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Is an Online MBA Worth the Investment?

With the devastating effects of the last 12 months on the economy, many have turned their attention towards ways to safeguard their future, with job security being the number one priority for most working professionals at this moment in time.

However, with so much uncertainty, how do you go about making yourself indispensable to employers within your specific industry?

Perhaps the answer lies with a degree program such as an MBA.

An MBA, master’s in business administration, is currently the most popular postgraduate degree in the world, with employees and business owners alike reaping the benefits of this all-encompassing degree program that has been valued by top employers across all industries for many years.

That being said, with the impact of the pandemic and surge in unemployment, is an MBA still worth your time and money?

Let’s take a closer look and see.

Understanding the MBA

An MBA involves studying a broad spectrum of business-related topics, including finance, sales, marketing, human resources management, and communications. Preparing you to enter into a managerial or leadership position in a wide variety of industries or to set up your own business, MBA degree programs are typically geared towards older individuals who already have extensive experience within the workforce.

Although a solid foundation in academics is preferred, acceptance into an MBA program is largely based on experience and the professional networks that an applicant can bring to the table.

In order to accommodate working professionals, you can choose between full or part-time MBA degree programs, with some employers even paying for a student’s tuition if they believe it will benefit their business.

In terms of where you can study for an MBA, although on-campus degrees are still a popular choice, due to the nature of both the degree program itself and the type of students that it attracts, many are now preferring to pursue one of the many high-quality online MBA programs that are now widely available.

Online MBA vs. on-campus MBA

As mentioned above, you can choose to study for an MBA either online or on-campus, with pros and cons on each side. If you are currently unsure which one is the better option for you and your learning journey, the below information should be able to help you make an informed decision.

Online MBA programs

Much like the world of business, MBA degree programs are changing rapidly, with the most obvious trends being a shift to online MBA programs over more traditional ones. In fact, there are now over 330 online MBA programs on offer in the United States alone.

If you are worried that online MBA programs will not offer the same level of study and prestige as a bricks and mortar university, you will be pleased to hear that this is not the case. All accredited programs, online or otherwise, are rigorous, demanding, and will deliver the results you want.

Furthermore, an online MBA will have similar education requirements and coursework to an on-campus one, with just as much support and guidance from the faculty. In fact, due to advances in technology, you could argue that online MBA programs offer more in terms of innovation and an interactive learning experience.

Pros of online MBA programs 

  • Flexibility. You can find full and part-time online MBAs. Plus, you can work on your own time, wherever you want to.
  • Faster completion. You can complete online MBA programs in as little as a year, allowing you to fast-track your career quicker than with an on-campus degree.
  • More cost-effective. Online MBAs tend to be more affordable than on-campus ones. Plus, you can save money on accommodation and/or travel expenses.
  • More efficient. If you are highly motivated and ambitious, you will appreciate the efficiency of an online MBA.
  • Better for juggling family commitments. If you have family responsibilities or other obligations, online MBA programs are ideal, allowing you to study at home.
  • More technologically-driven. Online MBAs will help you to improve your own technical acumen and understanding of the digital marketplace. Plus, they can offer a more dynamic learning experience.
  • Access to the best courses. Enjoy access to the highest quality courses no matter where you live.

Cons of online MBA programs 

  • Lack of in-person connections. If you are the type of learner who thrives through personal connections, an online MBA might not be the best choice for you.
  • Less socializing. Although you can interact with your peers online, the social aspect of an online MBA is much less forthcoming.
  • A smaller networking pool. When studying on-campus, you will have access to many networking events, career fairs, and Q&A sessions throughout the year.

On-campus MBA programs

If you thrive in structured environments and want a more hands-on learning experience, you may want to choose to study for your MBA on campus. This option also lends itself well to a more sociable, community-style environment.

Pros of on-campus MBA programs

  • More facilities, activities, and clubs
  • Familiar daily routine
  • Face-to-face learning

Cons of on-campus MBA programs

  • Lack of flexibility
  • Less diversity
  • Hard to juggle family commitments
  • More demanding schedule

Return on investment

When it comes to pursuing an online MBA, you will want to know if the money you invest in your education is going to be worth it. To better answer this question, you need to look into two factors: the cost of an online MBA and the average salary of MBA graduates.

Cost of an online MBA

In terms of the initial investment, online MBA programs can be more cost-effective than on-campus courses, with savings on the degree course itself and the fact that you can continue to earn as you study. Although the cost of an online MBA can vary greatly from one university to another, you can expect to pay somewhere between $12,000 to $30,000 for an online MBA in the United States. To put this into perspective, a standard MBA degree course with on-campus attendance can set you back around $60,000, with the most prestigious business schools and universities charging as much as $100,000.

