Distance learning MBA programs have come a long way since the early days of online education. The newest generation of distance learning MBA programs make use the same curricula and faculty offered by highly ranked graduate business programs available in a more flexible format. Classes and office hours connect students and faculty for group discussion via custom-designed video conferencing software. Email, message boards, social networking and innovative software make asynchronous collaboration possible, and periodic weekend or week-long residencies provide opportunities for in-person networking and team-building events. Distance learning MBA programs provide the same degrees as traditional MBA programs at the same highly ranked business-schools, ensuring equal treatment from potential employers.
When to Pursue a Distance Learning MBA Program
Distance MBA programs are ideal for students who would have difficulty participating in other MBA programs due to obstacles such as remote location, frequent travel and extensive professional or personal commitments. Even part-time MBA programs cannot offer the same flexibility in scheduling or the convenience of attending class without leaving your home office. These programs are typically pursued by experienced professionals who continue to work throughout the degree program and are looking to acquire the specialized skills and knowledge required to advance to the highest levels of management.
When to Avoid a Distance Learning MBA Program
While distance learning MBA programs offer maximum flexibility and minimum hassle, students must have certain basic skills to make the most of the educational experience. Staying on track in such a flexible program requires a high level of discipline, especially for individuals with intensive professional or personal commitments. Organizational skills are also required to manage one’s program of study and concurrent commitments, especially when collaborating with fellow students in remote locations. Effective communication via video-conferencing, social networking and other 21st century media also requires strong communication skills and familiarity with technology. It is worth keeping in mind, though, that all of these criteria also apply to future business leaders.
What a Distance Learning MBA Program Means to Your Career
Distance MBA degrees are designed to complement your professional work, providing you with skills and knowledge that you can apply immediately, while also equipping you to face challenges at higher levels of management in the future. The MBA degree typically brings with it higher earnings, accelerated promotions and an expanded professional network. One of the unique advantages of online study is that it also familiarizes you with 21st century business communications technology that is increasingly being used to organize far-flung teams. By the time you have completed your degree, you will be ready for the next step upward in your organization’s management structure.
Distance Learning MBA Program Rankings
Currently, there is no specific ranking of online MBA programs according to the methodologies used for ranking other MBA programs. U.S. News and World Report produces four different rankings of distance MBA programs and an Honor Roll composed of the programs that rank most highly in the four categories. According to the U.S. News and World Report Honor Roll, these are the top distance learning MBA Programs:
- Arizona State University
- Arkansas State University — Jonesboro
- Brandman University
- Central Michigan University
- Clarkson University
- Florida Institute of Technology
- Gardner-Webb University
- George Washington University
- Indiana University — Bloomington
- Marist College
- Quinnipiac University
- Temple University
- University of Houston — Clear Lake
- University of Mississippi