Your Guide to Distance, Correspondence and Online Education.
Choosing an Online or Distance MBA Program

Choosing an Online or Distance MBA Program

Choosing the right school and Online or Distance MBA Program to fit your needs and career goals can be a daunting task. There are more than 1,900 schools that offer an estimated 4,500 MBA programs. How do you narrow it down? Before choosing the first school you find, think of all the factors that can affect your education and how you use it. Some programs are part-time, so you can still work full-time while completing your studies. Others are full-time and therefore may require that you quit your job or cut back on hours in order to fully dedicate yourself to the program. Some programs last two years, while other accelerated programs allow you to obtain online degrees in just 12 months. These and other factors will help you find a school that’s right for you and fits your lifestyle.

Besides program length and time requirements, think financially. Obviously, not all MBA distance degrees cost the same because costs vary by school and program type. You may not necessarily want the cheapest program you can find, but you should do some research to see if the MBA distance degree that costs $100,000 gives you the same education like the one that costs $10,000.

How to choose the best distance MBA Programs

Also, find a program that fits your area of interest. Since you’ll be investing a large amount of time and money into your MBA distance degree, you’ll want to make sure the program and classes are interesting enough so that you’ll be motivated to make that commitment. Think about your future career plans. Not all MBAs focus on general business practices and concepts. There are now MBA distance degrees that are tailored to specific industries, such as finance, marketing, hospitality, accounting, and health care. Do some research to find out what aspect of an MBA interests you.

School Accreditation

Before spending thousands of dollars on a distance MBA degree, be sure the school of your choice is accredited. Accredited schools must meet strict standards regarding teaching and must have clear and specific goals regarding how students are taught and what each program level entails. Most companies will disregard education obtained from a non- accredited school. Information about accreditation can usually be found on the school’s website.

Accreditation is a voluntary process which involves reviewing a school’s ability to provide quality programs, including MBA distance degrees. Accreditation ensures that students are learning relevant material and allows schools to access funding. Accreditation reviews include self-evaluations, peer reviews, committee reviews and the development of in-depth strategic plans. Accreditation agencies also review the school’s mission, faculty qualifications and curricula. There must be sufficient faculty and support staff resources available to carry out all necessary functions in order to provide students with quality education. These functions include not only teaching but also developing courses and curricula, research, advising, academic service and extracurricular activities. There also must be a focus on academic research and high-quality degree programs. Accreditation is given to an institution when it proves that it has the ability to achieve the school’s mission.

  • There are two types of accreditation: institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation refers to an overall review of the entire college or university. This review is usually done by a national agency that reviews everything from the school’s budget to student services. Specialized accreditation refers to a review of each of the institution’s programs.
  • These types of accreditations are usually performed by a private agency with a specialization in a certain field. Specialized accreditation is very important, as it communicates to other schools, employers, and the public that a school’s MBA distance degree programs have passed the review and students are learning all they need to know about that field of study.

Business schools and MBA distance degree programs are accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The ACCSB, the longest-standing and most widely-known specialized accreditation agency, provides specialized accreditation for accounting and business programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral academic levels. The ACCSB’s accreditation standards were first created in 1919 and were recently revised in 2010 to meet current academic needs. The ACCSB’s standards challenge colleges and universities to pursue high standards and always look to improve their programs.

MBA School Rankings

If you’re interested in obtaining your MBA via distance learning, you may want to know how the school of your choice compares to other business schools. Since you’ll be spending the next two years at the school and paying a high price for that distance MBA, you want to make sure you’re making the right choice. The business publication Business Week publishes their MBA rankings annually and determines how they meet the needs of students and corporate recruiters.

  • The ranking process begins with a 50-question survey sent to recent graduates of 101 business schools throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. The surveys are either e-mailed to the students or distributed to the students by the school. The survey is web-based and asks students questions about their experiences in the school and MBA distance degree program, including teaching quality and the effectiveness of student services. Students are then asked to rate their experiences on a scale of 1 to 10. The results are analyzed by educational psychologists to ensure they reflect a true reading of the students’ experiences and are not swayed by outside influences. The psychologists then test the responses to ensure they are accurate and credible.
  • In the second stage of the survey process, corporate MBA recruiters are surveyed. Recruiters are asked to rate the top 20 schools according to the quality of the graduates and the company’s experience with MBAs. Recruiters could only rate schools at which they’ve recruited students on or off-campus. After the surveys are completed and reviewed, each school is assigned points. Twenty points are awarded for each No. 1 ranking, 19 points for each No. 2 ranking, and so forth. Business Week then uses the school’s score, along with the recruiters’ information about the schools where they recruit and how many MBAs they hire, to calculate a recruiter score.

The third part of the process involves yet another ranking, the intellectual-capital rating for each school. This refers to the number of articles published by the school’s faculty in 20 business publications. When all three rankings for each school have been calculated, a final composite ranking is then reached and each school is given a letter grade, based on the results of the surveys.

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