Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The best MBA program for physicians that is 100% online

If you're looking for an online MBA program that is 100% online (i.e., no on-campus residency required), then my #1 recommendation would be the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I'm not being paid to write this. However, keep in mind that I received my MPH (master of public health) from the UMass Amherst, so I may be a bit biased.

Here are the reasons why I think this is the #1 online MBA program for physicians:
  • The UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management offers physicians two options in which to learn the "language of business" by completing their Online MBA. Option #1 includes a partnership with the American College of Physcian Executives (ACPE). 
  • It is relatively inexpensive compared to many other MBA programs. These days, many physicians are struggling with reductions in reimbursement, so cost is very important!  The MBA program is a 37-credit program that is accredited at the highest standards by AACSB. The cost would be approximately 37 x $750 per credit = $27,750 (but there are additional fees and tuition increases due to inflation, so let's just say it's approximately $30k).
  • This program is very flexible (which has its pros and cons). However, for a super-busy physician who wants to maintain sanity (and perhaps even a family life), flexibility is key. The program is self-paced - you choose how many or few courses to take in a given semester. You have 4 years to complete the degree but many finish in 2-2.5 years. Some other online MBA programs require that you must complete the program in 2 years because you're in a cohorted program.
  • You can take up to 2 courses before you matriculate into the program. This allows you to "test the waters" so that you can determine whether the online MBA experience will work for you. Plus, you can knock off 2 courses from that list of 14 courses, so now you can actually get up to 4 years to complete 12 courses instead of 14 courses.
  • GMAT requirement is waived for physicians holding US earned medical degrees or ECFMG certification. (this is not a unique feature to this program)
  • 29% of students in the Isenberg Online MBA program are physicians. Some MBA programs are exclusively for physicians, and this has its share of pros/cons depending on how you plan to leverage your MBA when you graduate.
The biggest question you need to ask is this: How do you plan to leverage your MBA? In other words, why are you pursuing an MBA?  An online MBA isn't for everyone. Distance learning has its share of challenges. You need moderate computer skills if you're going to take all your courses online.

I admit that at one time, I seriously thought I was going to pursue an online MBA. However, my reasons for pursuing an MBA have evolved, so now, I'm much less interested in online MBA programs and I am spending much more time researching executive MBA programs (which are often not 100% online and are generally much more expensive). I would not recommend an online MBA to most non-physicians, but physicians who decide to pursue an MBA often have different career goals in mind. Depending on your goals, an online MBA could make sense.

To learn more about the UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management online MBA program, click here.

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