Why I chose an Online eMBA course over full-time programs

After writing about the best online MBA programs and Online MBA vs Regular MBA, we’ve been on the lookout for folks who’ve actually signed up for such a course. We bumped into Rohit Shrivastava who was willing to share his story.

Rohit worked with another admissions consultant in USA (not MBA Crystal Ball) before deciding to drop the full-time MBA idea and take up an online executive MBA course.

He signed up for the McIntire Executive Certificate in Management Program offered by the University of Virginia. The online eMBA fee – at under $3500 – was significantly less compared to full-time MBA programs that typically charge over $100,000. He was able to hold on to his job while completing the 1-year eMBA online.

Do keep in mind that the takeaways of an online MBA course for working executives is quite different from full-time, residential programs.

Why I chose an online eMBA program over full-time courses

by Rohit Shrivastava

It all started when I completed around 10 years of my working career, working in IT companies some of the best ones with diverse teams in different geographies primarily North America. Starting as a software engineer I got promoted to project/delivery manager.

However beyond that point it was almost impossible to grow. Till this position you don’t really run into senior executives and when you do usually these are people spear-heading their way into management with few years of experience and usually a MBA degree or any other higher degree.

A good college MBA is almost invariable. In this industry, sometimes you do find genuine talent that doesn’t need an MBA to rise. A few lucky ones get sponsored by their employer to get one.

Exploring the MBA Landscape

To be very honest when I started the initial scanning of the MBA environment I thought it would be a breeze – Choose Harvard / Kellogg, appear for GMAT, get an awesome score and then be a bit finicky about colleges and finally choose one.

In reality, it turned out to be very different. Only choosing a place to get an orientation and start my prep was as daunting as it could have been for me a person who had comfortably settled in the corporate culture / world. Among all those available around, I chose an American admissions consultant.

Something I didn’t give quite consideration before embarking on a journey that really is very time consuming, exhilarating but above all sapping you of your energy at the same time. So after finally being able to figure out an institute for the MBA preparation I started my studies.

One small thing you might want to consider is, after long years of working choosing to study full time could be a total motivator. But after some time this feeling goes away and it reminds you of those boring long years where we all studied amid the looming uncertainty. At least that was in my case.

People who can deal with this uncertainty are likely to be more successful in their MBA preparation and probably a better fit for a full-time longer-duration MBA education.

Truth Be told

After I started my prep for MBA I learnt that GMAT scores are fine, but there are other steps to the final selection such as essays. During my search I stumbled upon MBA consultants from Stanford University who had been in the admissions council process of first-level application assessments.

The agency was very helpful and the initial discussion / consultation was not charged. Usually they asked background questions and requested me to get back to them with resume / summary in 1 page document highlighting achievements.

This wasn’t easy for me since I had 10 years of experience and around 8 pages of resume. However I did get back to them. Post that we had a discussion on my profile.

Most of the initial discussion for me was very discouraging specially since they were helping students with a focus to get into Stanford MBA. I would like to highlight those few discouraging things here:

  • My profile assessment was termed as average (believe me it wasn’t). I would not say its top 10% but definitely within top 20-30% which is not bad how many people choose and apply for MBAs in that percentage range because they are usually happy with their careers.
  • The first thing she mentioned being in IT most of the profiles applying for MBA were close to mine making my profile and every other competing profile same and average. This was a shocker.
  • They told me that I mentioned I had expertise in telecom as a business domain, I should write and send them a business plan for something that will be big in the telecom sector in next 10 years and how would I with my advantage be able to put and execute a business plan around it.

From that point on started harboring too many doubts about my decision for MBA or my doubts now more specifically for 2 year full time MBA with the exorbitant premium one had to pay to part of that club.

In my mind at that time it was clear that if I could do what they mentioned I would not waste my money on MBA I would rather start my own company with pretty much the same or less capital that I would put into an MBA program and then take the risk of finding or getting a job and paying student loan for some part of my life.

Specially this is difficult for Indians, because the dollar Vs rupee situation makes it even bad, if you finish your MBA in US and end up paying student loan on an Indian salary the mere thought scared the living daylights out of me.

Online Executive MBA education – Blessing in disguise

While all these questions bothered me a lot, something else happened along the way. While working at IBM I got an internal opportunity to pursue a Exec MBA from the university of Virginia.

There were a handful of people who were nominated and ended up being one of them. In my MBA journey from exploration to preparation to final decision I think the 2 things that were absolutely critical to me were as follows:

  • I was looking for an MBA education without compromising my career, because I was already doing very well. I was happy with what I was doing. I didn’t want to leave that, and definitely not for 2 years.
  • I wanted to use an MBA education more for networking with people primarily at the CXO level and also at other levels. An exec provided me with that clear opportunity because it was all execs from good companies mostly or established / experienced managers usually with a good potential.

This was a blended program with online self paced learning and live classrooms sessions with faculty.

Why an online eMBA?

For me an online executive MBA has turned to be the best choice available without having to make the compromises that would usually ensue with a full-time MBA most of which didn’t fundamentally appeal to me.

The most important thing that I learnt from the online executive MBA is networking, and I had like-minded individuals who were most of them usually like middle-aged accomplished executives from different background and companies.

It was great to connect with them and have a relationship to reach out to them in case of any help that is required.

