The part-time MBA, like the EMBA, allows students to keep their full time jobs while attending business school. Unlike the EMBA programs, however, part-time MBA programs are designed for the less experienced professional or for those seeking to learn the necessary skills to change careers. Some part-time programs also incorporate distance-learning options making them flexible for those who travel frequently as well as for those that do not necessarily live nearby the school they attend. Schedules also differ from program to program, so you will want to find a timetable that works best for you, your family and your employer.
The most significant challenge for part-time students is changing careers. Those who do not seek to make a dramatic change are generally satisfied with their choice. However, students who want to make a more extreme change in field tend not to be as satisfied with part-time MBA study as do full-time MBA students.
Full-time MBA students have time off to engage in summer internships or take a part-time position in a different field during the school year. This increases their potential to be able to change fields. Part-time MBA students are more limited in this respect. They may necessarily have to keep the jobs they currently hold, but often find it more realistic to move into a position that combines their experience with the new interests and skills gained in the classroom.
At the same time, part-time MBA students have a lot of time. The programs, being part-time, take an extended time to complete, and thus provide additional time for students to contemplate the direction they want the degree to take. In addition, it’s important for part time students to make use of campus resources, career counseling, and career assessment tools as they move along in the process. After three or four years in a program, goals may change, so these tools should be used when evaluating the MBA process.
Part time students will need the support of their employers and families too, as both studying and working will require large time commitments.
Some part time students receive funding from their employers to complete the part time MBA. Larger companies are generally more likely to fund MBA programs. Even for those who do not receive funding from their employers, part time MBA students have a financial advantage over their full time counterparts in that they are continuing to earn money during study, often enough to cover expenses.
Some part time students who seek to change careers post-graduation will find that their salaries do not increase and may even decrease. This is because companies still hire and determine wages based on proven experience. One way to mitigate this is by seeking to combine the expertise developed in your current field with your interest in a new field. Also, money need not be the single determining factor in your post-MBA professional choice. Though many go into MBA programs seeking to improve their earnings, many also seek to change jobs. With this in mind, try to find a position that will allow you to grow and learn. Consider options that complement your long-term goals and don’t just consider your post-MBA pocketbook.
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