Having a full-time job makes it difficult to return to school for a higher degree.
Frank Braun, dean of the school of business at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, and Ray Henry, director of graduate programs at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, said post-grad students have an option in online MBA programs.
“The online MBA is designed for working professionals who want the flexibility to complete their degree without the time constraints that come with traditional lecture classes,” Henry noted.
Braun said online MBA programs offer unique opportunities.
“The environment offers a great networking opportunity,” he mentioned. “Even though you’re online, that opportunity is still there. It’s not really about what you know, but whom you know and that is still available in online MBA courses.”
Both agreed online MBA courses work best for working professionals.
“It’s for those that have work or personal demands, like maybe they can’t commit to being in the classroom at 6 or 7 p.m. every night or they’re traveling,” Braun explained. “But, these students want to feel like they’re part of the learning community. This is about truly engaging and getting a sense of their fellow students and faculty. We believe that an MBA is an educational journey, online or not.”
Henry added, “These are students that are looking to hone their skills and prepare themselves for advancement. Those are the ones that are typically going to get the most out of an online program. They take the experience they already have and then refine it with the graduate experience that comes with an MBA.”
Henry noted the online MBA experience doesn’t work for everyone.
“The online environment is very different from the in-person environment,” he stated. “It does take a little more discipline to really get out of it what you want to get out of it, which is the ability to acquire those skills to help them advance in their careers.”
Online MBA programs have become popular because individuals have more demanding personal and professional lives.
“In general across the United States, individuals have more demands than they used to,” Henry said. “If they are a working professional, they are much more engaged across global timelines. We need to offer this same quality of education that we have offered for decades but meet the students where they are. Even if the delivery vehicle has changed a little.”
Braun added, “Historically, you went off to college and stayed four years before grad school. That isn’t the case anymore. People are balancing work and home life but they still want to have the opportunity to invest in their education. One of the reasons we do that is to provide that flexibility for the right students.”
If a student isn’t sure where to start their online MBA journey, the experts offered advice.
“You’re going to get out of it what you’re going to put into it,” Braun imparted. “It’s not a credential to achieve. It’s a way to put on a different set of glasses and see the same phenomena in a broader spectrum. It’s about understanding what is on the horizon and what the strength, skills and abilities of those you work with are.”
Henry added, “Students should understand why they are doing it. They should also think about their career goals and how the coursework plays into that.”