The popularity of distance learning and online MBA degrees is increasing each year, and the number of MBA students on the internet is booming.

However, just because online MBA is becoming popular, it does not mean that you should jump into it blindly. There are pitfalls to watch out for and misconceptions to be aware of, and you must have in depth knowledge of what you are getting into before taking that step and choosing an online MBA program.

Who Enrolls for Online MBA

People who find it difficult to join the traditional Brick and Mortar University degrees still have a chance to advance their education and career through online programs. Having a fulltime job or being a stay at home parent is an obstacle when thinking about getting a regular degree, because attending classes is not possible. Yet, many individuals in these situations still need an MBA to improve their lives and take their careers to the next level. These are the students best suited for an online degree.

Aspiring graduate students also consider getting an online MBA degree if their place of residence is far away from their desired business school, and they are unable to travel and unwilling to compromise their choice of business school.

Online MBA programs are basically favored by the busy people; people who are fully committed to something else, like a job or family, and are therefore unable to comply to the fixed class schedule required by traditional MBA programs. This does not mean that an online MBA is easy and requires less work; an online MBA student will have to work as hard as any graduate degree student to earn the degree. The difference is that online MBA students have the advantage of flexibility. They can study whenever and wherever they want. Most importantly, an online MBA program is for driven self-motivated people.

What Should I Expect from a Online MBA Program

All a student needs for an online MBA is a computer and an internet connection. The application, admissions all take place online. It is important for students to choose a top ranked university that falls within their budget. The university must have a distance learning MBA degree accredited by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or by the regional board recognized by the federal government such as the Higher Learning Commission or the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Once the student gets admitted to an online MBA program, they will be offered one or more courses to take each session; each course will be divided into different modules and each module will have lectures, assignments and projects. The student will have the same instructors the other MBA students have, and they will be given deadlines for the assignments and projects. Sometimes, instructors invite an online MBA student to attend virtual conference meetings with other online students. If the graduate student has a four year Bachelor degree in business administration, he will have an idea about what to expect from the course modules. However, if the student doesn’t have a four year business degree, s/he may have to take some fundamental courses to make up for your gaps in business education.

After successful completion of your program, which may take one to two years, you will receive a certificate from your business school acknowledging your degree.  In some cases you might even receive an award if you have shown an outstanding performance in education.

What is the Cost of an Online MBA

No, there is a misconception that online MBA degrees are very expensive, but this is untrue.

  • First of all, just like with any traditional degree, students can apply for a scholarship, waiver or student loans. If the student has an excellent GMAT score, some universities may reduce the total tuition fee.
  • Based on the graduate student’s job experience and education background, University may waive some courses and the student won’t have to pay for these waived courses, thus reducing the cost of the degree.
  • Online MBA students don’t have to go to the University campus to attend the courses, so there will be no travel expenses.

Benefits of Online MBA

  • Cost effective, as online MBA degrees are generally less expensive than traditional MBA programs, and the students save on travel expenses.
  • You are your own boss, studying whenever you like. However, students are expected to study 10-12 hours for each course per week. This means that if you are already a busy person, you won’t have much free time for yourself. Although you won’t be studying less than traditional MBA students, you will be studying at your own pace.
  • You can spend more time with your family. Although you may not be giving them your full attention, your presence at home even while you study will still mean a lot for your loved ones.

Drawbacks of Online MBA

  • Some employers prefer traditional MBA degrees to online ones. This however does not mean that these employers will not have respect for a Harvard degree, online or not. That’s why students should choose a well reputed business school for their online MBA degree.
  • Some institutions give away online MBA degrees for money, without the need to study, do assignments or take examinations. You may have heard about Chester the dog that got an MBA degree online. Chester is owned by Vicky Phillips, the CEO of GetEducated.com: a consumer-awareness organization focused on online MBAs. Phillips submitted Chester’s application and $499 to Rochville University and received his online degree—complete with a 3.2 GPA after a week. This is why students must do proper research on the business school they’re applying to, and choose the best organization they can afford. In any case, the offered MBA degree must have proper accreditation.
  • You will be deprived of the social connections and network building opportunities that classrooms have.

Online MBA programs have opened up opportunities to thousands of students all over the world, who can now take their careers wherever they want without having to abandon their homes or putting their work on hold. If you are considering getting an online MBA, you must do heavy research and keep in mind that the most important factor remains the reputation of the business school that will be issuing your degree.

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Data sources: MBA School Websites, IPEDS, National Center of Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (ERIC), Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). US News, The Econominst, Forbes, Bloomberg Business Week, Financial Times.

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