Online degrees don’t have the stigma they once did. In fact, many universities are pouring money into their online degree programs because it’s such a practical option for so many people looking to go back to school. What’s not to like about it? It’s cheap. It’s convenient. But when you’re aiming for an MBA, how does it work? Does it differ at all from an “in-the-classroom” MBA?
Many students worry about two aspects of the online MBA: its accreditation system and whether or not their degree will specify they received an online degree as opposed to an in-person degree. In general, MBAs require 36 credits, usually divided into two years: one for generalized business study, the other for specialized study. The online MBA works no different. A slight alteration, however, is discussion in the classroom is replaced by forums and message boards through the Internet. In terms of your degree, most degrees don’t actually say where the degree was obtained. According to “OnlineMBADegrees.net,” the only way a potential employer would know you received an online degree was if you received it from a school that only functioned online.
Students also wonder if it takes longer to complete an online MBA versus that of an MBA at a university. Actually, students can finish their degrees in less than the two years it normally takes to do so in person since so much of the work you do in the online degree program is self-motivated.
Another major concern about the online MBA is whether it assists candidates in increasing their salaries like traditional MBAs are advertised to do. According to “elearners.com,” online MBA degree candidates hold all sorts of positions after graduation – including vice presidents and CEOs. The GMAC averaged in 2005 that all MBA graduates (online and off!) could expect to earn an average of $106,000.00. Wanting an even better bet?
In summary: an online MBA is no less legitimate than an “in-person” MBA. Pursue the MBA program that’s right for you.
Getting an MBA online is an increasingly popular method. The proliferation of internet access and computers has made learning outside the classroom an increasingly attractive concept, providing convenience and efficiency.
However, the most important thing to be wary of when considering an online degree is the legitimacy of the institution you are attending. Online relationships have great potential, but also present a larger possibility for falsehood and deceit. Therefore, it is especially important that those interested in attending an online program do detailed research, make direct phone calls, get answers to crucial questions, and find out what really happens to graduates.
First, do not attend a non-accredited school. Other institutions and employers will not recognize the degree and in many states it is in fact illegal. If the school’s website asserts it is accredited do a bit more research to determine if the school is accredited by a legitimate accrediting association. To determine this, check on the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. It lists all recognized accrediting associations. Also Diploma Mill Police will do the research for you into the legitimacy of a program.
There are several types of schedules and timetables for online degrees, depending on the program. Some do include person-to-person classroom learning, and some are exclusively online. Determine which best suits your learning style and fits into your schedule.
Value of the Degree
Online education is a very new phenomenon, making it more risky. On paper there is no distinction between a traditional MBA and an online MBA, so in this way there is little difference. In general, it seems employers do value online degrees, recognizing that completing them is not easy, requiring discipline and commitment. Online degree completion may be especially welcomed by current employers and may promote upward advancement within a company. However, the Online MBA tends not to make it easy to move to different careers.
· Switching careers is difficult
· Networking and professional connections are generally harder to form. However, this is not true for all students. Some find little difficulty in developing long-term, even life-long online relationships.
Overall it is highly recommended that you devote a lot of time to selecting an online MBA degree program. The key to getting your money’s worth from an online program is evaluating your goals and needs, the legitimacy of the institution, and the likelihood that a particular online program will help you achieve your educational and professional goals.
The traditional full-time MBA is not for everyone. Not everyone is able to take two full years (or one year, as is more common in Europe) out of the workforce, take out study loans, or move locations. In addition, not all those with an interest in an MBA are at the right point in their careers to commit to full-time MBA study as the best method to career enhancement or career change. Also, the traditional MBA may not provide the most appropriate training for a particular candidate to meet his or her goals. Fortunately there are other options.
The most common alternatives to the traditional MBA within the sphere of graduate business education are:
o the Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA),
o the part-time MBA,
o the online MBA, and
o the Masters of Science in Economics or Finance or Accounting.
All of these options are geared toward professionals in different career and personal situations.
An evaluation of your own goals, career experience, personal or family needs, time limitations, and financial needs will help you decide between these options and determine which is best suited to you.
EMBA programs are set up for experienced professionals. In general, programs advise having several years of experience for entering EMBA candidates. EMBA programs also are usually conducted on the weekends, or in select weeks during the year, not requiring students to quit their day jobs. Yet, despite maintaining a different clientele and calendar, the EMBA teaches students many of the same subjects and methods as the MBA.
The EMBA is ideal for the experienced candidate interested in developing his or her knowledge of business and management. If you want to develop a new expertise in a field, a part-time MBA program or a full-time MBA program is more likely to provide you with the necessary time to fulfill your career goals. In addition, if you are qualified in terms of background and experience, there is enormous benefit in an EMBA program to learn from fellow students who will share their experience and background with you. Faculty will also design their classes taking into consideration the experience of the students. Typical candidates tend to have the following profile:
· Over 30. Average age varies from program to program.
· Working full-time.
· Already in a management role.
· May already have another degree (e.g, M.S., M.D, J.D., PhD).
EMBA programs vary in terms of schedules, flexibility, and travel expectations. You will thus want to select a program that is best suited to your needs. Like MBA programs, EMBA programs also encourage and require group work. Find out how this works before you begin so that you can fit it into your schedule and make arrangements with your employer. If you have particular career goals, such as increasing your international exposure, consider global EMBA options, such as those found at Duke or the Columbia-LBS partnership, or Kellogg’s particularly strong Latin American connections. If you would like to move locations from San Francisco to New York or vice versa, for example, you may consider the Columbia-Berkeley program. If you live in Chicago and want to stay put, check out the University of Chicago’s EMBA packages.
· Time. Being in an EMBA program while working full-time will limit your free time as well as require some degree of flexibility and support on the part of your employer and possibly your family.
· Money. More often than with traditional MBA programs, many EMBA students receive funding from their employers. This trend is gradually declining, and few receive full tuition at least without a guaranteed contract after the program. This makes it important to recognize that you might have to research loan options and understand your financial needs. Note that most EMBA grads do receive a full return on their investment within four years of graduation.
The EMBA degree is increasingly attractive to people who seek to expand their horizons and much of that attraction arises not only from the education provided but from the connections and networks that are formed during the program.
The future of EMBA programs lies in continued global expansion and partnerships between US and foreign institutions. Regardless of location, programs are seeking to make their scheduling more convenient for the long distance travelers, adopting calendars where classes are not scheduled every week but are given three-to-five consecutive days a month instead.
Technology is increasingly incorporated in EMBA programs as well, with group assignments being completed through video conferencing. These programs continue to evolve with the times.
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