How to choose the right online MBA programme |

How to choose the right online MBA programme

By Keshala Jayawickrama

Updated Updated

In today's competitive business landscape, earning an MBA can be a significant step towards career advancement and personal growth. As the demand for flexible learning options grows, online MBA programmes have become increasingly popular among professionals seeking to enhance their skills without putting their careers on hold.  

Online MBA programmes offer significant benefits of flexibility, along with the advantage of some of the most sought-after MBA programmes being offered at a lower cost compared to traditional on-campus offerings. 

With a plethora of options available to study an MBA online, selecting the right one can be a daunting task. This article aims to guide you through a few of the essential questions to ask yourself when choosing an online MBA programme.  

What are your career goals? 

Understanding your career objectives is a crucial first step in choosing the right online MBA programme. Identifying what you want to achieve professionally can help you select a specialisation that aligns with your goals.  

For instance, if you're aiming for a career in corporate finance, an MBA with a finance specialisation will be beneficial. Alternatively, if your passion lies in launching and growing businesses, an entrepreneurship-focused MBA would be more appropriate.  

Does the programme hold any accreditations?  

Accreditation is a quality assurance process that evaluates the academic standards and rigor of educational institutions and their programmes. Following an accredited online MBA can be beneficial for your professional credibility and career advancement.  

A few reputable accrediting bodies for online MBA programmes include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Association of MBAs (AMBA), and the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS).  

Attending an accredited online MBA programme can significantly impact your career prospects, providing assurance of the programme's quality and acceptance by employers. While accreditations are a critical factor, they shouldn’t be the only consideration for prospective MBA candidates. 

How much are you prepared to invest financially? 

Another important factor to look at is the costs associated with studying an online MBA. The costs associated typically include tuition fees, and materials, which can vary depending on the institution and programme.  

However, financial aid options such as scholarships and employer sponsorships can help alleviate some of these expenses. Many online MBA programmes also offer flexible payment plans to accommodate students' financial situations.  

Since gaining an MBA is a long-term investment, it's essential to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of pursuing an online MBA by weighing the potential career advancements and salary increases against the programme costs before finalising your decision.  

What are the admissions requirements? 

Understanding the admissions criteria and specific requirements is also vital when choosing the right online MBA programme. Factors such as GMAT/GRE scores, work experience, and undergraduate GPA typically play a crucial role in determining the programme's competitiveness and selectivity.  

By evaluating these criteria, prospective students can better prepare their applications and understand what the programme expects from its candidates. It’s also an excellent indicator to understand if the programme's standards align with your career specific goals. 

Is the programme structure flexible enough? 

When looking for the best online MBA courses, it's essential to understand the diverse formats available and how they align with your needs and preferences. Online MBA programmes offer flexibility by offering both live and self-paced learning formats.  

Live learning involves real-time interaction with instructors and classmates, while self-paced learning allows students to access course materials and complete assignments at their own pace.  

Additionally, there are part-time and full-time options to accommodate varying schedules and commitments. Programme length and intensity vary, with some programmes offering accelerated tracks for quicker completion.   

Online MBA programmes also vary in structure, ranging from fully online to those with optional in-person meetings or extensive residential components. 

Does the curriculum offer the specialisations you need? 

The general structure of MBA programmes typically includes a combination of core courses and elective courses. Core courses cover fundamental business disciplines such as finance, marketing, operations, and strategy, providing a comprehensive foundation of business knowledge. Elective courses, however, allow students to delve deeper into specific areas of interest.  

Specialisations are crucial as they enable students to tailor their education to align with their career goals. Choosing an online MBA offering a curriculum and specialisations that aligns with your career aspirations can make you more competitive in the job market.  

Will the facilities and support services available fit your requirements? 

When searching for the best online MBA programmes, it's crucial to consider the availability of support services. Robust online learning platforms play a pivotal role in facilitating effective learning experiences, providing interactive tools, resources, and access to course materials.  

Career support services are equally essential, as they can greatly impact your post-graduation prospects. When evaluating programmes, consider the level of career support offered, including access to career coaches, job placement services, and networking opportunities.  

Additionally, check if other support services such as academic advising, tutoring, and mental health resources are available as they contribute to a well-rounded educational experience.    

What networking opportunities does the programme provide? 

Another important factor to look at is the availability of networking opportunities, which are crucial for career advancement, and at providing connections that can lead to job offers, mentorship, and industry insights.  

The majority of the best online MBA courses facilitate networking through virtual events, alumni networks, and industry connections. Many of these programmes, including those that offer online MBA scholarships, also incorporate residency or on-campus requirements, creating invaluable face-to-face networking moments.   


What is an online MBA? 

An online MBA is a Master of Business Administration programme delivered through the internet, allowing students to complete coursework and attend classes remotely. It offers the same curriculum and degree as an in-person MBA but with the flexibility to study from anywhere.  

Some programmes might include an in-person component in the form of short residencies, workshops, or networking events.  Here are a few of the best online MBA courses in 2024 according to the QS Online MBA Rankings 2024. 

Is an online MBA worth it? 

Yes, an online MBA can be worth it if it aligns with your career goals, offers accredited programmes, provides flexibility, and fits your budget. It can enhance your skills, increase your earning potential, and offer valuable networking opportunities without interrupting your current job. 

Is an online MBA valid? 

Yes, an online MBA is valid as long as it’s offered by a recognised institution and holds an accreditation from a recognised accrediting body. Employers and educational institutions generally accept accredited online MBAs, and they can provide the same level of education and career advancement opportunities as traditional in-person MBA programmes.

Will an online MBA help my career? 

Yes, an online MBA can help your career by enhancing your skills and job prospects. It is very similar to an in-person MBA, with the main difference being that the programme delivery and studying are conducted online.  

As long as it is offered by a recognised institution with proper accreditations, it holds the same value as a traditional MBA. 

Why should you get an online MBA degree? 

You should get an online MBA degree for its flexibility, convenience, and the ability to balance work and study, all the while allowing you to manage your busy day-to-day or professional activities. This will help you advance your career without disrupting your current responsibilities. 

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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