Do Online MBAs Make the Grade?
The decision to pursue an online MBA could not be made at a better time. Employers today are demanding more education from their employees than ever before. An accredited online MBA degree will carry significant value in any organization’s hiring and career advancement decisions.
Prague, as most other cities, is facing difficult economic times, so going back to school to build new skills – and making yourself more attractive to future employers – is becoming extremely popular, even for people with full-time jobs. MBAs are especially admired since the degree is designed to prepare someone for more advanced leadership roles in a business or government organisation. But is an MBA degree worth the extra years of schooling – especially when you could be spending that time working full-time?
If you ask around you will get a mixed review. Some think that because of the economic condition, an MBA is a must in order to give you an edge over other job seekers. On the other hand, some suggest that because of the economic climate, even an MBA may not assist you in acquiring a new job.
Nevertheless, the opinions that matter here are those of the employers. In a recent Czech survey, over 80% of HR Managers stated that an MBA (or “Ing” being the Czech Masters equivalent) is still the most sought after qualification and factor they look for in middle-top management positions.
There is also growing evidence that having an MBA not only gives you more leverage in dictating new job titles and salary, but also gives you power to achieve a better balance between work and a personal life.
The criteria for choosing an online program differ from that of the more traditional full-time one. Here are some guidelines for selecting the ‘cyber course´ that’s right for you:
The experts agree that the mandatory first step in choosing a program is to find out if it’s accredited; and by which organisation. If it’s not accredited by the AACSB, the most established and well-known accrediting organisation, then you should look for regional/European accreditation. This means that the organisation examining the program is approved by the EU under the Bologna convention.
It is the high level of interaction between students and faculty that separates the best from the rest. The best programs provide their online students with the faculty members who all teach in both the full-time, part-time and online MBA program.
Knowing that all the professors teaching in the program are tenure-track professors really sets your mind at ease. Most programs simply provide some interaction in the form of e-mails. Recently, some business schools have invested heavily into developing the interaction between students and academics by offering live classrooms where students and teachers can see each other through webcams. Even though everyone knows Obama gives great speeches, we all know the difference between listening to Obama on the radio and watching him on TV. Other recent developments have seen students interacting with all the students who are studying online through the same platform. Think of the networking opportunities
Either way, it’s important to assess whether the structure jibes with your learning style. Prague offers some solid ‘on – campus´ MBA´s but this may not suite people who are working full-time or simply cannot afford the expensive tuition fees.
Resources and support
Be sure that the program has sufficient resources and support. It’s especially important to have a large online library to conduct research for papers. The best programs will go beyond that and even have an online service to help students with their writing.
To find out if such resources exist, go beyond the school web site – and the salespeople hired to paint a pretty picture of the program. Ask tough questions because you’re going to be investing a lot of money in this. Call institutions to ask about the faculty’s credentials, as well as the students. The qualities of both sets of people will help determine how much you’re getting for your money.
Just how much money you’ll pay for an online program can vary broadly from 125,000 CZK for non-accredited programs to 1.5m CZK for top of the range degrees. Whether you choose to go for that top-tier program or your neighborhood institution, seek the right fit. Online programs actually teach a set of skills unique to the technologically advanced world in which we live. It teaches you to work in virtual teams; to learn the communication skills that are valuable in the real world which is becoming more and more the virtual world.
But some things don’t change – online students at good programs still have to do their homework or their assessor will give them a very real F.