Online MBA, Executive MBA or Part Time MBA – What is the Right Choice?

The decision to acquire an MBA degree could be an excellent way to take your career to the next level. An MBA degree cannot only help you understand the nitty-gritty of the business & management world, but it can also open up new vistas of job opportunities with handsome salary packages.

Not to forget that an MBA program also offers networking opportunities. While career development is one of the major reasons more and more youngsters are pursuing an MBA now, many are also opting for this degree for personal accomplishment and skill enhancement.

However, the toughest part comes before you enroll in an MBA program. That is when a host of questions pop up in your mind?

  • What is an MBA?
  • What are the specialization courses of MBA?
  • How many types of MBA courses are there?

The list goes on. 

Today, we will try to clarify a fundamental question for you: Online MBA, Executive MBA, or Part-time MBA – What is the right choice for you?

Online MBA

As the name suggests, an online MBA program is conducted via an online platform as opposed to the offline classroom model. That is the most significant difference between online and offline MBA programs. While the coursework and course time-frame of an online MBA program remains essentially the same as offline programs, many online MBA programs are cost-efficient – the average fees of a 2 years course is lesser than that of an offline MBA course. 

The top advantage of an online MBA program is that it allows you to option to attain an MBA degree without leaving your comfort zone and even full-time jobs. Unlike an on-campus MBA course in a B-school, an online MBA program does not require you to relocate to another location for studying. Many reputed B-schools have an online MBA course, so you can choose from the best and learn at your own pace and convenience. Online MBA programs include a host of interactive multimedia tools, concepts, and varied industry assignments, thereby providing a comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge to students.

Advantages of opting for an Online MBA program are:

  • Flexibility: Since the entire coursework is conducted online, you have the option to choose the most convenient time-slot for study. You can access all the course materials, study sessions, assignments, etc. whenever you wish to and from any location.
  • Networking opportunities: Students from any corner of the world or the country can enroll for an online MBA program. Hence, you get the chance to study and interact with classmates from different parts of the country/world, educational background, expertise, etc. 
  • Introduction to online tools: Online tools (Skype for Business, Hootsuite, Woorank, Google Analytics & AdWords, etc.) have gained massive popularity in the business world. Online courses incorporate an array of such interactive multimedia tools to help students gain hands-on working experience with these.

Eligibility Criteria –

  • A Bachelor’s degree from a recognized University.

Executive MBA (EMBA)

An EMBA or Executive MBA is a 15 to 24 month MBA program specially designed for professionals having business / managerial experience. Typically, EMBA students work at full-time jobs and take their classes on weekends. Naturally, the course is fast-paced (covering the same material as an MBA course) with fewer electives and assignments. 

An EMBA program is an expert level MBA course designed to boost the leadership, managerial, and critical thinking skills of working professionals. Unlike an MBA course where you will bear the course fee yourself, an EMBA course is in some cases funded by employers (if not entirely, then a significant portion of it). This is because the employers will eventually benefit from the skills their employees will acquire from the program. 

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The advantages of opting for an EMBA program are:

  • Enhance leadership skills: Since the students are experienced professionals who are already experts in specific fields, this program aims to equip them with the right leadership and administrative skills to manage teams and projects much more efficiently.
  • Apply key learnings in the workspace: As we mentioned before, students taking this course retain their full-time jobs. So, they get a great chance to apply their newly acquired skills and learnings in their workspace. 
  • Networking (with an expert niche of professionals): In an EMBA program, you will learn alongside highly experienced professionals belonging from diverse backgrounds and industries. This is an excellent networking opportunity – you meet with executives in particular areas and engage in an exchange of ideas, ways of thinking and learning, and so much more.

Eligibility Criteria –

  • No entrance exams.
  • Prior work experience preferred in a managerial role.

Part-Time MBA

A part-time MBA program is essentially like an EMBA program, with the only difference being in the student’s work experience – while an EMBA program is suited for professionals with higher years of work experience, a part-time MBA program is designed for professionals who have minimum 2 years of working experience.

The other difference is the time duration of the course, EMBA program is generally of a shorter duration, anywhere between 15 months to 24 months duration. A part-time MBA program usually has two part-time options – regular and modular. While the regular format demands classroom attendance for several weekday evenings along with a minimum of  15 hours of self-study, group work, etc., the modular option includes on-campus learning through modules that extend for a week for a month or two months, with long gap period before the next module starts. Part-time MBA classes are generally conducted on weekends and the course duration is 3 years. So just like in an EMBA program, a part-time MBA program also lets you retain your full-time job.

Part-time MBA programs are perfect for professionals who have just joined the industry and wish to acquire the right workplace skills (communication skills, teamwork, critical thinking abilities, and so on). Often, part-time MBA programs are funded by employers who bear a significant portion of the course fee for the employees taking this course.

Advantages of opting for a part-time MBA program are similar to that of an EMBA program:

  • Not only do you get to keep your job and learn new skills, but you also get to apply your learnings to your workplace.
  • You can learn according to your own pace and convenience without having to compromise or adjust other priorities in your life (your job, family, etc.).
  • You get to interact and engage with people from various professional and educational backgrounds. As a result, you make valuable contacts in the industry.

Eligibility Criteria –

  • A Bachelor’s degree from a recognized University.
  • At least 3-5 years of working experience.

Which MBA Program Is Right for You?

Every individual has a unique goal, financial situation, and career orientation. Hence, when it comes to choosing an MBA program, there is no such thing as “one size fits all.” Now that you know the details about these three MBA programs, now you can give some serious thought into your situation and pick your right fit. 

For instance, if you are a professional who cannot give a full-time commitment to an MBA program, your best bet would be an online MBA program. As for professionals with extensive working experience, EMBA is the way to go. Then again, if you cannot afford to bear the costs of a full-time MBA course, it would be great to start working, gain some experience and opt for a part-time MBA course (in this case, your employer will bear the maximum course fee). So, you get the gist – the right choice is all about your individual preference, time-commitment, and financial position. 

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How will an MBA degree help me in my career?

An MBA will not only allow you to unlock a host of opportunities in your professional life but will help improve the quality of your personal life as well. By pursuing an MBA, you will be able to gain marketable skills such as strategic thinking and interpersonal communication in addition to building a strong network of capable professionals in your field. Moreover, by studying various disciplines and taking up different courses in your MBA, you will be able to gain exposure and explore your interests as well as strengths in varied subjects.

What are the possible disadvantages of an MBA?

Some of the disadvantages associated with a traditional MBA are that they are restricting (in terms of time flexibility), expensive, and do not allow one to work for the entire duration of the course. However, these are easily combatted with some of the alternatives mentioned in the article. Apart from these, it could also be difficult to judge the return on investment for an MBA program. It is also argued that the classroom teaching of an MBA cannot substitute the real-world experiences and learnings of the corporate environment, this is why it could be beneficial to gain work experience before going for an MBA program.

Is it worth it to get an MBA from a non-top business school?

Admissions in the top business schools are becoming increasingly competitive. Only a fraction of the students appearing for initial screening procedures are able to make it through. However, an MBA degree is still worth it. This is because irrespective of the reputation of the school, the curriculum will help you prepare with important knowledge for your journey ahead. Moreover, regular interaction with your peers will also help you hone your communication and leadership skills. Most importantly, your skills are always the most important part of your profile.

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