Are you considering a career in business analytics, finance, or management? Or maybe you want to start your own company. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) can help you accomplish your personal and career goals. If you’re currently employed and/or have other responsibilities with your family or in your community, however, you might feel that attending graduate school and earning a degree is out of reach.
While online MBA programs offer flexibility in scheduling, a curriculum consisting of solely virtual content doesn’t allow for in-person interaction with faculty and peers as you would find with the social calendar and events available from full-time MBA programs offered on campus. Networking is a major component of the business world, so professionals who opt for online degrees may be at a disadvantage in the future when they skip these real-world interactions. Conversely, on-campus programs are often not a realistic solution for individuals who are already employed and need a steady income to cover tuition expenses.
Fortunately, there are program options that meet the scheduling needs of working professionals and allow for some fact-to-face educational and social interactions during the ocassional campus visit. Hybrid MBA programs blend the two together, offering accessibility to a balanced curriculum that allows students to complete their studies while also working full-time. These is called a hybrid or dual degree. This type of degree still qualifies a student for a wide variety of leadership and management positions in many different business-related disciplines such as human resources, health administration, accounting, management, and information technology systems.
Is an MBA Right for You?
Hybrid degrees aren’t for everyone, and neither are MBAs. Before spending hours sorting through various MBA programs, hybrid or otherwise, it’s important to research all of your options thoroughly. The first step is confirming that an MBA in any format is the best way to reach your goals.
The MBA is a common degree preference for professionals interested in advancing their careers through academics. While not all business industries require candidates to possess a graduate degree, upper-level management and leadership positions are often reserved for those who do. Other employers may also require employees to have an MBA in order to be considered for promotions, especially once they hit a specific paygrade. At the very least, hiring committees may have policies that will give preference to candidates with an MBA, as this advanced degree proves a more in-depth understanding of and full commitment to the field.
It’s important to realize that MBAs do not guarantee career advancement, but they do allow for the development of supplemental skills and provide professionals with an edge over the competition. They also often lead to more financial security. Pursuing and completing an MBA degree may entitle you to a higher salary. In most cases, those who have graduate degrees earn more than those without.
The potential for career advancement and a higher salary are only two possible reasons a person might begin working toward an MBA degree. This option may also be worth considering if you have specific interest in studying business, plan to apply for leadership roles, want to change careers, or are starting your own business. Because the content covered in an MBA program consists of both general business, finance, and management techniques, the info you obtain can be easily transferred to other industries. In essence, MBA graduates are extremely marketable, regardless of their specific career plans and aspirations.
Having an MBA should significantly increase the number of employment opportunities available to you. While professionals with an undergraduate degree will likely find a number of entry-level business and management positions to apply for, those with a graduate degree are often preferred and will be given preference, especially for upper-level, leadership, and executive roles.
People with an MBA will be qualified to apply for work in a variety of industries, but some of the most common employment opportunities include:
- Budget Analyst
- Business Operations Manager
- Financial Analyst
- Health Information Manager
- Health Policy Analyst
- Healthcare Administrator
- Human Resources Manager
- Information Systems Manager
- Information Technology Director
- Logistics Manager
- Market Research Analyst
- Marketing Manager
- Operations Research Analyst
- Product Manager
- Project Manager
- Purchasing Manager
- Revenue Manager
- Securities Analyst
- Sports Manager
- Top Executive
While every industry is different, job prospects business-related professions are very promising. Based on information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals in the business and financial services and operations field will experience a 10% increase in employment between the year of 2016 and 2026. When compared to all other occupations, the projected job growth in this industry is faster than average.
MBAs are one of the most sought after graduate degrees available in the United States. In fact, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website reported more business students and professionals enrolled in MBA programs during the 2012-2013 school years than any other. Additionally, according to Forbes, the MBA was one of the best master’s degrees for jobs in 2017. Almost half of the positions mentioned in the top 30 rankings could be attained with an MBA degree. Programs that focused on corporate finance, general management, strategic management, and statistics provided some of the best outcomes.
