Will an Online MBA Hurt Your Professional Prospects?

Recent economic uncertainties have left many applicants unwilling to give up stable jobs in order to study full-time – leading to a decline in interest in full-time MBA studymethods. Some applicants are looking to online program formats that allow them to continue working as an alternative.

While online study is gaining wider acceptance from employers,schools are still tackling the perception that executive education delivered online isin some wayof less value than its brick-and-mortar equivalents. 

When Brand Matters

It might be surprising, but brand identity is incredibly important when it comes to online schools – what school you attend makes a difference in the degree’s worth. Schools that are exclusively designed for profit and admit any applicant willing to pay tuitiondon’t carry as much authority as schools that are selective in their acceptance process.

The cold hard fact is that the earning potential for an online MBA holder will be greater if the degree comes from an acclaimed school or valued program – anachievement that isn’t as implausible as it sounds.

Some of the best business schools in the world now offer MBAs through distance learning programs, quite possibly since the MBA has been found to be the most popular online degree.Online MBA courses are thriving at business schools from Arizona State University to Babson College in Massachusetts. 

For-profit Woes

In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, Brad Remillard stated that business recruiters are more liable to consider the reputation of the school than the way the MBA was delivered.According to Remillard, cofounder and executive recruiter at IMPACT Hiring Solutions Executive Search, a client once told him that an online MBA from a large for-profit school was "just like an advanced high school degree."

It’s easy to see why the for-profit schools are so maligned. Their significantly lower tuition ratesgo hand in hand with theirloose admission standards. Kaplan Universitysimply requires an interview and official transcripts for proof of a bachelor’s degree -- a GMAT score is not necessary.

High-end online programs cost considerably more than those offered by for-profit universities. Their admission standards, quality of faculty, and extensive curriculum tend to equal that of their residential MBA programs. 

Is It Pointless?

Thanks to the for-profit university sector, it may not be easy to shuck the online business schools’ reputation as being no more than revolving door diploma-factories.While no virtual MBA willturn a recruiter's headthe way that Harvard credentials might, in the right circumstances, an online MBA can certainlyadvancea person’s career. When all is said and done, it comes down to the individual applicant to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each school. By determining what it is they wish to obtain from an MBA, teamed with careful research and an examination of the opportunities available, students can find the program that will ensure a profitable future.

image credit: stockimages
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