People are enrolling on online MBA courses for many reasons. Some want to improve their business skills and climb the corporate ladder. Others just want to expand their network. Whatever the reason, an online MBA comes with many benefits. According to a report by the Graduate Management Admission Control, 9 out of 10 MBA graduates believed that the course was valuable to have. For anyone wishing to join them, here is what to consider before enrolling on an online MBA program.
1. Is the Program Flexible?
Students must consider how long it will take to complete an MBA. This is according to Jason Butz, an online MBA graduate from Lehigh University. He adds that a program should allow students to take time off in case of the unexpected. His two examples of such interruptions are marriage and changing jobs.
Butz, who is now an IT manager, was able to complete his MBA in three years. When he was in school, Lehigh allowed its students up to five years to complete the program. It has since increased this period by a year to six years. Bob Mellon of Carnegie Mellon University says that a program’s day-to-day flexibility is also important.
He continues that students must know the following things. The first is how much they can study the course at their own pace. Next is how much they are required to log in at certain times. And last is whether they can switch from online to on-campus learning. Carnegie Mellon allows for this kind of switching.
2. Is It Possible to Interact with Tutors and Other Students?
Andrew Ward, a dean at Lehigh University, talks of the value of an MBA. He says that apart from acquiring technical knowledge, students also interact and network. To him, this engagement is sometimes lacking in online courses. But these connections can be re-established.
One way of doing this is to have online students meet on or off campus to learn and network. For instance, online MBA students of Indiana University meet on campus at the beginning of the program. They also travel abroad to network. At Carnegie Mellon, they meet every six weeks.
Students can also interact with tutors and peers through video conferencing. Jason Butz says he loved participating in class using the technology. He also learned a lot from classmates of different professional backgrounds during class discussions.
And finally, students can join online student communities. John York, an MBA student at Indiana University, created such a club. He says its members interacted via video conferencing and weekend trips.
3. How Does the MBA Compare to an On-Campus Program?
Online MBA students must have the same resources as their on-campus counterparts. Phil Powell of Indiana University says that students do not want to enroll in a second rate MBA program. He adds that they must have the same opportunities as those studying on-campus. According to him, programs which outsource their services should raise a red flag. To him this is a sign that the school values its on-campus program more than its online one.
4. Is the Course Accredited?
Students should only enroll in accredited programs such as Concordia University’s online MBA program (http://learn.cu-portland.edu/online-programs/online-mba/). And checking for accreditation is easier than most of them think. The US Department of Education has an online database of all accredited institutions. So does the Council for Higher Education. The Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) goes a step further. It lists all accredited MBA programs.
Completing an online MBA program comes with many benefits. Better job prospects, business skills, and a wider network are just a few. But due diligence is necessary before enrolling for any course. You must first find out if it is flexible, accredited, and comparable to an on-campus course. It must also allow you to engage with tutors and fellow students.