How to choose the accredited online MBA program that’s right for you
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is among the most popular credentials due to its widely-accepted versatility. This master’s-level path can provide a number of different benefits for graduates. Consider that more than half a million job openings in industries ranging from finance to healthcare were seeking MBA-qualified candidates in 2019.* If you’re lucky enough to be one of those candidates, Dr. Helen Eckmann, associate professor of business administration at Brandman University, says,
An MBA gives you instant credibility when you walk into the room.
She goes on to explain that most of us associate an MBA with individuals who have more authority and influence throughout their careers. This is largely because it educates professionals across a variety of business subjects like marketing, finance, human resources and leadership. Dr. Eckmann notes that these areas are critical to understanding the cross-functional workings of almost any business.
Luckily, the flexible online learning options in today’s higher education landscape make earning an MBA more attainable than ever. If you’re ready to drive your career forward by pursuing this valued degree, you’ll need to differentiate one program from the next. Join us as we outline a few of the key things to look for in an accredited online MBA program.
3 Things to consider before choosing an online MBA program
Before applying to a school, it’s worth recognizing that not all online MBA programs are the same. You should be sure to look into the difference between regional and national accreditation. Both signify that a program has been assessed by a review board, but a regional status is seen as more credible than national. Brandman University’s MBA program, for example, is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Once you’ve pinpointed a few accredited options, you might find it helpful to weigh the following three questions to assist in making your decision.
1. Can you afford it?
Just about every student considering a graduate degree is concerned about the cost. It makes sense when you recognize that the price of higher education in the United States is outpacing the inflation rate. As such, some two-year MBA programs can cost students as much as $200,000.
But with some research, you’ll find there are other high-quality online programs that are significantly more affordable. Tuition cost for Brandman University’s MBA program ranges from about $23,000 to $33,000, depending on how many previous credits you transfer in. It’s possible to get up to 4 classes waived if you’ve taken equivalent courses from a regionally accredited school.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that MBA degree-holders typically see higher earnings after obtaining their degrees. According to a report from The Financial Times, the average salary of an MBA graduate three years after completing their degree was $142,000 in 2017. This is clearly higher than the corresponding pre-MBA salary of about $72,000. The report also suggests the post-MBA salary continues to climb each year.
2. Will you gain the skills you’re seeking?
If you’re going to invest time and money into earning an MBA, you’ll want to be confident that your program can help you develop the skills you need to meet your professional goals. Oftentimes, the quality of a degree starts from the very top.
At Brandman University, for example, leading industry executives serve on a business advisory board which regularly provides feedback to ensure curricula remains up-to-date and relevant. As for the faculty members, they serve as experienced scholar-practitioners who are well-versed in the modern, corporate world. This will allow you to complete courses that are immediately applicable to the workplace.
When it comes to analyzing how program outcomes align with your aspirations, you’ll want to determine whether you’d like to pursue a generalized or a specialized MBA. While a general MBA will offer you a broad knowledge base in business and management, a specialized MBA allows you the opportunity to focus on a particular industry or job path. There can be pros and cons to both options — the right fit depends on your career goals.
Dr. Eckmann notes that students with clearly identified goals in mind — ones that pertain to a specific job or industry — may benefit most from a specialized program. In this case, selecting an MBA specialization could give you a head start by arming you with the targeted expertise you’ll need. At Brandman, you have the option to choose from 10 specialization options:
- Business intelligence and data analytics
- International business
- Health administration
- Organizational leadership
- Human resources
- e-Business strategic management
3. Are the online learning resources high quality?
More and more students are turning to online learning options when it comes time to advancing their education. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that while overall college enrollment dropped by almost 90,000 students from 2016 to 2017, the number of students who took at least some of their courses online grew by more than 350,000. But not every institution is equipped to provide students with an effective online classroom experience.
Whether you’re a tech-native or new to the platform, it’s important to choose a program that utilizes a robust array of virtual resources. Not only will this make online learning much easier, but it’s key for engaging with your classmates.
Collaboration can play a significant role in your MBA experience and group projects are often essential. At Brandman University, students use a variety of technical tools to work with their peers including Google Docs for collaborative writing and editing, and Zoom for group video conferences.
As you research different MBA programs, it’s also worth looking into the school-specific assistance that is available to you. Brandman students, for example, can access writing and math tutors who hold online office hours and multimedia and design support that can demonstrate how to present data in new and innovative ways. As you adjust to the virtual classroom, there are also technology support services available to help along the way.
Unlock your career potential with an online MBA
Pursuing an MBA is no easy feat. While earning this degree could propel your career to new heights, you’ll need to put in plenty of hard work.
“I don’t want to sugar-coat it, earning an MBA is hard,” Dr. Eckmann acknowledges. “But you come out a changed person in the end.”
So, are you up for the challenge? Now that you know what to look for in an accredited online MBA program, it’s time to start narrowing your options. If you’re interested in learning more about how you could achieve your professional goals at Brandman University, head over to the Master of Business Administration program page.
*Source: Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 557,101 job postings seeking MBA degree-holders from Jan. 1, 2019 – Dec. 31, 2019)
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