Home Online Business Blog Advantages of an Online MBA vs. a Traditional MBA

Advantages of an Online MBA vs. a Traditional MBA

27 Jul
Left: Image of students attending a college lecture in classroom, Right: Young female taking an online course.

Online MBA programs have exploded in popularity in the last five years. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) reports that 45,038 students enrolled in online MBA programs in the United States during the 2020-2021 academic year. By contrast, 43,740 students enrolled in traditional, on-campus MBA programs. That year marked the first time in history that the number of online MBA students outnumbered in-person learners.1

Many factors have contributed to the recent growth of online MBA programs. As technology advances, online degrees have become more accessible and widely accepted by employers.2 Additionally, online MBA programs have many advantages, especially for busy professionals. Read on to discover six reasons to choose an online MBA program over an on-campus, traditional MBA.

1. Greater Flexibility

Online MBA programs offer enough flexibility to take courses from any location. You can participate in synchronous online lectures as you watch your children at home, take breaks at work, or travel. Asynchronous classes provide extra flexibility by allowing students to complete work at any time. For instance, you could watch a recorded lecture as you eat breakfast, write a discussion post on your lunch break, and buckle down to work on a paper in the evening.

By contrast, traditional MBA programs tend to be more rigid. Typically, students must travel to campus at set times to attend classes. This fixed schedule can make it challenging to juggle academic, family, and work commitments. Additionally, if you miss an in-person class, you might not be able to catch up on the content later.

According to a 2019 study, perceived flexibility in online courses positively affects students’ academic performance. Additionally, online learners tend to engage with learning resources more frequently than in-person students do.3

2. Cost Savings

Online MBA degrees often cost significantly less than traditional programs. Distance learning programs save students money through:

Lower Tuition Costs

According to the Education Data Initiative, traditional, in-state students at public institutions paid an average of $491.20 per credit hour in the 2020-2021 academic year. By contrast, online students at public colleges paid an average of $320.80. The discrepancy is even more pronounced at private colleges, where in-person students pay an average of $2,162.93 per credit hour, and online students pay $504.90.4

As you complete your MBA experience, the differences between in-person and online tuition can add up to thousands in savings for distance learners.

Minimal Other Expenses

Students who enroll in online MBA programs enjoy additional cost savings beyond tuition. The Education Data Initiative reports that traditional students pay an average of $1,360 a year in transportation costs. College campuses also charge an average of $362 per semester for parking permits. Most online MBA programs don’t require students to travel to campus, which removes the need to pay for these costs.4

Further, online MBA students don’t need to relocate to be near campus or pay fees to use campus facilities. As a result, their overall educational costs are far lower than those of their on-campus peers.

3. Online Networking Opportunities

Online MBA programs offer many opportunities to develop professional relationships with faculty, peers and other professionals. For example, virtual students can:5

  • Connect with other professionals on LinkedIn
  • Participate in virtual in-class discussions and group projects
  • Attend in-person and online networking events
  • Join alumni Facebook pages
  • Find an online mentor
  • Take advantage of online career services
  • Organize virtual social events with their MBA cohort

Students in traditional MBA programs can also participate in these networking opportunities, of course, but distant students may find that they have stronger motivation to seek connections.

4. More Efficient Time Management

Virtual learning can help MBA students manage their time more strategically. Online graduate students are spared the time-consuming routines of commuting to campus and finding parking, which can free up hours each week to devote to studying.

In addition, online MBA students have 24/7 access to many types of online class content, such as asynchronous discussion boards and recorded lectures. This feature allows students to schedule their academics around other responsibilities, such as keeping up with their full-time careers, nurturing marriages and partnerships, raising children, caring for aging and/or sick family members, and so on.

5. Self-Paced Learning

Online MBA programs provide students with the freedom to learn at their own pace. Many professors who teach virtual courses provide access to materials at the beginning of each semester. Students can study content and complete projects at their own speed. By allowing students to control the pace of their education, online MBA programs empower them to become independent, self-directed learners.6

By contrast, traditional MBA students frequently attend lectures at pre-set times and complete assignments on a strict schedule. This lack of flexibility can make it difficult for students to get ahead or keep up with their coursework.

6. Remote Access

Students who attend virtual MBA classes can access course materials from various devices and locations. For example, a student could watch recorded lectures on a phone while taking the bus to work and attend virtual office hours on a tablet from a break room or coffee shop. This remote access allows students to learn whenever and wherever they prefer.

Conversely, traditional MBA programs often require students to access materials and resources in person. Traditional learners may need to be on campus in order to meet with a professor or hear a live lecture, which can limit their opportunities to engage and learn.

Take control of your MBA learning, progress and schedule.

Capitalize on the many advantages of online education. William & Mary’s Online MBA program will prepare you to lead in today’s challenging, rapidly changing business environment. The rigorous curriculum centers on Wicked Problems: complex issues with no easy solutions. Sharpen your design thinking and problem-solving skills in order to apply them successfully in fast-paced business environments. Engage with world-class faculty and peers through our innovative learning platform, and expand your network to include accomplished colleagues online and around the world.

To learn more, schedule an appointment with an admissions outreach advisor today.