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What to Consider When Choosing an MBA

One of my cousins asked me for some advice awhile back. I was actually surprised by this as he has been very successful (former CEO of a financial services company) and I assumed he had it all figured out. In this case, the advice he needed was what to tell someone he had been mentoring about what to look for in an MBA program. My cousin succeeded by working extremely hard, and being a ridiculously good salesman and natural leader. Like any good executive he had learned the importance of finding a subject matter expert when he came across an issue he didn't know much about. In this case, that expert was me. As we talked, I thought about how many people are probably in a similar situation where they don't even know what questions to ask to figure out if an MBA is right for them, and which road to take if it is.

The first thing to consider is why do you want to get an MBA? Are you looking to advance your career? Do you have a desire to learn more about business and favor a structured degree program over self-directed learning? Or more simply put, do you want to earn your MBA for personal achievement? Whatever your reasons, choose a program that will teach you the skills you are looking to learn.

There are a number of different roads to completing a graduate business degree. The two most popular are going full-time to a top-ranked university, or earning your degree online from a university such as Benedictine who offers an online MBA program. The full-time route is typically more popular with the younger generation. They tend to have less obligations outside of work and can commit one to two years to schooling and are willing to take on the student loan debt. Admission to these programs are highly competitive and the people who complete them usually go to work for big name consulting firms and investment banks. If that is something you want to do and your lifestyle will allow it, that might be the right option for you.

The online route is more popular with people who already have life obligations and who are established in their careers, but are looking to continue to grow. While some of the people in these programs do go to new employers after graduation, I'd say more than half stay with the company where they worked when they started the program. The benefit, however, is that their career progression post graduation does tend to accelerate. People in these programs are more likely to pay as they go, and take a little longer to complete. Where as a full time MBA takes one to two years, these typically take two or more.. The trade off, however, is they are more able to maintain a normal life while trying to balance school and work.

These comparisons often lead to the question of “are there are any real differences between what you learn in these two types of programs”? Both ground and online MBA programs cover accounting, finance, management, logistics, and a large host of core topics along with electives. In both types of programs you'll read journal articles, text books, and become familiar with doing case studies. You'll also find yourself thinking about things very differently than you did before you started the program. The real consideration is not which kind of MBA program you should do, but which program fits where your life is today.

To learn more about Benedictine’s online MBA and if it’s right for you, call 866-295-3104 to speak to a Program Manager.

About the Author

Jimmy Brown, Ph.D. is a senior level management consultant with eighteen years of experience leading efforts to develop and implement practical strategies for business performance improvement. Dr. Brown has held senior level consulting positions at leading firms such as Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Accenture and Hewlett-Packard.

He can be reached at or via Twitter @jimmybrownphd