Many candidates who want to earn an MBA are not prepared for the time or financial investment required to be a full-time student. Some individuals need to work while earning the degrees. Others might have family obligations. Whatever the circumstances, work-life balance becomes even more important once that first semester kicks off.
A primary reason to go to school part-time might be to avoid what are referred to as the opportunity costs of leaving the workforce for two full years. Giving up work to attend school full-time can mean more than just a loss of salary. There is also a cost involved in leaving your job and abandoning whatever investment you’ve made in your position. For many ambitious employees, two years out of the workforce is simply too much.
Fortunately, there are many excellent part-time MBA programs that might mitigate this problem. Part-time programs are designed for those individuals who want (or need) to work full-time while earning their degrees, or for students who have other commitments such as families to care for. In a part-time program, you can keep your day job and advance your career simultaneously.
Since it is common for business professionals to enter the workforce first and pursue their master’s degrees years later, there are plenty of part-time options on the MBA landscape. Part-time MBA programs allow for flexible scheduling while earning the degree. Students can proceed at their own pace, and can continue fulfilling the obligations of their day jobs.
For many MBA hopefuls, an online format may also be appealing. The convenience of an online MBA allows students to better manage the rigors of business school study. Plus, the lower tuition offered by most online programs makes these MBAs that much more affordable. There are many other advantages to pursuing an online, part-time degree — including not having to travel to take classes.
That said, like everything in life and education, there are pros and cons to any path you choose.
Most decisions in life require some form of compromise. There are definitely trade-offs in choosing a part-time MBA over a full-time program. But there are many advantages as well.
As we said, one unbeatable advantage of a part-time or online MBA is that you may be able to benefit from your employer’s tuition reimbursement program. Another is that you will be able to continue working full-time, and will not lose momentum in your current job.
What do you hope the MBA will do for you? If you are looking for the degree to develop your skill set and build your credibility, then a part-time program is a perfect fit. If attending an elite school and having the whole campus experience is on your radar, then a part-time option may leave you feeling like you missed out.