GMAT & MBA Admissions Blog

Should You Consider an Online MBA?

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Mon, Mar 28, 2022 @ 10:50 PM

A decade ago, although they were available, few would consider an online MBA. Certainly, if you were looking for an “elite” MBA from a top 20 program, it was almost out of the question. But now online MBAs are becoming more popular, even for those looking for degrees from highly selective programs. Should you consider an online MBA? Let’s explore.

First things first. Why get any type of MBA?

You may want or need to learn new hard skills, like finance, or softer skills, like how to better communicate up and down your organization. You may want to build your network, switch careers, or signal your value to future employers. Maybe you want to experiment with starting a company. A well-regarded online MBA stacks up well on many of these fronts.

How does an online MBA differ from a traditional MBA?

In some ways, an online MBA does not differ very much from a traditional MBA. If your goal is to learn new hard skills, like accounting, finance, or marketing, there is not a large difference between an online MBA and a traditional MBA. What you learn while enrolled in an online MBA Chicago at UIC will be very similar to what you learn in its full-time on campus program. Many online MBA programs required GRE or GMAT scores and are just as selective in the admissions process as traditional on-campus programs. If your goal is to advance your career, an online MBA will serve you just as well as a typical in-person program.

Many activities, like building a business or networking (perhaps the best example), can be done virtually, but really aren’t quite the same when not done face to face. Even then, you can find MBA programs explicitly billed as “Hybrid,” such as the one offered by Carnegie Mellon, to get a mixture of in-person and online interaction.

One major gap between an online MBA and a traditional MBA relates to the internship between the first and second year. This is a powerful feature, particularly for those targeting specific competitive industries like management consulting or Big Tech. Given this gap, you just need to make sure that the benefits of online MBA outweigh the costs.

What are some of those benefits?

Online MBAs are more convenient.

A key obvious benefit of ann online MBA is that you can go to class at your convenience. Anyone that is going through a traditional MBA program will find that the process can be rigid. There are typically classes, group projects, and other activities that require live attendance and rescheduling is not possible. An online program will offer you much more convenience. This can include allowing you to take classes and get projects done on your own schedule.

Online MBAs are more affordable.

A key reason you may want to go to an online school for an MBA is to save money. The cost of higher education has continued to increase rapidly in recent years. MBAs often require students to take out a lot of debt that will take years to repay. You will likely be able to manage this cost more effectively with an online MBA. When you go to an online program, you can avoid room and board costs and will also enjoy lower tuition that comes as a result of reduced overhead costs incurred by the school. And, consider both the direct and indirect costs of an MBA. A key benefit of an online MBA is that you can keep working.  If you earn $75K a year and choose an online MBA over an on-campus program, you are $150K richer in two years. You’ve been earning money while earning your MBA. And direct costs also tend to be very different. Most online MBA programs, like those at USC March and Indiana University, are significantly less expensive than their full-time cousins.

Do some people consider an online MBA inferior to an in-person MBA?

Some people still believe that a weekend or online MBA degree is lower quality than one from a full-time program. But ultimately, the brand associated with the MBA program is what is going to matter from to future employers. If you went to Kellogg, the fact that you earned your MBA at night is unlikely to matter. Post COVID-19 people are increasingly comfortable with doing everything, including having happy hours, online. This holds for earning an online MBA.


All things considered, now is an excellent time to consider an online MBA. Many highly selective, even elite, MBA programs are now offered online. The value of the brand your MBA represents is not overly affected by the online vs. in-person distinction. People are increasingly comfortable working and learning online. And the online MBA continues to be less expensive than the traditional MBA.

Topics: MBA programs, online MBA