Many people enter the business world immediately after graduating from college. After a few years of work, these people may realize that if they want to move up the career ladder, they need more advanced education. A career move usually means earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
In the past, earning an MBA was a challenging task that often meant quitting work to go back to school full time. Today, however, the path to an MBA is much easier thanks to the proliferation of accredited online MBA programs. Hundreds of programs offer 100 percent online coursework, allowing students to earn an advanced education from the comfort of their own home and on their own schedule—even while working full time, if desired.
Choosing the right program is a matter of personal preference that comes down to many factors, including coursework, cost, and much more. One choice is Washington State University’s Online Master of Business Administration. Offering a top-quality MBA within the framework of a flexible learning environment, WSU’s Online MBA degree program offers a solid foundation for career success.
Online MBA Benefits
According to the website OnlineMBA, there are 6 primary benefits of an online MBA program compared to traditional programs:
- Accessibility. The ability to access online lectures and other study materials anywhere can make an enormous difference in students’ success. Individuals can choose the study locations that best suit their learning style, and they can continue their MBA studies through job transfers, relocation, travel, or other life changes without missing deadlines.
- Flexibility. Flexibility allows students to arrange their studies around their existing schedule, rather than the other way around. This aspect of online learning is a huge advantage for students who continue to work while seeking their MBA. Also, particularly motivated students can leverage this advantage to complete their online MBA degree sooner, depending on the requirements of the program. The MBA at Washington State University can be completed in as little as 22 months. Alternatively, some schools give students 5 or 6 years to complete their degree, which can be very helpful to those who have no particular timeline in mind.
- School Options. Students who seek in-person programs are limited by geography. By pursuing an online MBA, students can choose a program without regard to geographic limitations. This option allows students to choose the program that is perfect for their needs and inclinations. For example, one student might choose a school that intersperses international residencies with longer periods of online study. Another student might choose a dual-degree option or a rare specialization. Whatever you want, it’s out there.
- Diversity. By design, online MBA programs—especially those focused on globalization and international business—offer a multitude of opportunities to network with fellow students around the world. If you thrive in a diverse environment but reside in a location without much diversity, studying online can be a huge benefit.
- Technology. Online programs offer easy access to syllabi, reading lists, textbooks, assignments, and announcements in digital format, freeing you from worry about misplaced, lost, or forgotten study materials. Many students also find that online formats offer opportunities for class discussions with fewer interruptions, increasing the likelihood that all students may be heard. Yet another benefit is that this type of study can prepare students for the kind of long-distance, technology-enabled collaboration that is becoming increasingly common in the business world.
- On-campus Resources. From career services to corporate recruiter networks, many resources are available to online students as readily as they are to on-campus learners. Whether you need advice from the writing center, technical support, or a copy of your transcript from the registrar, you can expect your online program to provide equal access.
A 7th potential benefit involves cost. Online programs typically cost the same per credit hour as in-person programs. However, the associated costs—such as childcare, relocation, and transportation—may be much lower or even nonexistent. For this reason, says OnlineMBA, “online MBA programs often present a more cost-effective alternative to on-campus programs, even when tuition rates are identical.”
What to Expect
Like all MBA programs, online programs focus on business management terminology and the other skills needed for a successful business management career. According to the website OnlineMBA, “MBA students study big-picture thinking, core aspects of business management, and strategic decision making. Core coursework for an MBA includes accounting, finance, marketing, management, economics, and business law. Specializations may include business analytics, international business, entrepreneurship, management information systems, and real estate.”
Coursework for online MBA programs is administered through a learning management system (LMS)—a software platform such as Blackboard or Moodle—where instructors post material for students. Material may include video lectures, text chat, streaming video, audio discussions, web conferencing, and interactive video. Textbooks may also be available in electronic form through the LMS. Coursework is assigned and submitted through the LMS and may include written work or video presentations, live or recorded.
Some work in an online MBA is synchronous, which means it requires real-time attendance. Examples include lectures and discussion sessions. Other work is asynchronous, which means it can be done at any time the student wishes. Most online MBA programs include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous material.
Testing is handled differently in different programs. Some programs depend on the honor system. In other programs, students may be required to take tests at testing centers or through virtual testing services. Special fees may apply for proctoring services.
Whatever the specifics of a program, “online” does not equate to “easy,” and students should expect to work hard. “A prestigious graduate school does not hand out diplomas for half-hearted work. Prospective online students must prepare to commit the same amount of time and effort to their studies as those who learn on campus,” states the website OnlineMBA.
Not all online MBA programs are created equal. To ensure the best quality education, candidates should look for programs accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
The AACSB has over 800 members and represents the top 5 percent of the world’s business degree programs. The organization evaluates programs based on the quality of the faculty, the depth and breadth of the curriculum, the level of innovation involved in its academic research, and its ability to graduate highly qualified business professionals. Top business organizations understand the AACSB’s standards, and many have a policy of hiring only graduates from AACSB-accredited programs.
The Carson College of Business at Washington State University is AACSB accredited. The University as a whole is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, 1 of 7 regional accrediting organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education.
In addition to ensuring a high-quality education, accreditation is crucial for 2 other reasons: financial aid and transfer of credits. Online students, like their brick-and-mortar peers, are eligible for loans, scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance. At WSU, some credits from other AACSB-accredited institutions may be acceptable.
With a good-quality degree under their belts, graduates can ensure that they are positioned to enjoy the benefits of an online MBA. Whether they are looking to advance at their current company or climb the ladder through a job search, online MBA holders separate themselves from the crowd and distinguish themselves in any job application process.
About WSU’s Online Master of Business Administration Program
Washington State University’s Carson College of Business delivers one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the nation. WSU offers an Online MBA course curriculum designed to equip students with the tactics, knowledge, skills, strategies, and other resources utilized by today’s high-profile business leaders.
WSU’s Online MBA degree program offers several MBA concentrations—marketing, finance, hospitality business management, international business, and general MBA. For more information, visit WSU’s Online MBA website.
Online MBA benefits – MBA.com
What to expect – MBA.com
AACSB accreditation – Guide to Online Schools