Resources › For Students and Parents Online MBA Degree Basics What You Need to Know Before Enrolling in an Online MBA Program Share Flipboard Email Print Hero Images/Getty Images For Students and Parents Distance Learning Online College Online High School Online Public Schools Free Courses Homework Help Private School Test Prep College Admissions College Life Graduate School Business School Law School View More By Jamie Littlefield Education Expert M.A., Education, Claremont Graduate University B.A., English, Brigham Young University Jamie Littlefield is a writer, instructional designer, and teacher of high school and college distance education courses. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and more. our editorial process Jamie Littlefield Updated January 12, 2018 Online MBA programs are a popular choice by older adults and mid-career professionals who want to earn a degree without sacrificing their career and family life. Online MBA programs are also becoming a fast favorite of the younger crowd, who are looking for ways to earn a graduate degree while keeping their current employment. Many find that online MBA courses offer a flexibility that can't be found in traditional schools. If you're considering earning an online MBA, make sure you do your homework. Knowing the basics will help you make an informed decision about whether or not these programs are right for you. How Online MBA Programs Are Different From Traditional MBA Programs Distance learning and traditional MBA programs generally share a similar type of curriculum and can be considered equally difficult (depending, of course, on the particular school). Instead of spending hours in class, online MBA students are expected to dedicate their time to studying independently. Online curriculum generally consists of lectures, readings, assignments, and participation in online discussions. Some programs also offer multimedia components such as video lectures, podcasting, and video conferencing. Online MBA students from some programs are expected to physically attend a certain number of courses or workshops in order to acquire residency hours. Required tests can usually be taken with proctors in your own community. Online MBA students don’t spend less time studying than their traditional student counterparts. But, they are given the power to fit their school hours into their own schedules. Determining if an MBA Program Is Respectable This question deserves a qualified “yes.” There are two main factors in determining a business school’s respectability: accreditation and reputation. Online MBA programs that are accredited by the proper agencies should be respected by your future employers and colleagues. However, there are many unaccredited or “diploma mill” programs that give out worthless degrees. Avoid them at all costs. A school with a good reputation can also add respectability to an online MBA degree. Much like law schools, business schools receive rankings from organizations such as Business Week that can affect future employment. Online students may not be offered the same high-paying, big corporation jobs that graduates from top-ranked schools such as Wharton are. However, there are plenty of companies willing to hire MBA grads with degrees from other institutions. Reasons People Earn Their MBA Online Online MBA students come from all walks of life. Many distance learning students are mid-career when they decide to get another degree. Older professionals with jobs and family responsibilities often find the flexibility of online programs to be a good fit. Some online students are looking for a career change but still want to maintain their current job until they get their MBA. Others are already working in business and earn their degree in order to be eligible for job promotions. How Long Do Online MBAs Take to Complete The time it takes to finish an online MBA degree varies according to the school and the specialization. Some intensive MBA programs can be finished in as few as nine months. Other programs can take up to four years. Adding specializations to a degree can take even longer. Some schools allow students greater flexibility to work at their own pace while others require that students adhere to more demanding deadlines. Cost of Earning an Online Degree One online MBA degree can be had for $10,000, another for $100,000. The cost of tuition varies substantially from college to college. Pricey doesn’t necessarily mean better (although some of the more expensive schools have some of the best reputations). Your employer may be willing to pay for part or all of your educational expenses, particularly if he or she thinks you’ll be sticking with the company. You may also be awarded grants, receive institutional or private scholarships, or qualify for financial aid. Advantages in Having an MBA Many online MBA graduates have used their new degrees to excel at the workplace, gain promotions, and achieve career success. Others have found that their time could have been better spent elsewhere. Those who find their degrees to be “worth it” share several traits in common: they knew they wanted to work in the business field beforehand, they chose a school with proper accreditation and a positive reputation, and their specialization was appropriate for the type of work they wanted to do. Enrolling in an online MBA program is not a decision to take lightly. Accredited programs require hard work, time, and effort. But, for the right person, an online MBA can be a great way to get a jumpstart in the world of business.