Any decision making process is going to be difficult, but it never needs to be impossible. The best way to solve any conundrum is to compare the benefits and drawbacks of the two conflicting choices. When comparing two Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs the same process should be followed. Individuals trying to decide between a traditional, on-campus program and an online program should consider the benefits of both programs first.
There are a number of benefits involved in pursuing an online MBA, and while each of them should be considered by all individuals that does not mean they will carry the same weight with each individual. No two individuals will view these factors in the same light, so rather than rank them in any order they are simply listed for each individual to consider.
Fate of Career
For business professionals headed back to school the toughest decision many will face surrounds their career. Attending a traditional, on-campus MBA program often requires individuals to leave their career behind and devote two years of their life to being a full-time student.
According to Monster.com, online MBA programs are beneficial because they can be completed entirely online from start to finish. Readings, course materials, and lectures are delivered online via technological tools like email, chat rooms, discussion forums, and sometimes even Skype. This allows students to “attend” class on their own schedule. In the end, there is no need for a student in an online MBA program to leave their career behind to earn an MBA.
US News notes an added benefit to online MBA programs. Many business professionals seeking to advance in their current company or industry are often more successful after completing online MBA programs.
Going back to school for any education is going to come with added costs. There is tuition, books, and other fees that add up quickly. Those attending a traditional, on-campus program face a double whammy of having to pay tuition fees and having lost the income associated with their career that would have paid for those tuition fees.
According to CBSNews.com, an online MBA program can be almost half the cost of traditional counterparts offered in on-campus settings. The average online MBA program costs $20,500, compared to nearly $50,000 for the average on-campus program. Even starker, there are some online MBA programs at top business schools that can cost upwards of $135,000.
The affordability of an online MBA program is courtesy of lower fees for professors who don’t need to work extended hours, the lack of physical classrooms and buildings to maintain, and lower fees for books. The biggest cost schools face with online programs is purchasing and maintaining the equipment necessary to conduct online MBA programs.
The image of online MBA programs is on the move in recent years, trending higher among many employers as Bloomberg BusinessWeek notes. Citing a survey from the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, BusinessWeek shows that hiring managers are warming up to online MBA credentials.
The survey was conducted of 20 hiring managers at top companies in the state of Wisconsin. The results showed that half of the hiring managers would not take into consideration the format of a candidate’s MBA when considering them for advancement or employment.
Each individual is going to weigh these factors differently. To some, the image of their MBA might mean everything. To others, the affordability might be the most important. The best way to consider these factors is to discover how they affect each individual’s career and aspirations.