If business is your passion, it may be time to consider how a master's degree in business administration can help you step out of your current work role and into a position of greater influence.
- The MBA has long been considered one of the hallmarks of successful business executives. Graduates often walk away from school with not only a degree but also a network of professional contacts and real-world experience they can immediately leverage in their next job.
- Traditional full-time MBA programs may take two years complete while those studying part-time may earn their degree in three years. Accelerated programs at some schools make it possible to finish an on-campus or online master's degree in business in as little as a year.
In the past, students may have had to take time off work and travel to business school to enroll in a program. However, today you can earn a business master's degree online. It's an innovation that is bringing high-quality business education to students across the country.
Why Get a Master's Degree in Business?
Unlike other professional degrees such as law degrees or medical degrees, an MBA isn't a required credential for any specific occupation. That doesn't mean they aren't valuable though.
New MBA hires had a median annual income of $100,000 in 2015, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. That's $45,000 more than the median income of new hires with only a bachelor's degree. What's more, 84 percent of employers surveyed worldwide told GMAC they plan to add more MBA hires in the coming year.
While the extra money and job opportunities are nice, they aren't the only reason businessmen and women are earning MBAs. These degrees often offer a number of other benefits, both tangible and intangible:
- Connections with other business professionals
- Experience making executive decisions in real-world scenarios
- Personal growth and the opportunity to explore dynamic issues facing the business world
- Practice communicating and working with diverse personalities
Phil Powell, chair of the Kelley Direct Online MBA at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, says a graduate degree in business is valuable for those hoping to move into an executive function. When asked who should consider earning an MBA, Powell says, "anyone who wants to run an organization."
How Do You Enroll in an Online Master's Degree Program?
The process to enroll in an online master's degree in business program is usually the same as how students would apply for a traditional campus-based degree. Many schools now have an online application process in which require a combination of the following:
- Personal statement
- Letters from references
- Official transcripts from undergraduate studies
- GMAT or GRE scores
- Application fee
However, don't expect to move directly from an undergraduate program to an MBA. "All the top-ranked MBA programs require two years [work] experience," Powell says. Check with your schools of choice for more details on their requirements and application process.
Of course, students first need to decide which schools interest them. For that, Powell suggests considering where a person hopes their career will take them. "Prospective MBA students need to begin with the end in mind," he says.
Filling Out a Request Form
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What's the Difference Between an Online and Campus-Based Degree?
According to Powell, not much. "The delivery method is the only difference," he says. "The value is the same."
- Students earning an online master's degree in business should receive the same instruction as those studying on-campus. Each school will have its own system, but typically students may log in at their convenience to review course materials and complete assignments. In addition, there may be scheduled discussions and lectures during which all students will be required to log-in at the same time to participate.
"This isn't the 90s," says Powell, noting advances in technology have allowed schools to seamlessly replicate their on-campus programs for the digital world. "There's no reason you can't deliver the same MBA content online."
Why is Online College Good for Master's Degrees in Business?
Many MBA students already have a business career underway, and an online college may offer the most convenient way to continue working while earning an advanced degree. In many cases, students can review class materials at any time which can minimize disruptions to a person's job schedule. What's more, choosing an online college can open up access to top programs to students from across the country, and even the world.
Does Location Matter for an Online Master's Degree in Business?
While online colleges can make it possible for far-flung students to enroll in MBA programs, that isn't to say geography shouldn't play a role in deciding which school to select. Some schools may require students to visit campus one or more times to participate in workshops or other activities.
In addition, Powell says graduates will want to look for schools that provides a network of alumni that share their geographic region. Someone planning to work in New York may find more value in the a program from a school near the East coast than one located in California since it may be more likely to connect them with business professionals and alumni who will work in the same circles as them.
Earning a business master's degree online is no longer a second-rate option. Today's programs offer the same high-caliber education as on-campus degrees. Request more information from online MBA programs to learn how accessible this prestigious degree can be.
1. Phil Powell, Chair of Kelley Direct Online MBA, interview with the author
2. Should You Get an MBA? Ed Batista, September 4, 2014, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2014/09/should-you-get-an-mba
3. The 10 Most Under-Rated Reasons You Should Get an MBA, Eric Jackson, November 13, 2012, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2012/11/13/the-10-most-under-rated-reasons-why-you-should-get-an-mba/#55c7c6656fa2
4. Projected Demand for Graduate Management Talent Reaches New High, http://gmac.mwnewsroom.com/press-releases/projected-demand-for-graduate-management-talent-re-1195369