Guide to a Hybrid MBA

hybrid mba

Have you contemplated going back to school to earn your MBA for years, but your schedule is way too busy? Maybe you’ve considered earning an online MBA, but the idea of not getting face-to-face support makes you a bit hesitant. A hybrid MBA would offer a more flexible schedule but still give you ample opportunities to interact with peers and professors in person. The following Guide to a Hybrid MBA was created to answer all the questions you may have about hybrid MBA programs; from what they include and the cost to suggestions for success, we have got you covered.

What is a Hybrid MBA?

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A hybrid Master of Business Administration consists of a combination of online and in-person components. The frequency of visits to campus per semester will vary from college to college and even from class to class. Some universities may only require students to come to campus a few times throughout their MBA program for in-person residencies. Still, others may require monthly campus visits. The bulk of coursework is typically completed through a virtual platform. Class readings, essays, and other assignments can be submitted electronically. Discussion boards are also typical as a means to help classmates share their opinions and research. 

One major advantage of completing a hybrid program is students can save time and money by significantly reducing the number of times they must commute to campus. Hybrid MBAs also make it easier for working professionals to complete their MBA degrees and open up access to more distant colleges. Students have the opportunity to network, attend workshops and special lectures, give presentations in front of a live audience, and collaborate on group projects with peers during in-person sessions. Campus amenities, such as the library, tutoring center, and career center, can generally be accessed in-person or virtually.

Curriculum

The curriculum will mirror the in-person and online MBA, with the average program requiring 36-credit-hours, but may range from 30 hours to 72 hours. All programs will include fundamental business courses, such as Accounting, Business Law, Ethics, and Management. A comprehensive program covers a broad range of topics. Still, many programs allow students to customize their degree with a concentration in a field that is interesting and aligns with their career goals. Amongst the most popular concentration options are Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, and Technology Management, according to PayScale. Graduates from these specialty areas also reported high levels of job satisfaction, low-stress levels, and high wage growth opportunities throughout their careers. By mid-career, MBA degree holders with an HR concentration earn an average of $73,300, and the other three concentrations earn six-figure salaries.

History of Hybrid MBAs

You are most likely familiar with traditional in-person MBAs and their online alternative, but the hybrid format is somewhat of a newcomer to the education world. The first blended MBA, the International Executive MBA, was offered by the IE Business School’s Madrid campus in 2001. The University of California Los Angeles launched the first hybrid MBA in the United States in 2012. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management offers the Fully Employed MBA program. Students enrolled in the FEMBA program are required to complete four-weekend visits per quarter to the UCLA campus. On Saturdays, students attend courses from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Sundays, classes are held from 8:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. 

Carnegie Mellon kicked off their hybrid MBA program in 2013 at the Tepper School of Business. This part-time MBA is STEM-designated and ranked the number one Online MBA by US News and World Report. Students meet in person for Access Weekends six times per year at four locations, including Pittsburgh, the Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Many business schools are following in the footsteps of the first schools to launch hybrid programs, giving students an option that works with their busy lifestyle yet offers human interaction and opportunities for networking.

How Do I Choose the Right Hybrid MBA?

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Location, Location, Location!

Keep in mind that you will be required to attend some sessions on-campus, so while you have more geographic flexibility than a program that requires daily attendance, you still probably don’t want to select a program a thousand miles away. Inquire with the business department about how frequently you will be required to attend campus and see if it aligns with your work and family obligations. Visits may also vary in length from just one day to one-week residencies, so make sure you’ll be able to take off from work.

Accreditations and Distinctions

Your diploma won’t state that the program you completed was hybrid, but it will obviously have the name of the institution you attended. Reputable business organizations typically only hire candidates who graduated from accredited business schools. There are three leading business school accrediting agencies. The most prestigious of the three is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which is only held by less than 5% of business schools worldwide. The other two include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.

Business schools also receive annual rankings. It can be challenging to find rankings specifically for hybrid programs. Still, the online MBA rankings published by US News and World Report and The Princeton Review both include hybrid programs and can offer valuable insight. US News and World Report’s rankings are composed of five components: Engagement, Expert Opinion, Faculty Credentials and Training, Student Excellence, and Student Services and Technologies. According to students surveyed, the Princeton Review online rankings are based on over 30 factors, including program technology, immersion programs, career services, and overall satisfaction.

Professional Certifications

Many MBA programs allow students to earn professional certifications in conjunction with their degree. For example, students specializing in accounting may prepare to sit for the CPA exam. Other professional business certifications that may be embedded within MBA programs include Project Management Professional, Certified Supply Chain Professional, and SAP Certified Application Associate. Adding a professional certification to your resume can enhance your future job prospects and potentially increase your salary.

