Online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs provide business professionals with more opportunities than ever to continue their education without interrupting their careers. With so many programs available, you may be wondering how to choose an MBA program that’s right for you and your career aspirations.
Online MBA programs expand your business training without the commitment of in-classroom instruction. Some benefits of completing an MBA program include:
- Learning additional business skills that may advance your career
- Improving accessibility to management and higher-paying positions
- Improving hire-ability
Even with these benefits and the ease of taking an online MBA program, MBA degrees still represent a substantial time, energy, and financial commitment. So, before deciding that an online program is right for you, here is a list of key questions to ask yourself as well as your MBA admissions counselor.
1. Do You Have Self-Discipline?
To complete an online MBA program, a high level of self-discipline and self-motivation is required. Do you have what it takes to meet the program’s requirements while also managing your work schedule and personal life? You’ll invest a lot of time and money in the pursuit of an MBA; do you have the self-disciplinary skills needed to make this learning method successful?
2. How Long Is the Online MBA Program?
Students enrolled on a full-time basis typically complete an online MBA degree program in 18 to 24 months. Full-time students should expect to devote 36 to 45 hours per week to their coursework.
Part-time students – those who continue to work while pursuing their MBA – should plan to devote 15 to 30 hours per week to their coursework, depending on whether they take one or two courses per semester. Students who don’t have much time to devote to getting an MBA and need to take fewer courses should work with an advisor to set up the best schedule to complete their MBA degree program.
3. Does Online Learning Fit Your Learning Style?
Online learning is different from in-person classroom instruction. It requires a high level of motivation and self-discipline because there’s a great deal of flexibility and personal responsibility involved. Setting aside time to study can be difficult when you also have family and career responsibilities. Online learning programs often have fewer built-in deadlines. Can you manage your schedule to encompass family and career obligations while also maintaining deadlines and staying on track with school responsibilities?
4. What Is the School’s Reputation and Accreditation?
If you intend to invest your time, energy and money toward the pursuit of an MBA, then you want reassurance that you’ll receive high-quality training. Look at the school’s accreditation. Regional and national accreditation is good and indicates the quality of the school as a whole. Accreditation by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), an American professional organization, is specific to business schools and is even better. Schools with AACSB accreditation ensure that the curriculum and instructors are of the highest caliber.
The University of Tennessee Chattanooga offers one of the area’s only AACSB-accredited MBA programs, and it’s available 100% online. It’s a great fit for individuals who are looking for flexible training with high-quality instruction.
5. Do the Traditional and Online MBA Programs at this School Provide the Same Education?
Not all online MBA programs are equal, just as not all traditionally taught MBA programs are of identical quality. Residential colleges that have developed online versions of their traditional classroom programs typically provide students with top-quality online alternatives.
Studies show that an MBA offered by a regionally accredited university is as good as, if not better than, programs taught in traditional classrooms. If you have concerns, stick with schools that offer traditional as well as online MBA programs. At the same time, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the same resources available to online students that are available to on-campus students?
- Are an online degree and its outcome the same as that of a traditionally taught program at the same school?
- Are the online course materials the same as those used on campus?
6. Who Is Teaching?
An MBA program is only as good as the quality of its instructors. Instructors impact your learning experience by providing one that is effective and enjoyable, and they become part of your professional network after graduation.
With this in mind, ensure that the program’s instructors are strongly credentialed and have the industry experience they can draw from in their instruction. Also, confirm that they have experience teaching online. Instructors in UTC’s 100% online MBA have many years of experience teaching online. You’re sure to have a positive online learning experience in our AACSB-accredited program.
7. What Forms of Communication Are Available?
Engagement with your classmates and teachers is intentional in an online learning environment. Online forums, discussion boards, chat windows and emails are used to communicate with your peers and instructors. Professors may use virtual meetings to interact with students. They are also active in forums and discussion boards.
What forms of communication do the schools you are considering use in their online MBA programs? What types of communication do the instructors use and how active are they through these channels? Will this method of interaction work for you?
8. Does the Program Have Online MBA Concentration Options?
An MBA concentration helps you to specialize in a specific area of business, thereby gaining an advanced understanding of that area of business. Students completing an MBA with a concentration in marketing, for example, will take courses to develop advanced skills in advertising, branding and design. A degree in an MBA concentration typically requires 30 semester hours (15-18 graduate credits) focused on a concentration’s coursework.
At UTC, you can pursue a general MBA, choosing classes and coursework that align with your long-term career goals, or you can customize your online MBA program with three career-focused concentrations:
- Business Analytics
- Healthcare Administration
9. Will Getting an MBA Help Me Reach My Career Goals?
Although it’s not the right answer for everyone, an MBA may be useful in helping you reach your career goals. Since it’s a significant investment in time, energy and money, you need to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Before committing to an MBA program, consider your top three career goals. Does an MBA help you meet any of them? If you answered yes, then the flexibility of an online degree program may be right for you. If your answer is no, then you may want to wait until a time when your career goals align with what an MBA has to offer.
10. How Does the Cost of an Online MBA Compare to a Traditional MBA?
In most cases, an online MBA is more affordable than a traditional MBA. When calculating costs, be sure to consider the non-educational costs of attending traditional classes, including items such as childcare and gas money.
11. Does the Program Require Face-to-Face Meetings? Are There Defined Start and End Dates for Each Course?
Some schools advertise themselves as having online MBA programs but still require some on-campus meetings. If you live far from the campus or have a busy home life and career, this could negate the benefits of their online program. Look for 100% online MBA degree programs, such as the one at UTC, that run courses asynchronously (with students accessing class materials during different hours and from different locations). UTC’s online MBA program has set weekly deadlines but gives students the flexibility to complete the work when it’s convenient for them.
12. What Are the Online MBA Admission Requirements?
Admission requirements can vary from school to school and gaining entrance into good MBA programs can be challenging. Before applying, prepare yourself as an applicant. This may mean:
- Volunteering to boost your resume
- Studying for the GMAT/GRE
- Taking classes to meet prerequisites
- Taking advantage of leadership opportunities
- Seeking out reference letters
As you consider which school’s online MBA program is right for you, look at their admission requirements. This will give you an idea of what you need to do to prepare for admission.
Are you Ready?
Answering these and other possible questions should help you determine whether an online MBA program is right for you. In the end, it comes down to this: are you ready to fully commit to putting in the time and effort to make your online MBA degree program a success?
If you’re ready, UTC’s 100% online MBA program can help you to take your career to the next level. Email an admissions counselor to discuss your options or call 423-425-5708 to learn more about Gary W. Rollins College of Business and our online MBA program offerings.