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Online MBA vs. In Person – Choose the Best Program for You

Student of an online mba vs in person program working at a laptop.

Earning an MBA is a career-changing move with lots of benefits. Perhaps the most important advantage of an MBA is that it opens doors to many opportunities with the potential for better pay and career advancement. Traditional MBA programs have been the norm from the beginning of time. But with new technological innovations, hybrid and online degrees are becoming more popular and mainstream in many institutions. Nowadays, students have to decide between online MBA vs. in person or even an hybrid program. While there are similarities between the three learning modes, differences also abound. Consider things like schedules, coursework, and availability of resources before settling for one. It’s essential to make the right choice. has put together this comprehensive guide to help make the best choice when selecting an MBA program.

What is an MBA Program?

An MBA is a master of business administration program designed for those pursuing a management or executive level career. MBAs also cater to intending entrepreneurs. Most MBA programs cover a wide range of topics in business, such as:

  • Organizational behavior
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Business ethics
  • Accounting
  • Management

The wide range of topics helps prepare students for various leadership career paths in the business world, including the necessary skills to start their businesses.

Common MBA Concentrations

The best MBA programs allow students to select from different concentrations and specializations, including general management, corporate strategy, finance, and entrepreneurship. Although MBAs give students a broad view of business topics, specializing in a particular niche is beneficial, especially if the specialization aligns with their career goals.

Master’s of Business Administration Online Degrees

An online MBA program is an internet-based master’s degree in business administration. These programs focus on imparting students with knowledge about leadership and relevant business practices/skills to enable them to deal with obstacles in the workplace. Online MBA programs also focus on the management angle of the workplace to help students experience the view of a balanced life. Generally, students can complete an online MBA program in two years. Students can explore theoretical and practical exercises for businesses and other investments throughout that time.

Facts About Online MBA Programs

  • It is a cheaper option than traditional MBAs.
  • Students can learn from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Meetings with fellow learners over the internet.
  • Learners can make contributions and ask questions on discussion boards.
  • Students can advance their careers and learn at the same time.
  • Many AACSB-accredited programs are available online.
  • Most learning is in an asynchronous format, where students can learn at their own pace.
  • The top MBA programs offer high-quality video and audio.
  • Online MBA programs offer the fastest route to earning an MBA.
  • Classes might be highly interactive.
  • Students can reach out to their lecturers through email.
  • Learners can use webchat to partake in live discussions.

Types of Online MBA Programs

There are many types of online MBA programs for candidates to choose from. They include:

  • Part-Time Online MBA Programs

This type of MBA program is perfect for learners with work and family obligations that may prevent them from focusing full-time on their studies. In part-time online MBA programs, the coursework can take three to five years to complete, and students can earn their degrees while fulfilling other obligations.

GetEducated Sponsored Program: MBA in Finance from Babson College

  • Full-Time Online MBA Programs

Full-time MBA programs typically take two years to complete, and students have to complete coursework steadily.

GetEducated Sponsored Program: MBA from Saint Leo University

  • Accelerated Online MBA Programs

The material, which should span two years, is compressed into 12-18 months in an accelerated online MBA program. Accelerated programs are fast-paced and could be challenging to complete. Students who enter this program with a solid understanding of business basics tend to be more successful. Apart from the fact that learners can complete this program in a shorter time, there are other benefits. First, these programs are generally more affordable than other online MBAs. Secondly, the student has the opportunity to engage with relevant materials constantly.

GetEducated Sponsored Program: MBA (Accelerated) from University of Arkansas Grantham

  • Executive MBA Programs

Professionals with at least five years of working experience can apply for executive MBA programs. The difference between these programs and other online MBA programs is that it is for those who already have a footing in the business industry and seek to advance their careers. As a result, executive MBA programs tend to be more flexible and fast-paced than other online MBA types.

GetEducated Sponsored Program: Executive MBA from University of North Carolina-Wilmington

Tools for Online MBA Programs

Technology is a necessary part of online learning, and students require specific tools to learn effectively. Essential tools are a desktop or laptop with an internet connection. Additionally, students have to use video-conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Some instructors also demand that learners download extra software to make learning easier.

Pros of Online MBA Programs

  • Flexible Scheduling

MBA programs are suited for individuals with responsibilities outside schooling to be in control of their time. Online students can engage in other activities while participating in class from anywhere without restrictions.

  • Asynchronous Learning

The students of online MBA programs have the advantage of learning by watching live video lessons, sending emails, participating in discussion forums, and partaking in quizzes.

  • Low-cost of Learning

Unlike traditional MBA programs, where students have to attend in person and spend a fortune, online MBA programs cut all expenses down while shortening the learning period. For example, a standard MBA program would take about 2-4 years to complete, but an online MBA program shortens that to about 14-18 months of learning and earning a degree.

