After covering the topic of best executive MBA programs, we now take a look at the growing trend of online MBA programs and test whether it’s all hype with no substance or a credible alternative.
The online MBA is not a very new concept. In early years, way before the advent of the ‘e’ onslaught, there were the classic distance learning courses. The internet has enabled this industry and the Online MBA has been gaining popularity in India and globally.
The reasons are not surprising since you can complete these courses from the comforts of your house. There are also some hybrid models wherein you have a few hours of classroom (physical or virtual) contact combined with online material. Almost all of these courses have assignments and some have real classroom examinations as part of the degree/certificate requirements.
Globally, there are some reputed accreditation bodies such as AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and our very own home grown DEC (Distance Education Council).
Though the global accreditation have gained some currency amongst international recruiters, the jury is still out there in case of India. But it is good to be aware of these bodies as this can be an important measure to judge a program’s worthiness against.
If you think that equipped with an online MBA certificate, you will be able to make that career switch or wave the certificate to walk your way up the organization hierarchy, chances are you may end up with a serious expectation mismatch.
The online MBA course, though a convenient option, is not up there with the conventional MBA programs in terms of value recruiters place on the courses. A large part of learning from an MBA tends to happen through peer interactions and class debates. While technology has enabled some of these, the virtual world is yet to catch up with the real one in efficacy on this topic and most recruiters know this.
On the other hand, if you are in for a learning experience and to understand the nuts and bolts of various business functions, this could be a credible option. In many ways, contrary to a full time MBA, this is an end to itself – meaning, you do this course because you want to learn.
Do not raise your expectations regarding the outcome or real tangible RoI from this investment; part of the reason that these courses are not too pricey either. So take your pick.
The difference in online MBA costs and full-time courses make the online courses more popular. Think about it. Apart from the low fees for online MBA, you are also saving a lot of peripheral costs. This includes relocation costs, rental costs for student accomodation, commuting costs – and the big one that most MBA students tend to underestimate – opportunity costs – or in simple terms, the money you’d lose in lost wages.
A regular full-time MBA can go upwards of $100,000 and we’re just talking about MBA course fees. The top tier MBA courses charge more.
Here’s a earlier post that explains it in more detail – How much does an MBA Cost in India, USA, Europe.
In contrast, online MBA costs can be in the range of $10,000 to $80,000. The average online MBA tuition fee in US programs would be around $40,000.
This is generally a function of the university brand, whether it’s a public or private university, the bells & whistles that are bundled with the degree and of course the country. Online MBA courses in India are significantly cheaper than their American counterparts.
While all online MBA programs may be considered as distance learning program, the reverse is not true. Many schools, especially a lot of them in India, use traditional methods such as physical books, reading material, to impart the course.
Online MBA on the other hand use latest, innovative techniques including but not limited to lecture videos, interactive Q&A during classes and the likes.
In general, it is safe to say that the learning and retention is likely to be better for online courses since they come close to the actual class based experience. So choose wisely.
Here are some reasons where an online MBA course can be worth it.
• Your main objective is to learn the nuts and bolts of business theory
• You have hit a glass ceiling in terms of career advancement but are too late in the career to invest time and money in a full time or even a part-time executive course
• You are sufficiently technology savvy. Many of us prefer to read a book on the Kindle/iPad/smartphone rather than pick up a copy from the bookstore. This is an important trait to have to ensure you are able to absorb what the program offers
• You are not sure if MBA has much value for you. This may be a good way to get started on that path. Once you are convinced, you can always go back for more
What determines quality in Online MBA are factors such as accreditation, opportunity for physical interactions, use of group work and the likes. Essentially factors that help a program mirror the physical program, in general win it more brownie points. The university, its brand and the faculty credentials are other important defining characters for the top rated programs.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, we’ve stuck to sharing the name of top 5/10 schools/programs by geography. Beyond that, do you own online research and decide which course is the right one for you.
IE Business School – Spain
Warwick Business School – UK
Durham Business School – UK
Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University – UK
University of Bradford School of Management – UK
Alliance Manchester Business School – UK
University of Strathclyde – UK
Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning (offers Online MBA) – India
Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai (NMIMS) (Part-Online) – India
Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad – India
Indira Gandhi National Open University, IGNOU (Distance MBA) – India
IIM Indore, BBEEP – India
Kelley (Indiana) – USA
W. P. Carey (Arizona) – USA
Thunderbird School of Global Management – USA
Babson College: Olin – USA
University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler – USA
University of Massachusetts:Amherst
University of Florida – Hough
AGSM at UNSW Business School
There are a LOT more Online MBA courses that we haven’t listed here. These are the ones that are top of mind recall. You can start with this list, but then do some more research.
Another factor to consider is if you are looking for a particular specialization. That may or may not be available in the above list and hence lead to the expansion.
Unlike in the classroom programs, the choice here is vast – but keep the factors mentioned above in mind before you put your money into these online MBA programs.
Read these related posts:
– Online eMBA course vs full-time programs
– How employers view online degrees
– Why I chose an Online eMBA course over full-time programs
– Harvard online certificate courses (Interview with HBX Executive Director)
– Are online courses and MOOC certificates from top universities worth it?