How To Succeed In An Online MBA Program

Last Updated on December 23, 2021

Today’s college students are going to have a different experience than those in the past. With that comes the need for different advice. If you are one of the many students that chose to get their MBA online, you should know it’s not easy. To succeed, you’ll need structure. This article will provide you with tips and strategies to succeed while getting your online MBA.

You will also find up-to-date, recent information on studying MBA online, how to make the most of your MBA, study tips for MBA students, best ways to prepare for an MBA program, how to survive business school & how to start MBA all on Collegelearners.

Online MBA Programs: Everything You Need to Know

MBA Program Overview

With hundreds of accredited programs in the U.S., the Masters of Business Administration is the most popular online graduate degree going. The résumé-boosting MBA, pioneered by Dartmouth College in 1901, challenges students to develop the skills and insights to lead organizations in every sector of the economy—from healthcare to high tech, marketing to the music industry.

Most MBA programs require that entering students have at least two years’ work experience under their belts. Learners tend to be mature and focused, bringing to the table a wealth of real-world business experience. Along with practical skills, business school (or “B-school”) offers unparalleled networking opportunities in which fellow students, alumni, professors and recruiters help open the doors to brighter business futures.

SchoolProgramMore Info
Johns Hopkins UniversityFlexible MBA (Online)Request Information
Saint Mary’s University of MinnesotaAccelerated MBA (Online)Request Information
George Mason UniversityMBA (Online)Request Information

Why an Online MBA Program?

When you’re ready to advance your career, but can’t quit your day job or relocate to do it, the online MBA is an ideal option. Most distance MBA programs are asynchronous, meaning you can log in and learn at whatever time suits your schedule—after the kids are in bed, weekend mornings, or during your lunch break. Classes, lectures and homework assignments arrive through an online portal, and professors often measure class participation through contributions to discussion forums.

Are you secretly hoping an online program will offer an easier path to an MBA? To the contrary. An online MBA program is just as rigorous—if not more so—than its on-campus counterpart. Both formats lead to the exact same degree and entail the same amount of coursework. But the online path offers fewer (or no) face-to-face interactions with professor and classmates, thus requiring extra reserves of drive, determination and time management skills.


Types of Online MBA Programs

As schools and universities respond to demands for more online learning options, there are now a variety of MBA formats on offer. Depending on your circumstances and priorities, one of these may be right for you:

  1. Part-Time Online MBA: 3-5 Years
    Ideal for motivated students who are also balancing work, family and other commitments, the part-time online MBA offers the flexibility to study and complete assignments at whatever time best suits your schedule. Live on the west coast but want the cachet of an east-coast MBA? The online option will save you a cross-country move and the associated relocation costs. If you continue working while enrolled in school, you’ll be able to apply newfound skills and knowledge to the job you already hold.
  2. Hybrid MBA: 3-5 Years
    Similar to the part-time online MBA, the hybrid version complements the virtual classroom with residential immersions, often scheduled for the first week of each semester. The on-campus component usually means a higher price tag for a hybrid MBA. But many students find that the enhanced opportunities for networking and in-person connections are worth the extra investment.
  3. Accelerated Online MBA: 12-18 Months
    This compressed online MBA program is a fast-paced path to earning the credential. Two years’ worth of material is packed into as little as 12 months, making it essential that students arrive with a strong grasp of business fundamentals. Although the accelerated MBA is a tough challenge, many students say that the format promotes constant engagement with the material and each other. Because of the shorter overall time frame, the accelerated option can also be a money-saver.
  4. Executive MBA: 2 Years
    Designed for mid- to senior-level managers with at least five years of business experience, executive MBA programs focus on classwork with real-life applications that enhance decision-making, leadership and strategic skills. Many EMBA programs offer flexible scheduling options in which local students might meet weekly, while out-of-state students join them on a monthly basis.

Online MBA Coursework

Just like its brick-and-mortar counterpart, an online MBA offers a cross-disciplinary education that lays a solid foundation in the business basics while developing students’ analytical and critical thinking skills. Programs tend to be intensely collaborative, with learners working together in virtual environments (video conferences, chat rooms, Skype and the like) to complete and deliver deadline-driven projects.

Whether enrolled in an online MBA program through a public or for-profit university, most students spend their first year mastering core topics such as financial systems, marketing strategy and human resources management. Here’s a sampling of core courses from two well-known schools that offer the online MBA:

Online MBA Core Courses

University of North Carolina


  • Analytical Tools
  • Business Communication
  • Business Strategy
  • Developing Management & Leadership Skills
  • Economics
  • Financial Accounting
  • Introductory Finance
  • Marketing Strategy, Analysis & Development
  • Operations Management

University of Phoenix


  • Management
  • Human Capital Management
  • Business Law
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Quantitative Reasoning for Business
  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Applied Business Research & Statistics
  • Operations Management
  • Corporate Finance
  • Marketing
  • Strategic Planning & Implementation

Featured MBA ProgramsSponsored Content

SchoolProgramMore Info
Utica CollegeMBA in Finance/Accounting (Online)Request Information
Seton Hall UniversityMBA in Marketing (Online)Request Information
University of Saint MaryMBA in Leadership and Organizational Health (Online)Request Information

Online MBA Specialization

With a solid foundation in place, the next step in the MBA path is specialization. Based on your interests and aspirations, you’ll narrow your focus with courses in your chosen focus area, whether it’s healthcare, human resources, operations or any of a dozen other options. Here are a few more popular MBA specializations and the career paths they can open up.

Career Path


  • Accountant
  • Auditor
  • Brand Manager
  • CEO
  • Financial Analyst
  • Operations Manager
  • Information Security Analyst
  • IT Manager
  • Management Analyst
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Marketing Manager
  • Network Systems Analyst
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Software Developer

MBA Degree Specialty


  • Accounting or Finance degree
  • Accounting or Finance degree
  • Marketing degree
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Accounting or Finance degree
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Information Systems degree
  • Information Systems degree
  • Organizational Leadership degree
  • Marketing degree
  • Marketing degree
  • Information Systems degree
  • Marketing degree
  • Information Systems degree

How to Choose an Online MBA: 6 Factors to Consider

From sorting through accreditation to parsing the national B-school rankings, there are a lot of details to consider when choosing an MBA program.

Which warrant your attention and which can you safely ignore? Get the down-low on the factors that matter the most.

  1. Online MBA Program Accreditation
    Make sure that the schools you’re targeting have received national or regional accreditation. This third-party seal of approval is your assurance that the school meets clear standards for quality and rigor, and undergoes voluntary monitoring by an outside agency. Why is accreditation important? Besides offering a stamp of approval for a school’s academic quality, there’s a big financial consideration: Only students enrolled in accredited schools are eligible for federal student loans and grants.
    • AACSB Accreditation
      When you’re evaluating your options for online business degrees, check to see if the school has gone the extra mile to obtain accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The gold standard for B-school programs, this non-governmental agency admits only 30 percent of U.S. business schools into its elite ranks. The AACSB accreditation enjoys broad recognition by corporate recruiters. Some employer tuition plans will only pay for AACSB-accredited courses.
    • Other Business School Accreditation
      In addition to the AACBS, the Department of Education also includes these agencies on its list of approved monitors:
      1. Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools & Programs
      2. Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • 2. Online MBA Program Rankings

The business media announces B-school rankings to great fanfare each year, but a school’s rank is just one of many factors to consider as you target MBA programs. Before rushing to apply to the top 5 schools on each of the high-profile rankings, consider the criteria that each list-maker uses.

Bloomberg Businessweek: 

Headquartered in New York City, Businessweek has its finger on the pulse of the American business scene. It compiles a biannual ranking of business schools, taking their measure with these three tools:

  • Student survey (45%) – covers the quality of academic and career development offerings and allows students to evaluate their own skills sets.
  • Employer survey (45%) – asks recruiters to rate graduates on specific qualities important to them.
  • Intellectual capital (10%) – counts articles published by faculty in 20 top business journals over a five-year period.

The Economist: 

This venerable London-based magazine compiles data collected over a three-year period to rank B-schools. Its methods include two surveys: one completed by schools (weighted at 80%) and one completed by current students and recent grads (weighted at 20%).

The surveys measure such criteria as:

  • The schools’ ability to open new career opportunities (35%) – including employment data on recent graduates.
  • Personal development/educational experience (35%) – encompassing faculty quality, student diversity and student quality.
  • Increase in salary (20%) – a straight-up measurement of how much graduates’ pay jumped after completing their degrees.
  • Potential to network (10%) – including the effectiveness of alumni connections.

U.S. News & World Report: 

In a nod to the rising popularity of distance learning for MBA students, this list-maker published separate rankings for online MBA programs for the first time in 2015. Scoring only 195 schools, the rankings emphasize reputation and selectivity. Criteria include:

  • Student engagement (28%) – covers best practices such as accreditation, graduation rate and one-year retention rates.
  • Admissions selectivity (25%) – examines GMAT/GRE scores, student work experience and the overall acceptance rate.
  • Peer reputation (25%) – based on a survey of “high-ranking academic officials.”
  • Faculty credentials and training (11%) – compares the credentials of the online MBA faculty to those in on-campus programs.
  • Student services and technology (11%) – evaluates online learning technology, career guidance services, financial aid resources, student indebtedness.
  • 3. Student Support Services
    The best online MBA programs offer student services—including financial aid resources— that mirror those of their campus-based cousins. “Don’t go in with the expectation that you’re supposed to get ‘less than’ because it’s online,” warns CHEA executive director Judith Eaton in an interview with U.S. News & World Report. “Go in with full expectations about what you would receive from any college or university.” Access to corporate recruiters is especially crucial to MBA students. As you research online MBA programs, ask about each school’s relationships with specific companies in your target industry. Top-quality programs will offer job fairs, mentoring, career counseling and informal networking opportunities alongside the formal ones. Ask the school to prove its mettle by providing documentation of graduation rates and alumni employment data.
  • 4. Faculty Quality & Resources
    The caliber of the online MBA faculty should equal that of a school’s on-campus programs. Check the school’s website: Do the professors hold the equivalent degrees? Do they have significant track records in the industries about which they teach? What professional journals have published their work? Another word to the wise: Investigate whether the instructors in your target MBA program have online teaching experience. Instructor fluency in the online environment will make for a smoother, more effective experience in the virtual classroom.
  • 5. Technology & Course Delivery Systems
    Ask to test-drive a prospective school’s online MBA course delivery system before you enroll. Is the interface easy to use? Does the school provide streaming lectures and round-the-clock access to courses? If you intend to fit coursework around your work and family commitments, 24-hour access to class materials will be critical to your success. In the event of a system crash, who will you call for technical support? The school should provide dedicated staff to keep things running smoothly. Easy communication with your instructors and fellow students is also a critical factor in online learning. Does the school’s system offer chat, email, voice, or video conferencing? Investigate thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.
  • 6. Other Students
    Since you’ll be spending a lot of virtual time over the next months—or years—with your professors and fellow students, make sure that the school you choose is a good cultural fit. U.S. News and World Report suggests joining online clubs and organizations that cater to students interested in your MBA focus, such as health care administration or marketing, in order to network and create connections. Collaborating with students who have a solid grounding in business and are prepared to share it will add richness and depth to your online MBA experience.

Featured MBA ProgramsSponsored Content

SchoolProgramMore Info
Johns Hopkins UniversityFlexible MBA (Online)Request Information
Saint Mary’s University of MinnesotaAccelerated MBA (Online)Request Information
George Mason UniversityMBA (Online)Request Information

No-GMAT Online MBA

Universities and colleges offering the MBA degree have traditionally required that prospective students include GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) scores with their applications. The GMAT is a four-part standardized test that measures analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative and verbal skills.

These days, many accredited schools are dispensing with the GMAT requirement. Aware that students arrive with years of practical work experience under their belts, schools are realizing that the GMAT may not offer a clear predictor of academic success. Instead, they’re evaluating candidates’ career track records and previous education.

Even if your top-choice school still requires the GMAT, ask to petition for a waiver. Schools may consider this option for students with extensive work histories and strong undergraduate GPAs. Also, ask how scores are weighted. Some schools require a tip-top GMAT score, but at others, middling scores are completely acceptable.

No-GMAT MBA Program Admissions

Even without the GMAT or GRE requirement, you’ll still be expected to prove your mettle in the admissions process. These no-GMAT MBA program admissions requirements may typically include:

  • official undergraduate transcripts showing a minimum GPA
  • proof of completion of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • documentation of continuing education credits earned in your field
  • a professional résumé that documents two or more years of career experience
  • letters of recommendation
  • a personal statement that includes your professional goals

You’ll have a leg up in applying to no-GMAT programs if you earned your bachelor’s degrees in business, finance or accounting.


What Does an Online MBA Cost?

As an online MBA student, you won’t be saddled with relocation or commuting costs, and there’s no lost income if you keep your job while earning your degree. But when it comes to tuition, costs are all over the map. For example:

1. Texas residents can earn an online MBA from West Texas A&M University for less than $15,000.

2. One American woman, studying from her home base in Kigali, Rwanda, earned an equivalent MBA entirely through low- or no-cost MOOCs.

3. Meanwhile, students in the University of North Carolina’s top-ranked distance MBA program shell out almost $97,000 for their degrees.

The researchers at ELearnMagazine.org peg the average online MBA tuition costs at $14,486 for students attending regionally accredited universities and $27,644 for those enrolled in AACSB-approved business schools.

In some cases, a university will charge lower tuition for an online MBA program than it does for a traditional one. But at other schools, the opposite is true. And at still others, the online MBA program costs exactly the same as the on-campus version.

Bottom line? Do your research. Each B-school should clearly list tuition and fees on its website. When planning your finances, also keep in mind the costs you’ll incur beyond tuition: books, journal subscriptions and technology fees, for example.


Calculating the ROI of an MBA

Whether you study part-time or full, online or on-campus, an MBA is a big investment of time and money. Is it worth it?

The nonprofit Graduate Management Admission Council puts the question straight to business school alumni in its annual survey. In fact, a full 90 percent of alumni reported that, yes, their graduate business education boosted their earning power. Even more (95%) rated their education a good to outstanding value, and a whopping 93% would recommend their graduate business program to others.

Besides the likely bump in pay, also keep in mind the intangible benefits of earning an online MBA: far-reaching alumni connections, an edge when competing for promotions, and the undeniable prestige of a well-established, highly regarded degree.


Paying for the Online MBA

Wondering how you’ll foot the bill for your online business degree? Millions of working adults find themselves in the same boat. Happily, there are a variety of options to fund your education.

Federal Student Aid for Graduate Students

Got 17 minutes? Start exploring the financial aid options by filling out the FAFSA form. Never pay to complete this application—it’s a free tool provided by the U.S. Department of Education. To receive federal aid, you must:

  • be enrolled (or accepted) at least half time in an eligible program
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • demonstrate financial need

Why a federal student loan? These government-backed loans, as opposed to those offered by private lenders, offer a variety of repayment plans, including an option to tie payments to your income.

There are a couple of federal aid programs for which you might qualify:

  1. Direct Loan Program: In this program, the Department of Education, and not a bank or other financial institution, is your lender. There DE offers two types of Direct Loans for graduate and professional degree students:
    • Direct Unsubsidized Loans – Upon approval, students may borrow up to $20,500 per school year.
    • Direct PLUS Loans – If your needs exceed $20,500 annually, you may apply for a PLUS loan.
  2. Perkins Loan Program: This school-based loan program is designed for eligible students who can demonstrate exceptional financial need.If you’re offered financial aid through your school, remember you don’t have to accept the entire amount. Borrow only what you need and keep your repayment terms manageable. Find more information on federal student aid at StudentAid.gov.

Scholarships and Grants

Financial aid comes in many forms besides loans. Scholarships and grants are the “free money” of financial aid because they don’t have to be repaid. Grants are typically need-based, whereas scholarships are targeted to academics or specific fields of study.

Professional organizations, community groups and nonprofit agencies are just a few sources for scholarship opportunities. Start your search with the U.S. Department of Labor’s massive database, which lists more than 1,000 scholarships available for graduate students.


Featured MBA ProgramsSponsored Content

SchoolProgramMore Info
Utica CollegeMBA in Finance/Accounting (Online)Request Information
Seton Hall UniversityMBA in Marketing (Online)Request Information
University of Saint MaryMBA in Leadership and Organizational Health (Online)Request Information

Online MBA: The Flexibility of an Online Program

You’ve decided it’s time to enhance your business career and get your MBA. An online MBA degree makes the most sense for your already packed schedule, what with your career and family obligations, but will the quality be equivalent to a traditional MBA? Do online MBAs make a difference to employers?

Are all online MBA programs created equal?

There are nearly 150 accredited online MBA degree programs available on the market currently. Make sure you carefully evaluate each school and program. Visit the school, talk to the professors, talk to recent graduates and current students. Learn about their education delivery format. Use the Internet to research the schools’ character. Reputation matters, but you’ll pay for it. Duke University’s acclaimed Global Executive MBA program costs participants over $142,000 in 2018.

Bottom line, it’s imperative that you earn your MBA from a school that is accredited. The top distance learning programs will be accredited regionally and accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which includes online MBA programs from University of Michigan, Texas A & M University, Florida State University, University of Colorado and Wayne State University as well as many other schools.Featured MBA ProgramsSponsored Content

SchoolProgramMore Info
Johns Hopkins UniversityFlexible MBA (Online)Request Information
Saint Mary’s University of MinnesotaAccelerated MBA (Online)Request Information
George Mason UniversityMBA (Online)Request Information

What types of online programs are there?

Here are some of the most common online MBA programs. You’ll see they aren’t very different from traditional school offerings:

  • Online MBA / Distance MBA / WebFlex MBA: The majority of MBA degrees online are 100 percent online with no on-campus requirements. Distance courses are generally accessible 24 hours a day.
  • Low Residency / Hybrid MBA: Combining online and classroom formats, these programs aim to offer the best of both worlds. Low residency programs usually require a concentrated period of contact time on campus (i.e. one week per quarter or semester). Hybrid programs tend to meet more frequently; common configurations are one weekend per month or alternate Saturdays.
  • Executive MBA Degree Online: Executive programs usually require at least five years of work experience.
  • Accelerated MBA Degree Online: Many accelerated programs can be completed in just 10 months. Accelerated programs often give credit for prior college credits and work experience.

What will my online MBA cost? Is there financial aid available?

Out of 93 accredited online MBA degrees in a survey by GetEducated.com, the average cost of a regionally accredited MBA is $37,011 while programs accredited by a specialized accrediting agency such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) averaged under $36,000.

The federal government enables students enrolled in online degree programs to become eligible for federal financial aid programs. As long as you are enrolled in a degree-granting program, such as an MBA, you can apply for the same financial aid programs as traditional classroom students. Accreditation will play a key in your financial aid allowance however. Private loans, scholarships and grants are also available to help you finance your online education.

5 Reasons to Get Your MBA Online

1. Flexibility

If you’re considering an online MBA, chances are you’re balancing work and family responsibilities, while still keeping an eye on your future. Because most online MBA programs offer a combination of synchronous (during an appointed class or project time) and asynchronous learning (work that you can complete at any time that’s best for you), online MBA schedules tend to be highly adaptable to complex schedules.

At Northeastern University’s  D’Amore-McKim School of Business, online MBA students may take their courses “exclusively online,” or they also have the option to complete a campus-based residency (an intensive one-week course) or an international field study residency. If you need to work full-time, care for a family, or transition from the military into the workforce, the flexibility of online learning may help you juggle adding a degree program to your balls in the air.

2. Affordability

For the many ambitious students concerned about tuition costs, MBAs can offer great value in terms of both base cost and timeline flexibility. Speaking broadly, it’s very possible to find accredited online MBA programs for as little as $5,000 to $10,000 a year, just as it’s possible to spend upwards of $50,000 a year. At many programs, it’s also possible to adjust how many credits you take per semester, or how long it takes you to complete the program, based on how much you can afford to pay over time. And, of course, continuing to work while you’re in school is an undeniable financial upside.

3. Access to Innovative Technologies

Because they deliver a quality curriculum straight to their students’ computers, online MBA programs sit at the cutting edge of business technology. Online learning provides two key advantages to MBA students: You’ll build your mastery of business technology while making your educational experience compatible with your needs and schedule. Online platforms like ANGEL and Adobe are making online learning more dynamic and interactive than ever, and individual online MBA programs usually offer comprehensive tech support to troubleshoot any problems that arise.

The Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University has its own eLearing Portal called GLEAN (Graziadio Learning Environment and Network) where students can access all the interactive tools at their disposal:

  • Google Docs/Drive to share and simultaneously edit files
  • Join.Me and Voicethread for realtime online meetings, presentations and feedback sessions
  • Yammer to make connections with other students, faculty, staff, and alumni
  • Sakai to get course materials, turn in assignments, and see grades and feedback from professors.

Technological fluency is essential to business success today, and an online MBA will immerse you in its language.

4. Diversity

Online MBA programs, by their very design, are adaptable to a wide range of backgrounds and needs, so if it’s important to you to learn from a variety of other viewpoints, going online may be a great choice.

At the  W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University managers at Fortune 500 companies (such as Apple, Boeing, and Cisco) join Air Force pilots and Law School dual degree students in the online classroom. Business is a broad umbrella, and connecting with students of all different ages and stages, career paths, and national origins will make you consider new ideas and reconsider old ones.

5. Global Opportunities

As online MBA programs have flourished and gained prestige, many programs make a priority out of attracting international students, offering international business immersion opportunities, and even establishing satellite universities in other countries. Especially since online MBA students don’t typically see their classmates every day, the opportunity to connect with other students, faculty, and professionals in immersive international settings can make a big educational impact even if the experience lasts just a few days.

[email protected] offer four global immersions a year which give online students in the Kegan-Flagler Business School the opportunity to travel to major business centers around the world. In the last year, students have traveled to Mumbai, Johannesburg, and Istanbul. If you want to expand your professional contacts abroad, it may be smart to go online.

Are Online MBAs a Good Idea?

Prospective Master of Business Administration (MBA) students have to decide: is an online program or on-campus learning experience better? Online MBA programs haven’t always had the best reputation, but that is beginning to change. According to the Application Trends Survey Report by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 47% of online MBA programs reported more people applied in 2017 than ever before. As the stereotype begins to change, here are a few things to consider before deciding if an online MBA program is right for you.

Reasons to choose an online MBA program:

1. It is often faster. A traditional MBA program will require you to commit to a two-year program. However, an online program can be done in as little as 14 months.

2. Online programs are getting a better reputation. In the past, online MBA programs weren’t as well-respected, but now this is changing. Employers often prefer that their workers attend an online MBA program because it gives them the flexibility and freedom to work and study at the same time. Many top universities offer great MBA programs online now.

One of the top-rated online MBA programs is at the Kelley Direct at Indiana University – Bloomington. It allows students to receive an MBA degree from a well-respected business school. 100% of students admitted to the program are already employed and have two to five years to complete the program.

3. Online programs offer financial aid and scholarships. GMAC’s Application Trends Report also found that nearly 40% of online MBA students anticipating receiving employer support to help people for their education.

Online MBA programs that are Association to Advance Collegiate School of Business ( AACSB) -accredited schools will have a similar financial aid process to traditional programs.

Many schools even have specific scholarships to help offset the cost of their online program. For example, Babson College provides a $5000 Blended Learning MBA Diversity and Women’s Leadership Scholarship. The University of North Carolina will also offer partial scholarships to outstanding applicants.

Reasons not to choose an online MBA program:

1. Missing out on real-life connections. Studying online and in-person are entirely different experiences. While on-campus, you can meet and form relationships with your peers, attend presentations, and meet with professors. This type of human interaction can’t be replicated online.

However, this is changing, with some programs allowing for more in-person interactions. The Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University has a part-time online MBA program that offers an online hybrid format. Twice a week, students participate in live, interactive classes. Students can also attend Access Weekends that are held in different locations, giving them a chance to meet and network with peers, alumni, and professors.

2. Less internship and job fair opportunities. Most traditional MBA programs give their students plenty of opportunities to participate in an internship. While there are some MBA programs online that have started to incorporate an internship program into their curriculum, there are many that still do not. If a student is far away from the university, they might not be able to participate in job fairs either, which could affect future employment opportunities.

For many business professionals, taking advantage of an online MBA program is a great way to achieve your career goals. While it won’t be the right fit for everyone, they can be a good option for someone who wants an adaptable and flexible schedule. As you consider different online programs, find one that fits with your career goals and timeline to help you get the best results.

Five Things To Know Before Enrolling In An Online MBA Program

How do you obtain these critical thinking tools and techniques? A worthwhile strategy is with a master’s degree in business administration. The MBA program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is 100% online and helps students develop the hard and soft skills they need to improve their chances of success in business management by refining the decision-making process in mission-critical aspects of a company’s life cycle.

The UAB Collat School of Business is a top business school, recognized as such by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) as well as The Princeton Review. Courses such as Accounting and Finance for Managers, Management and Organizations, as well as Strategic Cost Analysis and Decision Making provide students with the intellectual and practical tools they need to improve their business acumen and help advance their career opportunities. That’s because an MBA is a universally recognized credential.

Before you speak with an enrollment advisor to begin the MBA application process, there are a few important things to address so you can better determine if an MBA — or something more focused — is the right track for you.

1. Know the differences between an MBA and an EMBA

While MBA and EMBA programs feature courses that are very similar, they’re typically designed for students at different stages of business experience. An MBA is an ideal choice for those who may be seriously considering starting a business. An MBA can supply them with the credentials they need to be successful at launch point.

An EMBA, or Executive Master of Business Administration, is ideal for those who already have several years of experience. In fact, some programs require students to be involved in business ownership for a certain number of years. Both programs are designed for working professionals, but the learning outcomes and curriculum are geared toward those at different levels of expertise.

However, the number of years of experience students typically have is the key difference between pursuing an MBA and an EMBA. Both programs are comprehensive enough to enable students to graduate within two years.

2. Do your research

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredits nearly 1,200 active MBA programs across the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Also, understand that some MBA programs may not be accredited. Be sure to look for AACSB accreditation logo on the program’s homepage. The UAB Collat School of Business is accredited with the AACSB and has maintained this distinction for nearly 40 years.

With more universities transitioning to partial or fully online, make sure the program provides full access to the same resources and professionals that are available to on-campus students. This includes technology, faculty, and professional development services. Online students have full access to UAB’s Career and Professional Development Services, which provides them with the networking and resume-building strategies that can help them land a job upon completing the MBA program curriculum.

3. Prioritize the professors

The strength of any MBA program is ultimately a function of its curriculum in terms of quality and depth. However, professors and instructors play a key role as well. They should be engaged in learning outcomes and provide hands-on experience that gives greater insight into business administration that goes above and beyond MBA courses in the classroom. According to polling conducted by Gallup, approximately 50% of students at smaller colleges said they believe faculty employed by universities with lower levels of enrollment tend to care more about their students and their ability to learn.

While the University of Alabama at Birmingham boasts a sizable student body, the online MBA program provides students with full access to instructors so they can receive one-on-one time as needed to glean better understanding about more complicated concepts. Students can also draw from faculty to broaden their network of industry professionals within specific disciplines.

4. Have a goal in mind

While earning an MBA is great for building one’s resume and can introduce concepts that may not be as comprehensively addressed through an undergraduate degree alone, it’s important to approach an online MBA program with a goal in mind. For instance, you may be interested in a line of work you would be better off pursuing primarily through hands-on experience. The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers the best of both worlds, so students can work and go to school simultaneously through part-time MBA programs. However, be sure that you approach any MBA program having thought how it can further your aspirations.

5. Develop motivation

Earning an MBA takes time and won’t happen overnight. Faculty will provide the tools, resources, and education needed to improve your knowledge base and expertise, but it will also require plenty of willpower, discipline, and motivation to read and complete assigned projects, papers, and exams. In short, be sure that you have the mental capacity and physical stamina to remain focused on the prize — an MBA degree — so you don’t run out of energy before crossing the finish line.

5 Tips on How to Be Successful in an Online MBA Program

Online MBA programs are a viable option for ambitious people seeking to fit higher education into their busy lifestyles. The University of Scranton’s flexible program made it possible for Kelly F. to get her advanced degree in 14 months, while juggling full-time work and also building a house with her husband. The Denver-based marketing professional excelled by crafting her own schedule. “When I think back to being in school in the more traditional way, the rest of your schedule flows around your classes. This is sort of the opposite,” she says.

Florida-based Michael S., a College Admissions Manager and father, also thrived in The University of Scranton’s MBA program while maintaining a 50-hour work week, with frequent business travel. Michael had also received his Bachelor’s degree online, and his strategic approach to his MBA studies helped catapult him over the finish line. If you’re planning a similar path, here are five tips from professionals on acing an online MBA program.

1. Prepare for success: Speak with key contacts beforehand

Talk to a student or recent graduate to get a realistic perspective that you may not hear from the school. After doing so, Kelly reprioritized her to-do list. “Most people were working full-time; hearing about how [they] accomplished it makes it less daunting.” Connecting with the school’s technology department also saved both Kelly and Michael time. They were set up with internal communication tools before classes began. “I vocalized what I needed and wasn’t trying to do everything independently, because I knew they were there to help me,” Michael shares.

David C., a Business Analyst in Florida, identified his supporters in advance. “Make sure those people understand how important school is to you” and “empower them with the tools to motivate you when you need help,” he adds.

2. Be more flexible when it comes to learning

Online terms tend to be shorter, requiring a more intensive focus. Kelly maximized The University of Scranton’s eight week terms by focusing on areas in which she felt weaker. Michael changed his learning style after finding that memorizing alone didn’t work. “In undergrad I stayed up until three [a.m.], cramming for exams. This was different. It’s more subjective learning. Try to apply the principles to your real life. It will help you retain the information.”

After graduating in 2013, Michael carried his learnings in innovative management into his new role. “My employees were more thankful that I did this Master’s than I was, at first. I became more of a leader, less of a micromanager.”

Deb L.— a current MBA student, returned to academia after retiring from a 28-year corporate career. After a stressful online exam experience, she reevaluated her test-taking strategies. Now she pre-calculates her time per question and returns to questions that she’s unsure of at the end.

3. Find out what makes you feel organized and motivated and commit to it

Both Kelly and Michael relied on separate school calendars to keep up with their deadlines. Kelly applied the same concept to her study space in her mother-in-law’s basement, where she lived while her home was under construction. “If I can be successful doing my program out of my mother-in-law’s basement, then I think anybody can do it, anywhere!”

Deb is a big fan of working anywhere and everywhere—from her family room to hotels. She stays focused by finding “a quiet place to take exams with a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.”  

4. Make time management a priority

Being a fast reader, Deb thought that she’d need less time to complete her homework. But she was urged during the admissions process to take class guidelines seriously. By crafting a time management plan using helpful tools like her course schedule, she stayed on track. “It worked out great most weeks. Without the advice, I would have underestimated the time commitment,” Deb explains.

For Michael, who often studied after his son’s bedtime, implementing a time management plan helped him balance school and family time. He calculated the hours he spent doing classwork, assessed deadlines, and committed to focusing on coursework at least three days a week, for about three hours at a time. This allowed him to “still have a little bit of fun and a date night every Friday with my wife.” To stay motivated, David rewarded himself with small presents after each semester. His graduation treat was a celebratory trip to New York.

5. Network both on and offline

When connecting with professors in person is not an option, knowing their online office hours is key. Kelly took multiple courses with professors that were relevant to her career, which helped foster networking opportunities.

Michael also found this network helpful. “In undergrad I was kind of teaching myself. For my masters, it was more of ‘We’re here to assist you and help set you up for success.’” Being strategic with group work was also important to David. He did research on LinkedIn before selecting group partners, which “made getting to know them easier.”

Both Kelly and Michael have both maintained connections with their classmates, meeting for dinner and even toasting each other’s successes over Skype. They also attended their class graduations in person to meet the supportive professors that cheered them on.

A Master in Business Administration from The University of Scranton provides more than just a line item on a resume; it is an opportunity for career advancement, networking, and overall self-improvement. The flexibility of an online program caters to organized, ambitious professionals seeking to improve their capability and marketability in the workplace while managing full time employment and family commitments.

how to make the most of your MBA

Getting the Most out of your MBA Experience

  1. Come up with your financial plan. …
  2. Focus on the full MBA experience. …
  3. Network broadly. …
  4. Be proactive. …
  5. Evolve your career goals. …
  6. Apply for many summer internships. …
  7. Don’t get intimidated.

study tips for MBA students

10 Tips for Excelling in an MBA Program

  1. Know what to expect. …
  2. Create clear goals. …
  3. Learn to prioritize. …
  4. Ask for help when necessary. …
  5. Study strategically. …
  6. Pursue your interests. …
  7. Strike a work-life balance. …
  8. Build relationships.

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