What are the main differences between online and in-person MBA programs?
The key difference is how the content is delivered. In a traditional classroom, content is delivered at a set time and place, using some combination of lecture/discussion/interaction and cases. Online, it is delivered in an asynchronous fashion (no set time or place), using interactive media (videos, voice-over lectures, simulated examples, discussion boards and cases). The learning process is similar, and the outcomes are as good or better in online than face-to-face classrooms.
Face-to-face MBA programs will obviously generate a different type of relationship among the students, since they will physically be together and will likely socialize outside of class and do group project work.
Having said that, given the rapidly changing technology, many online students feel their access to faculty is as good as or better online than it is in a face-to-face world. In terms of content delivery, the advantage of an online program is that it is easier to go back and review material that one may not have understood the first time.
In some learning areas, notably leadership, being physically together is very important, and that is why we have some required time for short face-to-face components of our online programs.
How do employers perceive job candidates with MBA degrees from professionally accredited online MBA programs? Are their perceptions any different than those of candidates who earned the same degree in an on-campus program?
Some employers look at the graduates of these programs differently, but that is rapidly changing. Once an employer has the experience of seeing the performance of someone who has graduated from a good online program, his or her view of the product usually favorably changes.
Can online MBA graduates be as successful in their career as their traditional MBA counterparts?
Individuals can achieve success in many ways. I tell our graduates that to be successful, they will have to reinvent themselves four to six times over their careers. Getting an MBA is just one of those reinventions. It is a great start, and there is no reason a person using an online program cannot succeed as well as others. The online program can get them started just as well as a face-to-face program, but in the long term, the difference will be how well that person continues to learn, not how they coast off their MBA education.
The U.S. Department of Education did a meta-analysis of 46 studies comparing face-to-face with online learning and found that the learning outcomes were essentially the same in face-to-face classrooms as in online learning. Interestingly, the combination of the two (hybrid) was better than either alone.
One of the main concerns potential online MBA candidates have is that the faculty for online MBA programs isn’t as good as the faculty for on-campus programs. What can online MBA applicants do to ensure that they get a degree from a program that has quality faculty?
Ask if the school’s regular faculty will be teaching the courses. In our case, our online courses are taught by our regular, internationally regarded faculty – [W.P Carey does not] have a separate “online faculty.”
There is an increasing demand for online MBA programs. Why do you think that is?
This is because W.P. Carey and other leaders in the field have shown over the last decade that graduates of our online MBA programs advance their careers and are successful. Additionally, in today’s connected global business culture, people who grew up with technology are used to using it in every aspect of their lives – including education.
Who is the ideal candidate for an online MBA program?
This would be someone who wants to advance his or her career through business education and who lacks the flexibility (work, family or financial) to leave a job to go to school every day.
For example, [W.P Carey] often [has] military members, entrepreneurs and those who frequently have to travel for work, in our online programs.
The successful online student will also be self-motivated and able to structure time and attention to achieve goals in a less structured environment.
What kinds of students should avoid online MBA programs?
Not many should avoid an online program, but we know that we all learn in different ways. Most of us can adapt to different learning situations, but those who have difficulty concentrating or staying on task might do better in a face-to-face environment - someone with dyslexia, for instance.
What should applicants look for when choosing an online MBA program?
Look for successful alumni of the program, time that the university has been in the online business, quality of the faculty, some required face-to-face interaction, a good technology platform and a reasonable cost. You should also consider the program’s format. For example, in the W. P. Carey School’s online MBA program, students work in small, personalized teams with peers from other industries, while focusing on one course at a time.
How computer literate do you need to be in order to get your MBA online?
The technology has gotten so good, and our technical support staff is so capable, that virtually anyone who can at least e-mail should not have any problems.
W.P. Carey started a hybrid MBA program earlier this year. What is the difference between a hybrid MBA program and an online MBA program? Is the program designed for the same type of students in the online MBA program?
The hybrid MBA combines both online learning and face-to-face interaction. Our new hybrid MBA is 60-percent face-to-face and 40-percent online. This is perfect for students who want to experience an on-campus program with other students and faculty, but still have the flexibility to balance other demands in their lives, such as work, family and travel.
How can online MBA students make the most of their MBA experience?
Whether online or in-person, remember that you don’t get many chances in life to be fully immersed in professional education, so take advantage of every opportunity to master material and broaden your course selections and load.
What other advice do you have for those who are considering getting their MBA online?
Pick a school that has been doing this for a while and can prove they know how to do it. For example, the W. P. Carey School has been offering online courses for more than a decade. The online MBA program is highly ranked, and [W.P. Carey offers] students the opportunity to earn a degree in an area of emphasis, such as finance, international business, marketing or supply chain management. We also have a dedicated financial aid specialist and a career center to help students with jobs searches.