Is an Online MBA Worth it? |

Is an Online MBA Worth it?

By Nicole Willson

Updated March 3, 2021 Updated March 3, 2021

An online MBA can make you a better business leader, help advance your career, and lead to a salary increase. Whether or not an online MBA is worth it for you, however, depends on your career status and educational needs, along with what program you choose.

Online Degree vs. Traditional Degree

How do employers view online MBA degrees? It depends on the school where a job candidate got their degree. Employers are usually more concerned about the quality of your MBA program than your method of study.

Mark Taylor, the dean of Warwick Business School, told the Financial Times, “We see no evidence that recruiters discriminate between the way in which someone has studied their MBA. In fact, the feedback from employers is that our distance learning students are particularly impressive; because they are still in the workplace, will often have high levels of commercial awareness of the challenges and issues potentially facing the sectors involved and are able to utilise up-to-date and applied experience.” Taylor goes on to say that employers value the focus and determination exhibited by online MBA students as they balance work, school, and family.

An online MBA program is not for everyone, however, which is why you need to look at whether an online program will help you meet your MBA goals. In addition, not all online MBA programs are created equal; the amount you benefit from an online MBA will also depend on the quality of your program.

You also have to consider your learning style. As an online MBA student, you’ll be working at your own pace; this requires a certain level of motivation and focus. If you work better with a more structured curriculum and face-to-face interaction, a traditional brick and mortar MBA program may be a better choice.

What are your MBA goals?

The first thing you need to look at is why you are getting an MBA. Are you a working professional trying to advance at your current company? The flexible structure of an online MBA program makes it a good choice for those planning to work while they earn their MBA degree. If you are looking to make a more drastic career change, however, an online MBA may not be the best choice.

Those looking for the biggest possible salary increase may also want to rethink applying for an online MBA. According to a 2011 Bloomberg Business Week article, online MBA grads make less than their on-campus counterparts. Kelley Direct graduates, for example, had an average salary increase of $18,700 while graduates of Kelley’s on-campus MBA program had an average salary increase of almost $37,000.

Finding Accredited Online MBA Programs

While for-profit MBA programs usually cost less, they are also known for having lower admissions requirements. The only requirements to get into Kaplan’s MBA program, for example, are an interview and a transcript that proves you got your bachelor’s degree. Employers are aware of the differing requirements between online MBA programs, and you should be aware of them too.

You should only consider schools backed by the three major accrediting organizations: EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB. AACSB is the most prestigious accrediting organization, since only 5% of business schools are AACSB-accredited. It’s best if you choose a program that’s accredited with all three organizations, but as long as your program is accredited by EQUIS, AMBA or AACSB it should be up to the standards of traditional MBA programs. In addition, you should find out the completion rate for the school you are considering.

This article was originally published in August 2012 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

Nicole is the SEO manager of, as well as a contributing author. She holds a BA in history and sociology, and a master's in library science. Aside from her work for QS, Nicole is a long-time contributing editor and administrator for WikiHow.


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