P&Q Editor John A. Byrne Answers Reader Questions About The MBA



Is an online MBA worthwhile?

If I were answering this question a few years ago, I might very well have said no—unless you absolutely want an MBA and can’t do a more traditional program, either full-time or part-time. But online MBA programs have come a long way in recent years and a significant number of quality schools offer them.

First, some general advice. Beware of what I would call fake rankings in the online space. There are websites that purport to rank these programs but are little more than disguised advertisements for programs that are not that good. These websites then get a fee for every person who signs up for a program. Any ranking, by the way, that does not have a full and complete explanation behind its methodology should never be trusted.

Second, if you’re going to do an online MBA, you may as well do one at a business school that already has a worthwhile brand and reputation. The big consideration then may well be price. The bigger the brand, the more costly the online experience will be. The prestige schools in the market today are Carnegie Mellon, UNC Kenan-Flagler, Indiana Kelley, and USC Marshall.

Other schools that are known to have very good online offerings include Temple University’s Fox School, the University of Florida, and the University of Illinois (where the cost is just $20,000).

I am a big fan of KelleyDirect and I’ll tell you why. It’s priced well and includes a lot for the money. The people who run the program are truly passionate about it and fully dedicated to it. The school has migrated many of the best components of its residential MBA program into it, including real consulting projects that culminate in formal presentations in front of company execs on campus, student-run clubs, and one of the best professional development programs offered by any business school (an important component of an online offering because it means you will get the coaching, mentoring and interview opportunities to either enhance your position at your current employer or transition into a new opportunity which is obviously more difficult in an online program than it is in a residential program).

We also believe, by the way, that a school’s overall ranking for its flagship MBA program is more important than a separate online ranking because the brand of the school is what counts on your resume—not what some half-baked ranking of online programs might say. So let me refer you to two things: Our online ranking based on the school’s overall reputation, our analysis of the most recent U.S. News ranking for online MBA programs, and our video of the Kelley program. Even if you have no interest in Kelley, it’s important to check it out because it will arm you with the questions you want to ask other schools before you plop down your deposit and sign up.

The Best Online MBA Programs In The U.S.

U.S. News’ 2017 Ranking Of The Best Online MBAs


What are some best and cheapest options to do online MBA degree?

My best advice is to look at the online programs at Indiana University, Temple University, and the University of Florida. All three of these programs have consistently been ranked high up on rankings and while they may not be the cheapest, they are clearly among the very best offerings today. My personal view is that these programs are worth every penny they charge. Given the current pricing on the online program at UNC, I would even say the KelleyDirect program at Indiana is underpriced.

You might find our assessment of the latest U.S. News’ ranking of online MBA programs to be helpful:

U.S. News’ 2017 Ranking Of The Best Online MBAs


Why do online MBAs cost so much?

It often does cost less. In fact, the University of Illinois—which boasts a Top 50 full-time MBA program—is now offering a highly innovative online MBA program that would enable you to get the degree for only $20,000. That is less than half the price of the full-time MBA program for in-state students at the school. You should also know, however, that many schools with online programs, including Indiana University and the University of Maryland, are now offering discounts—in the form of scholarships—to many students. But if cost is a big issue for you, you should definitely look into the Illinois deal. Here is our story on it:

Breakthrough: A Top 50 MBA For $20,000


Is it worth doing an online MBA degree to advance my career?

An online MBA program is a viable alternative for people who want to stay in their current jobs and have the flexibility to get an advanced degree even when their jobs demand a good deal of travel. Ten or five years ago, I would be much more hesitant about suggesting that you do an online MBA. But today there are some very big business school players in the business, including some of the best brands around, including Carnegie Mellon, UNC-Chapel Hill, Indiana University, the University of Southern California and more. The best place to start your search is the latest ranking from U.S. News. Check these programs out:

Temple Tops U.S. News Ranking Of The Best Online MBA Programs


Do business schools (beside Harvard) consider HBX CORe as valid prep for pursing an MBA? Would it increase chances of getting into Haas/Wharton?

If you’re not a quant and your majored in a liberal arts subject during your undergraduate years, I believe that taking HBX CORe and doing very well in it can only help your chances of admission at many other business schools. Whether this is true at Haas or Wharton, I can’t say for sure. But there is absolutely no way it hurts your chances and the upside can be an important element of your application. Check out our recent feature on the HBX program:

Harvard’s CORe Takes Case Method To Masses