Executive MBA

Seasoned business professionals seeking advancement in their management careers or are interested in expanding their knowledge can earn an Executive MBA. EMBA candidates typically have a minimum of 10 years of industry-relevant experience, so the coursework is academically rigorous, and class discussions are intellectually stimulating. Students have excellent networking opportunities with peers who are in a wide range of upper-level management positions spanning the nation.

Completion Time

A hybrid MBA generally takes about two years to complete by students attending full time or completing nine-credit hours per semester. It could take part-time students three to four years to graduate or work at a slower rate depending on their other commitments. Some hybrid MBA programs also offer an accelerated program, which can be completed within one calendar year. Students in accelerated programs should be prepared to put in similar hours to full-time jobs and plan to have minimal personal and work commitments outside of class. Many MBA programs are also part of a 4+1 program. Undergraduate students take graduate-level courses during their senior year and can complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years.

Affordability

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Hybrid MBA programs are generally more expensive than online programs due to the immersion experiences. Depending on the distance of the school, you may also have to pay travel expenses such as hotel, gas, or flights. The higher cost may make you question whether the hybrid MBA is worth it or if you should cut costs by pursuing an online MBA. However, the hybrid format has built-in opportunities to connect with your professors who provide an inside link to the business community and will be able to speak of your work ethic better than if you enroll in 100% online courses. 

Also, hybrid programs tend to feature group projects during sessions on campus, giving you opportunities to collaborate with your peers, work on consulting projects for actual firms, and develop presentation skills. Since potential career connections are one of the significant benefits of hybrid programs, research the alumni network. If alumni are employed with Fortune 500 companies, it may be worth it to splurge on a hybrid program to rub elbows with influential business leaders. 

Financial aid is available for students enrolled in hybrid programs. Applying for scholarships and grants the moment you are accepted into business school can increase your chances of receiving tuition assistance. Also, check with your company to see if they offer tuition discounts or reimbursements for higher education. A few hybrid MBA programs offer graduate assistant roles that can be completed virtually. To reduce costs of residencies, try to find classmates you can rent a group bed and breakfast with, pack food from home, and book flights early.

How Do I Apply for a Hybrid MBA?

The application requirements for candidates seeking entry into a hybrid MBA are generally the same as the traditional MBA program. However, they might have slight differences based on the particular business school. Applicants are required to have acquired an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and must submit an official transcript. Most MBA programs will accept any major but may require students to complete business prerequisites or bridge courses before enrolling in MBA courses. 

Students should also be prepared to submit supplemental documents such as letters of recommendation, an updated resume highlighting relevant professional work experience, and a personal statement outlining future goals. Applicants may be required to submit GMAT scores, though it is common for waivers to be offered based on professional accomplishments. An application fee ranging from approximately $50 to $100 is also typically required along with the application submission.

What Career Prospects Will I Have After Earning a Hybrid MBA?

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Graduates from MBA programs have a broad range of job opportunities awaiting them. If you were employed throughout your degree, there’s excellent potential to advance into a more senior role with your current employer. According to Payscale.com, companies that hire the most MBA graduates include Amazon, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corp, and J.P. Morgan Chase. Some of the management careers graduates are equipped to assume include Project Manager, Chief Financial Officer, Senior Financial Analyst, Human Resources Manager, Financial Controller, and Operations Manager. 

Of the 28,000 employees surveyed in these careers, the majority report a high level of career satisfaction. In regards to work hours, business managers typically work full-time, but overtime may be required. Consultants are well-paid and have more flexibility to choose their schedules. Those who select a specialization are primed for additional career options. For example, a graduate with a concentration in Marketing can obtain a role as a Marketing Director or Product Marketing Manager. 

Several business careers made the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupations with the Most Job Growth list. The anticipated job growth from 2019 and 2029 for Management Analysts is 10.7%. Financial Managers and Market Research Analysts are projected at 15.5% and 17.7%, respectively. These rates are substantially higher than the projected growth for other careers. 

Salary

While the initial investment in an MBA may be quite costly, most graduates gain a lucrative ROI. MBA graduates earn significantly more than their colleagues with only a bachelor’s degree. According to the 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, the average starting salary for an MBA graduate is $115,000 compared to $65,000 for those with only a bachelor’s degree. Throughout your career, this is more than $3 million in earnings!

How Do I Succeed in a Hybrid MBA?

You may be a bit nervous about juggling online and in-person courses, but you can succeed with adequate preparation, realistic expectations, effective communication, and time management!