If you are planning to continue to work in your current position while you undertake your MBA, you may want to ask your employer if they would be willing to contribute to the cost of your course. However, be warned, you may have to sign a waiver that states you will repay these costs if you choose to leave your current employment within a specified amount of time.

Expected salary for MBA graduates

According to MBA.com, the starting salary of the average MBA graduate in the U.S. is $115,000 per annum. In comparison, a new hire with an undergraduate degree could expect to earn around $65,000 per annum. Therefore, even if you pay up to $30,000 for an online MBA, you can expect to recoup this investment within a year.

It is worth noting that your salary as an MBA graduate will be dependent on a number of factors, including the business school or university you choose, your chosen field of study, your position, and your previous experience.

The long-term value of an online MBA

When deciding if online MBA programs are the right choice for you and your career aspirations, you need to make sure you are looking beyond any immediate benefits or drawbacks and are considering the long-term value of a degree of this caliber.

Take a look at the below ways that an online MBA can add value to your long-term business career:

Achieve leadership roles

If you aspire to be a manager or you want a more leadership-based role in the future, an online MBA will arm you will the skills and knowledge needed to effectively lead a team. You will learn how to understand other people’s perspectives, improve upon your communication skills and learn how to deliver constructive feedback that benefits everyone.

Furthermore, you will learn all this through experiential learning programs, meaning you can make inevitable mistakes in a safe environment rather than in a real place of work.

Build a strong network

Whichever industry you work in, having a great network of business connections is crucial. However, this is even more important for those who work in highly competitive sectors such as finance and management consulting, where you need to source new deals for your firm.

Fortunately, you can grow a broad MBA network when undertaking your degree, with online MBA programs allowing you to gain not only national but also international contacts that can prove incredibly valuable in your newly acquired leadership role.

Source new talent

Another huge advantage of MBA networking is that you will be introduced to a diverse selection of like-minded business professionals, some of whom you may want to hire or recommend to a client. The ability to find and hire new talent is crucial as a manager or leader, and the wider your professional network, the more likely you are to succeed in your new role.

Find the perfect career

As well as offering you the means to be promoted with your current employer, an MBA degree program also lends itself well to helping you to diversify your career prospects. Whether you are not fulfilled in your current role, or you simply want the choice in the future to be able to branch out if you want to, you can choose from an extensive range of electives during your studies, enabling you to enjoy a diverse and lucrative long-term career within your preferred industry.

Enjoy more job security

Even top executives are not immune to making costly mistakes, and you may find yourself one day on the wrong end of a deal gone wrong. If this does happen, an MBA degree provides a strong safety net when it comes to finding new employment. Of course, this is a worst-case scenario, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared for every eventuality.

Furthermore, as well as having a greater chance of finding a new job due to your MBA qualification, your diverse and expansive network will also help you to seek out new, lucrative opportunities.

Is an MBA the right choice for me?

While the advantages of an online MBA are numerous, you need to make sure that this is the right degree course for you before deciding to make such a big investment in your future.

Some of the elements of the application that you may want to consider include:

Experience

As mentioned earlier, experience is crucial when it comes to pursuing an online MBA, with most universities and business schools requiring a minimum of 3-4 years’ work experience to even be considered.

Desire

If you enter into an MBA degree program half-heartedly, you are not going to get the results you want. In fact, it would be a complete waste of both your time and your money. To succeed in a postgraduate degree, you need to be committed to the course material and motivated to learn.

Expense

The type of MBA degree you choose may be largely based on cost. If this is the case for you, online MBA programs are most definitely the more attractive option, providing both cost-effectiveness and the flexibility to earn as you study.

Career goals

Although you may want to pursue an MBA to broaden your horizons and grow in confidence in your abilities, the biggest reasons is likely to be the professional payoff. Therefore, you need to make sure that an MBA is the right further education for your career goals.

Careers that you can achieve with an MBA degree include:

  • Sales Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Financial Analyst
  • General Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Marketing Manager

Conclusion

Can an online MBA be worth the investment? Most definitely.

However, is an online MBA worth the investment for you? Only you can answer this one.

That being said, with the right amount of motivation, commitment, and dedication to learning, not to mention an open attitude to meeting new people, online MBA programs can transform your career and revolutionize your earning potential.

If this sounds like something you are ready to take on, then don’t delay. Start researching and applying to accredited online universities and business schools today.

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