Should you do an online MBA?

Why get your MBA at a bricks and mortar business school when you can get the same value through an online course? After all, in today’s digital world, everything is done online, right? In reality, it’s not as simple as that. It’s not necessarily true that online MBA programs offer the same value as traditional on-campus MBAs.

Online MBA programs are convenient and affordable.

Of course, there are some upsides to opting to do your MBA online. The biggest benefit is probably the cost, which usually works out to be much lower than that of a traditional MBA program. In addition, online MBAs offer a great level of flexibility and convenience, making it easier to fit your MBA classes around your existing schedule and lifestyle, no matter where in the world you live.

But as many MBA graduates will tell you, the value of an MBA goes far beyond the academics. The entire experience – from campus life, to company trips, to group projects, to networking events – contributes to each candidate’s overall learning experience.

Online MBAs don’t allow for travel opportunities.

If the toss up is between doing an online MBA or doing an MBA abroad, opting to go the online route means you’ll be missing out on some unforgettable travel opportunities. The top MBA programs include field trips to a range of diverse countries. In fact, some MBA programs at the top business schools in the world see students spending time in up to six different countries in just one year. Try squeezing that much juice out of an online learning experience! Not only is travel an enriching experience in and of itself, but it’s also an essential part of getting to grips with international business practices. International MBAs are designed to help students grasp the importance of cultural awareness when doing business across borders.

Company visits don’t feature in online MBA curriculums.

Alongside international field trips, prestigious MBA curriculums include organised company visits and study trips. These are invaluable opportunities for getting hands-on experience in a real-world setting, as well as an insider’s perspective on the day-to-day operations of highly successful multinational companies. Online curriculums also don’t include conferences, recruitment events and professional speakers. This hands-on elements are the reasons why getting your MBA in a more traditional setting might be a better idea.

Networking is much efficient in a face-to-face setting.

It’s well known that one of the biggest reasons why getting your MBA is such a huge career investment is because the program allows you to grow your network of professional connections. Although online courses do encourage student interaction via online forums, ‘meeting’ online just doesn’t leave the same impression as a face-to-face interaction. Connections made via an online course just don’t compare to the kind of network an MBA graduate nurtures through a traditional MBA program.

Online MBAs don’t encourage teamwork or instil leadership qualities to the same extent.

Similarly, group work will be less rewarding and stimulating on an online course. Sure, online MBAs have forums where classmates can live chat and collaborate on projects. But if you’ve ever held a brainstorming session over Skype, you’ll know that it’s nothing like brainstorming together in the same room, whiteboard covered in scrawled ideas and coffee cups steaming. Just as teamwork is difficult to encourage online, so leadership qualities are less likely to emerge in a distance-learning setting. This begs the question: why get your MBA at all if you’re going to miss out on all the benefits offered by being physically present?

Some employers may not value an online MBA as highly.

The stigma around online MBAs is no longer as strong as it once was. These days, so long as the business school is accredited and respected, whether you earned your MBA online or on-campus probably won’t matter to potential employers. That said, there are still some employers and companies who may not put as much stock in your MBA should they discover you earned it online. While this isn’t always the case, it is something to bear in mind when making your decision.

The ESSEC Global MBA is a 12-month intensive MBA that promises students all of the benefits of traditional brick and mortar MBA programs outlined above. With campuses in Paris and Singapore, a diverse student body, and a focus on international business, the ESSEC Global MBA curriculum includes international field trips, company visits, leadership training, and more. For more information on the ESSEC Global MBA program, download our brochure.

Still not sure what kind of MBA program is best suited to your needs? Download our guide for expert advice on what to consider when choosing an MBA program.

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