  • Similar Curriculum to that of On-campus MBA Programs

There’s a similar curriculum to on-campus MBA programs, therefore eradicating the quality and fear of learning less. Most online MBA programs come from top institutions, which guarantee a safe space for learning.

Cons of Online MBA Programs

  • Learning Devices

Online MBA programs rely heavily on gadgets such as personal computers and mobile phones. Internet reception is also a primary factor. Although these devices are becoming more common, they may not be affordable for all students. Additionally, not all locations have good network reception. All of these combined may affect the learning process.

  • Apathy in the Employment Section

Not all employers would want to recruit someone who completed their MBA program online. There’s a little apathy even when one completes an online MBA program from a reputable institution.

Master’s of Business Administration Hybrid Degrees

Hybrid MBA programs combine on-campus sessions and online learning, paving the way for students to expand their learning capacity. Experts believe that a combination of online education and on-campus sessions would aid students and equally give them the benefits of both. Students complete their program online, but class activities like seminars, lectures, and discussions often require face-to-face participation.

Facts About Hybrid MBA Programs

  • Hybrid programs do not reduce the completion time for an MBA
  • Students have to participate actively in the online learning process
  • Learners have to complete time-sensitive and independent work to make face-to-face meetings more efficient
  • Hybrid programs provide flexibility to access the class from anywhere and interact with fellow learners in real-time
  • Hybrid MBA programs are similar to traditional programs in terms of cost

Pros of Hybrid MBA Programs

  • Cost of Studying

Hybrid MBA programs are a little less expensive than traditional MBA programs. The cheaper cost is because students do not use all the institutions’ resources.

  • It is Convenient

Since most of the learning is online, students in hybrid MBA programs can learn at their own pace and submit assignments as and when due.

  • Campus Life

For some people, campus life is an experience in schooling you can’t miss. With hybrid MBA programs, students still have the opportunity to see their colleagues, attend social functions, and meet different people who’ve come from around the globe.

Cons of Hybrid MBA Programs

  • Some Employers Believe in Face-to-face Education

Like fully exclusive online learning, graduates from hybrid MBA programs have to do some convincing to some employers. Although not always the case, it has caused many students to opt for the traditional learning mode. Some employers still believe that online training is not so good at equipping applicants with the right skills to manage a business.

  • Difficulty in Balancing Schedules

Although this type of program aids in sparing time for other responsibilities, many people still find it challenging to balance their schedules and make things work out for them. Since most students of hybrid programs are working professionals, they also have to allocate time for in-person sessions, their jobs, families, and the actual online learning.

What is a Traditional MBA Program?

A traditional MBA program is a in person Master of Business Administration program that equips students with relevant knowledge and skills to tackle management roles at the highest levels. This degree is for graduates interested in advancing their careers or even starting their businesses as entrepreneurs.

Facts About Traditional MBA Programs

  • Traditional MBA programs have been around in one form or another for about 115 years.
  • Students meet in real classrooms.
  • Students participate in class discussions face to face.
  • Learners can ask spontaneous questions.
  • Group assignments are handled in real-time.
  • Learners have physical contact with their professors and other students.

Pros of a Traditional MBA Program

Studying on campus is all about you getting the whole campus-academic experience. Here are a few pros of traditional MBA programs.

  • Well-structured Environment

On-campus is a facilitative atmosphere for students to learn properly.

  • In-person Discussions

Since it is an in-person program, students often see themselves and have proper conversations.

  • Aids Students to Balance their Academic Lives

These face-to-face programs help students who have difficulty balancing their social and academic lives. By meeting other students and faculty, they have a vibrant social life without missing out on the academic side of things.

  • Face-to-face Assistance

It is easy to seek counseling and other in-person services from other students or lecturers if one has difficulty in a course and needs advice.

Cons of a Traditional MBA Program

  • Distance

People who stay far away from school do not have quick access to the school when they want it. And getting to the school can be time-consuming at times because of the distance.

  • High Cost of Learning

One would have to pay tuition fees and other things the institution requires. Students equally need to pay for resources such as textbooks to fasten the learning process and make the learning process easier.

Do Online MBA Programs Offer the Same Quality as a Traditional MBA?

Students who go for MBA programs are often torn between choosing an online MBA vs. in person program. The question is whether online programs offer the same quality. Research has shown that online MBA provides similar qualities to traditional MBA programs, with added advantages.

Earning an MBA from a school or program with accreditation is often more important than the mode of learning. Whether it is an online MBA vs. in person vs. hybrid program, it makes little difference. Most employers will attach value to professionals irrespective of whether they earned it remotely or on-campus. Online programs generally offer the same value as traditional programs and the flexibility that allows students to balance school, work, and other obligations. At the end of the day, the student’s goals and needs are more important than the mode of study.

Additionally, online MBA programs do not sacrifice top-quality instruction on the altar of flexibility. Top business instructors handle most exclusive online MBA programs. Most online MBA instructors have office hours where students can schedule virtual meetings to seek clarification or get extra instruction.

