Part-time MBAs are a great qualification for professionals who want to reap the benefits of an MBA without taking a career break. Rather than studying on-campus full-time, part-time students take their classes in the evening, on weekends, or during brief but intense residentials throughout the year.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) latest graduate survey, four out of five part-time MBA alumni reported that going to business school was a good investment of their time and resources.
However, this program structure is not the right fit for everyone, and it’s important to do your research before looking into your options.
To help you decide if a part-time MBA is a good fit for you, ask yourself these four questions:
1. Would I miss a sense of immersion and community?
One important consideration when contemplating a part-time MBA is how important immersion and community are to you. Is networking especially important to your career goals?
If so, then a full-time MBA might be a good fit. However, this is not to say that part-time programs don’t have a lot to offer in this realm.
While part-time MBAs are often characterized as less immersive because students typically work while attending classes, many part-time programs recognize the need for immersion and networking. NYU Stern offers full-time and part-time MBA options, and accepts the Executive Assessment (EA) for both. Students in both programs are eligible to participate in networking events, retreats, and other activities outside of the classroom.
2. How do I plan to fund my studies?
For 40% of b-school candidates, earning a raise is a top motivation. However, financing the education needed to earn that raise is also a top concern. GMAC research has found that “The cost of a graduate business degree and the need to take on student debt are the most likely reservations to impact prospective students’ pursuit of a GME.”
Employers are also less likely to help fund employee studies, meaning that many students are self-funded.
Part-time MBAs have several advantages to offer in this regard. For those self-funding their studies, the ability to work while studying helps to lessen the financial burden involved. Spreading the cost of education over several years can also help to alleviate financial concerns, making it easier to access a b-school education.
3. How much time can I invest?
When searching for schools that fit your finances and interests, you will also want to look at the amount of time you wish to invest in your education, both day-to-day and long-term.
A part-time MBA program can offer more flexibility and a smaller time commitment on a day-to-day level. Students can often choose from a wide variety of options, including self-paced course curricula or lockstep programs, flex schedules, and more.
However, for part-time MBA students, graduation may be two to eight years away, as studies are spread out over a longer time period. If earning your degree quickly is a higher priority, then a full-time program can be a better fit. If, however, you prioritize flexibility, then part-time options can be ideal.
4. What are my career goals?
Part-time MBA students tend to be working professionals who wish to advance along the career path they are already on; they tend not to be pursuing an immediate career transition.
Full-time MBA students are often looking to make a significant change more quickly, sometimes moving to a new industry or specialty, which is why they choose to focus solely on their MBA.
Ask yourself whether you want to maintain employment at your current company and open growth opportunities, or if you want to pivot to a new career path. The answers will help you decide which type of program is right for you.