Online learning has risen in popularity in recent years, which was boosted by the Covid-19 pandemic. MBAs are probably the most common degrees you can take online. Many business schools have created online MBA programs to target working professionals who are unable to relocate as it may mean losing their income and stalling their career growth.
In the last five years, the number of accredited business schools offering fully-online degrees has risen by 83%. In fact, many universities are shutting down their traditional MBA programs due to waning popularity.
As the momentum of online MBAs continues to swell, you might be wondering “Should I pursue an online MBA as an African student?”, “Is an online MBA worth it for an African student?” and “Will employers take my online MBA seriously?”
To answer these questions and more, let’s explore what it means to have an online MBA in today’s digital world, especially as an African student.
Is an MBA Still Relevant in Today’s World?
The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes”. In a 2021 survey, nearly 90% of employers said that they were planning to hire MBA graduates. With the business uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, MBAs are more relevant than ever.
Today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) business world calls for business leaders that can quickly understand and pivot their organizations – which can be the difference between success and failure.
To survive and thrive in the ever-evolving business environment, organizations need leaders who can help them transform and stay ahead of the competition. MBA coursework is designed to equip business leaders with the skills to anticipate and navigate in times of crisis and change.
The value of having an MBA in the current business environment isn’t just anecdotal. In the US, MBA graduates commanded an average base salary of over $110,000 in 2022. Graduates from the 10-best-ranked programs earned an average of $175,000. This compensation is more than double what graduates with only a bachelor’s degree in business administration can earn as a base salary.
The number of job postings for MBA graduates has also been on the rise in recent years. From 2017 to 2019, job posting for MBA graduates increased by 33%.
Are Employers Biased Against Online MBAs?
No, employers are increasingly receptive to online MBAs. They understand that most working professionals don’t have the time to pursue a traditional MBA without losing income and slowing down their career growth.
However, make sure to go for an online MBA from a reputable, accredited business school. Do your research to make sure that the online MBA program you’re considering is fully accredited and that the institution is reputable.
As perceptions regarding e-learning continue to shift, the reputability of your MBA is less about how you earned it (whether online or traditional) but the reputation of the business school from which you earn the qualification.
How Do Traditional and Online MBAs Compare?
A question that is probably also on the top of your mind is whether online and traditional MBA programs are the same when it comes to structure, duration, cost, and engagement. Let’s briefly look at how online and traditional MBA programs compare in those key aspects.
- Curriculum: Online and offline MBAs are basically the same in terms of the curriculum. However, while traditional MBAs are taught by professors, online programs may have pre-recorded lessons that you can download. Due to this key difference, online programs require students to have more self-motivation and discipline to complete their degrees.
- Engagement and networking: When you attend traditional offline classes, you get to interact with your professors and peers. With group assignments and the ability to meet up for coffee, you can form strong connections with your peers and professors. While online engagement is different (via chat and video conferencing), with effort, you can also form a strong network.
- Cost: Traditional MBA programs are considerably more expensive than online MBAs. According to a 2021 survey by Affordable Colleges Online, an online MBA is, on average, $10,010 or 25.6% cheaper than an on-campus MBA.
- Duration: A traditional full-time MBA program takes two years, while a part-time MBA takes four years to complete. Many business schools offer one-year online MBAs. Some online MBAs can even be as short as 10 months. Online MBA also offers flexibility to study and complete assignments on your own time.
- Admission requirements: Some employers might have concerns that online MBAs have lower entry requirements than on-campus programs. Just like any other degree, the requirements for an MBA vary from school to school. Prestigious MBA schools will have more stringent requirements than lower-tier schools. That said, online programs tend to have significantly higher acceptance rates.
Common Requirements for Joining Top Online MBA Programs
Are you considering applying to a top business school for an MBA? You might be wondering what the typical requirements are. Here is a list of common MBA requirements:
- Completed application forms: You’ll be required to fill out an application form with details such as your name, address, work experience, and educational background. You may be asked to attach documents such as your transcripts, degree certificates, and letters of recommendation.
- GPA scores: MBA programs are very rigorous. Admissions boards check students’ GPAs to ensure that they have what it takes to handle the rigors of their MBA program, whether online or on-campus. A high GPA, of 3.5 to 3.9 will bolster your application if you’re aiming for a top business school. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average GPA at lower-ranked programs was 3.37.
- Work experience: usually three to five years of work experience is required when applying to a top-tier MBA program. However, there’s no hard-and-fast rule regarding MBA application and work experience – with online programs being more flexible.
- GMAT or GRE test scores: Most business schools require applicants to submit Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores. Check whether your desired university requires you to take these standardized tests and which scores to aim for. Don’t forget to check whether the school offers test waivers.
- Application essays: Essays are a common part of college applications, even when it comes to MBAs. The goal is to show why, outside of your academic qualifications, you deserve a spot in their program. Research how to write a powerful MBA application essay. It’s also a good idea to consult a mentor or hire a professional education consultant to help you in this process, especially when applying to a top business school.
- Letters of recommendation: Most business schools also require applicants to provide letters of recommendation from immediate and former supervisors at work. Choose someone who believes in your abilities and the value of pursuing an MBA degree. Ask the recommenders early to allow them to write without too much pressure – which can result in a less enthusiastic letter of recommendation
- Admission interviews: If the admissions board likes your application, you will probably be invited for an interview. The interview gives them an opportunity to meet you in person (or online) to get a feel of your personality to determine whether you’re a great fit for their program. Research common MBA admission interview questions and prepare yourself to answer them confidently.
- Course prerequisites: MBA programs usually require prerequisites such as foundational courses in economics calculus, financial accounting, financial management, and economic statistics. Find out the prerequisites required by desired your program.
- English proficiency test scores: Some online MBA programs will also require international students to submit scores to standardized English proficiency test scores. The most preferred tests are: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Pearson Test of English (PTE). Find out which test is required by the program you’re applying to and the scores you need.
Bear in mind that business schools are looking for a healthy mix of these typical admission metrics when selecting candidates.
Armed with the above information, now you know that an online MBA is definitely worth it for everyone, including African students. If an MBA is part of your academic and professional goals, look up top online MBA programs, and their requirements and costs and send in your application.