The Case for Pursuing an Online MBA in 2024

The current year presents compelling reasons to embark on an Online MBA

Is the year 2024 a particularly opportune time to pursue an Online MBA?

Business schools insist so, because of several factors. For one, the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced the credibility and acceptance of online learning, while the post-COVID-19 work environment has seen an increasing shift towards remote work and digital transformation in many industries, making online collaboration skills more valuable.

“An Online MBA can simultaneously demonstrate the necessary skills to navigate and lead in this evolving business landscape,” says Will Geoghegan, chair of the Kelley Direct Online MBA program in the US.

He also highlights the advantages of online programs in balancing the compromises associated with pursuing a traditional full-time MBA. “Online programs allow you to reconcile career break trade-offs with the upside earning potential and career advancement that traditional full-time MBAs come with,” says Geoghegan.

He adds that the economic environment further strengthens the case for embarking on an Online MBA in 2024: “Many experts have forecasted an economic downturn is inevitable in the near future. With this in mind, an Online MBA can future-proof your career mobility, allowing potential students to take a proactive stance to weather a recession.”

Budimir Sever, vice dean at Spain’s IE Business School, agrees that this year presents several compelling reasons to pursue an Online MBA. While the future of the economy is uncertain, labor markets remain strong. “We will see strong employment trends globally this year, which means that people will want to continue working and advance their careers by simultaneously upskilling – an Online MBA offers that flexibility,” says Sever.

Adapting to technological disruption

He adds that in 2024, there will likely be significant advancements and widespread implementation of generative artificial intelligence (AI) across various industries. This is expected to disrupt many sectors, indicating a growing demand for professionals who possess the skills to leverage these technologies effectively.

“An Online MBA offers the opportunity to learn from experts and other professionals on how to leverage, adapt, pivot and optimize these changes,” Sever says.

He adds that enhancing a global perspective will be key to comprehending how various events, such as the widespread implementation of generative AI, influence both society and the business landscape: “The year 2024 is pivotal in terms of geopolitical factors – something like 70 countries are headed to the polls this year.”

Online MBA curricula often include courses that delve into topics such as global business, international markets, and cross-cultural management. Through these courses, students gain insights into diverse geographies and regional dynamics, which helps them develop a more comprehensive understanding of the shifting global business landscape.

Geopolitics and technology are two critical themes highlighted by other business schools, too. “With the rise of AI, students in 2024 may need to focus more on digital skills compared to their predecessors. Online learning requires more technological familiarity and self-direction,” says George Andrews, the associate dean of degree programs at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business in the US.  

He adds that, with the workforce and economy becoming “more online”, it’s increasingly important to have strong skills in technology and digital marketing. “The Online MBA facilitates new ways of collaborating and networking without geographic restrictions,” says Andrews. In essence, an Online MBA not only equips individuals with the business acumen and leadership skills but also empowers them with the technological and digital marketing expertise necessary to thrive in an increasingly digital economy.

Margherita Pero, director of Flex Executive (Online) MBA at POLIMI Graduate School of Management in Italy, says that as we head into 2024, business schools are also witnessing a highly competitive job market. As a result, there is now more emphasis than ever on upskilling, the process of acquiring new skills or enhancing existing ones.

Embracing flexibility in education

Upskilling is essential in rapidly evolving industries, where new technologies and practices emerge frequently, because it ensures that professionals can adapt to changing job requirements and remain valuable assets to employers. “Pursuing an Online MBA can be seen as a proactive step toward staying competitive and adaptable in your career, which will be crucial in 2024,” Pero says.  

She adds that we’re in an era where individuals are more aware of their wellbeing and work-life balance. Numerous organizations operate in a remote or hybrid work-environment, and the field of education is no exception. Nowadays, people value flexibility more than ever, and they have the means to attain it, Pero says:

“Not long ago, there were very few options for those wanting to balance their commitments alongside their studies, but in 2024 it is globally recognized and accepted that having the option to study from home or any preferred location is crucial in maintaining a balance between professional responsibilities, academic pursuits and personal life.”

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