Factors of Choosing an MBA program

When choosing an MBA program, these are the few factors you should consider:

1. Duration of Program

Considering how long a program would take, it would help students, especially as they have their lives ahead. One would have to research the length of the program to know if they want to go part-time or full-time, depending on their schedule.

2. The Reputation of the Program and School

It is necessary to consider the program and school’s accreditation and find out about the alumni and how well the school has been doing in giving out certificates to its students. Most employers also consider the reputation of a school during interviews. So it is a good idea to attend a school or program with an excellent reputation and proper accreditation for MBA instruction.

3. Cost of Program

Aspiring students should take tuition and fees into deep consideration. No one wants to start something and leave it halfway because of a lack of finance.

4. Curriculum in an MBA Program

Many MBA programs demand that their students complete between 55 and 65 credits, which can be tasking. They are equally likely to attend core business-related classes, which may include financial accounting and more.

5. Return on Investment (ROI)

One crucial factor for many students while selecting an MBA program is the return on investment (ROI). The ROI is easy to calculate with two indices in place:

  • Cost of investment
  • Expected profit from the investment

According to Investopedia, to get your ROI, you need to remove the amount invested from the profit and divide the difference by the investment cost.

6. Opportunity Cost

A significant factor in choosing one mode of learning is an opportunity cost (OC). In this case, opportunity cost is what you lose by attending classes based on your time in school. For online programs, students can only participate in lectures, meet deadlines, and have interactions with fellow students when their work schedules allow them. Research shows that students lose money monthly when they are in any program without using their degree. An online MBA program that lasts for 15 months saves the student six months of earnings and six months of valuable time compared to 21 months spent in a traditional MBA program.

7. Travel and On-Campus Requirements

Online MBA programs take place almost entirely over the internet. Students may never have to visit the campus or meet physically with their professors. However, there might be slight adjustments depending on the program. For example, some instructors may require that students come down to the campus to complete a particular exam or project. On the other hand, students in hybrid MBA programs have to regularly visit the campus to meet the program’s in-person requirements.

How Do Employers Rate an MBA Degree?

The common misconception is that traditional MBA programs hold more weight than online and hybrid modes of learning in the eyes of employers. However, that is not often the case. Most employers are more concerned with the program structure and the school’s reputation than how the applicant earned the degree.

In light of this, graduates of online MBA programs must demonstrate their knowledge to prospective employers or even current employers if they are seeking promotion. Some of the questions they may encounter while discussing their MBA include:

  • Did you complete an accredited MBA program?
  • Why did you go for an online MBA program?
  • What sets your program apart from others?
  • Did you complete an online or traditional MBA program?

Online MBA Candidates

An online MBA program is perfect for many due to its flexible nature, but it is not for everybody. This learning model still relies on a well-structured syllabus, but coursework is usually independently done. Online programs are great for those with full-time jobs and families. People who do not live close to the school will benefit significantly from MBA programs.

Those who can not complete their coursework independently will be better off with hybrid or part-time programs. Hybrid courses still give students the flexibility to learn and balance their responsibilities. These are some tips for online MBA applicants:

  • They must have excellent time-management skills.
  • Discipline is crucial as they have to work independently.
  • They must be internally motivated and driven.
  • Reliable technology equipment is essential for learning. (Internet connection and computers).

Traditional MBA Program Candidates

Although online and hybrid programs are growing in popularity by the day, traditional MBA programs have not lost their appeal. Some students perform better with a structured schedule that allows them to complete work at a steady pace. Additionally, traditional MBA students often have face-to-face meetings with other learners and instructors. They might have to complete assignments in groups.

Another point of attraction for traditional programs is that students can access the school’s resources, such as laboratories and libraries. These are some tips for success as a conventional MBA student:

  • Interact with the instructors and other learners
  • Be punctual in classes
  • Develop stellar communication skills
  • Seize the avenue to network with other students

Why Should I Earn An MBA?

Irrespective of whether you choose to pursue your degree in an online MBA vs. in person program or even a hybrid mode, earning an MBA has many benefits. The benefits range from getting better career opportunities to developing in-demand skills. Some other benefits of pursuing an MBA are:

  • Recognition and relevance in the field
  • Better advancement opportunities
  • Developing professional skills
  • Personal growth
  • Better communication skills
  • Opportunities for networking
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Better salary

Making Your Decision

We have looked at online MBA vs in person, and even hybrid programs – their differences, similarities, merits, and cons. Now that you understand the different modes of studying for an MBA, it is time to decide which format works best for you.

Does your employer allow you to work and study for a degree? Are there schools around you that offer MBA programs? Are there family obligations that take up a lot of your time? All of these facts must be taken into consideration when selecting a program.

You can visit the education resource center to learn more about how you can advance your career.

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