Posted January 10, 2014 by

3 Things to Look For in an Online MBA Program

Ashley Dunlap

Ashley Dunlap

Online college has grown increasingly popular with professional adults, and online MBA programs are the most popular of all. If you’re thinking of earning your master’s degree in business online, you will be faced with a crowded marketplace and a plethora of options, as more and more universities launch programs to compete in this trend. There are several things to look for in an online MBA program which can help you narrow down your choices and decide on the right school for you. When you’re making your checklist, these are the most crucial factors to consider.

1. Cost

Though it would be ideal if tuition wasn’t the first determining factor in the choice of an MBA program, for many students it is. The cost of an online MBA can vary wildly from school to school, from $10,000 to over $100,000. Keep in mind that you’re not necessarily looking for the cheapest option you can find, because that often means enrolling in a school without a strong reputation or proven track record. Remember that the prestige of a school is a large part of what you’re paying for. They may have challenging coursework and brilliant professors, but if prospective employers have never heard of the school, you’ll have a tougher time getting hired.

Instead of searching for cheap schools, look for MBA value rankings. An online search can help you find programs which have a great reputation but remain affordable, or can at least offer large financial aid packages.

2. Accreditation

If you’re searching for a program with the right reputation in the business world, accreditation should not be a problem. However, it is still the most important factor in making sure you’re giving your money to a reputable school that will provide you a degree you can actually use. Regional accreditation is essential to having your degree honored and recognized by the companies you want to work for. Even though the program is online, it should be recognized by one of the six regional accreditation agencies in the country, depending on where the school is actually based.

Your degree might have even more weight if it comes from a school with a professional accreditation. Washington State University’s online MBA program, for example, is AACSB accredited, according to U.S. News & World Report.

3. Flexibility

Most students choose an online college because they have other obligations, and the cost and time involved with traveling to a university campus is less than practical. So it’s important to make sure the course format and time commitment of your MBA program works for you. While the majority of schools will offer asynchronous classes, where you complete your work whenever you have the time, you may sometimes be required to adhere to a schedule. Prestigious MBA schools can involve live-streaming lectures, video conferencing or scheduled discussions, so you should know ahead of time how often these events take place. Programs sponsored by major universities may also require you to come to campus at certain points during your study.

Flexibility can also mean length of the program. For students who are eager to enter a new stage of their career, accelerated master’s programs can fit their individual needs. Shorter University offers an accelerated MBA program that can be completed in just one year, and they have earned a reputation for value and affordability because students save time and money. Remember, in Europe, single-year MBAs have been the norm for quite some time.

Whichever MBA program you choose, you should be looking for the smartest way to get a strong return on your investment. An online MBA has lost much of the stigma of the past, and employers are now used to seeing them. But with the wide range of choices available, it’s more important than ever to find the program that will help you get ahead.

By: Ashley Dunlap

Online Marketing Specialist for The Learning House and works with several universities including Shorter University Online.

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