After all the years they’ve been around and how much they’ve improved over time, online MBA programs still hold some sort of stigma among many aspiring students. But overlooking them based on such assumptions would be a huge mistake. The reality is that an online MBA could give you all the skills and qualifications of a traditional MBA, without many of the inconveniences. Let’s take a look at some of the most pervasive myths and misconceptions about online MBA, and the truth behind them.
Only Diploma Mills Offer Online MBAs
The sad part about this myth is that there’s a germ of truth in it. Many of the earlier MBAs were given out by less than reputable schools or organizations that were purely after federal grants and funding. Things have greatly changed since then, and schools now have to go through a grueling process to show the validity of their programs to get accredited, so this isn’t something you should worry about as long as you know what to look for in a good online school or program.
People will Know that I Got My Degree Online
This is one of the most damaging myths about online MBAs and one of the reasons why many people are still reluctant about them. There is no “online” stamp on top of your MBA degree when you get it online. There is absolutely no way for a recruiter to know that you got your degree online unless you volunteer that information to them.
So, don’t assume that your degree will be less respected in the workplace because you get it online. What you should do, however, is check the quality of a school’s MBA program, its accreditation, and how well ranked the school is and rated as a whole. These are the things that will ultimately determine how well your degree is regarded.
Accreditation is especially important there, as it will make sure that your qualifications are valid and that you can transfer your credits if you want to move to a different school. So, before you pick a program, make sure that it’s accredited either by the AACSB, ACBSP, or the IACBE.
Even if an employer could find out that you got your degree online, you shouldn’t assume that it would be a bad thing either. Employers see the online MBA in a much more favorable light than many imagine. They understand that remote working and using remote tools is second nature to them, and this is something everyone will be looking for in a candidate in the next few years. So, having an online degree could actually work in your favor.
Tuition is Much Cheaper
While online MBAs tend to be cheaper in general, you shouldn’t expect it to be by much. Schools still have to maintain the rest of their operations, and this is done through tuition. But you will be able to save money in many ways by taking classes online.
First of all, you won’t have to relocate to a whole different part of the country to go to the school you like. You’ll be able to take classes from the comfort of your own home and won’t have to spend or waste time commuting. If you have children, you’ll be able to be close to them if you decide to take classes in the evening and won’t have to spend money on a babysitter. All manuals will be online as well, which translates into even greater savings.
Only Bad Schools Offer Online MBAs
That is not true. Most major schools today either have online MBAs or some sort of online offering. They can’t afford to stay behind with the increase in demand and how the future of education is shaping up. Bad schools, good schools, and everyone in between all offer online classes nowadays, and you should see it as a good thing.
You Go at Your Own Pace with Online MBAs
While it is true in some cases, not all online MBAs are self-paced. There are different ways that online classes can be dispensed. Asynchronous classes are 100% self-paced, but you have programs where you must attend classes at specific times. You also have programs that combine both formats. Know which type of programs the school offers and what would be the best format for you.
Online MBAs and Traditional MBAs don’t Teach the Same Things
While the format and approach might be slightly different, you’ll learn the same things in an online MBA as you will in a traditional MBA. That’s because the faculty that teaches online MBAs will usually be the same one as the traditional MBA. So, while they might need to change a few things to adapt to the coursework, the level and quality of education will be the same.
Another thing you shouldn’t expect is for your courses to be easier. As a matter of fact, you might find that things are tougher when you have to motivate yourself and stay on top of everything. This is especially true for those who decide to take asynchronous classes.
Taking classes on your own time could be a great option if you have lots of responsibilities and an irregular schedule. But they do lack some of the connection as you won’t be able to speak directly with other students or the teacher and you might find yourself disconnected from time to time and lack motivation.
In either case, online classes offer a certain level of freedom that can both be a gift or a curse depending on what type of student you are. If you want to know what following an online program online is really like, we suggest that you speak with a few people who went through an online program to get a first-hand account.
You Can’t Interact with the Teaching Staff
Another related myth is that you won’t be able to interact with the teaching staff. Not only is this false but going for online classes could give you more access. If you go for synchronous classes, most programs will allow you to pose questions to the teacher directly. Teachers will also often allow students to contact them after classes either through email or video chat.
You Can’t Interact with Other Students
This is another myth. Online MBA students can interact with each other pretty much in the same way that they do with faculty, i.e., via email, instant messaging, teleconferencing, email, and bulletin boards. Team projects play a very important role in MBA programs, and faculties are doing everything they can to make their classes as cooperative as possible.
You will also be engaged in class discussions that will feel very much like face-to-face interactions. Besides that, students will often meet on social media and form groups. If you live in a big city, nothing is stopping you from meeting with other students in your program for networking events or to form study groups. Immersion experiences will also give you the chance to collaborate and network with other students.
It’s Easier to Get Into an Online MBA
Online programs don’t have many of the limitations of traditional programs and can, therefore, admit more students. But that doesn’t mean that the requirements to get in are lower.
Institutions that offer online MBAs have to protect their reputation, and they want as many students as possible to graduate and be successful. They can’t afford to cut corners in screening candidates and requirements are just as strict as in their regular program.
To be accepted into a program, you will need to show sufficient curriculum and undergraduate grades, work experience, letters of recommendation, a high enough GMAT score for those who require it, and a personal essay or statement of purpose. This means that you will need to prepare for your application well in advance and be as rigorous as you would for any program.
Online MBAs do Not Offer Networking Opportunities
A lot of people want to get into the NBA for the networking aspects, and it’s a major benefit. However, while online MBAs don’t allow you to physically interact with other students, they still offer great networking opportunities.
One of the best things about online MBAs is the type of students they attract. They tend to be very diverse with people from different backgrounds, industries, and countries. Online MBAs are popular with professionals and business owners as well, which means that you could enrich yourself from their experiences and learn what it’s truly like to run a business.
This could also be a great opportunity to build partnerships. You could connect with someone from a completely different field like IT, for instance, and join forces to build a startup. Or you could be introduced to markets and opportunities you didn’t even know existed. So, don’t dismiss the wealth of knowledge you could gain from the other people in your group.
Online MBAs have tons of things to offer, and it would be a shame to dismiss them because of hearsay. Learn as much as you can about them and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need some clarifications about some of their aspects.