The internet is revolutionising every aspect of our lives, and business education is no exception.
Online MBAs are a growing trend, with many universities now offering a raft of online and blended degrees.
Last year, 36% of online MBA programs experienced growth in enrolments, compared to the global average of 24% growth for full time, two-year courses. An increasing number of students around the world are choosing the online option.
Are they going to miss out on the important perks of an IRL course, such as forming networks? On the flip side, will online students enjoy advantages, like being able to watch tutorials as many times as they want?
To break down these questions and help you make your important choice, ‘to go online or not to go online’ with your MBA, we’ve come up with the following list of pros and cons.
Take a peek at both sides, and decide what works for you.
Pro: Flexibility means more time for work, family and having a life – or fast-tracking your degree
If you’re already in the workforce and you’re providing for a family, leaving your job to study an MBA full-time for two years may not even be an option. With an online MBA, your learning is self-directed and at your own pace.
You can watch lectures after your kids have gone to sleep, complete tasks on your breaks at work, and choose a schedule to suit your life. You don’t have to quit your day job, and that means your workplace might even be willing to pay for your course! Definitely don’t forget to ask your boss if that might be an option.
You also have the flexibility to fast track your degree by cramming and skipping holiday breaks. You could complete your MBA in four years, or get it finished in a year. It’s up to you.
Con: Self-directed scheduling can get a bit out of control
As any self-employed person will tell you, the hardest thing about having a flexible schedule is managing your flexible schedule.
It takes a lot of discipline to keep on top of everything when your learning is self-directed. This is especially the case when you’ve got other priorities competing for your attention, like work and family.
Before you decide to choose online, ask yourself, ‘how good am I at sticking to a personal schedule, without a boss looking over my shoulder?’ You may need to practise some time management techniques, to prep yourself for online learning.
Pro: You can access prestigious universities without leaving your hometown
If you live in a place where the local universities don’t have much to offer by way of respected MBAs, then the online option could open up doors for you. Employers do pay attention to which school you studied at, and candidates with recognisable universities attached to their MBAs can be at an advantage (although that’s not a blanket rule).
Prestige aside, studying online also gives you access to universities that may simply offer better content and industry connections. You’re free to pick the university you want, regardless of where in the world you are.
Con: You miss out on the other perks of an on-campus degree like job fairs, on campus activities, networking events, clubs, and societies
The networks you gain from your degree are not to be underestimated, in terms of their professional value. The person you sit next to in class, or play football with on Fridays, may end up being an essential industry contact.
Many universities have guest lecturers, industry fairs, and other on-campus activities where you have the opportunity to go out and charm some potential employers. You may miss out on these with the online degree. However, there is some good news, in this regard.
Recognising that this element of university life is important, many education providers are increasingly offering internships, work placements, and annual networking events, to their online cohort. Plus, many students find that their online classrooms present ample opportunities for networking, even if it’s not in person.
Pro: Online courses can have lower costs
While some universities charge the same for an online as an on-campus MBA, business schools that specialise in distance education often offer lower fees. Plus, you don’t have to pay for other outgoings such as textbooks, lunches and transport.
Con: You may miss out on financial assistance
If you choose a lower cost business school for your online MBA, you may be missing out on the opportunity to get a scholarship or financial assistance offered by a university. Not only does that help you out financially, being awarded a scholarship for your academic achievements is a great way to showcase your talent and stand out from other graduates in the job market.
Ok, so you’ve looked at the pros and cons. But, is an online MBA going to give you a high quality education?
When online degrees were new, there was some scepticism from established education providers about whether an online degree would be of the same quality as one offered on campus. Many students feared that an online MBA would not be as respected by employers.
Lay your fears to rest, because these concerns no longer matter. The business world of 2019 recognises the value of online graduates, provided they are coming from well-respected institutions.
“People who do online programmes usually have a wealth of experience, work full-time and balance the demands of their position with the MBA… They display qualities that are important in people we hire — a strong work ethic, project management and critical thinking skills.”
Most analysts agree, it remains more important to employers where you study, than how you study. So, make sure when you decide to study online, it’s with a quality institution.
See here for information about the flexible, blended and online MBA options available at Torrens University.
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