Student and Graduate Publishing

Earning an American MBA from a Distance

Tuesday, 10 June 2014 14:12

It doesn’t seem like it has been too many years since the US Education market was struggling with the idea of the online MBA program.

Much of the confutation surrounded the notion that industry wasn’t ready to accept a virtual education credential. Obviously we’ve moved passed that hurdle as the US boasts over 355 accredited online MBA programs, with about 85 of these programs being offered from AACSB business schools. The online MBA degree is a highly sought after credential for working professionals who live a busy life trying to balance their family and work life. Years ago, I needed a business education to move into a technical management position. Going back to school full-time was impossible as I already had a fulltime job and a family of four, who all had their own daily schedule I had to support. My MBA program had to provide schedule flexibility so that I could do my assignments when I had time. The MBA also had to be low-cost, as I have three kids to put through college as well. I earned my online MBA during the birth of online programs. Today, there are many more options to support working professionals. The online MBA in the US market is growing much faster than the traditional MBA. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the increase in online applications increased by 66%; whereas, the traditional MBA applications only increased 42%. Interestingly, international students only make up a small percentage of the typical online MBA class. This may be the reason US MBA programs are working to increase the presence of this demographic. International students will gain considerable experience from their American counterparts, as over one-third of online MBAs have at least ten years of professional work experience.

The greatest challenge with the online MBA is determining which one to choose. The online MBA can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $150,000. The length of time required is around two years but you can find accelerated programs that can be completed in one year. Could something that costs so little and take so little time be of value? This was a question I asked myself before enrolling. If it had value, then the top ranked programs would buy into it too. Some elite programs have developed online MBA programs, such as Indiana University and Duke University, giving some legitimacy to the online side of the debate. Naturally, these programs will cost you more but the degree will afford you the same brand power as their traditional programs. Is there really an argument against online MBA programs? I think it’s a little late for that and the universities that aren’t on board now will be playing catch up later.

As previously mentioned, the US has a lot of options for online MBA programs. Top US online MBA programs, according to the Financial Times, include Arizona State University, Babson College, Drexel University, Florida International University, George Washington University, Indiana University, Northeaster University, Syracuse University, Temple University, and Thunderbird University, to name a few. Other top notables include the University of North Caroline, University of Nebraska and the University of Texas.

Today, the MBA is the #1 most popular online graduate program. Most critics still argue that the networking that goes on during the program, especially at elite institutions, continues to be overlooked but is the critical component to long term career success. As technology continues to grow and connecting with people becomes easier, building a network will become much easier and this argument will grow weaker. Academia also sees the argument as pointless and likely to be overcome easily with current trends in technology that improve the ability to inject a global perspective in the classroom. In other words, changes in the global economy will force the need for an understanding of a particular culture. So when American companies move abroad, they can find working professionals who are adept to the American business culture because they were able to earn an American MBA without leaving home. Not only do MBA programs want to draw global perspectives from international students, there is a growing trend in online MBA programs to develop the international view through travel opportunities during the program. Traditionally, travel opportunities were reserved for brick and mortar programs, but recently several online MBA programs have begun sending their students abroad to meet with local businesses. Universities such as Webster University, Saint Leo University, Northeastern University, Washington State University and Arizona State University have initiated programs that allow their students to learn business trends in specific countries, in person. While the visits are only a week or so in length, students visit companies like BP, Airbus and Nike in countries like Brazil, Vietnam, and France. 

The US MBA market is changing to draw in more international talent. The University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Miami have both begun offering the MBA in Spanish, breaking the trend of teaching business only in the English language. It appears that the MBA market is trying to appeal to international students. This may be the best time for international students to earn an MBA in the USA, as they’ve never had the negotiating power that you have today.

More information on studying for your MBA abroad.