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Value of Online MBA

I am an experienced Senior Financial Analyst, and looking to further my skill set with an MBA.  Because of a demanding work schedule and family responsibilities, compounded by my geographic location, a traditional MBA is simply out of the question at the moment.  So, I am hoping to get the opinion of other managers/executives on what they really feel about online MBA programs.  Are they worth it?

Do you care how the degree was obtained?  Do you hold certain institutions as "taboo" or worthless? 

I certainly can see the value of a traditional classroom MBA program.  At the same time, I can make a good argument against it. 

The main argument for an online program is the convenience for the student.  I think there is a further argument to be made of proving that you are a successful communicator, in a non-traditional setting.  The main argument against online education is that the quality of the institutions, can only be described as "sketchy" at best. 

I have talked with admissions personnel at both brick and mortar schools (mostly state schools, a couple of private) and  a few online institutions (some solely online, others hybrid).  Many of the brick and mortar institution boast about the major Fortune 500 companies that recruit with them.  This is less of a concern for me, because I want a program that will help me do my job better as much as making me attractive to future employers.  I am not looking to graduate and jump ship.  In my experience, schooling has always been a way to get my foot in the door, but the actual work experience/performance is the real meat and potatoes that employers care about.  I know when I hire people it is much less about the university and more about the coarses they took. 

In hind sight, I think I probably learned more my first year out of college than I did the 4 years while attending.  That being said, no one would have even picked up my resume without my degree.


(Analyst) |

Generally I would think it isn't worth the money or the time.

It really depends on what you want to do after you get your MBA. If you want to switch out to a different career, the online MBA won't do it for you. If you are continuing with you current career, you also might not need a MBA to furthur your career.

I would say try to go for a traditional MBA. I understand that things get taught, but it is only two years.

Bob Scarborough
Title: CEO
Company: Tensoft, Inc.
(CEO, Tensoft, Inc.) |

My two bit ...

School is about a way of thinking ... about the experience and how the experience impacts you ... and learning in a non-work (potentially broader or more free form) environment. Different types of degrees emphasize different combinations of the above.

My experience with my MBA is it is more about the first two and less about specific work place learning. Sure you learn some new things. More often - when you have experience behind you - it helps you consolidate and better understand what you know. Valuable stuff for certain.

At the same time the experience and ways of working were really the key. More work was given us than any one person could do - forcing you to work well in a study group. We did field study work which also forced teamwork and joint learning. Business is more about learning from others, learning multiple and broader perspectives, building teams, and achieving objectives that can only be completed by more than one person.

If you want pure learning or a stamp on your resume then gear your MBA online to something concrete (or go for Economics or a more technical degree). If you want a MBA find a way to do it in person.

When I faced the decision point you are at I reached the same conclusion about full time programs. Personally I went the Executive MBA route - there are also part time programs. The average work experience in my program was 15 years. Often my classmates knew as much as the professors. The learning, community, and network built during that experience was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears.

Topic Expert
Henry Schumann
Title: Manager FP&A
Company: Allscripts
(Manager FP&A, Allscripts) |

There are some elite MBA schools out there (Harvard, Stanford, Chicago just to name a few). Then there are a host of other full -time schools that offer MBA programs. And then as you note, there are online MBA programs.

I don't think any are "taboo", but I have considered the quality of the MBA in ranking candidates for prior job openings.

There is a lot of value add if you can sit in an MBA classroom with others who have several years of real work experience. The shared stories of what really happens in business are as valuable as the case studies, lectures, and textbook information. I think you would miss out on this if you chose an online MBA option.

Have you discussed taking MBA classes with your employer? Assuming you are a valued employee at your company, they may make accommodations to you schedule to help you have time to get that MBA.

Good luck.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Look at the trend. If you asked this question five years ago, you would have heard a resounding -- "no don't do it." The trend is in favor of on-line classes offered anywhere and anytime.

Think of it this way - look at those #1 schools, i.e. Harvard, U Penn, Johns Hopkins. Do they offer on-line education opportunities. You will find the answer is yes.

Go for the on-line, but choose a name brand school.

(Technology Director) |

And... it doesn't have to be either/or.

There are also hybrid programs that combine in-person and online classes (e.g., or programs that have in-person options geared for working professionals through evening/weekend courses (e.g.

Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

Thank you for the input! I appreciate multiple perspectives.

Christopher Vincent
Title: Accountant, BPA, MBA
Company: Atmospheric Fund
(Accountant, BPA, MBA, Atmospheric Fund) |

Look for an online MBA school that is attached to a real non profit government funded university with an alumni chapter in your geographical area.

John Boyer
Title: Staff Accountant
Company: Confidential
(Staff Accountant, Confidential) |

I received my MBA from University of Michigan--Flint. It is not as prestigious as the Ann Arbor campus but I would not trade the experience. It was a hybrid program with a Fri/Sat session every six weeks for 8 hours. The flexibility of the program and a partnership with a Chinese University made the discussions extremely intense. The classrooms were filled with an eclectic group of candidates. The students were mostly looking to advance their careers at current companies but I think there was a sufficient group of youngsters to temper experience with fresh thinking.

I would recommend U of M to any hoping for an edge. It truly changed my way of thinking for the better.


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