Though the full-time MBA degree is the preferred method of study for most people considering a business education, a part-time MBA can often be far more convenient.
After all, the commitment of leaving a job that you might like, and even leaving the region or the country that you are in may not suit everyone, particularly those with family, friends and roots in a region.
However figures from a recent TopMBA.com poll shows that around a third of MBA candidates would consider taking a part-time MBA degree.
It is the need to stay in work and to pay one’s way through an MBA degree that attracts a proportion of candidates to part-time MBA degrees.
There are a large number of people whom, for one reason or another, are unwilling or unable to pay out the fees in advance of a full-time MBA course. For those, remaining in the workplace is the only viable option.
Nowadays the best business schools are offering very well-organized part-time MBA courses which provide alumni with the same qualification as a full-time MBA degree.
In the modern economic climate, the part-time option has seen an increase in interest, according to QS research. After all, not everyone either wants to or is able to leave their secure employment at this time, as the risks involved are quite clear.
Professor Susan Miller, MBA academic director at Hull University Business School, says: “In the current climate, many people who are in employment are not prepared for the insecurity of quitting their job for a qualification which, although internationally recognized as enhancing career options, has no concrete employment at the end.”
To cater for this, the best business schools now have very viable part-time MBA courses.
These can take place after work, at weekends, during holiday periods, and are extremely demanding on the student. After all, balancing the rigors of a full-time job, family, and social life are quite enough for most people, so adding a very demanding MBA degree on top is a major challenge.
However, it is that challenge that makes part-time and distance-learned MBA alumni an attractive option to some recruiters.
Sej Butler, a recruiter at IBM, says that this demonstrated ability to keep several balls in the air at the same time can in fact make such alumni desirable to recruiters.
Professor Miller points out that the advantages to employers are immediate on part-time MBA courses.
“The benefits are almost instantaneous. Teaching takes place over long weekends to offer maximum flexibility to both participants and employers, and means that students are able to put their learning into practice as soon as they get back into the workplace on the Tuesday morning.”
But what about the downsides of a part-time MBA degree?
Clearly, the full-time MBA student has the benefit of immersion in his or her program, as well as constant and daily exposure to the professors and other students on the course. It also allows for a bit of distance, a step away from the workplace, in order to evaluate the student’s thoughts and feelings about how their career is evolving.
For the part-timer the networking opportunities are trickier, although students do still get to meet, chat, talk business and form lasting friendships. It’s obvious that these opportunities are going to prove more problematic in establishing networks than they would be on a full-time program however.
Despite any downsides, the best business schools offer part-time MBA courses that are every bit as academically rigorous as their full-time cousins.
The MBA degree is the same, you will still have the letters and the prestige of the school name associated with you, you will still learn an enormous amount of information and learn to juggle the hardship of an MBA as well as full-time work and personal life.
Though networking will require a lot more effort, the benefits of a part-time MBA degree more than outweigh the negatives. Our recommendation is to speak to as many alumni as possible and to find out how they managed the course. This kind of insider information is invaluable.