Now that you’ve decided that an MBA is what you need to get your career to the next level, it’s time to begin looking at what type of MBA program would be the best choice for you. There are many options when it comes to formats: on-campus full-time or part-time programs; evening or weekend courses for working professionals; and accelerated programs for those who want to earn their MBA in the shortest amount of time. If you are looking for an off-campus program that won’t require you to be at a certain place at a specific time, an online program may be right for you. Online MBA programs offer a unique learning experience that can often be customized to meet personal preferences, schedules or goals. These types of programs can be a great choice for independent learners who prefer self-directed study in which they set the pace for course completion.
Online Versus Campus Learning
On-campus and distance programs are similar in that students are essentially receiving the same education in terms of courses, curriculum and objectives. At times specific assignments, papers or projects may differ as to better accommodate an online format. For example, a large project that may be assigned to a group of students participating in a campus program may be scaled down for the individual student enrolled in an online program.
One of the biggest differences between the two types of programs is the way that information is distributed and received. Campus programs allow for in-person lectures, face-to-face discussions and assignments that are turned in directly to instructors. In online programs, technology takes the place of physicality, allowing students to use the Internet to watch a streaming video lecture, participate in a class discussion via chat room or turn in an assignment by uploading a file. Online programs deliver the same content and require the same amount of effort from students as on-campus ones but in a different way.
The Pros and Cons of Online Programs
There are many advantages of an online MBA program, with the most prominent one being the ability to pursue your degree while maintaining your career. Whether full-time or part-time, those with demanding work schedules often are unable to take time out of their day to attend class. Online MBA programs are great for those looking for flexible scheduling options, as they are distributed through a virtual learning environment that is accessible 24/7. Professionals trying to balance school and work don’t have to be stretched too thin as they have the freedom to complete course work around their job obligations.
Another advantage of online programs is that you don’t have to relocate to receive a graduate education. These days school choice is not limited by those located within a convenient mile radius but by those that offer an online MBA option. The number of schools offering online MBAs is increasing daily as more and more brick and mortar universities incorporate Web education into their business programs. With the power of technology, it no longer matters that you are a department manager for a corporation on the West Coast—you can still receive an Ivy League business education.
There are also drawbacks when it comes to online MBA programs. For the student who learns best by attending lectures and studying the course material presented in those lectures, an online program might not be the most beneficial choice as it may lack the structure, accountability or direction that is needed. Online MBA programs utilize tools such as streaming videos, interactive chat rooms and Internet discussion boards to distribute information and facilitate learning. Although this may be adequate instruction for some students, it may not be for others, so it’s important to take into consideration whether face-to-face interaction is necessary for you to have the best educational experience. If personal attention is what you are looking for, than an online program may not be for you.
Another disadvantage associated with online learning is that you will be unable to take advantage of the perks associated with a traditional on-campus experience. For example, students who are seeking internship or recruiting opportunities during their graduate education may not get what they need through an online program as on-campus programs are more likely to provide career services or host hiring events.
The Perception of Online MBAs
The stigmas that may have been associated with online education in the past are almost nonexistent in today’s society. Over the years these types of programs have gained more credibility and recognition, making the online MBA a valuable asset in the corporate environment. Perhaps this is why more and more public and private universities are getting on board and adapting their traditional on-campus MBA curriculum to an online format.
An online MBA is just as valuable as one earned through a traditional program, as students are required to master the same curriculum, meet the same expectations and rise to the same challenges. When it comes to receiving your diploma, there will likely be no differentiation between MBA graduates who completed their course work on campus and those who did it online. Technology makes it possible to conduct business from anywhere in the world, so utilizing it to complete an MBA can be a smart business decision.