If your goal is to advance your career but you’re unable to relocate or quit your job, online MBA programs are the best option.
The best online MBA programs allow you to log in and learn any time of the day: early in the morning, after work, during lunch break, or after you put your kids in bed. Lectures, classes, and assignments come to you via a web portal, and class participation is usually measured through your contribution to discussion forums.
Does this sound too easy to be true? It’s not. Despite popular belief, online MBA programs are equally rigorous as their campus-based counterparts. Both MBA formats require a similar amount of work and result in the same degree. However, online MBA programs often require fewer one-on-one interactions with classmates and instructors. This, in turn, requires students to have strong time management skills and determination in order to stay on track and complete the course on time.
Different Online MBA Formats
With so many online MBA programs to choose from, how will you decide where to apply?
Depending on your priorities and circumstances, you can choose one of the following MBA program types:
Executive MBA (EMBA) – Two Years
Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) is a degree specially designed for business professionals and working executives who want to improve their business skills and advance in their careers. The course’s schedule is quite flexible in order to help the executives, managers, and leaders to learn and earn at the same time and fulfill their educational needs.
Accelerated Online MBA: One Year
In this program, students earn a degree after completing 12 months of coursework. An accelerated MBA program covers the same material as a traditional MBA program but in an accelerated and more rigorous format. The classes are quite condensed in order to cover the material in a shorter period of time, so students are usually required to dedicate 30 to 40 hours weekly, which can be quite challenging, especially if they have a full-time job.
Hybrid MBA: 3 to 5 Years
In a hybrid or blended MBA program, students attend a short, accelerated series of classes that deliver vital knowledge face to face. Adding such a component to an MBA program can give students a different kind of learning experience to supplement online courses.
Part-Time Online MBA: 3 to 5 Years
Perfect for students who are trying to balance family, work, and other commitments, part-time online MBA programs offer flexibility to study and work on assignments at the time that best suits you.
How to Choose the Best Online MBA for You?
Once you’ve determined your goals and decided to enroll in an online MBA course, you are ready to start researching schools. These six factors will help you choose the one that best suits your needs.
Ensure that the schools you’re looking into have received regional or national accreditation. This is a guarantee that the school meets the standards for rigor and quality, but it also means that students are eligible for federal grants and student loans.
Each year, the business media (Bloomberg Businessweek, the Economist, U.S. News, and World Report) rank B-schools using criteria lie student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials, etc.), so a school’s rank is one of the most important factors to consider when targeting MBA programs.
Faculty Quality and Resources
The quality of an online MBA school should be equal to that of its campus-based programs. Go to the school’s site to check whether the professors hold the equivalent degrees, whether they have track records in the relevant industries, and whether any professional journals have published their work, etc. It’s also wise to check if they have experience with online teaching. Instructors who are fluent in the online environment will make the virtual classroom experience smoother and more effective.
Student Support Services
A good online MBA program offers student services that are the same or similar to those of their on-campus counterparts. The best online MBA programs offer career counseling, job fairs, mentoring, as well as formal and informal networking opportunities. Ask each school to provide alumni employment data and documentation of graduation rates.
Technology and Course Delivery Systems
Before you make the final decision to enroll, ask for a test-drive. This will allow you to check the selected online MBA course’s delivery system and see if the interface is easy to use, whether there are streaming lectures, 24-hour access to courses, etc. You should also know who to call in case the system crashes. The school should have expert staff that makes sure everything is running smoothly. Another important factor to consider is the ease of communication. Check what communication channels the school offers (email, chat, voice and video conferences) to allow you easy communication with professors and classmates.
Over the next months (or even years), you will be spending plenty of time online with your instructors and classmates, so you need to ensure that the school you select is a good cultural fit. Consider joining online organizations and clubs that are a good fit for students interested in your MBA focus in order to create connections and collaborate with other students.
An online MBA is one of the most effective, flexible, and convenient degrees you can earn. It’s a perfect combination of networking opportunities and rigorous coursework which will provide you with a great starting point to advance your career.
Once you have all the necessary facts and information, you can start researching schools and find the online MBA program which best suits your lifestyle and needs.
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