IE Business School Student working on computer

The original of this article was published on June 28 by India Times

With the advent of the Internet and advancements in technology, schools have realised the importance of online education. In order to cater to working professionals, who donâ??t have the time to attend a full-time MBA programme, many schools have started offering online programmes.

Online MBA is an excellent option for working students: you can pursue an MBA and take up specialisations such as finance, marketing, international business, etc.

â??One important benefit and difference between an ordinary MBA and an online MBA is the asynchronous sessions. When you have the time, you follow the forums and appear for the exams. Also, the opportunity to review classes and discussions several times is extremely valuable. This is the only way for many managers to do an MBA, and of course valuable for participants in different time zones. The challenge is to â??virtuallyâ?? put your personality, skills and knowledge, and network across. Also you need more cross-cultural and social skills in order to succeed on the Internet; words are more apparent when written online,â? says Sara Sjogren, a Swedish student pursuing an online MBA at IE Business School.

An online MBA is mostly attractive to people with financial constraints, commitments to work or family, or the lack of access to higher education. The most obvious advantage of an online degree is the flexibility to study and learn whenever you want.

You are not time bound and can fit the online schedules in your working life. â??Again one main benefit and reason for me to choose this programme is flexibility. I work as a manager and am trying to pursue my business ideas as well. I also have domestic responsibilities. So this is the only way I can manage an MBA,â? adds Sjogren. Some MBA programmes have Community Integration Days (CID), wherein you can meet professionals and experts in the business in a particular country. You also get a chance to meet your colleagues during the CIDs.

Addressing concerns
One of the main concerns that students have is that they are afraid that there will be no student-teacher or peer interaction, and hence their learning process may be incomplete.

This may be true for some online programmes, but others give you the option of attending online classrooms, wherein you can discuss various topics with fellow students. You can choose a programme where you can attend live video lectures as well as access to professors.

Another common concern for most students is the validity of the degree they receive.

This is an extremely crucial point and you have to check the accreditation and recognition of the programme before enrolling. There are thousands of universities, which offer online MBA degrees. But only a handful of these are actually accredited.

Will prospective employers look at an online MBA in the same light as a traditional one? Most employers look at prospective employees in a holistic light and hence your degree, the institution you studied in and prior work, are some of the factors that will be considered when you apply for a job.

Possessing an online MBA will not necessarily reduce your chances of getting a job, especially if you have the required skills and qualifications your employer is looking for.

â??I donâ??t care whether my prospective employees have got their MBAs online or by attending regular classroom. I will interview the candidates and if I find that they possess strong management, teamwork and leadership skills, I will employ them,â? says Nitish Shah, Machine World.

Donâ??t look at the online MBA as a cheaper alternative to a classroom course. If you will be spending an inordinate amount of money for your MBA, you should be aware of your reasons for wanting an MBA and the programme you are applying for. If you do opt for an online MBA, choose an accredited university where you will have live lectures with your professors.

And donâ??t forget Sjogrenâ??s words, â??If youâ??re interested in a true global experience that will give you the skills required for the future way of doing business –donâ??t miss it!â?

If you wish to gain more insights in the IE Global MBA program, visit the website, join the upcoming online presentation on July 2, 2008 at 17.00 (Madrid time) by registering here.