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Distance MBA Programs | Definition, Benefits, Types, University List

Distance MBA programs

Definition, Advantages, Types, Requirements, Top university

Read on to know the answer to these frequently asked questions about distance MBA:

– What is a distance MBA program?
– Why would someone choose a distance MBA program?
– What are the other advantages of a distance MBA program?
– What are the various types of distance MBA programs?
– What methods of online delivery do these programs make use of?
– What are the admission requirements of international distance MBA program?
– How do I know that the program I choose is a reputed one?
– How good is a distance MBA program? Are there any disadvantages associated with it?
– What are MOOCs? How do they differ from a distance MBA program?
– How do you apply for a distance MBA in India?
– What are the eligibility criteria to apply for a distance MBA in India?
– How do I choose a distance MBA program?
– What is the career scope after distance MBA?
– Where can I do a distance MBA program in India?


What is a distance MBA program?

Definition of distance MBA:
An MBA program in which the course content can be imparted without your physical presence in a class falls under the category of a distance MBA program.

Why would someone choose a distance MBA program?

For experienced senior professionals considering an MBA education in another geographical location, the option of a full-time or part-time MBA program may be ruled out considering that at this point, they’d be well-settled with a family and taking a break from work or relocating to a new place for year or two would bring about several disruptions.

Executive MBA programs come with a steep price tag. You must also take into account the additional costs involved for travel to attend the sessions. This may not be a viable option for many.

Considering that most other options are ruled out, the most practical as well as economical alternative for such folks would be a distance MBA program.

What are the other advantages of a distance MBA program?

1. Such a program would save you the opportunity cost that you’d bear if you were unemployed for the one/two years you’d spend doing your full-time MBA.

2. If case of international MBA program, the cost of a distance MBA program would be way lesser compared to a full-time MBA. The tuition fees would be lower; you’d also be saving on the cost of living in an international location and other associated costs.

3. These programs usually have a flexible schedule. It allows you the convenience of completing the course requirements while you continue with your professional commitments. If you need a break due to your work pressure or on account of any personal reason, usually your program should allow you that. For example, at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, you may complete the program in as little as 18 or as many as 36 months.

4. Even if you were to change your location or you have travel involved, it’s possible to continue with your program.

5. You can apply the business concepts that you learn at your workplace.
Dan Bursch, director of the online MBA at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School is of the opinion that the number of online MBA program would continue to take a grip and evolve and it won’t be long before you see half of the top 20 business schools having their online MBA programs.

What are the various types of distance MBA programs?

Before the onset of online MBA programs, correspondence courses were popular where the printed material would be delivered to you. This would require a lot of dedication on your part as self-study would be involved. In addition to the course material, there may be some audio/video learning aids to assist the learning process. At the end, you’d be evaluated through assignments and exams. This mode of delivery is still in use in India.

Technology has revolutionised the delivery methods of distance education. Distance MBA in the form of online MBA and hybrid MBA is gaining popularity with reputed international b schools offering these programs. Hybrid MBA programs differs from an online MBA as it would have some on-campus element (multiple immersion experiences) in addition to the online delivery of content used by online MBA programs.

What methods of online delivery do these programs make use of?

Usually, the online MBA component comprises of a blend of asynchronous as well as synchronous course work.

Synchronous courses are the live sessions where you’ll be able to interact with your professors and peers thus simulating a real classroom. For this, the professors and the student participants need to be online at the same time. Through video conferencing, live class sessions can be held with the professor and multiple students who can participate and engage in discussions. The class sizes are usually kept small to ensure a better learning environment.

Such sessions are held at periodic intervals, usually once (or more) a week covering the coursework for that period. The only requirement for taking such sessions is an internet connection and a webcam. Such interactive sessions may also be recorded so that you can watch them at a later date.

There may also be one-on-one interactions with your instructor or feedback sessions.

Synchronous chat rooms allow multiple users to log in and have a text chat.

Asynchronous learning comprises the reading material, videos, presentations, case studies, assignments, tests that you can access as per your convenience and complete at your own pace.

Depending on your preferences, there may be students who’d vote for the synchronous sessions considering the active participation and learning derived by sharing thoughts and experiences and the chance to know your classmates better.

Some may not be able to attend these live sessions owing to their hectic work schedule.

On the other hand, there may be others who’d vouch for the asynchronous courses as you’re able to take it without much pressure and these sessions are more relaxed and offer more time to think, grasp various concepts, and form your opinion or arrive at any answer.

Even an online MBA program may have a residency component. These sessions may be held on-campus or elsewhere so that students can mingle with their batch-mates and form long-lasting relationships.  So you need to check where these sessions are held. A lot of students look forward to this chance of being able to network with the faculty, staff, classmates, and possibly alumni during these visits.

