend the University of Birmingham to first-time international students and Masters students.

Student

Verified

29/01/2023

On Campus

There is always somebody to help!

The university respects the culture and background of their highly diverse student. It carters to everybody's need and puts its student first. It tries to the make the student feel at home and helps them deal with the university life.

Student

Verified

27/01/2023

On Campus

Variety

I love studying Pharmacy at Birmingham and would absolutely recommend it, especially because of the variety in every aspect of the course. Firstly, the variety of people you meet from all areas around the country, and even countless others from outside the country. Each person has a different background and experiences creating a melting pot of personalities to interact with. Next, the lessons - there are numerous types of lessons we encounter on a weekly basis from lectures to dissections to a computer workshops. Additionally, specific to medical degrees, I have 7 placements annually in hospital, community, and GP pharmacies. The only lack of variety in the pharmacy course is the classrooms since there are limited number we can use and the medical school is separate from the main campus. The only part I don't enjoy about pharmacy is the distances and unreliability of public transport in Birmingham. Living in the vale, the university is a long 25-minute walk away and my closest shop is over 10-20 minutes to walk. Although there are closer accommodations, I really love my flat with its modern decor, large room, and social aspect of the shared kitchen.

Student

Verified

4/01/2023

On Campus

Experience at University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham has been an outstanding university. They have provided complete support during COVID-19. The university is incredible when accessing support with mental health. I currently study criminology at the university of Birmingham. The course has been brilliant, with constant support from lectures and tutors to ensure that you achieve the best grade possible. I could not recommend University of Birmingham more!

John

Verified

2/12/2022

On Campus

Cool

Great campus for studying with kind and professional staff and the campus is very well connected to the city center. There were so many people who wanted to enroll in the course that they had to queue for a new course for six months in advance. The classes were always crowded, but the professors never let anyone through. I love this uni

Mahoro

Verified

22/01/2024

On Campus

Excellent reputation

The University of Birmingham has a strong reputation for academic excellence and research output that is why I chose to study here. The university boasts a faculty of renowned experts and scholars in various fields who are supportive to students in their academic endeavors. Birmingham offers many opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines. The university additionally, has modern facilities and resources to support student learning and research. However, certain classes have large student-to-faculty ratios, making it more challenging to receive individualized attention. The cost of living in Birmingham, especially for international students, may be higher compared to other areas in the UK.

Student

Verified

15/03/2024

Online

Immersion into Legal Studies

As a law student, a common stereotype of a typical law degree would be long, boring classes fully based off theory and essays. while essays and theories are a necessary part of the law experience, the University of Birmingham Law School modules also cater to the more creative sides of the law. modules of creative writing, blogs, videography, podcasts, etc., are available. modules on makeshift court sessions to practice advocacy. deeper research on the law and its ethics, and using legal skills to tackle modern-day concerns such as artificial intelligence. not only do you gain the necessary tools that prepare you for the legal world. you also gain additional knowledge that puts you one step ahead and allows for flexibility after your studies.

Student

Verified

22/04/2024

On Campus

International Relations and Development

My experience at the University of Birmingham has been exceptional. The University has given me a wide range of opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities, which benefit me in my well-being and in my studies. The University is fantastic in ensuring that you get the education you want, as long as its not too farfetched. By example, I requested to switch courses in the summer between first and second year, and my request was dealt with smoothly in a matter of weeks. The campus is a very easy one to navigate, and in itself is a very nice one, quite modern.

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