Should I Choose an Online or Full-Time MBA? | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

Should I Choose an Online or Full-Time MBA?


For those looking to pursue an MBA in the next few years, you might be confused with the variety of programmes on offer. Especially with online learning becoming a staple of 2020, you might be wondering if an Online MBA or a Full-Time MBA is the ideal programme for you. Thankfully, EDUopinions is here to help you make the decision!

Which programme is better for the seasoned professional? Does an Online MBA offer the same networking opportunities as a Full-Time MBA? We’ve spoken to course leaders from some of the top European Business Schools to help you decide between them.

Full-Time MBA

What are the benefits of a Full-Time MBA?

The main benefit of a full-time programme for professionals is the chance to get fully immersed in the MBA curriculum. As Rhoda Davidson, director of MBA programmes at EMLYON Business School says, “the full-time MBA offers the promise of personal change.

For some people, they are using the full-time MBA as a stepping-stone to change country, change industry or change job function. It’s quite simply a career decision” she adds.

For those looking to dive into a new career elsewhere in the world, the full-time MBA offers the chance to do that, linking you with companies and professionals in your desired country, and speeding up that relocation.

Other benefits include the chance to improve soft skills physically with your peers, and bond with people from all over the world, learning about different work styles and cultures.

How is an Online MBA different?

For Antonella Moretto, Associate Dean for Open Programmes at MIP Politecnico di Milano, the biggest difference between a full-time MBA and an online counterpart is the flexibility of the programme.

On one hand, you get a more structured environment, on the other, more flexibility” she says. “Both formats – even if in different ways – encourage collaboration, sharing knowledge and team working.

Arguably the biggest downside of the full-time MBA is just that—it’s full time, and students need to take up to two years out of work to complete it. The online MBA solves this problem, allowing students to “carry on working and fit your studies around your work, and so minimising the cost” as Pietro Micheli—course director of the Distance Learning MBA at Warwick Business School—explains.

For this reason, an online MBA is ideal for professionals who aren’t necessarily looking to move abroad or change functions, but just level up their skills and potentially gain that promotion they’ve been eyeing up.

Virtually everybody doing a Distance learning MBA will already have a job” Pietro Micheli points out. “The Distance Learning MBA is ideal for busy professionals looking to move up in their career, because it gives that all-round knowledge of every department and how they should align in a business.

Studies online MBA

How do I work on an Online MBA?

At MIP Politecnico di Milano, students have access to an innovative digital platform on their Online MBA, which means students can access learning material outside of classes and decide when and where to study.

Yet, this great flexibility within the learning process does not exclude personal interaction with faculty members and fellow students” Antonella Moretto adds. Through the dedicated learning platform and with a few face-to-face moments scheduled in the programme, students have the chance to meet their fellow coursemates and get the same—albeit different—social benefits of a full-time MBA.

While it may not be the same as working together in a classroom, technology like Zoom breakout rooms still give you a chance to network with your peers, and it’ll still be possible to arrange meetings with staff in the career service department over video conferencing software.

Working online also means courses and lectures can oftentimes be followed at your own pace, perfect for those who experience a lot of “dead time, like commuting on the train” as Pietro Micheli says. Students can also check lectures back in case they “didn’t quite understand a concept or can’t remember it clearly” he adds.

Antonella Moretto agrees, saying an online MBA is ideal for professionals “whose schedule is erratic” she says. On an online MBA, you can plan your lessons and learning around other commitments—which may not just be career-related, but also family.

Do I need to be worried about having a drastically different experience on an Online MBA?

An online MBA is totally equivalent to a full-time MBA” Antonella Moretto asserts. She also reckons online MBAs will only see their popularity grow in future years – outside of the year of lockdowns and working from home.

We can imagine that candidates will be keener than in the past to enrol in blended programmes, that combine on campus activities and digital learning, or even in full digital MBAs” she says.

This year has forced a radical change in our habits, boosting the digital revolution, and an online MBA could be the way to improve your digital literacy. In fact, Pietro Micheli reckons these skills will only encourage employability in the future.

An online MBA also utilises online communication and digital leadership skills that are increasingly important in our connected world—and much-sought after by business.”

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The Verdict

Ultimately, a good full-time MBA and online MBA programme will offer similar curricula – covering all the business basics so you can be sure of graduating with a solid foundation of business knowledge to take to your future career.

The main difference between the programmes is their flexibility. An Online MBA will offer the flexibility to pursue it at your own pace—Warwick’s Distance Learning MBA can be completed in up to four years.

However, if you’re looking at a big career change or even a change of country, a full-time programme might be better for you. This way, you’ll be fully immersed in a new environment and culture, and may even have the opportunity to pursue language classes at your business school if this will enhance your employability.

A full-time MBA might even boost your soft skills in a way that an online MBA programme won’t. As Rhoda Davidson says, the programme “requires you to step outside your comfort zone, give up your job, and most probably move to a new country.” Naturally, navigating all this will test not only your business acumen.

Ultimately, the choice will come down to personal preference. “Deciding between a campus course or an online programme depends on not only the academic requirements of the individual, but also their lifestyle and personal work ethic” Antonella Moretto suggests.

Whichever programme you choose, you’re sure to experience an intensive learning environment and enhance your employability—your future will certainly be bright!

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Written by
Abigail is a freelance writer specialising in higher education. She has lived in London and the Netherlands, and has a Masters degree in American Studies.

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