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Is An Online MBA Worth It?

So you’re thinking about pursuing an MBA and you’ve probably done a fair bit of research and explored some programs, and in your research, you might’ve even come across some programs that are offered completely online. In this article I’ll be discussing whether or not it’s worth it to get an MBA online – read on!

Trends in Higher Education

If you’ve followed the state of higher education at all in the last few years, you’ll notice a couple of trends.

1) First, MBAs are more popular than ever because it offers prospective students a well-rounded business education to help them advance their careers, and MBAs tend to be the degree of choice when advancing to upper management positions.

2) Second, the cost of getting an MBA is higher than ever! Again, largely due to the popularity and the potential for a good return on investment, full-time in-person MBAs can cost anywhere from $50K – $150K, not including foregoing a salary for 1-2 years, which really adds to the cost.

Because of that, while people still desire an MBA, they need to really evaluate the economics for their given situation. It goes without saying that getting an MBA from an accredited institution will generally benefit you, it’s just a matter of exactly how much it could benefit you financially, and how much will it cost you for that benefit. Everyone’s situation is different, but here are three reasons to consider it and why it may be worth it to you:

Reason #1: Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of any online program is you don’t have to physically be in a classroom, which means you don’t have to travel anywhere; you attend all your classes and do all your group work online and you save a ton of time. If you have family to take care of or if you’re still working, this kind of flexibility is perfect for you. As for the classes themselves, programs have varying degrees of flexibility as far as attendance goes. There’s likely a learning component that you do on your own at your own pace whenever you want, so long as you meet certain deadlines for assignments. Then, there are classes that take place at a designated time. Whether you’re required to attend at specifically that time may vary by programs or even classes, but the sessions are typically recorded, so you can refer back to them at any time throughout the semester.

Reason #2: Economical

This is the second biggest benefit, right up there with flexibility. Generally with online MBAs, one of the value propositions is that you can continue working while you pursue your degree. This is also true of “executive MBA” programs, but you don’t have the same flexibility. When you can work and learn, despite the tough schedule, you’ll be in a better place financially at the end of the program having less, or even no debt to pay off. Now, to add to the comment on the economics here, it has been the case for many years for some well-established online MBA programs to offer the program at close to the same price as their in-person offerings, so if that was the route you were considering in the past, the program itself wasn’t necessarily less expensive. This has been disrupted more recently with offerings from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that pegged their online MBA program at just $22K for the entire program. This is the program I’ve been enrolled in for close to 2 years, and I’ll save specifics for another video, but the point is that you have these long-standing institutions that are making the MBA valuable and economical. And more universities like Boston University are positioning similar offers at around the same price point, so now there are more economical options for good programs. I’ve got some links down below in the description that you can check out.

Reason #3: Advancement at Current Company

This isn’t to say you couldn’t leverage the MBA you get to land an opportunity elsewhere, but it’s quite a bit more difficult vs a full-time in-person MBA where both you and recruiters are actively seeking for internships that turn into full-time later, companies come on campus, etc, a lot of it is spoonfed. In an online MBA, the community and network you build can be pretty amazing because you’ve got folks already working at some of these companies that you yourself might be interested in. But it really takes a lot more work and effort to make those connections you would otherwise make naturally in person where everyone is 100% focused on school and career opportunities. I say all that to say, online MBAs, in my opinion, are best suited for folks who have a good number of years under their belt and are looking to make the next step in their career with that company.

Additional Consideration

So those are your three reasons, but I’ll caveat with this: choose a reputable, accredited university, preferably one that has been around a long time with an established brand. It doesn’t need to be a Top 10 MBA program (and hopefully what you choose, doesn’t have a Top 10 MBA price tag), but you certainly want to be very careful spending any amount of money on an institution that doesn’t have a lot of history to back it or solid data points on why their MBA program is worth it.

RW

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