Coronavirus has impacted higher education as strongly as it has the global economy. Students have been consigned to their homes, and social distancing has meant we’ve waved goodbye to traditional campus education, albeit temporarily—now could be time to look at studying an online MBA.
The pandemic has forced higher education to innovate and adapt to the pressures of delivering online. Schools moving their campus education online could serve as a blueprint for the future of distance learning. When coronavirus subsides it’s not out of the question to suggest online education will be the new normal.
Distance learning MBAs are serious business in 2020. The recent QS ranking of the best online MBA programs in the world shows that there are an array of programs out there that are competing with their on campus counterparts.
Birmingham Business School’s 100% Online MBA was the first of its kind to receive accreditation from the Association of MBAs (AMBA), and was this year ranked 17th in the world by QS—the school was ranked 12th for the standard of faculty and teaching. Students graduating from the program receive a degree that is identical in value to the full-time MBA.
With coronavirus hitting business school campuses hard, here are five reasons you should study an online MBA this year.
1. The distance learning MBA network
A key reason some students study an MBA is for the network. Alongside the accelerated career and the knowledge gained, an MBA network is inherited for life. It grants students access to a cohort of high performing professionals on whom they can draw throughout their studies and their careers.
Daniel Chicksand, the director of the distance learning MBA at Birmingham Business School, says that conversations with students on the program have revealed vast WhatsApp networks where students and graduates continuously talk and discuss their careers and business problems, as well as generally keep in touch.
Since inception, the Online MBA at Birmingham Business School has been made up of 67% international students from more than 70 countries. They come from a range of industries covering IT, education, automotive, healthcare, as well as an array of functions like marketing, sales, and research. There have been CEOs, CTOs, and directors of companies too.
“When groups work together in the online environment they’re forming bonds. It’s the bonds that in the future will open up doors for new business opportunities,” Dan explains.
2. Online MBA cost
An online MBA is typically more affordable than its on campus variant. Birmingham Business School’s Online MBA comes in at approximately $25,000. Students who opt for the online degree are getting the same education on their graduate certificate as those who graduate from the campus MBA, in a diverse environment, with the added flexibility of distance learning education.
3. Intercultural management
As is identified by the diversity of the cohort, students have the opportunity to work with peers from over 70 countries on the online MBA at Birmingham.
They are also learning online, and developing the ability to work in diverse groups digitally, which mirrors the situation many global business professionals work with in reality, with teams all around the world.
“During the COVID pandemic, I’ve been talking to people from Nigeria to Cameroon to Canada, and you just don’t quite get that level of diversity in other programs,” Dan explains. “You have really talented candidates who might not be able to take time out of their job or afford to relocate to the UK for the MBA.”
4. Job prospects
The post-coronavirus job market might become more competitive, thinks Dan, so upskilling could give you the edge when it comes to the post-pandemic career opportunities.
“People realize maybe having the degree will give them the competitive edge,” he adds. “People who will also be having career breaks or looking for the opportunity to develop new businesses, I think they’ll be looking for online programs to support their learning.”
The learning environment on the Online MBA also mimics working in the digital sphere, as students learn to collaborate and lead across digital barriers.
That mirrors the situation of many global business professionals today who collaborate with teams around the world—after the pandemic, those who are able to move seamlessly into the digital sphere will stand out.
READ MORE: The Pros & Cons Of Online Learning
5. MBA skills
The skillset you develop as part of the program is a key reason you should study an online MBA this year. As mentioned above, the post-coronavirus jobs market will be competitive.
With remote working highly likely to increase after the pandemic, the degree equips students with a strong set of digital communication skills, which will remain a highly sought-after skill in the workplace.
The Online MBA at Birmingham Business School also equips students with the language of marketing, sales, accounting, operations, and the tools with which to communicate with the entire business ecosystem.
“With the flood of data and information today, what we want to do through teaching and tools and techniques is to give them those analytical tools so they can cut through all of that noise and get through to making difficult decisions with lots of information,” Dan explains.
The MBA gives students a critical mindset, he adds, a way to make sense of a complex and uncertain world—the online degree also hones students’ time management skills in a way an on-campus degree might not, due to the nature of balancing work, study, and social life.
“It provides a helicopter view of business. As [professionals] move up through their organizations they become generalists, and you need to understand the language of operations, supply chain, HR. I look at an MBA as a jigsaw puzzle, and all of these parts fit together.”