Online vs. Traditional MBAs
According to PayScale.com, the 2011 salary of employees with an MBA degree can range from
$78,407 to $137,971 in New York
(payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Master_of_Business_Administration_(MBA)/Salary), so it’s
not surprising to see why so many students want to pursue an MBA. But to say that a fat
paycheck is the only motivation for earning an MBA would be unfair to the students who pursue it,
and an unwarranted attack on the spirit of the program itself. There is a certain prestige
associated with having an MBA on your resume. It reveals a person who has mastered not just
the theoretical concepts of business, but is also a perfect combination of interpersonal skills,
leadership qualities, strategic thinking ability, and an analytical bent of mind.
Is an MBA for Everyone?
There was a time when a master of business administration degree was the exclusive reserve of
the crème-de-la-crème of the academic and corporate world. That was when only a few, top-tier
universities offered this program and all of them had stringent entry requirements, not to mention
exorbitant tuitions and fees.
The status quo has changed since then, especially since the introduction of online MBA
programs. Now an MBA is not just the right of a select few, but an option open to many who have
the willingness and intelligence to see it through.
But does that mean it’s for everyone? Absolutely not. Whether you pursue a traditional MBA or an
online program, you have to be dead sure of your own abilities, your suitability for rigorous
academic discipline, and your genuine interest in expanding your skillset. All an online MBA offers
is an opportunity for people whose schedules mean they cannot earn their degree in the
traditional way. Remember that an MBA never guarantees miraculous corporate success and
Online vs. Traditional
The obvious question is which of the two is the better, more legit option—an online MBA or a
traditional program? Unfortunately, there’s no simple “tick the correct one” answer to this
question. Both online and traditional MBA programs have their advantages and pitfalls. The job of
picking one that’s the best fit for you is, well, yours and yours alone.
So what are some of the things going in favor of an online MBA versus a traditional MBA? Here’s
The biggest advantage of earning an MBA sitting in a classroom is that no one is going to
question its credibility—there is still some stigma attached to online MBA programs. But things
are changing, and employers are opening their minds and businesses to candidates who earn
their MBAs the non-traditional way. If your degree is from an accredited institution, it is likely that
it will be treated as legitimate and get the respect it deserves.
Another thing that the traditional MBA has going for it is the level of student-teacher and student-
student interaction it facilitates. An online MBA, on the other hand, makes people independent
learners by forcing them to do a lot of self-study.
As far as difficulty level and sophistication of coursework are concerned, there is not much
difference between the two. Both styles of program generally follow the same rigorous curriculum
and have the same level of complexity.
One feature that puts an online MBA ahead of a classroom-based program, however, is the
flexibility it can offer. Managing a full-time job with a traditional MBA may not be possible unless
you have the option of taking evening/night or weekend classes. Even this can wreak havoc on
your personal life, if you have any left after attending classes several days a week. Most people
find it easier to fit the flexibility of online classes into their schedule without drastically changing
Which One is Right for You?
Online or traditional—what’s your call? Do you want to take the road less traveled or do you
prefer sticking to a familiar path? The choice is yours, and the primary thing you should keep in
mind is that they’re both means to the same end.