What’s an Online MBA Program Like?

online MBAOnline MBA programs combine the professional education of a traditional, classroom-based program with the flexibility of an online class (see a comparison of the two here). They’re designed to build leadership and professional skills while allowing students to complete coursework on their own schedules, which means that while you will have the opportunity to learn what you need to advance far in the world of business, your success will depend a lot on your own motivation and discipline.

Online MBA Course Format

Classes usually involve reading assignments, video lectures or conferencing, and may include podcasts and other online interactive tools like message boards, instant messaging (IM) and chat rooms for lesson discussion. Assignments are generally submitted online or via email.

Online MBA students are also usually given access to online resources from the school’s library, including research databases. Often, students are required to carry out research such as analyzing case studies, profiling businesses, interviewing people and studying trends. The success of students in these areas tends to be dependent on the student’s communication with instructors and other students.

Many courses are set up in projects, similar to business projects in real life. A project is assigned at the beginning of the week, and students are expected to complete their assignments, lectures, group discussions, etc. on their own schedules. Like a traditional campus MBA program, online MBA students work to write business plans, draft budgets and complete group projects. MBA programs, online and off, tend to emphasize collaboration and working in groups, as that is how it usually works in business. In an online program, students can work in a group often exclusively through online communications channels, like emailing and instant messaging, although students in the same geographic area can also get together to work in person.

Online MBA Subject Matter

Just like in traditional programs, online MBA students can specialize in a specific concentration, depending on what area of business they plan on going into. Certain specialties lend themselves more to certain areas of business, and if you know what you want to do with your MBA, it might help to pursue a specialization. (Author Amelia Turner offers more on specializations and their related career paths here.)

Some good online MBA concentrations include:

  • Accounting: For MBAs who want to go into bookkeeping, auditing and accounting management.
  • Finance: For financial risk management positions such as controller, treasurer or credit manager.
  • General Management: A broad, overall business management specialization.
  • Health Care Management: Management with an emphasis in the medical field.
  • Human Resources Management: For recruiting, training and placement managers.
  • Marketing: For MBAs going into advertising, market research and product management.
  • Public Administration: For company management through analysis and decision making.
  • Technology Management: A versatile management MBA with an emphasis in technological resources.

Many concepts run parallel between the different types of MBA. Classes you might expect to take, regardless of concentration, include:

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Economics
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Managerial Finance
  • Applied Business Research and Statistics
  • Strategic Planning and Implementation
  • Negotiating for Results
  • Organizational Leadership