MBAs are traditionally the best way to climb the ladder in the business world, whether you want to advance in your company, transition to a more senior role at another company or become an entrepreneur.
However, to gain admission to a program, most prospective students need at least a few years of work experience.
Ten or 15 years ago, getting an MBA meant one of two things for the average working professional: either burning the candle at both ends for a couple of years to make time for both classes and work or dropping out of the work force to focus on going back to school.
But these days, it’s not like that. Online MBA programs have made it easier than ever to earn an advanced degree in business, without the need to interrupt your career. And online MBAs are getting more popular; in 2016, online programs saw a 57 percent increase in application volume.
It's the same with other qualifications, like an online IT degree. That’s because these degrees offer all of the benefit of traditional programs and fewer of the inconveniences.
Online MBAs Offer Flexibility
For most prospective students, the biggest benefit of earning an MBA online is the flexibility these programs offer. Most students who enroll in online MBAs are older working professionals with an average age of 35.
These are adults who already have established, advanced careers and families; they need a degree program that offers flexibility, so they can fit class work into already-hectic schedules.
That’s not the only way in which online MBAs are more flexible than many traditional programs. Many will also waive GMAT requirements for prospective students who have at least three years of work experience, although each program’s exact requirements for a GMAT waiver will vary.
Plus, online programs typically give students more time to complete degree requirements than traditional programs, meaning you won’t have to take classes full-time if that’s not feasible for your lifestyle. You could have up to six years to complete your degree, instead of just one or two.
Students Come From All Walks of Life
If you attend a traditional MBA program, chances are you’ll meet a lot of people who come from the local area — unless, of course, you’re able to gain admittance into an elite program. Your cohort at a traditional program will also be much younger, with less real-world business experience.
They won’t have as much insight into the business world as an older cohort might.
But, if you enroll in an online masters program in Ohio, for example, you won’t just be attending classes with people from Ohio. International students flock to online MBA programs, so you’ll get the chance to network with and learn from students from all over the world.
You’ll also get to know older, more experienced students, who bring with them the knowledge they’ve gained over several years of experience across a range of industries.
You Won’t Miss Out on Group Work in an Online MBA
Traditional MBA programs emphasize group work, and quality online MBA programs do, too. Group work is a cornerstone of business education because it’s so important to learn how to work in a team and lead a group. In most programs, you’ll be required to do frequent group projects, and that will mean learning to collaborate in difficult circumstances.
Some team members may be in Los Angeles while others are in London and still others are in Sydney, Australia — but you’re going to need to figure out how and when to sit down together, virtually, and get to work.
Many programs also use video communications technology to bring students from all around the world together in one virtual classroom for synchronized lessons.
Study Abroad Trips Are Often Required
Learning to communicate and collaborate effectively with teams that are spread out across many time zones is just one way online MBA programs address the unique requirements of doing business in a global economy.
Students are often allowed to attend study abroad trips, where they’ll meet in person to learn about the unique business environment and culture in a specific country. You’ll travel to Tokyo, Dubai, Paris, New Delhi or another city to meet with business leaders there, make presentations and practice doing business across cultural barriers.
Not only will this give you valuable international business experience, it’ll be a great bonding and networking opportunity with members of your cohort.
Online MBA programs are getting more and more popular, and it’s easy to see why. More professionals than ever before are able to use distance learning technologies to improve themselves and advance in their careers. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be one of them.