Online Grad School - worth it?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by jmattbassplaya, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. Hey guys,

    I want to start working towards an MBA in the next year or so. Unfortunately, my current work schedule and work load will make it very difficult for me to take classes in person, as I typically work 10 hour shifts between the hours of 2pm and 12am.

    I'm considering taking online classes in order to achieve my degree, as this may offer me greater flexibility and some ability to work around my work schedule. I just want to get a sense of whether or not pursuing a master's degree online will be worth it from those of you who have earned master's degrees either via the online route or the traditional, in class route.

    Right now I'm just looking to get a general MBA, but I am starting to consider whether or not I'd like to specialize in Supply Chain Management or Healthcare Administration. I currently live about 35 minutes south of Atlanta if someone could perhaps recommend some schools that are fairly close to me, too :)

  2. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    I can't compare online to physical grad school, but I can give you some advice. Remember that school is not about the degree, it is about the skills you learn. Only you can assess if you are self motivated enough to get those skills from an online program. I know I'm not.
  3. That's definitely something I've considered, and it's partially the reason why I'd much rather do "physical" grad school. Something about the personal interaction makes it stick more. Plus it'd be a great opportunity to network and connect with other business professionals. That said, I definitely have all the self-motivation to get the work done if I were to do it online.
  4. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    It's not just about "getting it done". It's about how well you learn the necessary skills.

    As you mentioned, the connections you make are also really important, especially for an MBA.
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  6. Ziltoid


    Apr 10, 2009
  7. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Even if it's not a "name brand" school, go to a brick-and-mortar institution, especially for an MBA. MBAs from online programs are a dime-a-dozen. Many MBA programs offer evening classes and can be completed on a part-time basis. There are even some weekend-only MBA programs. Yeah, you'll have to give up some of your freedom by going that route, but your educational experience and return on investment will be much better.
  8. I did not know that! That actually wouldn't be a major problem at the moment for me.
  9. Tat2dHeart

    Tat2dHeart Only two strings away from an attitude problem.

    I did my MBA online with a specialization in Supply Chain Management. Here's my two cents...

    * Connections are important, but a lot of businesses now operate with remote teams, especially in multi-nationals or global operations. The online study environment is a great proving ground for this type of work environment.

    * Are you counting on the advanced degree to return an immediate payoff in your title or salary? It doesn't always work that way, so you should think carefully about the expense versus benefit. I will say that mine was worth it, but, it's taken a few years to reap the reward, and I'm still paying off the loans.

    * There are things you will find in an MBA program that will be much easier if you have a couple of years of work experience under your belt. It will give you a better edge in the projects and a better perspective on how things really get done in business that you can apply above and beyond the textbook.

    Not related to're now near ATL? Consider yourself invited to my GTG on 3 May. And to any of my monthly house concerts.

    EDIT: Online programs vary wildly. If you go that route, choose one that has a good reputation. The program I chose is now stand alone and highly regarded, but at the time I went, it was affiliated with a reputable bricks and mortar school.
  10. I'm starting my MBA this fall and just from the welcome day last week, I can tell you the MBA is as much about learning as it is networking. The contacts you make make an-person MBA far more valuable. I already have a connection lined up at school with a professor to do research and be part of his team and classes haven't even started yet.
  11. Thank you for the informative post :)

    I am already planning on working for at least one year before starting my classes for that very reason. In addition, it will give me time to figure out what I'm truly interested in and what I want to be working towards for the rest of my career. Lastly, it'll give me the opportunity to save some money for it all :D

    I am not looking to see an immediate return on the investment outside of personal development, but I do see it as a way of opening more doors of opportunity to myself and my professional career. All I really know is that I don't want to remain stagnant for too long. I want to continue pushing myself while I still have the ability to do so, as I have no debt, no kids, and no real responsibilities outside of my job.

    As for the last bit, I'll be sure to hit you up about that in the near future :) I definitely need to start meeting some more people outside of work lol.
  12. Reo


    Jan 8, 2014
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I'm a serious lurker on here, so I figured this would be a good place to post.

    I completed an online MS in supply chain management a few years ago. I looked into a bunch of different schools and settled on Indiana University. I am very pleased that I went that route. There were no in person supply chain programs in my area, so online made the most sense.

    In my experience, you can learn all the necessary skills that you would get from an in person program, it's just more dependent on your effort. You get out of it what you put into it. If you put in the effort, you can easily attain the skills and knowledge you're looking for. If you just want the degree, I'm sure you could put in minimal effort and still "pass" the classes. I took anywhere from two to three courses per quarter and probably put in 20 - 25 hours per week of work. Looking back, I would do it the same way.

