Whether you get your degree online, or in a traditional college program, the MBA degree has become the entrance ticket to corporate life. Without a Master’s in Business Administration it will be difficult for you to be taken seriously as a candidate for management jobs; for promotions; or even for challenging assignments. If you want to take your career to a higher level — whether at your current company, or with another employer — you should seriously consider getting your MBA.
The problem for most students, however, is how to add the time commitment of graduate school into their lives. Some will choose to return to school full-time, but for many a two year break from a corporate salary just isn’t feasible. For these students, earning an MBA degree online has become an attractive option; but there are several questions you should ask yourself before you make the decision to do this.
Will an online MBA be accepted in the corporate world?
When distance learning first became popular, some of the schools that initially offered students the opportunity to study online were, let us say, not of the first-rank academically. The worst of them were simply degree mills, businesses willing to sell a diploma to any willing buyer. Even the more legitimate operations had yet to be accredited.
As time moved on, the world of online education attracted more established colleges and universities into the marketplace. Although less reputable operations still exist, it’s now possible to earn an online MBA from some of the most prestigious businesses schools in the world. A degree from such a school, or indeed from any properly accredited school, will be accepted by employers without question. More to the point, your diploma will simply state that you have your MBA; neither it nor your transcript is likely to specify whether you studied online or not.
Will I miss out on networking opportunities?
Simply put, yes. Business school offers unparalleled access to others who, like you, plan to storm the gates of the corporate world. Your fellow classmates may include would-be entrepreneurs who will go on to found the next Google, FedEx, or Home Depot. And a campus environment allows for much easier and more flexible interactions than you can achieve online.
But that doesn’t mean that you’ll have no opportunities for networking in an online MBA program. Many of your courses will demand participation in discussion forums, interactive chat environments, or video conferencing. Even simple email groups offer the savvy student a chance to meet potential friends, collaborators, or partners. Networking online is slightly different than face-to-face, but it’s still important to present yourself pleasantly and professionally; to give more than you receive; and to listen attentively to what you’re being told.
Do I have the self-discipline to complete an online MBA program?
Whether you study on campus or online, business school is hard work; you should expect to put in long hours, both in class and studying independently. But without the discipline of class attendance and a regular schedule, online MBA students face more of a challenge in focusing on their studies. You have to be sure that you can put aside hobbies, a trip to the movies, or even a night on the couch watching the play offs, in order to make time for class assignments, essays, and studying for tests.
Particularly if you’re continuing to work full-time during your college program, time management is a vital skill for success in business school. Distance learning lends itself well to flexible scheduling, since you can often choose to listen to lectures at a time that’s convenient for you. But you do have to schedule the time to actually listen to them; the work still has to be completed.