How do I Choose An Online MBA?

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businesswoman

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data, management occupations are expected to grow by 5% from 2019 to 2029. This is a faster projection than the average for all other occupations. Industry growth in this area will result in over 500,000 new management positions across the United States. It will benefit the creation of new organizations and the growth of existing companies. Current data shows that, on average, management occupations earn more than $110,000 per year. This is the highest wage of all major occupational groups. Well-rounded managers are an essential part of nearly every industry. The information and skills obtained through an Online Master’s of Business Administration can open the door to top positions in many sectors. Online options for Master’s of Business Administration programs are becoming more and more common. This is a great step towards making learning more accessible, but it can make the search for a high-quality Online MBA overwhelming. Here are few things to think about as you being your search for the perfect Online MBA.

Check For Accreditation

Accreditation is quite possibly the most important aspect of vetting Online MBA programs. There are three notable accreditation agencies, including the AACSB, ACBSP, and IACBE. While all three offer a level of credibility, the AACSB is considered the premier accreditation agency for business schools and programs and only accepts the top 5% of business schools in the world. Most business schools are very proud of their accreditation status and will have their badge posted very visibly on their website. If you are unsure of a prospective school’s accreditation, you can also go directly to the agency’s websites and look through their directories. In fact, this may be a great place to start your search for high-quality programs. Many schools have carried elite accreditation for decades, but even business schools that are new to the list have met the same rigorous standards. Accreditation is key, especially for online degrees!

Consider The Format

An Online MBA can mean many things when it comes to format. It is important to read the fine print on this area of a degree plan. Some programs are 100% online and allow students to work at their own pace. Others may follow a synchronous format that requires group meetings, weekly deadlines, and more. These options are great, but it is essential to consider what will work for your personal schedule and preferences. An additional aspect of online learning is looking into whether your prospective program requires on-campus visitations or residency weekends. On-campus components offer many benefits such as networking, a strong connection with peers, and getting to experience campus culture. But they also require more time and potentially additional costs such as airline tickets, room and board, food expenses, and more. In this regard, you must simply weigh the benefit and choose a program that is the best fit for you!

Think About Your Timeline

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Online Master’s of Business Administration programs range from around one year for full-time students to up to five years for those who attend part-time. When looking at program timelines, you will want to consider your current workload, family responsibilities, desired graduation date, future career goals, and how quickly you are hoping to apply for advanced positions. Online MBAs generally allow a lot of flexibility. While some programs follow a cohort format and require taking classes on a strict timeline, the majority offer the option to adjust your course load each semester if needed. While it is important to keep your ultimate goal in mind, the benefit of flexible distance programs is that if life gets hectic, you can always pivot while still working towards your dream. 

What Is Your Budget?

Online degrees are often sought out by those who are looking for programs within a certain budget. Distance learners can alleviate a lot of extra costs such as fuel, parking, meals, etc. Many distance programs offer in-state tuition pricing for distance learners. This can be a significant savings that really adds up! In a recent survey, U.S. News and World Report found that the average cost of the ten most affordable Online MBA programs for out-of-state students was $358 per credit. This pricing is not a representation of the affordability of all programs, and it is important to mention that a select few Online MBAs actually charge more than their on-campus degrees. The lesson here is to consider your budget carefully and be sure to read the tuition statements thoroughly. Also, remember that price does not always equate to quality. There are many exceptional Online Master’s of Business Administration degrees that are available at very reasonable price points. 

Action Plan

You may be wondering, what now? The first step is to sit down with a pen and paper or your laptop and write out exactly the things that we discussed in this article, including but not limited to your ideal budget, best-case scenario timeline, and format preferences. You may also want to write out a list of the top MBA programs you are interested in. From there, you can check to make sure they have online options, verify accreditation, and look through admissions requirements.

Online MBA applications vary greatly depending on the school. Some offer rolling admissions with set start dates, others have set application periods, while others have rolling admission and start dates. In most cases, programs have fall and spring start dates, so this is something to keep in mind as you prepare to apply. As you are looking at admissions requirements, it is a smart idea to notice if the majority of the business schools on your list require GMAT scores. Something to notice in your Online MBA search is that many programs either don’t require the GMAT or offer waivers based on various criteria. If your schools of choice require the GMAT, think through the cost and effort needed to take the test. If the GMAT is on your horizon, start studying as soon as possible so that you can confidently take the exam. Time to level up!

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