Online MBA programs that are actually worth your money

With many business schools and MBA programs conducting class virtually during COVID-19, opting to obtain your MBA through an online program seems to make sense.

In addition to learning from the comfort of your own home, online MBA programs offer flexibility as far as class schedules go. 

But do online MBA programs hold the same amount of clout as degrees earned in person? Will recruiters view them with the same favorability? And most importantly – will you be able to learn and master the skills and information needed to advance your career?

If you’re considering an online MBA program, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Get clear on what you want out of your MBA

“Online MBAs are appealing to many students because they are often cheaper than traditional programs or allow students to continue working during their time as a student,” says Arash Fayz, co-founder and executive director of LA Tutors 123.

“However, the opportunity cost of the time spent studying, the forgoing of other MBA programs, and the money you do have to pay means that it’s still worth carefully considering your options before attending. 

To do this, Fayz recommends comparing an online MBA program to a traditional program or another way of improving your professional status to make sure this path makes sense. “Many people get online MBAs while they are already in the workforce,” says Fayz.

“This utility will vary depending on your field and your career goals, so it is worth having a conversation with other people in your field and figuring out if an online MBA will provide you with skills or credentials that can help you specifically. It might also be worth having a conversation with your boss about whether there would be a raise or promotion that could coincide with your new skill set and degree.” 

Measure Online MBA programs against traditional MBA qualities

Once you’ve decided to pursue online programs, evaluate them the same way you would do for a traditional MBA.

“Many of the things that distinguish a good online MBA program are identical to the aspects of a strong traditional MBA: Reputation, credentials of professors, alumni outcomes, and course offerings,” says Fayz.

“Before entering any MBA program, you should research how your degree will be viewed by employers, what day-to-day classes will look like, and what are common career trajectories for alumni.” 

If you’re unable to obtain those answers quickly, Fayz says this could be a red flag. “A good online MBA program will be willing and able to answer those questions for you and potentially connect you with professors, alumni, or career counselors to answer any further questions,” he says.

“If a school is unwilling or unable to provide that information, that’s a good sign you should consider another program.” 

Opt for an MBA from top-ranked online learning programs

Of the options available, Sander Tamm, founder and CEO of E-Student, says Coursera ranks high on his list of platforms that offer competitive online MBAs.

“Coursera currently offers an online MBA from 5 different universities in several disciplines,” he explains.

“For the price point, Coursera generally outperforms what you would pay in terms of overall value. Courses are fully accredited, and university-level and most are free to audit.” 

The online Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois would be my recommendation from this platform,” Tamm adds.

“The iMBA program offers the same education that an in-person student would get. According to the site page, poets & Quants, a leading authority on business management education, called this program a ‘breakthrough.’ At a more than reasonable price of under $22,000, the value is hard to beat.” 

Consider MBA programs that make sense virtually

Suppose you’re considering getting your MBA in a tech related field. In that case, Matt Satell, CEO of Prime Mailboxes, points out that these programs are often identical, whether taught in person or virtually.

“An analytics-related MBA program is beneficial these days since most companies realize the value of data-driven business decisions that will help them expand their enterprises with the least risk of failure,” he explains.

“An analytics program delivered online is just the same as an in-class curriculum since most tools rely on software packages. All that’s needed are the quantitative and analytical skills that you can bring to the table.”