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Pursuing an MBA can be a timely endeavor. A full-time student typically takes about two years to complete and MBA program. But that is accounting for someone who devotes all of their time to the program. How can someone juggle an MBA program with family, work and other obligations?

Kenneth Kahn, dean at the Monte Ahuja College of Business at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, and Paul North, executive director of graduate programs at The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business in Columbus, said that it is absolutely possible to balance life with getting an MBA.

“The demographics across Ohio State’s MBA programs differ,” North said.

Typically, students interested in the Working Professional MBA are 32 to 34 years old and have approximately six to seven years of working experience, he said, and the average age of a student in their Full-Time MBA program, however, is about 29 years old and typically has around four years of work experience.

North added the Full-Time MBA attracts students who want and are able to complete the program full time while taking a couple of years off from work. The Working Professional MBA and Executive MBA programs attract working professionals who are working to complete the program while maintaining a full-time job.

“I would highly recommend the WPMBA or the EMBA programs, depending on an individual’s current position within a company, the time she/he is able to devote to a program and the level of her/his professional work experience,” North said.

Kahn said CSU has a lot of nontraditional students who want to come back and get their MBA. They find that online and evening courses tend to accommodate people with families.

“So, the one interesting trend that I’ve heard from colleagues – and I will only speculate because I don’t have the hard data – is that if there is an online class that we’re offering in the evenings, it becomes very appealing to women,” Kahn said. “Because if you’re dealing with a daycare issue, you can still pick up your child, take them home and you can still engage in your class in the evening.”

Kahn said he always tells students they need to come into this seriously. A lot of this is self-motivation, he said, and it is important to be good at scheduling your time.

“We do have some students who prefer the online experience because they may have family commitments, or they’re traveling and this gives them the capability to engage in an MBA, even if they’re not in Cleveland,” Kahn said. “Or maybe they have to get home, they have home commitments and they actually can still balance that by taking the course.”

North said pursuing an MBA is a commitment not only for the student, but also for their spouse, significant other, partner and/or children.

“These individuals should be a part of the decision-making process about enrolling in a graduate program since it is such a time commitment that impacts more than just the student,” North said. “The second tip is to find a program that really fits an individual – not all programs are alike. You definitely want to ensure that the program you choose allows you to obtain the credential you are looking for to move forward in your career.”

What about people who feel like it may not be worth it to pursue an MBA?

Kahn cited a recent Wall Street Journal article that showed there is a return on investment with an MBA.

“Years ago, people were saying MBA’s are dead,” he said. “And now all of the sudden, they’re finding as soon as they get an MBA, it really does help for them to move up in their career. We’ve got a lot of students who get some years of experience, but if you’re interested in moving up faster in your organization, an MBA sometimes will help you to differentiate yourself. And that actually helps you to move up in your career a lot faster.”

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