    My other advice would be to do your research about schools. A lot of people I talk to who do online MBAs hear about U of Phoenix and think it's the only school that will work for them. In my area at least, a degree from there is looked down on. So many brick and mortar schools are offering online graduate degrees that finding one that fits you shouldn't be too difficult. Plus, in my research, most of them, including schools in the top 25 rankings, were actually less expensive than Phoenix.
  13. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'm almost done with my MBA; I'm in a part-time accelerated program where I go every Wednesday night for two years, eight week courses, no breaks whatsoever. The course is tedious and has a heavy workload (mostly self learning, and using class sessions as discussions/debates to confirm that you're learning) followed by exams.

    In the program, we did have a single online course. It was the most hectic and tedious 8 weeks of my life; a LOT of research, a LOT of papers, a LOT of threaded discussion, and I don't feel like I learned nearly as much as my in=person courses, despite a significantly greater workload.

    However, if its the only way you can fit in in your schedule, I'd recommend it. My MBA is one of the greater things I've done.
  14. I appreciate both your takes on this :)

    I have heard from those who've taken online master's programs that there seems to be a lot more course work if you go that route (typically through writing papers). That doesn't bother me, but I do think I'd gain a lot more out of discussions/debates.

    To those who worked while taking master's classes, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced? I'm slightly worried that my work schedule will completely dominate my ability to get the most out of my classes. On the plus side, at least my employer will help pay for my tuition :)
  15. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I got my MBA the old fashioned brick and mortar way and attended classes at a university.

    I did get my degree while working full time and raising my daughter by myself and it does take much time and dedication. One thing I did was I was able to apply some of my work experiences at the time into some of my project work and that helped.
  16. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Biggest challenges is absolutely the workload; for instance, I typically work late four nights a week but have a "hard stop" at 4:30PM on Wednesdays so I can get to class an hour away and eat lunch before my class that's 6:00-9:30PM. I've missed a few important meetings because of that, but management is understanding since the company is paying for a considerable part of my degree.

    On the other hand, when the company requires me to be halfway across the country for training or meetings, I have to miss class. In a program where classes are 8 weeks, if I miss more than 2 classes, I fail, so I've had to put my foot down on travel and prioritize. The worst part of this is that I've had a 4.0 until I moved into my current role where my first class I got a B+ because of absences caused by work travel.

    But it sounds like your company will be paying for part of it; since this is the case they will likely be more understanding of your needs to attend class. On the other hand, most of these programs are designed for working professionals, and tend to be more understanding of missing a class or two due to work.

    Just manage your time the best you can, set reasonable expectations, and kiss your social life goodbye.
  17. I was planning on hopefully starting a MBA program this next fall - but in a two month span I was both laid off from work (thus losing all of my letters of recommendation) and then I completely bombed the GMAT....twice.

    MBA is still the dream, but I am probably going to have to rethink how I'm going to do it. I was originally planning on going to a full-time program, but by the time I'm in a position to go back, I'll probably have to do it online or part-time, and not at a school of choice. Getting laid off has delayed my MBA dreams at least 2-3 years, which is why I'm still extremely pissed at my former supervisors.
  18. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    The GMAT tests were some of the hardest tests I ever took. Thankfully, I passed on the first try. I went to a GMAT preparation course at the University Of Pittsburgh for 2 whole Saturdays before I took the GMAT and I also had the study guide; so, I was as prepared as I could be. However, they were awfully hard and I would never want to take them again.
  19. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    If your company is paying for partial reimbursement, are they requiring you to get an A or B on each course or you have to pay it all? That is what my company did.
  20. Reo


    Jan 8, 2014
    Salt Lake City, UT
    The biggest challenge was the schedule. I was lucky that I worked from 6:00am to 2:30 and then I hit the library for about three hours every night, plus four to five hours on Saturdays. My wife and I just looked at it like I had a job with "normal" hours.

    The hardest parts were making sure I was available for the live chats that each of my courses had at least once per week, since they usually fell outside that 3-6pm timeframe when I did most of my coursework. Or, when we had groupwork and we would have conference calls much later in the evenings. It was mostly difficult because it took time away from my son, who was two at the time.

    Side note, if you do go online for your degree and feel like discussions will help you, research the schools and see if their courses provide that. As I mentioned, each of my courses had at least one session per week where the instructor would lecture live and we could see their screen and could also chime in with questions/answers via a chat box. Not quite like being in a classroom, but pretty close.
  21. I've heard that many business schools still accept the GRE, too. I haven't taken either test, but I plan on doing so sometime this summer. I just need to find a way to study for it :ninja:

    I've yet to discuss this with them, but I will be doing that sometime around early to mid April.

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