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Should I apply for an online or traditional MBA?

Posted on May 29, 2019
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Business man holding MBA

What is the value of an MBA degree to you? Are you interested in a salary increase, switching careers, networking opportunities or turbocharging your current career growth? Are you trying to develop stronger leadership and team management skills? Or are you trying to get better at problem-solving and teamwork? These are some of the critical questions that you need to ask yourself when considering the value proposition of an online vs traditional MBA degree. The factors below can help you decide, given your motivation, which MBA is right for you:

Flexibility – One of the primary advantages of an online MBA is its flexibility. You can take classes from any part of the world while sitting across an ocean or on another continent, and at any time that is convenient for you. This means that you get to keep your full-time job while you earn your degree. The curriculum of a university’s online MBA degree is also often similar to that of its traditional counterpart. The largest opportunity cost of a full-time MBA program is that it takes you out of the workforce for one to two years, depending on the program in which you are interested in enrolling. However, it is important to note that increased freedom also often means increased responsibility. A lot of students are overwhelmed by the workload of an online MBA in addition to a full-time job, which is an additional stress that traditional MBA students do not have.

Social Interaction – Even though technology has wondrously enabled a virtual classroom where students can interact with professors and their peers, significantly large proportion of meaningful interaction that is fundamental to a high-quality business school education happens outside the classroom. This starts with an intense orientation program that abounds with exciting social activity, and continues through participation in campus clubs and student government, international travel excursions, and overall generally high levels of social interaction. The network effects of a traditional MBA are profound – business school students develop deep, meaningful relationships with each other, whether it is in terms of becoming lifelong friends or becoming prospective employees or employers for each other’s companies. These relationships are cemented not just with students in one particular class, but also with professors and students from other years and sections.

Job Prospects – Accreditation and the reputation of a business school are inherently interlinked. There are many non-accredited online MBA programs that feign legitimacy, which can make finding the right, trustworthy degree more difficult. Hence, although an increasing number of qualified professionals are earning an MBA online, many employers still prefer to hire candidates with traditional MBA degrees. So if you are looking to enhance your salary, switch careers or improve your current career trajectory, you need to ensure that your employer values an online MBA analogously to a traditional MBA. Additionally, traditional MBA students have physical, flexible access to on-campus career services. This gives them a significant competitive advantage when it comes to finding a job, as they get more hands-on support through the recruitment processes. They get to interact face-to-face with potential employers during on-campus recruitment and discuss, in person, their preferences with recruiters or their resumes with careers services professionals.

It is important to consider your motivation for applying for an MBA, as it relates to time management and flexibility, social interaction with peers and professors, and job prospecting, including a segue to a career abroad. If you would like more advice on which MBA is right for you, feel free to connect with us!

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