Today’s business professionals have more avenues than ever to help them tackle their MBA. The large number of online and hybrid programs in today’s education market makes it easier than ever to continue your career while also continuing your education. Being a lifelong learner and earning your MBA can help improve your hire-ability, open the door to management and higher-paying positions, and teach you additional business skills that can advance your career.
Before you enter an online program, there are some important questions you should ask. Some questions will be about the MBA program and how it’s structured. Some questions will be about the online environment. It’s important to determine if an online program is a good fit for you and your career options. So, before you sign up for an online program, here is a mix of questions to ask MBA admissions counselors as well as yourself.
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Is an Online Degree Right for You?
Online learning works well for many people, but not all. Before spending the money and time on an online MBA degree, you must first ask if an online degree, in general, is a good fit for you. While online degrees provide the flexibility that is needed for many students, some find that flexibility hurts their learning more than it helps.
Do you thrive in a self-driven, online environment, or do you find yourself learning best in a classroom surrounded by people? This is the first way you can answer this question. Each individual learner’s personality and learning style will dictate the answer to this question.
Next, consider whether or not the flexibility of an online program is what you need for your current stage of life. If you are working full-time, the flexibility of an online program may be a must. If you are not already working full-time and feel that you could benefit from in-class instruction, then an on-campus program may work better. Similarly, if you struggle with too much flexibility making it hard to meet deadlines, you may be better served with an on-campus degree.
Finally, consider your budget. Do you need to save money on your graduate school expenses? Degrees will vary in whether or not they offer tuition discounts for online degree programs. Yet even if the tuition cost per credit is the same, online education tends to be more affordable because you do not have the living costs of an on-campus lifestyle. Saving money on room and board while also being able to continue in your career can make an online degree a more affordable option for many students.
Are you Self-Motivated and Self-Disciplined?
Another question to ask yourself is about your own personal motivation. For an online MBA program to be successful, you must have a high level of self-motivation. While you will be able to meet with classmates and instructors online, you won’t have regular class times to help keep you on track, so you must have intrinsic motivation to keep working through your studies.
When assessing your personal motivation, ask yourself why you want the degree. What are your goals for your degree, and will the online program help you reach those goals? Similarly, is an online degree the only way to reach those goals in your current stage of life? Answering these questions will help you nail down your own motivation as you make the right choice for your MBA training.
Online education also requires a high level of self-discipline. You will need to manage your schedule to get everything done by the final deadline. Scheduling time to study is not always easy when you are in the midst of your career, but it is essential to success in an online MBA program. These online programs often have fewer built-in deadlines than classroom programs, so you must be able to carve out your study and work time and set your own deadlines to stay on track.
Remember, you are going to invest a lot of time and money into your MBA. Make sure you are maximizing your investment by checking your own motivation and discipline to ensure you are a good fit for the online program.
How Long is the Program?
When making a list of questions to ask the MBA interviewer, be sure to ask about the length of the program. Unlike a bachelor’s degree program, most MBA programs last two years. However, accelerated online business degrees may have even shorter lengths, or they can be designed to take as long as you need as you fit them in between work and family responsibilities.
Having a good idea of the length of the program will help you decide if it will fit your career and education goals. This is an area where many schools have slightly different answers, so make sure to ask as you are making your choice about degree and school. If you need to attain your degree by a specific time in order to be in line for a promotion or new opportunity, you need an online MBA program that you can complete by that time.
Are There Any Differences Between Online and Traditional Programs?
The simple answer is yes. After all, one offers in-person instruction, the other is online. But there’s more to it. For instance, in some schools, the tenured faculty teach on campus, while adjunct faculty teach online. (This could be a good thing in that the adjunct faculty may have more experience and expertise teaching online.) At other institutions, the same instructors teach both in-person and online. Be sure to ask your admissions professional about these before making the choice about your degree.
You likely already know the differences in the way the education is delivered if you are considering an online degree, but this question needs to dig a little deeper. In addition to looking at the instruction delivery method, you should also consider the pacing of the courses. With online courses, you may have self-paced instruction, whereas with on-campus instruction you will meet at the professor’s schedule. In addition, you may find that your online degree programs include accelerated options, which fit more instruction into a shorter period and thus are faster-paced.
Another difference can be in the content of the course. As online graduate school is becoming more accepted, schools are striving to deliver the same quality content with online delivery as they deliver on-campus. Still, asking about it is the best policy. Make sure the online and on-campus programs deliver the same high-quality content you need to be successful throughout your career.
What Are Your Financial Aid Options?
Most online degree programs from accredited schools have the same financial aid options as on-campus programs. You can get loans, scholarships, and grants just as you would with a traditional program. However, learning what financial aid is available for your chosen degree path is always a good idea. Your admissions counselor will be able to guide you toward the financial aid options that are available to you, and you may find out about options that you didn’t know existed.
What Are Your Concentration Options?
Master’s degree programs in business usually involve some sort of concentration. In addition to the general business training, you will focus much of your study on your area of concentration. Some common MBA concentrations include:
- Information technology
- Management information systems
- Healthcare administration
- Project management
There are many more options as well. Of these, information technology has one of the highest-earning potentials with an estimated $146,360 annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Marketing with a focus on internet marketing can also be high up there on the list. The BLS estimates the average salary for marketing managers to be $135,900.
If you know the expected trajectory of your future career, you can choose a concentration that fits, but you will want to be sure that your online degree program offers that training. If your degree path is not clear, a multidisciplinary concentration provides a well-rounded overview of important business topics.
Is there Faculty and Peer Interaction?
A final consideration to make in your choice of MBA program is whether or not you need a lot of faculty and peer interaction. Some students thrive when they receive this type of interaction, while others do just fine in a self-paced environment. An online learning platform does not have the same question-and-answer format as the traditional classroom, and this can impact your learning experience.
Even if you are a self-motivated learner who can thrive in an online learning environment, you do want the program you choose to have some faculty and peer interaction. This is often where some of the greatest learning takes place. Online forums, chat groups, and discussion-based projects can all help facilitate this faculty and peer interaction in an online environment. When choosing a program, you need to find one that accommodates faculty and peer interaction in the online format, so you do not lose this valuable learning venue.
What’s the Answer?
Before enrolling in an MBA, important questions and their answers will help you make the right choice. By asking yourself and your school these questions, you will be able to not only choose whether or not an online MBA is right for you, but it can also help you identify the right program for your career goals.
If you are looking for a high-quality online MBA program, consider Post University. With concentrations in corporate innovation, project management, leadership, healthcare systems leadership, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, and multidisciplinary studies, HR, and supply chain management you can choose a degree path that works for you. This program is available both online and on-campus, so you can choose the learning venue that works for you without sacrificing the quality of your education. Reach out to an admissions counselor today to learn more about the online MBA from Post University.
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