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An Online MBA Or Full-Time MBA: What Should You Pursue?

Online MBA Or Full-Time MBA

Online-centered content on MetroMBA is brought to you exclusively by our partner MBA@Syracuse, the #10 ranked online MBA in the world from Syracuse University. GMAT waivers available. Click here to learn more.

Applying for and pursuing an MBA degree can be an overwhelming process—one that begins long before your first day of classes. Even if you’ve narrowed down a metro and business school, most schools offer a number of diverse MBA options, offering students the chance to choose the MBA program that fits best into their life.

Most business schools acknowledge that their students have busy professional lives outside of school, and provide options such as part-time or Online MBAs to ensure that they needn’t put their careers on hold while they pursue their degree. Still, with online degree programs a somewhat new offering in education, many prospective students wonder if they might miss something by not pursuing the traditional MBA in the classroom.

Choosing to pursue an MBA online or in a classroom setting may come down to many factors, from cost to career path to individual learning style. Nevertheless, figuring out which one is just right for you is not always a straightforward task. Here, we compare the various benefits of each program to help you decide which style is right for you:

An Online MBA Or Full-Time MBA: What Should You Pursue?

The Full-Time MBA

While there are many benefits to the online MBA—discussed below—many students still choose to earn a traditional full-time MBA in the classroom. There may be a number of reasons why a student would choose this option, most which deal with their particular learning style. For one, pursuing an online MBA takes a great deal of self-motivation and discipline, especially without the structure of a classroom to keep students on course when it comes to deadlines and effort. If a student knows that they struggle with time management and self-discipline, a traditional MBA may be the better choice for them as the classroom setting provides an inherent structure to the program that an online MBA often lacks.

Online classes also typically require a high level of class participation, to ensure that students at home don’t lose focus and stay engaged. Prospective students who are less likely to be engaged in a classroom may find it even more difficult to keep up in a setting where they are more distanced from their classmates or faculty. A traditional MBA may be better for students who need the direct and immediate response that a classroom setting can provide.

Finally, while employer perception of online MBAs has been changing in recent years, there are still many critics of online degrees, and in the past data has shown graduates of online degrees may not increase their salaries as significantly post-MBA as full-time students. Though this has changed in recent years, many students still have concerns about online education and its perception by employers. A recent LearningHouse study found that 27 percent of online students voiced concerns about employer’s perceptions of online study. The same number named their biggest concern as issues of motivation and attentiveness. If you think concerns such as these might interfere with an effective learning process, opting for a full-time traditional degree may allay any anxiety about the online approach.

The Online MBA

If the common concerns of perception and motivation aren’t on your mind, you may want to consider the many benefits of earning an online MBA—chief among them is the flexibility that goes along with an online program. Students pursuing online degrees don’t need to put their careers on hold as they pursue an advanced education, and maintaining a career and school simultaneously demonstrates a level of commitment that can be very appealing to prospective employers. And while the cost of some online degrees are often similar to their in-classroom counterpart, the addition of two years of lost salary with a full-time degree can make the total cost far greater than a degree online. Another benefit is the fact that many online MBA programs do not require students to take the GMAT or GRE, which can save a tremendous amount of time, money, and anxiety for those who struggle with test-taking.

While some issues of perception may remain, a U.S. News & World Report study showed roughly 71.4 percent of academic leaders saw online learning as comparable or even superior to traditional classes when it comes to the skills and knowledge students obtain. The other thirty percent should pay attention to the numbers coming out from many programs throughout the country. At the Southeast Missouri State University, for example, the AACSB accredited online MBA produces job acceptance rates of 98 percent for students within just one year of graduation.

The Online MBA is designed to be flexible on all levels, even the amount of overall time it will take to complete the degree. While full-time MBA programs traditionally take two years to complete, many Online MBAs can be completed in as little as 16-months. Students with a busier schedule may choose to extend the amount of time they need to complete the degree.

Which One is Right for You?

Deciding which type of degree is best for you is a personal decision that involves a multitude of intersecting factors. Regardless of which path you choose, employers need for MBAs doesn’t look like it’s decreasing any time soon—in 2016 roughly 88 percent of corporate recruiters said they planned to hire MBA grads, an increase of 8 percent from the prior year. The need for well-educated business leaders is always increasing, and choosing the best way to effectively and affordably earn your degree is not just a benefit for the student, but for the business community at large.

Online-centered content on MetroMBA is brought to you exclusively by our partner MBA@Syracuse, the #10 ranked online MBA in the world from Syracuse University. GMAT waivers available. Click here to learn more.

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About the Author


Alanna Shaffer

Staff Writer, covering MetroMBA's news beat for Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas.

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