What are the admission requirements of international distance MBA program?

International programs may offer multiple intakes (either a fall and spring intake or rolling admissions) for the distance MBA program.

The admission requirements is not standardised and would vary depending upon the school.

Though there’s a perception that for an online MBA, no GMAT or GRE score is required, this may not apply to all schools. A GMAT/GRE score is required for reputed US b schools for candidates with lesser work experience. However, this requirement may be waived off for professionals with greater work experience. In addition, the rest of the components: MBA essays, letters of recommendation and interviews may also be required as part of the application process. International candidates may also need to take the IELTS or TOEFL.

However, there are good distance MBA programs that have a compulsory minimum experience requirement where no GMAT score needs to be submitted.

How do I know that the program I choose is a reputed one?

Check if the academic standards of the MBA program are of high quality.  Following are a few things you may include in your check-list:

  1. Is the course content for the online MBA the same as the full-time or part-time program the college offers?
  2. Does it offer the same degree/diploma as the full-time program?
  3. What are the entry requirements to get into the program? A good program would adhere to certain entry criteria so as to have top candidates getting in.
  4. Are the live sessions taken by the same professors as the full-time/part-time MBA?
  5. Does the international business school have an AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation? This accreditation ensures that the college adheres to high quality standards and meets stringent guidelines. As per AACSB official website, less than 5% of the more than 16,000 schools worldwide granting business degrees have earned AACSB Accreditation. These schools are the top choice among recruiters as well.

The other international accreditations include the AMBA (The Association of MBAs), EQUIS – European Quality Improvement System and or for Indian MBAs, you may look out for DEC recognition. Read more – What is the meaning of accredited university and program?

  1. What kind of career services does the college provide?
  2. What is the graduation rate of the college for the online MBA program?
  3. What is the scope of the program in terms of networking opportunities it provides? In what ways does the college allow you to bond with your batch-mates and alumni?

You can check the various distance online MBA rankings to compare the various programs to know what’s in store for you.

How good is a distance MBA program? Are there any disadvantages associated with it?

Networking is one of the topmost takeaways of an MBA program. A distance MBA program offers limited networking opportunities. Check how much of networking your MBA program is able to offer. Make the best use of any residency opportunity. Live sessions also provide an interactive platform for you to know others and engage in discussions. Group projects also provide an excellent chance to have close interaction with your classmates and develop strong bonds.

Secondly, though there’s a change in perception with good b schools offering distance MBA programs, there may be recruiters who may have their own biases and consider it of secondary importance.

What are MOOCs? How do they differ from a distance MBA program?

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. The course content comprising video lectures, quizzes, individual and group assignments and exams is available for free. You can design your own course structure and decide which course you’d like to take. However, unlike a distance MBA program which will grant you an MBA degree/diploma that you can make use of, the MOOC would not confer you an MBA degree. However, MOOCs are a good way to obtain knowledge in various areas you’re not familiar with.

More on distance MBA programs in India


How do you apply for a distance MBA in India?

Candidates are usually able to fill the application form online. You may have to pay a registration fee as well. Later, you may be required to send all the relevant documents to the college by post.

What are the eligibility criteria to apply for a distance MBA in India?

You need to be a graduate in any discipline from a recognised university. Some programs also have a minimum work experience requirement. For example at IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University), candidates need to have at least three years managerial or supervisory experience.

Depending upon the college, you may be required to pass an entrance test (like CAT, MAT, XAT, CMAT). Some colleges have their own entrance tests that you need to qualify in.

How do I choose a distance MBA program?

There are numerous factors you need to consider before you shortlist the names of colleges or universities you wish to apply to.

  1. Are you looking for an Indian program or would you be considering international programs as well?
  2. Have you done your research about the college, the program reputation, past performance, the accreditations or rankings?
  3. Does the program fee suit your budget?
  4. Does the program structure fit into your schedule?
  5. In case there’s some on-campus component, are you able to fulfil that requirement?

It’s always a good idea to have discussions with alumni to know their opinion about the program.

What is the career scope after distance MBA?

Distance MBA program helps in career advancement as it broadens your knowledge base and provides you with business concepts, problem solving skills and a better understanding of various business statements.

For those seriously looking at a complete shift in career, choose a program that can help you make this transition. The brand name of the university or college would be something recruiters might be interested in.

Where can I do a distance MBA program in India?

We’ve named a few of the distance learning programs that provide management education though there are many more that can be added to the list.

These include IGNOU, Sikkim Manipal University(SMU-DE), Symbiosis, ICFAI, MIT, XLRI, Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Annamalai University, NMIMS, Amity and Welingkar.


For more information, check out this article on the best online MBA programs in USA, Europe and Canada.

More on the various types of MBA programs.