The past decade or so has seen a surge in the variety and specialization of MBA programs, bringing to light a number of specialty programs that enable every student to sharpen the specific business skills which are best suited to his profession and his individual needs and interests. Not only do these new types of programs help students focus on their objectives, they also give the students much more freedom in going for a program that perfectly fits their lives, especially since most MBA students have an existing professional career that greatly limits the time they can dedicate to their degree.

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Full time MBA Programs

This type of MBA programs lasts for 2 years, and requires full attendance. Because of this, balancing a full time career with this type of MBA can be very challenging. This is the most common type of MBA programs; it is offered by the majority of traditional business schools. Depending on a number of factors, a full time MBA will cost between $40,000 and $120,000. State universities offer cheaper programs that cost close to $30,000.

Accelerated MBA Programs

These programs offer the same content as that of full time MBA programs. The key difference in accelerated MBA programs is duration; they are condensed to 12 to 16 months. This is advantageous as it allows students to quickly complete their MBA and resume their professional career. To complete the full time course content in such a short time, however, students will have to skip summer and winter breaks, which makes summer internships, with their useful networking opportunities, out of question. For this reason, this type of MBA is better suited for professionals who are already established in their careers, and who do not need the experience and professional relations acquired through internships. The cost of an accelerated MBA program is typically between $15,000 and $25,000. Marylhurst University, North Central University, The University of Texas Pan American are some of the institutions that offer accelerated online MBAs.

Part-Time MBA Programs

On the opposite side of the accelerated MBA comes part time MBA. As opposed to condensing the curriculum, a part time MBA program stretches out the taught material on a longer period of time. Instead of requiring students to put their careers on hold, this type of MBA programs allows them to continue working and advancing professionally while attending MBA classes during evenings and weekends. The obvious drawback to this type of program is that it takes longer (typically 3 or more years) to complete. Some well reputed institutions that offer part time MBA degrees include Arizona State University, Babson College and Belmont University. The program cost can range between $25,000 and $60,000 depending on the reputation and quality of the institution.

Mini-MBA Programs

Unlike all the previous program types, a mini-MBA doesn’t qualify as a full MBA. These programs give students a brief idea about the material covered in full MBA courses; they cover the same course information of a full MBA, but they do so at a considerably reduce depth. A mini-MBA is ideal for professionals who cannot afford a full MBA, but are still looking to brush up their career credentials and diversify their expertise, and also for students who are unsure whether they should pursue a full MBA program. By introducing these uncertain students to the courses they should expect from a proper MBA degree, a mini-MBA program can help them decide whether an MBA is their cup of tea. These programs typically cost just around $3,000, and take up a few months; around six months in most cases. For instance, University at Buffalo The State University of New York offers an online mini MBA that you consists of just 17 modules and can be covered through web-based technology, as does Florida Tech University Online with specializations in healthcare management, IT management, internet marketing and management.

Online MBA Programs

These programs are steadily growing in popularity and availability, and for good reason. An online MBA program is by far the best choice for graduate students who want an economical MBA solution that doesn’t disrupt their career or require relocation. In this type of MBA, the traditional classroom concept is abandoned and students pursue their MBA degree in a virtual classroom with the instructions of qualified faculty members and through digital tools such as online video tutorials and chat sessions, discussion forums and instant messaging clients. These programs are extremely convenient for students, but they may be given less credence than traditional MBA degrees by some employers. This disadvantage can be overcome by choosing a program that is accredited by a well-recognized accreditation body. Online MBA programs are considerably cheaper than their traditional counterparts, typically costing between $8000 and $60,000, but high end online programs can go into six figures.

Hybrid MBA Programs

In this unique program structure, students experience the intimacy of the physical classroom, but are granted the flexibility of the online program as well. As students enjoy the freedom of the fully-online MBA, the Hybrid Program does not isolate students exclusively to the online world. Lectures, classwork, or discussion boards may be conducted online during a weekly basis in between students and faculty. Often times however, group work, projects, or hard-to-learn conceptual practices are better explored in the physical environment. In addition, this allows a new layer for faculty members to develop their future-MBA students.

Specialized MBA Programs

Besides the regular classifications of MBA programs, a number of institutions offer MBA degrees that are tailored to match the needs of professionals who work in big corporations or in an international workplace. These include Executive MBA programs and Global MBA programs, both of which are offered for medium and top end executives. These specialized programs are highly specific in the coursework they cover, with a focus on developing business skills essential for success in boardroom meetings or international business forums. Specialized MBA programs last for one to two years, and formal classes are usually held on weekends to allow the students to keep up with their busy work schedules. Top tier executive MBA programs can cost more than $100,000. An example is The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School’s specialized program. However, there are less expensive alternatives available for less than $50,000. An example would be the program offered by San Francisco State’s EMBA degree costing around $43,000.

Professional MBA programs offer students the flexibility of study, while being full-time employees. Apart from the Executive MBA, students enlisted in a PMBA program are typically recent graduates of their bachelor's degree, with new or recent experience in their field. Whereas students in the EMBA program are more experienced with likely 5-10+ years of knowledge of their careers. Coursework is offered generously in the evening, or sometimes weekends; students typically require 20-28 months to complete the program. Tuitions are comparable to the EMBA; however, it is common for professionals to receive employer-sponsored tuition, in part or full.

Even if you are not interested in this type of specialization, you can choose an MBA program that is designed to fit your industry; all MBA programs allow their students to specialize in fields such as technology, accounting, communications, etc.

MBA Concentrations

  • Accounting: 617
  • Communications: 30
  • Education: 58
  • Ethics: 54
  • E-Commerce: 24
  • Economics: 386
  • Entrepreneurship: 409
  • Finance: 630
  • General Business: 523
  • Healthcare Administration: 285
  • Hospitality Management: 106
  • Human Resources: 167
  • Information Systems: 474
  • Insurance: 82
  • International Business: 462
  • Law: 78
  • Management: 575
  • Marketing: 608
  • Operations: 0
  • Operations Management: 144
  • Organizational Behavior: 121
  • Public Administration: 62
  • Real Estate: 149
  • Quantitative Methods: 170
  • Statistics: 172
  • Strategic Management: 142
  • Supply Chain: 370
  • Taxation: 125
  • Other: 0

Online MBA Concentrations

  • Accounting: 291
  • Communications: 12
  • Education: 30
  • Ethics: 25
  • E-Commerce: 12
  • Economics: 198
  • Entrepreneurship: 209
  • Finance: 291
  • General Business: 275
  • Healthcare Administration: 160
  • Hospitality Management: 54
  • Human Resources: 88
  • Information Systems: 248
  • Insurance: 45
  • International Business: 236
  • Law: 40
  • Management: 304
  • Marketing: 294
  • Operations: 0
  • Operations Management: 63
  • Organizational Behavior: 54
  • Public Administration: 32
  • Real Estate: 77
  • Quantitative Methods: 85
  • Statistics: 83
  • Strategic Management: 73
  • Supply Chain: 176
  • Taxation: 63
  • Other: 0

Conclusion

Your choice of MBA program should be based on careful evaluation of your assets and resources, as well as your requirements and aspirations. Be sure to carefully assess your professional goals and pinpoint the exact amount of time and effort you can dedicate to your degree, and go with the program that best matches your needs. By doing this, you will have set your feet on the road to success in your online MBA 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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