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Planning Your StudiesGetting an MBA Through Distance Learning

Getting an MBA Through Distance Learning

Technological advancement has impacted every part of people’s lives, including the way we communicate, share information, shop, and entertain ourselves. In addition, it has also changed the way we learn. The introduction of online educational platforms like edX, Coursera, and Khan Academy amongst others have made it easier for people across the world to gain new skills and knowledge.

Recognizing the power of the internet and how it connects people, universities also have started offering online undergraduate and graduate degrees which people can get by learning from a screen in their homes in different countries and regions.

This is called distance learning and follow these links to learn about what distance learning is and if it’s worth getting a Master’s Degree through distance learning.

Since business degrees have the highest enrollment from students, more and more universities are offering online Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degrees. They strive to get a higher number of students in their programs and want to take advantage of the diversity that online programs bring.

The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the official GMAT test administrator conducts several surveys and in one of them they found that 57% of online MBA programs in 2017 have had more student applications compared to 50% in 2015.

This article will go through what it is like to get an MBA degree through distance learning by focusing on:

What is an MBA distance learning program?
Who should do an MBA distance learning program?
What are the types of MBA distance learning degrees?
Where to do an MBA distance learning program?
How long does it take to do an MBA distance learning program?
How much does it cost?
What are the requirements?
How is MBA distance learning different from the traditional format?
What are the benefits of distance learning MBA program?

What Is An MBA Distance Learning Program?

The MBA distance learning programs are virtual or online programs which aim to equip students with business skills for them to be able to manage and start their own businesses. These programs are similar to on campus programs, with the sole difference being the teaching methods.

People have a lot of misconceptions about MBA distance learning programs since they think that the students are isolated and there is not much interaction. Quite the opposite actually! Lectures, discussions, and assignments are completed by using the internet and its tools.

This brings a great amount of discussion and interaction, so the MBA degree through distance learning is as interactive, if not more, than the traditional MBA programs.

Online or distance learning MBA programs are given in the same fields as the traditional on campus ones. Students have the chance to learn the core MBA skills as well as specialize in various fields such as marketing, finance, accounting, and others.

The program prepares students for the increasingly innovative and technologically connected world where they have to do business across borders and time zones.

Who Should Do A Distance Learning MBA Program?

The IE Business School in Spain, which has been ranked the number one online MBA program, has students with an average age of 29 and around 5 years of work experience in their full time program, and an average age of 32 and 8 years of experience for their part time MBA.

Distance learning MBA programs do not necessarily target a specific group of students, but there are some types who would gain more from this form of learning. MBA distance learning programs are designed for working professionals or those who have family and other obligations and do not have the time to attend a full time on-campus program.

The online programs offer flexibility to busy people and that is why they are becoming more and more popular.

In addition, some online programs have found out that students who attend distance learning MBAs are not necessarily those who have just gotten their Bachelor’s degrees and are looking to get new jobs.

The students who enroll in online programs are people who already have good jobs that they enjoy doing and want to get new skills to excel in their existing companies. These students are looking to get promoted and they use their online MBA degrees to climb the corporate ladder and boost their careers.

The Warwick Business School in the UK which offers the second best distance learning MBA program has students with an average age of 36 and 12 years of work experience.

In traditional on campus classes the interaction is almost always done face to face. Class discussions take place with students raising their hands and expressing an opinion about the topic. In online MBAs, discussion can be done through webcams or in discussion boards. This favors students who need time to think about a topic and then say what they think.

The online MBAs give people who do not think of the best things to say in class, the chance to process the discussion, read submissions, and then come back and write their own.

So distance learning MBA programs are better suited for:

  • Working professionals
  • People looking to get promoted in their existing companies
  • Those who need to take their time to participate in discussions

What Are The Types Of MBA Distance Learning Programs?

In general, there are two types of MBA distance learning programs:

  • Purely online
  • Mixed programs

Purely online MBA programs

The purely online distance learning MBA programs are conducted in virtual platforms throughout their entire duration. Students are not required to travel anywhere or meet face to face with each other. They do all their group work, assignments, and even their capstones online.

Mixed MBA programs

On the other hand, some universities combine both online and face to face interactions in their distance learning MBA programs. This means that most of the interaction will be done through virtual means, so students will get their lectures, assignments, and others online, but they will be required to sometimes meet face to face.

These meetings can maybe be once or twice per semester or even as rarely as once as year.

The face to face meetings serve for students to get to know each other in physical classroom settings and not just online, as well as network more directly.

Other types of distance learning MBA programs

In addition to the two types of general MBA distance learning programs, there can also be other types which are not different from traditional MBAs such as:

  • Full time MBA
  • Executive MBA
  • Accelerated MBA
  • MBA certificates
  • Dual degrees

Students can choose whichever type fits them best, and for more details on each one we have an article on the types of MBA programs.

Where To Do An MBA Distance Learning Program?

Distance learning MBA programs are offered all around the world in different universities in:

  • USA
  • Spain
  • Poland
  • UK
  • Switzerland
  • Australia
  • And many others

However, there are certain universities which offer higher ranked degrees and have better and more innovative teaching methodologies.

The 2017 Financial Time rankings of the Best Online MBA programs are these:

2017 Ranking Name of School Country Name of Program Salary ($US) Salary Increase (%)
1 IE Business School Spain Global MBA 191,216 44
2 Warwick Business School UK Warwick MBA by Distance Learning 169,419 38
3 University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg US Isenberg Online MBA 159,345 43
4 AGSM at UNSW Business School Australia MBAx 123,542 34
5 University of Florida: Hough US Online MBA 124,449 31
6 George Washington University US Online MBA 156,750 19
7 Indiana University: Kelley US Kelley Online MBA 133,273 32
8 Babson College: Olin US Babson MBA Blended Learning Programme 161,504 23
9 Durham University Business School UK Durham Online MBA 126,612 31
10 Syracuse University: Whitman US MBA@Syracuse 138,000 37

Source: Financial Times

These are reputable universities which offer great experiences in learning as well as promising salary increases. So if you are planning to do an online MBA, it would be a wiser choice to enroll in one of these programs rather than in other lesser known ones.

