Online MBA Programs for Working Adults: How These Programs Work

Working adults can enroll in online MBA programs that allow them to advance their education while continuing their careers. We'll take a look at how these graduate programs are structured and what students can expect to study.

About Online MBA Programs

Distance learning MBA programs last approximately two years and are widely available through college and university business schools. Prerequisites typically involve holding a bachelor's degree and having up to five years' work experience. Some online programs have students work in cohorts, proceeding through their lessons as a unit and completing projects collaboratively. Participation may require one or more in-person visits to the school campus, either for orientation or to complete a residency.

Scheduling and Pacing

Online MBA programs are specifically designed to allow working adults to complete the classes in their spare time. Therefore, while they often do have a set end date by which all assignments must be completed, they rarely have assignment completion dates. This allows students to turn in their work at whatever times are most convenient.

Most MBA programs provide a suggested schedule for core, specialization and elective classes. Usually courses are spaced out, allowing working adults to take one or two classes at a time. Classes follow a semester format that runs about 3-8 weeks at a time; students may be able to choose between regular or accelerated terms within the same program.

Assignments and Communication

Class communication and interaction are mostly asynchronous via message boards and e-mail. Occasionally, students may use video or phone features to communicate live with teachers and peers. Students may need to submit a physical address to receive DVDs, textbooks or other physical classroom materials.

Assignments may be turned in via e-mail or through the college's online system. For tests and quizzes, students may interact with a proprietary system online that grades their work as they submit it. This may be timed or taken at students' leisure.

Necessary Technology

Online MBA students typically need a Web cam, microphone and similar hardware for video chatting. Software may include Microsoft Office Suite with PowerPoint, Word and Excel. Computer requirements vary by school, but often include:

  • Specific memory and RAM requirements
  • Updated Web browser
  • High-speed Internet connectivity
  • Personal e-mail address

Courses and Specializations

Online MBA programs traditionally offer the same curriculum as their on-campus counterparts. Common topics include the following:

  • International economy
  • Human resources
  • Business technology
  • Law
  • Leadership

Specializations may be available in such areas as the following:

  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Health care management
  • Operations

Through online MBA programs, working adults can advance their business expertise. The coursework may be delivered in a variety of formats, and students must have computers and equipment that are equipped to support web-based course materials.

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