Let’s start with the obvious; if you have any interest in earning an MBA, you either mean to improve your value to your company, to increase your potential for pay and position, or both. Let’s be clear – if you earn an MBA worth anything, you will be considered for jobs which pay well and carry great responsibility, but where you will be expected to produce great value for your employer. So if you want to pursue an MBA, you need to make sure that it will expand your skill set, and suit your personal career path.
Before discussing the Online MBA, I want to be clear about the three basic kinds of MBA (not how they are earned). The most common MBA is the basic operational MBA, where business theory is the main focus. Another type is the Executive MBA, which is designed to groom fast-track performers for C-suite responsibilities. The third type, and the newest, is the Professional MBA, a type meant for candidates with management experience, who want to augment practical knowledge and enhance cross-team performance. That third type offers a bridge between low- and mid-level management positions to senior leadership, and also provides a means for working professionals to raise their educational credentials. The professional MBA curriculum is also based far more heavily on practical experience than on simple theory. And the best Online MBA programs are focused on these working professionals, who not only represent the widest and deepest demographic for potential MBA candidates, but whose contributions provide the most realistic appraisal of business and management theories.
Therefore, you should not consider earning an MBA online if you have just finished your undergraduate studies; you would do better with a face-to-face program where you are totally immersed in theory and can develop the necessary people skills on campus. Similarly, the Executive MBA candidate is not advised to pursue an Online MBA, in part because of course selection but also because the Executive MBA program includes vital Networking opportunities. The Online MBA, however, is very effective for the professional MBA program, because working professionals already have developed people skills, they need to be able to work and study in a manner that is most time-efficient and which produces the most business value.
This brings us to what Online program to choose. Essentially, your choice should follow three factors – what will a potential employer look for, what skills do you need or want to add to your set, and what combination of price, convenience and standards are most comfortable for you? This is where my rankings come in. I’m not telling anyone where to go to school, but the list and the considered factors may be useful in your own decision. Accreditation, tuition, number of concentrations, average GMAT score, student to faculty ratio, and similar elements can help you find the best fit for your decision.