Having your Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can open quite a few doors professionally. When you research your options for this degree, you’ll find online and in-person programs available. Does it matter if you choose an online only program or go with an in-person program? You might be wondering if one is more respected than the other, but your decision should be based on what works best for your situation. Here are eight things to keep in mind when deciding between an in-person or online degree.
1. Flexible Schedules
What your personal and professional schedule look like can help determine if you should choose an online or in-person program. An online MBA might be the better option if you have dependents to care for during the day or if you have a full-time job. With an online degree program, you may have fewer responsibilities to manage. You’ll have more flexibility to arrange for childcare or adjust your work schedule to accommodate tests, classes, and other school-related commitments. You could have the freedom to watch lectures at any time that best fits your schedule. You’ll also have more flexibility when it comes to working on projects and taking tests, since you can work on them wherever and whenever. With an online MBA, you can more easily handle your commitments instead of spending hours of your day commuting to and from a campus.
2. Learning Environments
Your best learning environment might be in the classroom or in the comfort of your own home. Some people do better in the structured environment a classroom provides, which would make an in-person program a better choice. You’ll be expected to attend classes regularly, take exams in the classroom, and complete projects and assignments within a certain timeframe. However, if you tend to get distracted in the classroom, an online learning environment may suit you better. Online MBA programs allow you to take classes from home where you have more control over your environment, such as noise, light, and comfort level.
3. Technology Requirements
When you’re deciding between an in-person or online degree, be sure to consider technology requirements. Attending in-person classes means you’ll be able to connect to the school’s internet connection, and you might even be provided with certain devices and programs required for school. When you sign up for an online MBA program, you’ll need to provide internet access and likely your own devices. Your internet connection needs to be reliable enough for you to complete assignments and stream recorded or live lectures. You’ll also need to make sure the computer, laptop or other device you’re using is in good condition. If you lack reliable technology, an in-person program that provides access to resources might be for the best.
If you have a certain school or location in mind, this can factor heavily into choosing an online or in-person program. Attending live classes at a school that’s far away means you’ll need to calculate travel costs, as well as the cost of renting an apartment or staying in a dorm. This might be a problem if you have responsibilities at home, such as a steady job or family members to care for. Online programs allow you the flexibility to earn your MBA degree from any school since you won’t need to actually go in person. With an online degree, you can maintain your commitments to family or work. You’ll also be able to save money since you won’t be spending it on student housing or travel.
Networking while you’re in school is an important component to starting a successful career. An online program may provide some opportunities for networking, but these are likely to be virtual events or limited in-person events. These networking opportunities might not be as helpful as the opportunities that you would have with an in-person degree program. When you are part of an in-person MBA program, you’ll have several opportunities to meet with potential networking contacts on a regular, including faculty and students who aspire to your field. Regardless of whether you choose an online or in-person degree program, you should pursue internships and other networking opportunities as much as possible.
Whether or not an online program is the right fit for you is largely determined by how disciplined you are. You’ll need a higher level of self-discipline if you choose an online degree program. These programs come with the expectation that you’ll have the motivation and self-control to keep up with your classes and assignments. Since you’ll mostly be on your own as far as when you learn and how you do your schoolwork, you’ll need to be comfortable managing your time. If you are self-disciplined, an online MBA degree program can be a good option. If you struggle with procrastination and time-management, you might be better suited to an in-person degree program. Having a set schedule and faculty and other students around to keep you accountable might help keep you on track.
7. Education Quality
Will you receive a better-quality education from an online or an in-person program? Quality can vary from school to school, so it’s important to find a school that offers high-quality education regardless of the modality in which it is presented. Choosing a school that provides quality instruction means you’ll receive a good education whether you attend online or in person.
The amount of money you plan to spend on school will have a huge impact on your decision between an online or in-person degree program. You might have more expenses involved with an in-person program, such as the cost of books and other materials that you’ll need to have in the classroom.
Don’t forget to consider other expenses, such as gas for driving to and from school or childcare. An online program can help you avoid these added expenses since you won’t have to commute, and you can structure your schedule in a way that works for you. Online programs might also cost less in terms of any materials or software you need. You should compare tuition and fees to make sure you find a degree program that fits your budget, whether you’re leaning more toward an online or in-person degree program.
If you’re exploring online and in-person options for an MBA degree, contact the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga today to learn about our programs. We offer a flexible degree program with a mix of online and in-person classes, as well as an online-only option if that works better for you.