Is The Online MBA Now For Career Changers?

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Traditionally the online MBA degree has been an investment by employers in current employees and a way for individuals to move up within their current company or, at least, career path. Those days are increasingly on the way out. For the past three years, we’ve asked recent online MBA graduates from top programs if they changed employers as a result of the degree as part of our annual ranking of online MBA programs. The percentage of graduates answering in the affirmative has grown from 22.48% two years ago to 29.51% last year to 31.60% this year.

The upshot? Nearly a third of online MBA graduates change employers during or immediately after their degree programs.

This year, no other school saw a higher percentage of its graduates changing employers than Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, where 2022 graduates reported changing employers at a rate of 61.29%. Following Carnegie Mellon is the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where 60% of 2022 graduates reported changing employers. The University of California-Davis (57.14%), American University’s Kogod School of Business (53.85%), and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business (53.85%) were the other schools where at least half of the 2022 class reported switching employers because of the OMBA degree.

JOB FUNCTION CHANGERS ALSO UP

For the past two years, we’ve asked 2022 graduates if their online MBA degrees directly led to them changing industries and job functions. Those using the degree to switch job functions climbed from 44.44% last year to 45.42% this year. Graduates of the University of Maryland Smith School of Business reported the highest rate of job function changes at a frothy 81.82%. Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Management was close behind, where 80.95% of 2022 graduates reported changing job functions. Carnegie Mellon followed with 74.19%. Of the 47 schools from which we collected data that met our minimum response rate, 18 had 2022 classes reporting at least 50% used the degree to change job functions.

Changing industries was not as prevalent this year compared to last year. Last year’s graduating class (2021) reported an overall average of 33.35% using the OMBA degree to change industries. This year that number dropped to 18.95%. Graduates of American University reported the highest rate of job industry changes this year at 46.15%. The University of Michigan Ross (42.11%) and Lehigh University (41.67%) followed.

CARNEGIE MELLON HAS THE MOST CAREER CHANGERS, ON AVERAGE

When we averaged all three categories of job changes (employers, industries, and job functions), Carnegie Mellon had the highest overall average of 56.99%. The University of California-Davis followed with 52.38%. Rounding out the top five OMBA programs with job changers were American University (51.28%), Rice University (50.79%), and the University of Michigan Ross (49.12%).

What this means for potential OMBA students is the degree is increasingly useful and valued by the market. Not only are schools increasingly pouring resources into career support for OMBA students, but the pandemic and shift to more virtual learning platforms has legitimized the online education space to a point it’s never been in history. Simply put: The OMBA degree isn’t what it used to be. And that’s largely a good thing.

Read on to see employer, industry, and job function changes at all 47 schools with qualifying alumni data.

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