How Long Does It Take To Do An MBA Distance Learning Program?

Because of its flexibility, most MBA distance learning programs do not have a specified length of time by which students must complete their studies. Different from the traditional MBA programs, students only get a suggested time that they can finish their studies if they commit to them part time.

MBA distance learning programs range from as little as a year to almost 3 years.

However, most students do not complete their studies within these time frames due to their obligations. They are allowed to be enrolled in the program for as long as 6 years to get their online MBA degrees.

Based on these suggested times, we have looked at the top 10 MBA distance learning programs and the suggested lengths of programs.

2017 Ranking Name of School Length of program
1 IE Business School 12 to 15 months
2 Warwick Business School 2 years
3 University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg 2+ years
4 AGSM at UNSW Business School N/A
5 University of Florida: Hough 1 to 2 years
6 George Washington University 3 years
7 Indiana University: Kelley 2 years
8 Babson College: Olin 21 months
9 Durham University Business School 2 years
10 Syracuse University: Whitman 2+ years


How Much Does It Cost To Do An MBA Distance Learning Program?

The lowest cost is in Durham University with $27,055 in tuition costs, and the highest is in George Washington University with tuition of $97,957.

Different programs have different costs and these depend not just on the country of origin of the program, but also on the length and the curriculum or number of credits that students need to finish.

Below are the costs of the top 10 online MBA programs in the world.

2017 Ranking Name of School Cost of program ($US)
1 IE Business School $48,500
2 Warwick Business School $38,649
3 University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg $ 35,100
4 AGSM at UNSW Business School N/A
5 University of Florida: Hough $48,000 to $58,000
6 George Washington University $97,957
7 Indiana University: Kelley $66,830
8 Babson College: Olin $90,025
9 Durham University Business School $27,055
10 Syracuse University: Whitman $81,000


As you can see, the costs vary and depending on your financial situation, you can choose either one of the programs. Each one of them and most universities offer scholarships or financial aid, so you can contact them to find out more details.

What Are The Requirements For MBA Distance Learning?

Depending on the program there might be different requirements to be admitted into an MBA distance learning program.

The requirements are not so different from traditional MBA degrees, so in general students will need to have the following qualifications and submit these documents:

  • University specific application forms (if applicable)
  • Proof of a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Have 3 or more years of work experience
  • Official Transcripts
  • CV or resume
  • GMAT scores
  • English language proficiency scores (for international students)
  • Essays or statements of purpose
  • Letters or recommendation

Universities might have application fees too so keep that in mind as you start applying.

In addition, some might require research or capstone proposals if there is a need for it to graduate.

How Is MBA Distance Learning Different From The Traditional Format?

In the traditional MBA, lectures and discussions are held in classrooms, group work is mostly done in face to face settings, and assignments might be submitted either as hard copies or online.

An online MBA has a completely different format with universities developing their own virtual platforms or developing new ones.

Teaching methodologies include:

  • Live lectures
  • Pre-recorded lectures
  • Podcasts
  • Chat room discussions
  • Virtual reality group work

WOW Room

A highly innovative platform that has been used by the IE Business School in Spain is the Window of the World or WOW Room. This platform includes live virtual reality lectures where the professor appears in the center of the virtual room as a hologram and all around are the students in different screens.

They can all participate as if they were in a real classroom, but interaction is taken to a different level. The school has come up with face recognition algorithms which analyze students’ facial expressions to determine whether they want to say something and are hesitating, as well as determine their moods, attention levels, and emotional states.

The data collected from this is used in real time to adjust teaching and then later to improve teaching plans.

Other schools have other platforms as well, so many professors have been favoring online MBA classrooms to traditional classrooms. They state that in traditional teaching environments, the talkative students tend to dominate class discussions so participation is uneven, but in online MBA platforms, participation is higher amongst all students.

What Are The Benefits Of MBA Distance Learning Programs?

In summary, the MBA distance learning programs have a variety of benefits such as:

  • Higher flexibility – since they offer students the opportunity to learn and take classes from anywhere in the world at their own free time
  • Same curriculum as traditional programs – students take the same courses and have the same specialization choices as traditional MBA students
  • Lower cost – there is no need for relocation so the costs of the MBA program will be lower
  • More tech experience – using virtual platforms teaches students to become tech savvy and use different programs and software to improve learning
  • Diversity in networking – online MBA programs bring together groups of highly diverse people from different countries in the world who can network and get to know each other as well as partner in business opportunities

Besides these benefits however, if you are planning to enroll in an online MBA program, you should make sure of the following:

  • Accreditation – check whether the program you are looking at has valid credentials and is accredited since there is a high possibility for fraud
  • Program curriculum – look at the curriculum of the program and decide whether it fits with your career goals and needs
  • Type of program – research whether the program is purely online or not, since you might have added expenses to travel if the program requires physical presence of students on campus

Other Helpful Articles On This Topic

Career Paths for MBA Graduates – A guide for MBA graduates on what they can do.
PGDM vs MBA: What is the difference between them? – Explaining the difference between these two types of business degrees.
Is Pursuing an MBA Worth It? – Reasons to pursue an MBA degree program.
How long does it take to get an MBA? – The length of MBA studies and what contributes to it.
Getting a Job as an MBA graduate with no work experience – A guide for inexperienced MBA graduates to finding entry level jobs.

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