The business of…well, business, is busy, driven, competitive and, did we mention, busy? Once you step off the college campus and onto the fast track of making money and pursuing a career, where on Earth would you ever find the time to go back to school for your M.B.A. degree? A lot of people never take that next step because there just isn't enough time in the day to add classes to the mix. Or is there?
Having operated online for years now via e-mail, faxes, and online marketing, it should come as no surprise that the business world is beginning to promote and welcome business education and degrees earned, at least in part, with an Internet connection.
The blended, not stirred, M.B.A. degree
There are several M.B.A. programs available on the Internet, but the most legitimate and valuable ones are those commonly referred to as a "blended M.B.A. program"—a mix of traditional classroom- and group-interaction infused with a heavy dose of online instruction. For a generation of computer-savvy students brought up in a high-tech world, online education seems a logical way to seamlessly blend a busy modern work life with the pursuit of higher education.
Initially found at for-profit schools, blended M.B.A. programs are now making the rounds at public universities as well. You can find reasonably priced, high-quality programs at legitimate institutions. This is an important distinction in an industry rife with diploma mills offering online M.B.A. courses of study with very little (if any) legitimacy.
Overcoming negativity toward the online M.B.A. program
Not everyone is on board with the idea of an advanced business degree earned largely outside of the classroom. Some corporate recruiters will tell you they won't give a second thought to someone with an online degree unless they have some amazing pedigrees and job histories on their resumes. (In other words, they may be more likely to consider an online degree from a top-tier school.) Other critics cite a lack of professional networking and personal interaction as a huge weakness in providing a quality education and view such programs as something of a half-baked M.B.A. degree.
But networking may all be in the eye of the beholder. Proponents for online programs believe that the type of networking that goes on electronically may enable students to actually stretch further into the realm of professional contacts and communication with professors. Students can reach across borders and large bodies of water to make contact with people they might never have had the ability to meet otherwise, a critical component of top M.B.A. programs.
Several highly regarded business schools are convinced that online program elements offer unspoken opportunities for global education and networking that they offer an online M.B.A. program of one variety or another.
Picking the good M.B.A. courses
The number one thing to look for to ensure you're considering a legitimate degree program is accreditation. Since pretty much all diploma mills claim to be accredited, not just any accreditation will suffice. You want to look for schools that are accredited by a federally-recognized organization such as AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). Accreditation is your first line of defense against being had. It's also heavy on the mind of some leaders in the field of education, especially in light of a recent bill opening up federal aid to accredited online learning programs.
You should also look for programs that include some form of occasional in-class instruction and active interaction with professors, as well as academic support and resources. You don't want an M.B.A. program that leaves you to fend for yourself.
If you're not sure about the quality of the schools you're considering, you may be able to get help at www.GetEducated.com. You can use their free Diploma Mill Police service to submit an inquiry and they'll let you know if you're dealing with a scam or a legitimate school.
While an online M.B.A. program may not be for everyone, it may be just the thing for you. So, boot up, log on, and get an M.B.A.!