Online MBAs have traditionally had limited appeal to applicants looking to nurture a professional network, which is more easily achieved in person. But online networking has come of age in the COVID-19 pandemic, which showed how it is possible to build contacts from a distance. It has also forced institutions to invest in improving digital communications.
Networking matters, even for Online MBA students. The chance to nurture professional connections is a key selling point of a business school degree. Many institutions are making it much easier for students to find and tap their online networks. They develop networks not just through the virtual classroom but networking events, career fairs and guest lectures from prominent executive speakers.
Online MBA programs typically have smaller class sizes than comparable full-time programs on campus. This strengthens the bonds between students and forges a close-knit community. Distance learning MBA students also tend to have more years of work experience, enriching the classroom discussion and often bringing a high-level network to the table.
Some Online MBA programs offer opportunities for students to come to campus for networking opportunities and career development events. Some also run international study trips, further expanding networks.
Distance learning MBA graduates will typically join the school’s wider alumni network from different programs, even whole university groups, and have opportunities to meet diverse peer groups through electives and student-led clubs too.
David Eccles School of Business has come in at the top of the list for online interaction between students and teamwork, at least according to the FT’s Online MBA Ranking. In this sense, the school punches above its weight. Alumni rate the quality of the networking opportunities highly, not just through the virtual classroom but networking events, career fairs and guest lectures from prominent executive speakers.View School Profile
The Warrington College of Business was similarly rated highly for online interaction in the FT’s ranking. Online MBA students at the school are part of relatively small cohorts that average 50 people. This boosts the bonds between students and fosters a close-knit community of like-minded peers, from which students can build their powerful networks.View School Profile
The Kelley School of Business is another US institution that is well renowned for its network. The school offers a “Kelley Connect Week” and case competition, which provide online students with opportunities for networking and career development. The event is built into the beginning and end of the Online MBA program, and students also get one-on-one sessions with career coaches as part of the event.View School Profile
The highly-ranked Kenan-Flagler Business School stresses that its online students and professors build lifelong relationships and networks. They join the school’s wider 42,000-strong alumni network all over the world, which includes nearly 2,000 online graduates who share ideas and gain meaningful insights from diverse and experienced peers.View School Profile
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business received a high ranking for its career services, based partly on the school’s effectiveness in networking events and recruitment. With an average of nine years of work experience, the Online MBA cohort at the school provides students with meaningful connections around the world. Online students join the school’s broader network of more than 30,000 alumni, and gain access to online professional development such as guest lectures.View School Profile
Online MBA candidates at Imperial College Business School in London join a network of nearly 20,000 alumni in more than 140 countries. Students also benefit from joining the Imperial College network, including world renowned entrepreneurial ecosystems and STEM networks. These extensive alumni networks offer practical benefits including sessions from career coaches on how to make online networking a success.View School Profile
IE Business School’s Online MBA, ranked highly globally, emphasizes how its students expand networking beyond the classroom through the Global Immersion Week, an international study trip. The alumni network is also highly international, with more than 160 nationalities in the group. As part of the program, students also complete networking exercises from the school’s careers department.View School Profile
At Babson College, Online MBA students can grow their network through electives and student-led clubs, where they get to join diverse students from different programs at the school. They can also tap into the 42,000-strong alumni network spanning 129 countries worldwide. The caliber of the individuals studying in the program also strengthens the quality of the interactions between students and therefore the network.View School Profile
Ranked first in the world by the FT overall, Warwick Business School has a 50,000-strong alumni community, a global and lifelong network. Online students can also come to campus twice per week (or to Prague, Singapore and Dubai), where they have a chance to develop closer bonds. Students also join professional networks which often host business leaders who deliver seminars, expanding networks further.View School Profile
At AGSM, online students have access to exactly the same robust alumni network as graduates of full-time or Executive MBA programs. Alumni rate the global network highly, noting that it can help secure jobs and expand cultural awareness. The Australian school is ranked highly by publications around the world for the quality of the interactions between participants as well as the strong career outcomes of its graduates.View School Profile
In a Locked-Down World, Online MBAs Create a Sense of Community
May 12, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has added fresh pressure, forcing business schools to increase support