It’s also worth noting that, according to data provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2013, business, finance, and sales professionals all earned more money after earning a master’s degree. The salary impact of an MBA varied, but some occupations earned as much as 90% more money than professionals without a graduate degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median wage for business and financial occupations was $67,710 in 2017. Because an MBA can be utilized in a variety of industries, however, it’s important to research salary information about your specific area of interest. Job type, title, and location are all important factors that impact final wage amounts and, as a result, business-related industries pay much more than $67,710 yearly. Executives, human resource managers, and financial managers all made an average salary well over $100,000 in 2017.
Potential Course Content
Every program is a little different, but most MBAs follow a schedule that allows them to be completed within one to two years. In most cases they consist of between 30 and 60 credit hours of coursework, but some core requirements may be waived with adequate professional work or life experience. Expedited programs with flexible scheduling options are also cometimes available upon request for working professionals with demanding schedules. And, even online programs usually allow students to access the campus library remotely, provide them an email address, and allow them to use additional student focused services, such as homework aid and technical support from their IT center.
Specific course offerings and titles are likely to vary from institution to institution, but students can expect to take classes related to the following topics:
- Leading Teams and Organizations
- Data Analysis
- Financial Reporting and Analysis
- Microeconomics for Managers
- Strategic Marketing Management
- Global Strategy
- Operations Management
- Corporate Finance
- Decision Modeling
- Operations Strategy
- Managerial Accounting
- Managing the Emerging Enterprise
- Competitive Strategy
- Marketing Strategy
- Legal Environment and Ethics
- Responsibility in Global Management
- Business Research
- Managerial Economics
- Foundations in Teamwork
- Public Speaking and Writing
Hybrid MBA vs. Online and On-Campus Programs
If you believe that an MBA is right for you, then it’s time to decide what kind of program will suit your lifestyle and career goals best. As you begin your search, you’ll find that there are numerous colleges and universities that offer advanced business degrees of all kinds. In fact, some institutions offer two versions on the same degree, one for on-campus students and one for distance learners. There are three main options to consider: on-campus, hybrid, and online.
On-campus MBA programs are best described as traditional. The courses are taught at the college or university and students are expected to attend them in person. Online programs, however, can be completed remotely. Students participate in classes that are provided online and, as a result, they never have to set foot in an institution facility. They may also be able to start whenever they like, rather than waiting for Fall classes to begin. Hybrid MBA programs bridge the gap between traditional and remote learning. While between 50 and 95 percent of coursework is completed online, students are required to attend campus residencies or immersion experiences.
Every program has something to offer, but keep the following factors in mind as you consider your academic and professional needs.
For the most part, on-campus, hybrid, and online MBA programs consist of similar courses. Most of the information covered can be learned in person or virtually, so students in both settings will have ample opportunity to thrive. Because the same materials will be used across all program types, those enrolled in online and hybrid programs need not worry that they will be less informed than their on-campus counterparts. With advancing technology, even class discussions can be easily facilitated. It’s worth noting that those who plan to create an online business may benefit more from remote learning, as their learning space and methods will closely relate to their final working atmosphere. However, distance learning may not as easily facilitate connections between students and faculty or alumni.
Many potential students worry that online or hybrid MBA programs are subpar in comparison to on-campus ones. In some cases, this is absolutely true. Not all MBA degrees are made equal. That’s why you will need to carefully research your options before enrolling.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind is accreditation. This is what adds credibility to your degree. All colleges and universities can choose to become accredited by a reputable agency. To do this, the institution has to prove that their program adheres to a number of quality standards. There are many organizations that accredit MBA programs, but the most prominent agencies that are internationally renowned are:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- The Association of MBAs (AMBA)
- European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)
- The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
More than all other options, the AACSB is the most reputable of these organizations. This agency, however, accredits only a few online and hybrid MBA programs internationally. Students in search of an online or hybrid degree are more likely to find programs accredited by the DETC.
In addition to international agencies, colleges and universities may seek accreditation with regional organizations. While not as prominent, these are usually sufficient for students and professionals who plan to work in a particular area. Regional accreditation agencies ensure that the educational and professional standards of a specific region are maintained.
