Although convenience and flexibility are the main attractions for online MBA programs, don’t let these factors blind you to the amount of time you’ll need to invest. According to most students, it’s considerably intense when you’re carving out 16-20 hours per week in addition to a regular 40-hour (sometimes more) work week.
“It’s a pretty significant time commitment,” says Kate Klepper, associate dean of graduate business programs at D’Amore-McKim Business School. “For just one course, students are typically actively engaged five to six out of seven days of the week. Discussions, readings, and other deliverables are all a part of a given week.”
2016 alumnus Curtis Webb, who did D’Amore-McKim’s online MBA program while maintaining 50-hour work weeks, says the time commitment for each class was 20 hours a week. “Most of that time was early mornings, late evenings, weekends. If you’re determined to get through it and be successful, you find all this time you didn’t know you had.”
To help students determine whether online, distance learning is the right format for them and to prepare students for the realities of a distance learning program, Mississippi State offers an assessment tool called SmartMeasure that helps applicants assess whether distance learning and/or learning in a technology rich environment will be a good fit for them.
MIX AND MATCH ONLINE AND IN PERSON
Finally, our most surprising fact about getting your MBA degree online: If you just can’t decide between a traditional, in-person program or going the online MBA route, you can do both.
At the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s Tiedemann College of Business, the school’s online MBA option was introduced in 2010 with the cornerstone of it being the ultimate form of flexibility. Here, students are empowered with freedom to switch between online and in-person courses based on preference, interest, and personal schedule.
“It is absolutely optimized for the working professional who wants the option to occasionally tap into online courses or vice versa,” says Eric Douthirt, Tiedemann’s director of graduate programs and executive education.
The Flex MBA program at Lehigh University’s College of Business & Economics is similar. The program, which is synchronous in style, puts students in the driver’s seat when it’s time to decide where and how they’ll attend class. Showing up to campus, logging in from home, work, or travel, or a combination of all the above options; all of it is left totally up to the student. Add to that a decide-as-you-go format as students are free to toggle between in-person and online learning from week to week and semester to semester.
“In addition to the students who are seated inside the physical classroom, we have distance-learning students on their computers and can see the classroom, the other people online, and the faculty member. They can interact with the classroom as if they were sitting there,” Lehigh Associate Dean Andrew Ward says. “Inside the room are several monitors so the in-person attendees can see the students who are joining us virtually. It is very much a live classroom and is as close as you can get to being in a face-to-face setting.”
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