Is an Online MBA Right For You? Pros, Cons and Other Considerations
Published on: July 24, 2023
Thinking about a Master of Business Administration (MBA)? If so, then you might be debating whether an online or in-person degree program is right for you. Both options come with their own advantages and potential drawbacks. For many, however, an online MBA provides the convenience and flexibility that students need to successfully complete their programs and open new career opportunities.
By having a better understanding of the pros and cons of online MBA programs, you can ultimately make the decision that best suits your unique needs, lifestyle and career goals.
Why Should You Choose an Online MBA?
If you’re pursuing your MBA, there’s a good chance you’re already working a full-time job. For many, an MBA is the type of degree that you return to school to pursue after working for a while. Specifically, an MBA can open more opportunities for you within your current role, allowing you to make a desired career shift or even empower you to open your own business. Regardless, you may already have a lot on your plate.
An online MBA is often the most practical option because it offers the flexibility needed to continue with your current job while working toward greater things. When compared to those with just a bachelor’s degree in business administration, it’s worth noting that MBA holders have an average annual salary that’s between 22% and 44% higher.
The Advantages of Online MBA Degree Programs
Before you decide between an online and in-person MBA program, it’s a good idea to carefully weigh both the pros and cons of online degree programs as they relate to your specific situation. There are plenty of benefits to completing your MBA online, ranging from lower overall costs to greater flexibility and versatility.
Access to a High-Quality Education at Home
When you complete an online MBA program, you can do so from the comfort and convenience of your own home. You’ll be receiving the same quality instruction that you would from an in-person program with access to all the same course materials—just in an online format. This is especially useful if you don’t live close to a school or university that offers an in-person program, or if you simply prefer the convenience of accessing a quality education without leaving your home.
Increased Flexibility Around Your Schedule
One of the main reasons people end up choosing an online MBA is that these programs offer the flexibility and versatility needed to work around their existing schedules. Rather than having to set aside time to physically commute to campus at a specific date and time each week, an online MBA allows you to log in and complete your coursework more or less on your own time. This can make it possible to complete your MBA when you may not have thought it would be possible.
Keep Up with Career and Personal Responsibilities
If you’re pursuing your MBA while handling other life responsibilities, this flexibility and versatility can really come in handy. For example, many people who enroll in MBA programs are those who are already working full-time jobs and have longstanding careers. These hard-working people don’t usually have the luxury of being able to put their work on hold to earn their MBA. Instead, they must complete their schooling while also working, juggling family life, and taking on other important responsibilities.
An online degree program makes it possible to continue with these career and personal obligations while still pursuing higher education. With flexible scheduling and the versatility to complete your coursework from anywhere with internet access, you can continue working your current schedule while squeezing in your studies in your off time.
Convenience of Class on the Go
These days, you don’t always need to be tied down to your desktop computer to complete an online MBA program. As long as you have internet access, you can take your classes with you wherever you go when you’re enrolled in an online MBA program. This means that even if you need to travel for work or take a vacation with family, you can take your schoolwork with you and stay on track. With a desktop, tablet or even a smartphone, you can access your class information and have access to the resources you need to complete your coursework on the go.
It’s also worth noting that, compared to an in-person MBA program, an online MBA program tends to be less expensive overall. This is especially true when you consider that you don’t need to worry about boarding costs, meal plans, or other expenses that you typically need to pay when you choose an in-person program where you live on campus. Likewise, because you won’t be commuting to campus, you can also save on gas (as well as wear and tear on your car) while enjoying the same quality education.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to pursue your MBA, an online program is a smart option to consider.
Ability to Learn at Your Own Pace
Not everybody learns in the same way, so choosing a flexible degree program that allows you to work at your own pace can make all the difference in your future success. Rather than being held to arbitrary deadlines with an in-person program, an online MBA allows you to work ahead (or hang back and focus more on areas you’re struggling with) so that you can truly master the material.
Complete Your Degree in Less Time
In some cases, an online MBA may take less time to complete than an in-person program. While the specific requirements (such as credit hours) may be the same, the reality is that many students are able to take on a heavier course load when they enroll in an online program because they don’t have to worry about a commute or attending class during specific dates and times. This, in turn, makes it possible for them to complete their programs more quickly.
The Disadvantages of Online MBA Degree Programs
While there are many reasons to consider a fully online MBA program, no option is without some potential drawbacks. By being aware of the possible disadvantages of an online MBA program, you can more confidently decide whether this option is right for you.
Lack of Interaction with Peers and Instructors
With an online degree program, you may never come face-to-face with your fellow classmates or your instructors—and this can be a real drawback to those who enjoy more personal interaction. Instead, you’ll do much of your coursework asynchronously. However, a quality online MBA program should still offer opportunities to connect with instructors via live video chat or and interact with classmates via discussion boards, so not all interpersonal interaction is lost in an online format.
Holding Yourself Accountable
Completing an online degree program also requires a great deal of self-discipline because of the flexibility that these programs offer. Without being physically present in a classroom, some students may struggle to maintain the motivation needed to complete their coursework. This is where having excellent time management skills and a strong sense of self-discipline can make all the difference.
Adjusting to an Online Environment
Online learning isn’t something that comes easily to everyone. Those who haven’t taken online courses before may struggle to adjust to a different setting, especially when it comes to getting used to different platforms and methods of submitting assignments. This “adjustment period” could affect the quality of your work and your education, so it is important to make sure you learn the online system quickly and ask any questions you may have upfront.
Limited Course Offerings
While this isn’t always the case, some schools that offer online MBAs will have limited course offerings when compared to their in-person programs. This can be a problem if you’re looking to specialize in a particular area of business administration and the course you want isn’t offered.
Challenges With Time Management and Organization
If you’re working a full-time job or have other obligations to fulfill while pursuing your online MBA, time management and organization can be a real challenge. With so much freedom to complete your coursework on your own schedule, you may have a harder time prioritizing your schoolwork and keeping up with your academics. This, in turn, can slow down your progress.
Lack of Access to Campus Resources
Without being physically on campus, you may also not be able to access many of the resources that are available to students who complete an in-person program as easily. This may include access to tutoring services, career placement services, or even student groups. If you decide to pursue an online MBA, it will be important to find a school that provides plenty of support and resources to its online students so you can still get the most out of your experience.
Increased Technology Requirements
If you plan to complete an online MBA, you’ll need access to a reliable internet connection and a decent computer or laptop. Depending on where you live or what your current financial situation is, this may be easier said than done. If you struggle to find a reliable internet provider in your area, you may have trouble connecting to your online course platforms, conducting research for class assignments and even submitting work. All of this can have a negative impact on the quality of your education (and your own performance as a student).
Professor Availability May Not Be Convenient
While many online programs offer opportunities for students to connect with their instructors and professors, getting in touch with them can still be a challenge. This is especially true for professors who may also teach on campus and have other classes and responsibilities.
Again, this is why it’s so important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of an online degree—and to choose an online MBA with a school and program that really values its online students just as much as those attending classes on campus.
Your Story Starts Here
As you can see, there are many online MBA pros and cons to consider as you explore your options. No matter what you choose, Park University has you covered with both in-person and online MBA programs to suit your needs.
Specifically, our flexible MBA program is offered in a blended format at any of our nine campuses across the United States. It’s also offered entirely online. No matter which one you choose, you can complete your MBA in as little as 15 months with areas of concentration including business analytics, finance, public accounting and marketing.
Ready to request more information? Get in touch with Park University today and take the next step toward a more rewarding career.