Best Online MBA Programs
Before jumping into the question of what makes an online MBA program the best, let’s first discuss what an MBA actually is. An MBA, or a Master of Business Administration, is a postgraduate degree that focuses on both the professional and academic elements of business and management. Students who enroll in MBA programs learn about finance, economics, management, operations, and marketing. An MBA program can provide students with a better understanding of how businesses, from large corporations to small social entrepreneurships, operate.
Although an MBA is not required to work or advance in business, in recent years, it has become the standard by which many career-minded business people are judged. As such, an advanced business degree typically helps a student’s career path and more and more students are turning to an MBA to further their careers. Between 1998-1999 and 2008-2009, the number of MBA degrees conferred jumped nearly 60%. If executive and managerial positions interest you, consider earning an MBA to further your career.
Because many MBA students are already mid-career and continue to work while earning their degrees, MBA degree programs are often offered in an online platform. As convenient as an online MBA courses and degrees seem, there are advantages and disadvantages to studying online.
Traditional MBAs vs. Online MBAs
Although there are many online MBA programs available to students, on-campus MBA programs from traditional schools are more prevalent. Traditional MBAs offer students the chance to work and learn in a classroom with their classmates and professors ready to discuss lectures, assignments and the latest news in business. Because networking is an important aspect of any MBA program, studying in a traditional on-campus program allows students to network with classmates and faculty face-to-face, collaborating on projects and learning about the latest professional and academic opportunities.
If you are concerned about continuing to work while enrolling in a traditional MBA program, you should know that many brick-and-mortar schools offer on-campus MBA programs with classes that meet in the evenings and on the weekends. These programs are designed with the working professional in mind and are meant to accommodate work and family obligations.
A truly online MBA program offers nearly all of its components online. These include lectures, discussions, assignment submissions and exams. Lectures can be PowerPoint slide presentations or streamed or pre-recorded videos of a professor’s lecture. Discussions are usually held in web forums where students respond to prompts and comment on their classmates’ responses. Assignments, including group project, are typically delivered and submitted online.
Pros of Earning an Online MBA
- Online MBA degree programs offer flexibility to students who may have professional or familial obligations that demand their attention. Although traditional schools offer modified programs with classes meeting during non-working hours and on weekends, online programs offer even more flexibility, allowing students to participate in courses and complete their assignments from anywhere.
- Another pro of online MBA programs is the broad and varied network students are exposed to. Online programs often have students from across the U.S. and sometimes from other countries. Exposure to people from other cities, regions and countries can benefit online students by providing them with new perspectives and possible employment opportunities.
Cons of Earning an Online MBA
- For MBA students who do not concurrently work, internships can be an important stepping stone to finding permanent employment. While many traditional MBA programs can help their students find internships with local organizations and businesses, online MBA programs may have difficulty placing students given their disparate locales. This is not to say that online MBA students will not be able to participate in internships, but the online nature of their program may make it more difficult to find a satisfying one.
- Online schools, not just online MBA programs, often have poor reputations compared with traditional schools. Although this may change with the proliferation and improvements to online degree programs, the fact remains that many potential employers are biased against online degrees.
Choosing an Online MBA Program
If you are interested in an online MBA program, there are several factors to consider when choosing a school. The first of these is institutional accreditation. The school offering your MBA program should be accredited by an agency that is approved of by the U.S. Department of Education. If you are unsure of your school’s accreditation status, you can search the accreditation databases on the U.S. Department of Education’s or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s websites.
You should also look at the curriculum vitas of your potential faculty, checking to make sure that their academic accomplishments and real world experiences lend themselves to your education. Most reputable business schools list this pertinent information on their websites.
Another factor to consider is whether your program is offered by a for-profit or a nonprofit institution. Although both types of schools are eligible for federal financial aid, nonprofit schools often have better academic reputations and lower student loan default rates.
Non-Profit Online MBAs
Below you will find a list of nonprofit schools that provide online MBA programs.