Saturday, October 16, 2010

Choosing An Online MBA Program: Four Key Questions

This is a guest post by Alexis Bonari.

Getting an online MBA might seem like a futile exercise. Most MBA programs encourage a great deal of team work and networking among the students. It has been argued that the main reason Harvard MBA graduates are so successful is because of who they know, not just what they know.

The game is quickly changing, however. For managers who already have connections at their place of employment, an online MBA might be the best fit for their busy schedules. Online MBA’s can be a boon for those who want to take the next step in their career without the hassle of attending a brick and mortar university.

Not all online MBA programs are created equal. Before committing to a particular course of study, be sure to ask these four key questions about your institution of choice:

1. Are they accredited?
Not all universities meet the proper standards to be accredited. Non-accredited universities are looked upon unfavorably by employers thanks to their reputation as “diploma mills”. Essentially, while it’s not necessary for you to attend Harvard, you should try for an institution that has some sort of competitive selection process. If you didn’t have to take the GMAT to get in, it might hurt rather than help your employment prospects.

2. What sort of networking opportunities do they provide?
Some online business schools have social networks that encourage students taking the same courses to work together on projects. This simulates the feel of a more traditional business school and allows you to meet other like-minded individuals. If you’re not working full time, some business schools will help you find internships that will vastly improve your resume.

3. Are they tech savvy?
Failure to offer an easily accessible interface for online classrooms can be a huge determent to your learning experience. Figure out whether your books will be offered in hard-copy format only, or if they can be downloaded to an e-reader. Most universities charge the same fees for an online student as they do for a traditional student, so don’t allow yourself to be shortchanged simply because you’re not present to complain in person.

4. What is the real employment outlook for their graduates?
Don’t be fooled by a sparkly new website or impressive looking printed materials. Some colleges are just better at producing quality managers than others. Word gets around in hiring circles. To further complicate matters, some business schools are more highly regarded by some professional fields than others. Research how many graduates go on to find managerial positions in companies that match your proposed career path.

Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at Online Degrees, researching areas of online colleges. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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