Is An Online MBA Degree Worth It?
Why get an online MBA? Ask any Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate and the answer is clear: Leadership skills, networking opportunities, strategic problem-solving expertise and business acumen. All from the comfort of Internet-connected technology.
A recent U.S. Department of Education survey found a nearly 30 percent increase in students graduating with MBA degrees over a 10-year period. The U.S. Department of Education said the increase from 142,000 MBA graduates in 2005 to 185,200 MBA graduates in 2015 represents a growing trend in the United States. At the same time, the value of an online MBA degree is even greater because it prepares graduates for leadership roles in business, industry, government, and social services by providing a broad-based online educational experience.
Through the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online MBA program, students can access classes anywhere and anytime with concentrations in management information systems, finance, marketing, and health services. A general track is also available. UAB’s fully online program gives professionals the opportunity to advance in their careers while continuing to meet personal and professional obligations.
Key Features of the Best Online MBA Programs
While many schools offer online MBA programs, the best programs allow students to continue their careers while teaching advanced management and leadership skills. Other indicators of a quality online MBA program include the following:
1. Flexibility – Unlike traditional MBA programs, the flexibility of online coursework allows students to continue career pursuits and family commitments while seeking a degree.
2. Accreditation – Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation is widely seen as a hallmark of excellence because it ensures the coursework follows standards in business education.
3. Quality faculty – Professors who hold advanced degrees with diverse business backgrounds and skills provide a greater depth of experience.
4. Solid reputation – Leading online MBA programs provide diplomas that do not distinguish between online and on-campus students because the programs follow the same standards of excellence.
Benefits of Online MBA Learning
Online MBA programs have grown in popularity because they allow students to continue their careers while pursuing advanced degrees. Many online MBA programs allow for self-paced coursework and offer practical professional experience. Other advantages include the following:
1. Online degree programs are successful – The U.S. Department of Education found “online learning (whether taught completely online or blended) on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than do classes with solely face-to-face instruction.” Graduate and undergraduate students who attended online classes performed better on tests and earned higher overall grades when compared to their in-class peers, the study found.
2. Online programs are flexible –Asynchronous programs, such as the online MBA program offered through UAB’s Collat School of Business, allow students to finish weekly assignments on their schedule with access to coursework 24 hours a day. Professionals who opt for online MBA coursework have the option of working from any Internet-connected device from all areas of the globe.
3. Students learn from professionals – Successful programs offer quality coursework taught by seasoned professionals. For example, 90 percent of the faculty at UAB’s Collat School of Business hold doctoral degrees and are also leaders in the business world, providing consulting work for Fortune 500 companies and the Big 4 accounting firms.
4. Keep pace with changes — The best online MBA programs understand the rapidly evolving technology and expanding economy to provide greater opportunities for students to grow and learn.
5. Networking opportunities – Online learning provides opportunities for collaboration among professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Trends in Online MBA Education
A recent report by the talent management firm, Executive Core, found a growing number of B-schools are moving to online models to provide flexible learning opportunities with a focus on delivering “client-specific, customized learning solutions.” The report, completed in conjunction with the AACSB, the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC), and the Executive Education Consortium, found several trends in online MBA education that are becoming more common to all schools:
1. Customizing learning experiences –Programs that present materials that are tailored have greater practical value.
2. Aligning content to current initiatives and trends – Curriculums are increasingly including a combination of foundational business principles and practices, and modern technological and management strategies.
3. Providing a diverse and experienced faculty – A diverse field of faculty provide greater outreach to students and the surrounding community.
Karen Pedersen, Chief Knowledge Officer for the online education advocacy group Online Learning Consortium, said schools are offering fully online and blended programs to provide a broad spectrum of learning opportunities.
“I think there’s going to be more focus on how to best serve individuals, whether they are new to education or whether they are returning professionals seeking different credentials or different learning experiences,” she said.
Employment Opportunities for MBA Graduates
An overarching benefit to an online MBA degree is the professional boost it provides. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), forecast an increase in MBA graduate employment in the near future. Nearly 80 percent of employers expect to hire MBA graduates in 2017, compared to 68 percent in 2016, GMAC found.
“We see a continuation of positive news for the future of business graduates seeking employment,” Gregg Schoenfeld, research director at GMAC, reported. “We still see optimism among employers in their hiring outlook, and we see some optimism in increasing salaries over last year. Almost no one is saying they are going to decrease salary, so the value of management education is holding.”
A separate GMAC survey found 88 percent of MBA graduates secured rewarding career opportunities after graduation with “significant personal, professional and financial rewards,” Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC, said.
“Given the current pace of change in the economy and the workplace, candidates can be confident in the knowledge that a graduate management education can prepare them with the skills and flexibility they need to be in a better position to pivot and adapt their careers when opportunities present themselves and industries are disrupted,” he said.
University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Online MBA Program
UAB’s online MBA program provides solid business principles and practices with tech-savvy management strategies. The program begins three times a year (fall, spring, and summer), consists of 36 credit hours (39 credit hours with a concentration) and can be completed in as few as two years (six semesters). In some cases, the GMAT admission test requirement can be waived. To begin an online MBA program, contact an enrollment advisor now.
U.S. Department of Education