- The factors that are most important to you. Don’t make the mistake of applying to a program just because you’ve heard of it. After you do some research, ask yourself what aspects of an online MBA program are most important for you. Figuring out your priorities will help focus your research efforts as you search for the online MBA program that best fits your needs.
- Online MBA Accreditation. If the school is accredited, find out what organization is issuing the accreditation. Some employers don’t recognize degrees from non-accredited schools or schools without professional accreditation. Not all MBA accreditation organizations are created equal. Your best bet is to attend a program that is professionally accredited by AACSB, EQUIS or AMBA. Unlike regional or digital accreditation organizations, these organizations specifically assess business curriculum. These organizations also run comprehensive assessments on a regular basis to see whether schools make certain academic standards. Attending an AACSB, EQUIS, or AMBA program will also help you get a promotion or change jobs, since professionally accredited programs are more appealing to corporate recruiters.
Faculty and staff. Experienced and innovative faculty are an essential part of any online MBA program. But how do you know that the faculty is good? “Ask if the school’s regular faculty will be teaching the courses”, states Robert Mittelstaedt, dean and professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. MBA program faculty members are required to have at least a graduate level education.
Avoid schools that have a separate “online faculty”. You should make sure that the instructors at online MBA programs you’re considering are teachers and not just managers doing administrative work. In addition, you should make sure that there is faculty or support staff that you can turn to for individual help with coursework.
Curriculum. Make sure that the online MBA curriculum is the same as or similar to what’s offered on campus. Most online MBA programs include the same assignments, readings, research, and activities as the on campus programs offered by the same school. That’s why you should compare the online MBA program to the on-campus one by researching the required courses, major projects, materials, assignments, and exams for each program.
You should also make sure that there are courses that relate to your career goals. Not all business schools offer online MBA programs with the same concentrations as their on-campus counterparts.
- Technology. Since you will be taking the majority (if not all) of your classes in a virtual environment, technology is a key factor to consider for any online MBA program. Most classes will be conducted in an online classroom where students read materials, turn in assignments, watch video lectures, and participate in discussions. One of the most important technical aspects of an online MBA program is accessibility, since you need to be sure that you can easily navigate your online classroom. In addition, you should look for a program that uses technologies that enable you to interact with faculty and classmates.
- Value for the money. While online MBAs are generally cheaper than on-campus MBAs, the cost of an online MBA can vary greatly depending on the programs you’re considering. Price isn’t always an indicator of quality. In addition, a higher priced program may result in a greater return on your investment. AACSB-accredited programs generally cost more, but are more attractive to potential employers. Other reasons for higher tuition prices include foreign travel, and increased faculty involvement. Since you will probably end up having to get college loans, make sure that your online MBA program fits into your budget as well as your career goals. You should also look into the scholarships and financial aid available for each program you’re considering.
Employability. Since career advancement is the most common reason for getting an online MBA, you want to get an online MBA from a program that is recognized by employers. How can you find an online MBA program that has a good employer perception? Look at the schools in the QS Distance Online Ranking.
The online MBA programs in the ranking were selected because they stand out to employers. Each program got at least one recommendation from the companies included in the QS Global Employer Survey. If you want to find out which online MBA programs are well-perceived by hiring managers in your company, ask someone in the HR department which online MBA programs worked well for other employees.
You should also look into whether the online MBA programs you’re considering provide career support as well as the quality of their alumni networks. Access to career services and a strong alumni network can be helpful when you are looking for a new job.
How does the program fit into your schedule and learning style?Online MBA programs provide different ways of delivering course content. In addition to differences in how content is delivered, some programs require you to be logged in at different times. Here are some questions you should consider as you decide whether or not an online MBA program fits into your schedule and learning style:
- How is the material delivered?
- Can you access course content 24/7?
- How will you interact with your professor and classmates?
- If classes are held at specific times, do those times fit into your work schedule?
- Can you adjust the number of courses you take each semester?
- Can you start the program multiple times during the year, or just in the fall?
- Get student recommendations. Talk to professionals who are currently enrolled in an online MBA program to see if it suits your needs. If you don’t know anyone who is enrolled in a program you’re considering, admissions can usually provide you with a list of people to contact. In addition, you can check out blogs written by online MBA students. MBA@UNC, for example, hosts a blog where you can read about the experiences of online MBA students.
Choosing an Online MBA ProgramWritten by Nicole Willson
One of the most important steps in applying to any MBA program is choosing the right MBA programs. Here are nine things that you should consider when choosing an online MBA program: