Should You Go Full-Time or Part-Time?

by Jeff Schmitt on Print Print


Full-Time Or Part-Time?


‘I may as well flip a coin,’ you think.

If I go full-time, I won’t make much money for two years. If I go part-time, I won’t have a social life between work and school. And don’t the best students – the people I want on my rolodex – go full-time?

Ah, decisions, decisions. Alas, there really isn’t a best answer. Your decision rests on what’s best for you. What is your financial and family situation? What do you hope to achieve with your education? And just how much of a workload can you absorb?

This week, Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, who has held leadership roles in student affairs, admissions, and financial aid at Cornell (Johnson), Michigan (Ross), and Arizona State (Carey), examined the advantages and disadvantages inherent to both programs. Looking for direction? Check out what differentiates each program:

Full-Time: Grinblatt Epstein depicts these programs as the “media darlings” that receive the most budget while producing the least revenue. They also have an “undergraduate” feel with more clubs and activities.

Advantages: These programs benefit from more financial aid, with 90% of all scholarships and fellowships granted to full-timers. They are structured for 23-30 year-old students who can afford to leave the workforce. Full-time students generally enjoy greater access to on-campus recruiting. They also tend to attract the best students globally. What’s more, the environment is considered to be perfect for singles looking for relationships.

Disadvantages: Full-time program often have bigger academic workloads, where academics and job hunting overshadow time with loved ones.

Part-Time: Conversely, these programs are considered the “cash cow” of MBAs and often “live in the shadow of their smaller, full-time counterpart.” In fact, some part-time students can feel “like the stepchild” of the full-time program, even though their program serves more students.

Advantages: Targeted to 24-35 year-old students, part-timer programs share the same faculty as their full-time peers, with some professors preferring to teach nights and weekends so they can devote more time to research. While there are few scholarship dollars available to part-timers, these students can cash in on employer-sponsored aid.

Disadvantages: Grinblatt Epstein notes that part-time students are considered, overall, to be “not as competitive or as diverse in terms of admissions.” This is particularly true of campuses located in less metropolitan areas. Some programs are less flexible with career services, with company events and interviews often held during the day. These programs also last longer than 2 years and rarely help students change careers.

Grinblatt Epstein also evaluated a third option: Executive MBA (EMBA) programs. Geared for 30-42 year-olds, EMBA programs are smaller than their full-time and part-time brethren, yet mix in many benefits (and drawbacks) from both programs.

Advantages: Typically meeting every other weekend, EMBA programs are attractive to students who prioritize family and work over school.  They are designed for experienced high performers looking to amplify their leadership and administrative skills. According to Grinblatt Epstein, “schools take care of their EMBA students for their tuition premium” and faculty and students often bond more closely.

Disadvantages: EMBA programs are very expensive, with no scholarships available as schools “expect the student’s company to sponsor the student partially or completely.” There is also little interaction between EMBA students and the rest of the business school students.

Source: Accepted

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  • Nikhil

    Hi Brian. Thank you for a great post. I would like to get some valuable advice from you regarding my ambition to go for a part time MBA program. I am a Mechanical Engineer with a Masters degree and I am interested to go for Ross’s PT MBA program. Why Ross? Because I believe I have a good GMAT Score (720), decent work experience and overall a good profile and the school is very close to my work location as well. Not to be overambitious, I am also going to apply to a few other schools. Why part time? Well I am an international student and on a work visa and going full time will complicate matters extensively for me, not to mention the stoppage of an ongoing salary as well.

    Now, to the real question, I want to go for MBA as I want to switch my careers from Mechanical Product Design to Management Consulting(even a Technology consulting domain is fine). I am not very sure if PT MBA will give me that. Mostly, what I have read is that only a FT MBA enables you to switch careers but that makes no sense to me. Why would a recruiting company differentiate between FT and PT MBA if the coursework and faculty involved is the same.

    I would be very happy if you can give me any advice if I am taking the right decision.

  • Jason Darell

    Its weird that “Full Time MBA” students are considered as “more competitive and of better quality” than Part Time students. So, now you are trying to judge a student based on their GPA and GMAT scores rather than their real life experience and accomplishments. I am a part time mba student and have a clear bias towards part time mba. Even though I admit, my GMAT score is 30 points lower than an average full time student’s GMAT score, I still feel I bring more to the table and am able to contribute to the class with my experience. I feel, I am able to take more from the program, by incorporating concepts of Economics, OM, Finance and Accounting in real life rather than wait on an opportunity like Internship or a Full time position.Just because I don’t have a 720+ GMAT has not stopped me from making AT LEAST 20 % higher salary than average salary ( for the last 5 years ) of a FT graduate from a top 10 program.

    Also, most Full Time students are recruiting for jobs that start out at an associate level. Most PT students are either looking to jump to a senior role OR are trying to change careers.

    I would really recommend Poets and Quants to take a broader look at their thinking.

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