Attendance

Hybrid courses only meet a handful of times, so attendance should be an utmost priority. It is important to communicate with your boss about dates you need to visit the campus and make arrangements to be off during those times. Most managers will be understanding because you are bettering yourself and enhancing your skill set by completing your MBA. If you have children, talk to your spouse, other family members, or babysitter about the dates you will need childcare to be covered. Attendance may be optional in some in-person components, such as orientation. 

Make every effort to be present so that you can make an excellent first impression with your professors. If you cannot participate in scheduled in-person sessions, reach out to your professors immediately and give the specific reason you cannot attend. Reasons may include an out-of-town business trip, an important meeting you must attend, or even a family emergency. Ask if you can meet with your professor at an alternative time, such as during their office hours, or see if a different seminar is available. Even if there’s no other option, this shows you are making an effort.

Communication

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Be proactive in communicating with your professors; don’t just wait until a problem arises. If your class doesn’t have an in-person session scheduled early in the semester, reach out to your professor through email to introduce yourself. Keep it brief, but mention your current job if it’s relevant to your goals and anything specific you are looking forward to learning in their class. Later in the semester, if you need additional support or an extension, the rapport you have built with your professor could determine their response. 

Take advantage of opportunities that foster a strong community with your classmates. Use discussion boards to ask questions, form study groups, and you could even find a carpool buddy for when you have to travel to campus. Also, communicate with your advisor early on to discuss concentration options, course requirements, and your ideal timeframe for graduation.

Time Management

Hybrid classes may save you time by not having to commute, but you shouldn’t cut corners on the time you dedicate to working on classwork. Since you won’t be meeting with your professor every week, you must manage your time to ensure assignments are completed by their deadline. Set aside time to work on projects from each class and keep track of due dates through a calendar app or planner. Even if the majority of your assignments are not expected to be completed until towards the end of the semester, don’t procrastinate because you never know what unexpected events may come up. Break long or complex assignments into smaller chunks that will be more manageable and create reasonable project timelines. Also, reward yourself when you’ve completed tasks. Schedule some planned breaks and fun activities, so you don’t get burned out.

Student Services

Since you will already be on-campus throughout the semester, get the most out of your trips by taking care of on-campus tasks on those days. Need some help with that problematic finance class? Schedule a math tutoring session. Have a research project coming up? Drop by the library to find your sources. Need to print class readings? The computer lab most likely will allow you to print a certain number of pages for free. Many of these services, such as tutoring and research materials, can also be accessed online when you’re not on campus. However, sometimes it just helps to talk to an advisor or work out math problems face-to-face. While you’re on campus, check if any guest speaker events or professional development workshops will occur.

Career Services

Students will want to become well acquainted with career services early in their academic journey. They can offer assistance with finding an internship, a part-time job, summer employment, and even connecting you to your dream job as you approach graduation. You can also meet with a career counselor to draft a resume that fits your unique situation, get advice on negotiating your salary, or practice interview skills with a mock interview. The career center also conducts career panels, loans interview attire, and sets up networking events for students to attend. Job fairs are also hosted, typically in the fall and spring. Business schools sometimes offer their own career services featuring industry-tailored events for aspiring business professionals.

MBA Student Organizations

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Joining business organizations is a great way for hybrid students to feel more connected to campus life and expand their professional network. Since hybrid students aren’t on campus as frequently, they should seek membership in organizations with lenient attendance requirements or those with limited meetings throughout the school year. For example, some organizations might hold monthly lunch and learn sessions. Students can also form new friendships through social media pages and virtual student platforms. Some organizations may even hold online meetings, but if not, you could always talk to your business school about establishing a new organization that serves online and hybrid business students. 

Study Abroad

Participating in a week-long study abroad trip is another resume-worthy extracurricular option that won’t consume all of your time. Short excursions are generally offered during spring break, summer, and sometimes during winter break. Business students can travel with peers and their professors on faculty-led trips, including tours of international corporations and lessons about their local economy.

Action Plans

Since early in 2020, we have learned the importance of versatility and adaptability. Those who could conduct work remotely fared better than those with jobs that had to be completed in person. The number of professional positions that plan to follow a hybrid work model continues to increase within the business world. Completing a hybrid MBA demonstrates to employers that you have the self-discipline to complete work from home but can still show up in person when expected. You will gain the necessary technical skills to thrive remotely and the leadership skills to succeed in any professional environment. 

You may want to begin researching hybrid MBA programs now to avoid rushing through the application process. Once you land on a few of your favorite schools, check the application requirements. Start asking for letters of recommendation, studying for the GMAT if it’s required by programs you’re interested in, and put the polishing touches on your resume. Apply for financial aid if needed and check with your company to see if they offer tuition benefits. By following this action plan, you will soon be on your way to earning your hybrid MBA!

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