An Online MBA is a Master of Business Administration degree—MBA—which is delivered primarily through distance learning. An MBA is one kind of graduate degree in business, and is usually aimed at professionals who have at least several years of work experience.
In contrast to in-class, full-time business degrees, Online MBA programs tend to be more flexible and designed to work around busy schedules.
Although distance learning is a primary component of Online MBA programs, some degrees also offer a mix of online and in-class learning, whether it be through on-campus residency sessions, meet-ups, hands-on components, or other face-to-face interactions. These in-person sessions can help students network and build stronger bonds among themselves as well as with business school faculty.
It’s worth noting however that some Online MBA programs do not require any face-to-face interactions, so that students can avoid taking time out to travel.
How do Online MBA programs work? Are there virtual classrooms? In general, there are several different approaches. One approach is through asynchronous learning; that is, when classes are delivered not in a live setting but through video recordings, for example, which students are able to watch at their convenience from their own computers or mobile devices.
However, as networking technology becomes more robust, some business schools are delivering Online MBA classes ‘synchronously’—that is, in real-time. These ‘virtual classrooms’ allow professors to give lectures and have group discussions, with students responding and asking questions in real-time.
Beyond the actual classes, distance learning MBA programs might also include a number of other components to round-out the learning experience. For example, students might find themselves engaged in discussion with professors and other students in online forums or chatrooms.
Is an Online MBA comparable to traditional MBA?
No longer seen as ‘learning by mail,’ Online MBA programs have matured in recent years, and in many respects are now very similar to their in-class counterparts. And in many ways, much of what takes place in these distance learning programs—connecting with faculty and other students, doing case studies, writing—is very similar to what happens in an in-class program, just remotely.
In contrast, the format of Online MBA programs tends to be more appropriate for working professionals who don’t want to completely uproot their lives for a year or two while pursuing full-time studies. (Although it is the case that there are accelerated some full-time Online MBA programs, which can be completed quickly, but this is not the norm).