An online degree is an academic degree (usually a college degree, but sometimes the term includes high school diplomas and non-degree certificate programs) that can be earned primarily or entirely through the use of an Internet-connected computer, rather than attending college in a traditional campus setting. Improvements in technology, the increasing use of the Internet worldwide, and the need for people to have flexible school schedules while they are working have led to a proliferation of online colleges that award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees
Online MBA programs offer a unique learning experience that can often be customized to meet personal preferences, schedules or goals. This type of programs can be a great choice for independent learners who prefer self-directed study in which they set the pace for course completion.
Online MBA education has come a long way in recent years, both in terms of the quality of provision and the format’s reputation. Advances in learning technology, increased connectivity and the entrance of bigger and bigger players into the market all add up to mean that an online program can no longer be considered a poor relation to its full-time equivalents.
The distance Online MBA is a part-time MBA format, and one that is largely undertaken by students who wish to remain in their current role while they study. Employer-funded candidates will make up a certain proportion of each class. However, the majority of students will be self-funded candidates who have taken the initiative to pursue an MBA, but who cannot afford to forego their salary or to relocate – or simply do not wish to.
Yet, this is where the real appeal of an MBA online becomes apparent. While traditionally, a part-time MBA candidate would be limited to schools in their local area, they can now choose to study at any one of a solid selection of highly-respected international business schools, enjoying the benefits of the school’s network, access to world-class faculty and – of course – the ability to put a prestigious, globally-recognized school on their resume.
Technological advances have, of course, allowed for great progress and innovation in delivery. As recently as 15 years ago, schools would still have had to largely send out physical copies of textbooks and contact would have been relatively slow paced. Today, the paradigm is very different. Video content, podcasts, e-books, instantaneous 24 hour contact, social media and apps – all second nature to the digital native – mean that the experience today is a very different proposition, with a combination of freely available and bespoke platforms utilized. Indeed, much of the technology that once would have been associated solely with online provision is now also used in full-time MBA provision.
Partially as a consequence of the huge leaps made in provision (other factors are also at play – see ‘career benefits’), the distance online MBA has grown hugely in popularity. QS applicant research shows that as many as 18.3% of applicants consider online MBA study, and 8.7% distance learning (respondents are, however, not limited to choosing just one format, so there is overlap here). This represents a huge increase on the 4.4% who were open to studying by distance in 2008.
The distance online MBA, it seems, is due to play a key role in the future of both the full-time and the part-time MBA, as a more and more diverse applicant pool seeks high-quality MBA provision.