The value of your degree greatly depends on the accreditation of the institution you select, regardless of whether you prefer a hybrid or on-campus program. Depending on your professional goals, you’ll want to avoid colleges and universities that are not accredited.
Another common concern about hybrid and online MBA degrees is that they will not be considered equal to those received in a traditional academic setting. The truth is that some employers do not view remote degrees the same way they do on-campus ones. Hybrid programs have a slight advantage, as institutions with them tend to have more requirements and higher admittance standards. This is especially true if the institution in question is properly accredited by a reputable organization. Accreditation is really the more important factor for potential employers to keep in mind.
Remote education hasn’t been around long, which is why some older employers may not understand it. This trend is gradually shifting, however. Research indicates that people are beginning to perceive online education more positively. In most cases, hybrid and online degrees are considered just as credible as on-campus ones.
One of the biggest drawbacks of an online MBA degree is that students do not have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. There’s significant concern that, while completing comparable assignments and participating in remote discussions provide sufficient exposure to content, these things aren’t enough to prepare students for real-world business and management responsibilities, such as giving directions to underlings.
Whether this is an accurate concern is still up for debate, largely due to the fact that different industries have varying experience requirements. To determine whether a hybrid MBA degree will work for you or not, you should first consider the type of work you plan to do. For example, administrators whose primary job is to work with and supervise a large staff would likely benefit from in-person communication experiences, whereas financial analysts who work primarily with numbers may not.
Regardless of your career goals, it’s important to realize that enrolling in a solely online program will not provide many, if any, opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. If these activities are necessary for the job you seek, an on-campus or hybrid program is likely the best option for you. Hybrid MBAs aren’t as hands-on as a traditional degree may be, but they do usually offer several condensed and accelerated residency or immersion experiences.
As mentioned previously, networking plays a hefty role in the world of a business professional. Unfortunately, the nature of online education doesn’t allow for many in-person interactions with faculty and peers. Frankly, it’s much easier to build a network of like-minded colleagues when enrolled in an on-campus MBA program.
That isn’t to say, however, that it’s impossible to network unless earning a traditional degree. While online programs make it difficult to create personal connections with current and future professionals, hybrid MBAs do a little better. Because students are required to participate in a number of residency experiences, they do have the opportunity to connect with other individuals in their field.
MBA Hybrid Program Admission Requirements
Generally speaking, the requirements for all types of MBA programs are relatively similar across the board. Whether you’re interested in a traditional or remote degree, you should expect to provide the following:
- Official transcript(s) that confirm completion of a four-year bachelor’s degree
- GMAT and/or GRE test scores
- Full-time, professional work experience
- Professional resume with educational background
- Admission essay(s) and/or personal statement
- Letters of recommendations
- TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable
While application requirements are often similar, hybrid and online admissions boards do tend to set less rigorous standards. For example, these MBA programs may not require either or both the GMAT and GRE tests. In many cases, test scores can be waived as long as the candidate has sufficient and relevant professional work experience in the field. This is rarely the case for on-campus MBA programs, although there are certainly exceptions.
A study conducted by Poets & Quants also found that traditional programs often have higher test score averages than do hybrid and online programs do. When considering schools that offer both MBA types, the average scores for enrolled students was almost always higher for on-campus programs. One potential explanation for this is that hybrid and online programs are often preferred by full-time professionals who are more concerned with their current employment responsibilities than they are with studying for entrance exams.
The Cost and Benefits of Face-Time
Hybrid MBAs don’t only offer flexible class scheduling options; they also often cost less than a traditional degree. Tuition varies drastically depending on the institution and its location, but remote options are generally more economical.
Obviously, the expense of a traditional education does come with certain advantages. Earning an MBA on-campus will provide easier access to faculty, staff, and various campus resources. Students are also more likely to build a large professional network and receive more hands-on work experiences.
It’s important to realize that hybrid MBA programs will often cost more than online only programs. This is because there are some on-campus responsibilities. Hybrid MBA students must also add travel, room and board, meals, and missed time at work when calculating their expenses. Ultimately, you will need to choose an MBA program that fits your budget and will help you achieve your personal and professional goals. In cases where it’s necessary, face-time via a hybrid or on-campus degree is worth extra expense.