Doing an MBA Your Way: How to Choose Between Part Time, Full Time and Online Learning

An MBA can be a great investment if you’re thinking of a career change or looking to step up the ladder in your company. But with so many different options on the market, how do you know which type of study is right for you? In reality, there’s no single ‘best choice’. Roughly half of all MBAs completed are part-time, and half are full-time, although the part-time portion is growing. The credentials and knowledge you end up with will be the same no matter what you choose. Everyone has unique lifestyles and demands, so your MBA decision has to be your own. To help make this important choice a little easier, we’ve weighed up some of the pros and cons of full-time, part-time and online study and have come up with some recommendations.

Full-time

Pros:

Studying full-time immerses you in your learning and focuses you on developing your career. Some schools only allow full-time students access to internships and recruiters, so make sure you inquire about this before you decide. You’ll have time and access to services that will enable you to get started on your career earlier. Showing up to school every day, you also really get to know your peers so you will potentially graduate with better, more diverse networks. Full-time MBAs sometimes have stricter entry requirements, but the advantage of this is that your peers will be higher achievers. Importantly, you only have access to scholarships and financial assistance as a full-time student. And of course, you’ll be done in just one or two years so that you can get on with living.

Cons:

With the bigger workload, you might not be able to work much during the trimester, so the financial burden of study could be heavier. The entry requirements for full-time MBA courses can sometimes be more stringent. Full-time students may have to wait up to a year after graduation to apply their knowledge to a job thus potentially diminishing some of their knowledge recall. To address this education/experience gap, KBS is now organising internships as a final part of their MBA. Get in touch with us to find out more about that initiative.

Suitable For:

  • Less experienced people who need help with recruiting
  • Those looking to start a new career as quickly as possible
  • People able to relocate; those who can absorb debt and make time to focus solely on studying
  • Those wanting to get more involved and join clubs or societies.

Studying a full-time MBA may seem like a challenge as it requires a higher study load each trimester. However, I’m about to finish my MBA program, and from my experience, I can say that with good organisation and commitment from the beginning, it can be easily combined with a part-time job or internship and without forgetting family or social relationships. You also have the opportunity to learn from other students’ perspectives and to graduate with an excellent academic record in just two years time!

– Jennifer (Master of Business Administration)

Part Time

Pros:

Contrary to popular opinion, the latest research shows that mid-career workers who complete part-time MBAs experience wage increases of up to 63% in the first five years. The biggest advantage of part-time study is that you can continue to work which is particularly beneficial if your company wears the cost of the MBA. You don’t have to quit your job, and your financial stress is reduced. Plus, you get to directly translate what you’re learning into real-world situations in the workplace, thus giving yourself a more diverse education overall. You still get to network on campus, and sometimes you can access employment services and facilities; although this varies from school to school and is not guaranteed.

Cons:

Working and studying part-time simultaneously can be a real juggle, and you could end up trying to manage these dual commitments for a longer time. You won’t be able to focus quite as much on learning. Although you’re still working, your career may stagnate while your study life takes your focus. You may be too preoccupied to get to know your peers.

Suitable For:

  • People already mid-career wanting to advance but who can shed some workload
  • Those unable or unwilling to leave the workforce
  • Those whose work will pay for the course
  • Parents or those with less time and capacity to absorb debt

I moved from full time to part time due to personal circumstances but am finding that the flexibility I gained will give me a better balance in life. I can also take on more subjects when work is less hectic if I want to. I think that full time study is in some respects a little easier because you’re always in study mode, whereas with part-time, you have to work a little harder to stay motivated. You do however get more time for work or socialising.’

Cassandra (Master of Business Administration)

Online

Pros:

Critics in the past have argued that online learning outcomes aren’t as good as having in-class attention. However, new research shows this isn’t the case. In fact, in some cases, students demonstrated better outcomes when working online. This is the most flexible option for those who have a host of other commitments. As with part-time, online study allows you to continue working, which is a huge financial advantage. Plus, you’re also cutting out transport time and costs, and that all adds up. Another unique aspect of online learning is freedom from time and space restrictions. You can have a guest lecturer based in China posting a video, or you can collaborate with students from a school overseas.

Cons:

Although you’re in contact with other students online, you miss out on networking and face-to-face aspect of in-class teaching. Peer coaching is considered a significant part of the education process. Some institutions overcome this hurdle via technology and interactive online environments.  At KBS, coursework and readings accompany podcasts, quizzes, videos and an interactive chat-room. Plus, students attend weekly online workshops that replicate in-class discussions and activities. These are then recorded and posted on the online portal for the benefit of all students, even those enrolled in full-time study. Visit the online classes page for more information.

Suitable For:

  • People already mid-career wanting to retain a job
  • Those living remotely or with limited access to transport
  • Parents and those with inflexible daily schedules or lower income

The biggest worry I had about an online program was not having face-to face interaction, but the online platform KBS provides made it feel like I was still in a classroom setting with peer discussion, support and personalised interaction. The mix of theoretical approaches versus practical cases; being encouraged to discuss and reflect; and, in particular, networking with fellow participants form the backbone of this well thought out program. Communication during the sessions, group assignments, workshops and industry specific seminars create a pleasant group atmosphere and an enjoyable learning environment even online.

– Lisette (Master of Business Administration)

Kaplan Business School offers a unique Master of Business Administration program. More and more people are choosing to study an MBA for its strong prospects and job security for graduates. Check out what a KBS MBA offers you.