Read these related posts:
Harvard online certificate courses (Interview with HBX Executive Director)
Best Online MBA Programs.


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat

Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here’s more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

10 Comments

  1. Santanu says:

    But there is no really value for any distance MBA or online MBA over Full time MBA. May be it can help a already working person to jump into the next level. But for a fresher, no use.

    • Rohit says:

      Shantanu,
      You are absolutely correct. Distance / online MBA’s are strictly for people who are happy with what they are doing and just want to have a formal management education under there belt for corporate promotions purposes etc.

      MBA is generally not recommended for freshers. You should get some work experience before deciding on an MBA program…. so much so that most good MBA schools will not admit students with no work experience.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts appreciate it.

      Thanks,
      Rohit S.

  2. pragya says:

    hi,
    i am a dentist with 3years of clinical experience.
    i am on maternity break since 3yrs. i wanted to do full time MBA but it was not possible because of my son.
    so i chose to do Online PGD in hospital administration from MEDVARSITY.
    i was day dreaming when i joined the course as i was expecting a complete change in life after the course. i expected that the course will fetch me decent job. nothing such happened.
    after the course i got offers where employers who wanted an MBA whereas i was a PGD.
    medvarsity itself has a placement cell where i havnt been able to register as my mails gets bounced back.

    now i want to do an executive MBA in hospital administration or healthcare management.
    i m confused which university to choose. if i join medvarsity and even this gets wasted (does not hold much value in the market) like my PGD then it will be a great financial loss. and if i join any other course like distant learning MBA from D Y PATIL then my PGD Degree has no value, i will have to put in another 2years in that.
    doing it from a foreign university will be difficult as the fees are high and they need GRE and/or GMAT.

    please guide me what should i do further.

    thanking you in anticipation.
    pragya.

  3. Rohit says:

    Hi Pragya,
    I am probably not the right person to help you with your endeavour on MBA, however MBA Crystal Ball should be able to correctly guide you. Reach out to Sameer Kamat or someone in his team to help you give the right guidance to choose the right MBA.

    You did mention that you have a kid and MBA was a big ask, Are you willing to make a commitment to a corporate job that might be even more demanding than a full time MBA ?

    Hope this helps.

    Rohit Shrivastava.

  4. Raghu says:

    hi rohit/sameer/MG,
    Iam software engineer having 6 years of experience in testing(QA). i want a mba from abroad from UK.
    how exactly executive mba program is ? like my question is, we will study online course sitting in india or do we have to go abroad for ‘live classes’ or to take up ‘final exams’ ? Please clarify..

    And final degree ceritificate, will it be like a regular mba type or will it be mentioned that it is executive MBA.

    Is it mandatory to take gmat or ielts exam for executive MBA ?

    Which electives would you suggest me to take up in mba ?

    please guide me

    thanks in advance

    • Rohit says:

      Hi raghu,
      All options are available. There is :
      – Online MBA sitting India
      – Online MBA with sitting in India and a world tour (depending on the MBA – Try Global MBA from IIM Banglore)
      – For Online MBA classes / test are online all the time (there is no fooling anyone on Online MBA you have to be disciplined and study and be honest)
      – Electives – Either you should go General management or something specific like systems / sales / finance or others depending on what will closely align with what you want to do professionally post your MBA.

      Thanks,
      Rohit S.

  5. Prakul says:

    Hello Rohit,

    I am in the same situation as you were, rather close, I have 7+ years of experience in IT and work as a Consultant – Architect role in SharePoint. Have been in US for close to 2 Years.

    I have been offered the same through my employer, if I opt for it how would it affect my profile in climbing the corporate ladder further, also if I plan to change my Job or apply for a GC how would this help in such a situation, any inputs would be great.

    • Rohit says:

      Hi Prakul,
      In my personal opinion if you are applying for GC that means you would have resident status in US try US universities full time after research on what you want to do and what options are available on the MBA around you.

      All this will not directly help you though – its good to go / do MBA through employers that has their vested interest / Doing so personally its better to do it fulltime and knowing what to do next. Change in Career may be ?

      Thanks,
      Rohit S

  6. Kalyan Agarwal says:

    Hi Rohit,
    This is Kalyan Agarwal from Cognizant Tech Solutions. I have around 12 years of experience in IT and currently handling Project Manager position in USA. But for last 2-3 years I’m feeling that my growth has got blocked even doing best from my part.
    Do you suggest that should I go ahead with -“McIntire Executive Certificate in Management Program”. Or should I go for the full time Executive MBA degree. Down the line in 2-3 years I’m planning to go back to India permanently.
    Your comments will be useful for my future planning.

    Regards,
    Kalyan

  7. D Arora says:

    Hi Rohit/Sameer,
    I am a serving short service officer in Indian Navy, i am B.E in electronics and communication with a good acumen of IT. We get to do a six months management course from IIMs/XLRI.
    before i leave service i want to pursue a distance / Online MBA. we would be doing 6 months mba course from IIM s/ XLRI.

    i am totally confused and really need some advice on which specialization/ college shall i go for.??
    i am also clueless about what job opportunities are present from retired technical officer of armed forces.?

    Short Service Officer*
    We get to do a six months management course from IIMs/XLRI

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