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Hybrid MBA versus Online MBA: When and Why to Pay for Face Time

Online Hybrid MBA|Two business men shaking hands holding drinks

If Networking is Important to You, Definitely Opt for the Hybrid MBA
(MacKinnon Photography/flickr)


Top residential business schools — we’re talking Duke University and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler — are spawning online MBA programs at lightening pace.

Yet every elite residential b-school has opted for an online hybrid MBA format. An online hybrid MBA delivers all courses on the web, but require spats of time on campus for what educators call “immersion experiences.”

UNC Kenan-Flagler, for example, offers an online hybrid MBA program where all required courses are offered on the web, but online students are required to attend three-day immersion weekends at the beginning of each quarter of enrollment. (Attendance is required at two of these immersion experiences each enrollment year.)

Attending an online hybrid MBA program that requires face-time can add up to $5,000 — travel, room and board, meals, time off work — to the sticker price of a distance degree.

Another possible hybrid bummer: You probably won’t be allowed to tap the company coffers to pay for that additional airfare and room and board required for those immersion experiences. Most corporate tuition assistance programs only reimburse for tuition.

The big question: is b-school face time really worth that extra wad of cash?


An Online Hybrid MBA – Why Go Eye to Eye?


The cost difference between a 100% online MBA versus an online hybrid MBA can be high — up to $5,000 or more depending on the number of required residencies.

But if you want a “top” MBA online you may have to pay that premium price. All top business schools in the USA with online MBA programs require some face time. Top traditional b-schools believe an important part of what they are selling students — other than college courses — is career networking.

Online learning can’t deliver peer bonding. The best way to meet new business buddies is to look them dead in the eye. Duke insists students have the “Duke experience.” Ditto for UNC.


Online learning research shows that attending campus residencies will NOT significantly improve either the actual learning or overall learning outcomes. In other words, you won’t learn more, nor will you learn better, if you learn on-campus versus learning 100% online.

However, attending a campus residency will impact another important factor. By attending residential sessions you’ll expand career connections and meet new potential business buddies.

Immerse yourself on a campus and you’ll be networking nose-to-nose with both faculty and fellow students.


Online Hybrid MBA versus Pure Online MBA – When to Splurge


If you value peer networking, and attending a top traditional b-school matters to you, don’t be afraid to go hybrid. Don’t let the extra cost of mandatory immersion experiences scare you away from an online hybrid MBA.

Face time might well be worth that extra ten grand if you enroll in a top b-school where plugging into the alumni network can literally prove priceless for making connections.

A top name MBA will also go a long way toward getting you ace employment interviews as your career progresses.

Decide how much value networking holds for you. If your dream is to work for big business, think Fortune 500 and Wall Street, flesh-pressing may be an integral part of your future success. Fact: many professionals land jobs with big firms through b-school peer and alumni networks.

Will the extra cost you shell out now pay you back in future career placements? Ask any online hybrid MBA programs you have short-listed to see a list of the employers who hire their students. Most top MBA programs will have this data handy. They know they are selling both an education and a meet-and-greet golden ticket into a fairly exclusive career club.

Will your fellow online or hybrid students be working for companies you may want to work for? If so, plunk down those extra dimes on face-time.

More business deals are sealed over golf games than at the teleconference table. Online learning hasn’t changed the human tendency to trust more completely anyone you’ve met eye-to-eye. If an online hybrid MBA program can expand both your mind and your business network why not honestly invest in both? is a consumer group that publishes online college rankings along the dimensions that matter most to online students themselves: affordability and credibility. All of our information is sourced directly from college and university websites as well government websites such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our mission:

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