When choosing an Online MBA program, the options are close to unlimited. From program acceptance, timing, and job prospects, the considerations can be overwhelming. By the end of this article you’ll be ready to start weeding through all the options and find the program that’s a perfect fit for you.
Let’s start with the basics: What is accreditation?
You should probably only consider accredited online MBA programs. There are three top governing bodies: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).
Choosing an accredited MBA means the program has been vetted to ensure it teaches relevant material, using the latest available information, industry standards, technology, and training methods. Enrolling in a non-accredited program could be compared to seeing a doctor without a current medical license.
Is it fully online or are there in-person requirements?
Look out for online MBA programs with a residency component, often called an immersion or campus requirement. While this portion of the program is designed to deepen the student’s experience and build a professional network a student can rely on throughout their career, it can be a surprise.
Be sure to research these requirements before committing to a curriculum that may not be 100% online.
Which programs can I get into?
Admissions for online MBA programs have a reputation for being a little less restrictive. This is partly because an online degree is easily scalable. You can easily add another professor or additional section to accommodate a larger class size.
A clear example of this is the Indiana University, Kelley School of Business. The reigning US News & World Report’s top choice for an online MBA carries an 82% acceptance rate while their on-campus MBA takes just 37% of applicants.
Since online programs don’t follow a cohort model, students can enroll throughout the year. Of course, you’ll need undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation and personal essays, however the GMAT or GRE may not be required.
You should know by now if you’re not a strong test-taker, and feel free to let that guide you. But understand schools that don’t require a GMAT or GRE score are going to be less selective and often have a less valuable brand.
How long will it take?
Not all curriculums are created equal. If you’re not in a rush, taking only one or two courses at time can relieve the stress of juggling your degree with a demanding full-time job and family commitments. At this rate, an online MBA can take four-to-five years.
However, quite a few ‘accelerated’ programs pride themselves on their 12 month curriculum. These will, of course, be more demanding and put a strain on family life. The quickest we’ve seen is just 10 months, at programs like LSU Shreveport.
What kind of job can I get?
When choosing between accredited online MBA programs, it’s important to look at what career objectives an online MBA can help you meet. You should look at what past graduates have gone on to do post-MBA.
The school’s website will often highlight favorite alumni and lists of companies hiring their graduates, but LinkedIn can provide a more realistic view of what candidates with a similar background have accomplished.
While on-campus programs can be ultra-localized, online programs can also carry a regional reputation. If your long-term goals are to move to a particular part of the country, name recognition makes a difference.
For example, if you’re planning to move to (or stay in) the New England Area, enrolling at Rochester Institute of Technology, Saunders (ranked 28th by US News) over the University of Washington (10th) might not be a bad choice.
So how do I decide?
The truth is, with all the accredited online MBA programs available, you’re bound to find one that meets your budget, timeline, and career goals. What’s key is not losing sight of why you want to get a business degree in the first place and choosing the best fit MBA program to help you get there.
About the Author: Mark Skoskiewicz is the founder of MyGuru, a boutique provider of online tutoring powered by a small but extremely experienced team of passionate GMAT and GRE tutors. MyGuru helps students build customized study plans and focuses on a mix of core concepts and test-taking skill development. Mark holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.