Like any investment decision, choosing an Online MBA can be a big, important task. So how should you choose an Online MBA program?
First, you should decide what kind of Online MBA you would like to pursue. Would you like something that includes in-class residencies or other face-to-face interaction? In that case, maybe you should look into ‘Hybrid’ MBA programs, or part-time MBA programs at a local school where you can often supplement weekly in-class sessions with distance learning components.
The great news is that there are many different kinds of Hybrid MBA programs—from ones with residencies once per term to those that meet weekly—so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something that you can adapt to your busy schedule.
Otherwise, there are always programs that consist entirely of distance learning—where you would never set foot on a campus—as well as those where campus time is optional.
The next step would be to narrow down your list of Online MBA programs based on qualitative factors. A quick way to shortlist programs is to include only those accredited from one of the three major business school accreditation organizations—AMBA, EQUIS, or AACSB—since these ensure a base level of quality which means you can’t go wrong.
Another qualitative factor would be whether or not the Online MBA programs you are looking at are ranked in one of the major MBA rankings publications, such as The Financial Times. If a school is ranked in a premier publication, that’s a good sign. A benefit of using rankings to help choose your Online MBA program is the rankings usually provide a bevy of information that can help, from average post-degree salary to diversity statistics.
Cost—can you afford the program?—is another factor that you will need to consider when choosing an Online MBA program. You can look at the tuition information that business schools provide, which can give you a good sense of the investment; however, you should also note that some business schools might provide scholarships to top applicants to Online MBA programs. You can also take into account other funding sources, from employment income to grants and even loans, as well.
You may also need to take into account program adaptability. Can you fit this Online MBA into your schedule? This is especially important for busy professionals, many of whom have families and other obligations. Business schools often provide a wealth of information in this respect, including for example the expected number of study hours per week as well as the minimum and maximum number of classes each participant is able to pursue at one time. For more information, you might try connecting with current participants in the Online MBA programs you are looking at, to get a good indication of how adaptable each program is.
And finally, business school and program reputation is another factor you might consider when choosing an Online MBA. Will potential hirers know the school when they see it on your CV/ resume? You can do some research on networking sites like LinkedIn to see what kind of alumni 'footprint' you can find in in the organizations or industries you will be targeting after the MBA.