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Is an Online MBA Worth It?

Newsroom | Articles Oct. 25, 2019
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Many professionals in the business and financial sectors know that earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) could enhance their careers and expand their skill sets. With the growth of online degree programs, it’s natural to wonder, “Is an online MBA worth it?” Online learning has many benefits, including the ability to learn on one’s own schedule and from anywhere in the world. To determine whether an online MBA is worth the investment of time and effort, it’s important to understand the benefits of an MBA in general.

Benefits of Earning an MBA

In 2018, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that 94% of MBA graduates felt their MBA experience was rewarding, and 89% found it to be professionally worthwhile. What are some of the benefits that make the experience so positive?

New Knowledge and Skills

Author and Forbes writer Neale Godfrey states that MBA programs are the gateway to the next stage of one’s professional journey. As with any degree, the knowledge gained, competencies developed, and connections made have significant value. If students leverage these new assets earned through a graduate program and continue to approach their work with a sense of curiosity and a love of learning, their advanced education can pay off in many ways: openness to new ideas, depth of business knowledge, and strong leadership and management skills, for example.

Financial Benefits

The intangible benefits of extensive knowledge and refined skills are important, but there are also quantifiable reasons to pursue an MBA. Investopedia says MBAs can open doors to new career opportunities, enhanced salaries, and leadership roles. More specifically, U.S. News & World Report found that an MBA often leads to a six-figure salary. According to its survey of 130 MBA programs, the average pay of graduates from the class of 2018 was $102,495, including salary and bonuses.

Professionals who stand to gain the most from an MBA, per Investopedia, are those in the financial and business sectors, company owners and entrepreneurs, and those in management roles. U.S. News & World Report adds that consulting, technology, and healthcare are also sectors in which having an MBA can result in a more competitive salary.

More Options

Another benefit of earning an MBA, per U.S. News & World Report, is the chance for students to establish a new career path if they’re looking for a change. Because the in-depth curriculum is also widely applicable, the degree can be attractive to a range of employers and, in the case of startup owners, investors. GMAC found that 7 in 10 graduates said they would not have been able to attain their current positions without an MBA.

Characteristics of Valuable Online MBA Programs

When asking if an online MBA is worth it, it’s important to remember that all MBA programs are different. First, students must consider learning in person versus online. Advanced teaching strategies that leverage technology have led to web-based MBA programs with a high degree of flexibility. Prospective MBA students who value the freedom of online study may wish to consider seeking out a program that not only offers this flexibility but also possesses a challenging and innovative curriculum.

A Rigorous Curriculum

An online MBA should offer a robust curriculum that allows students to dive deep into important business concepts. Typically, both on-campus and online MBA programs include courses in the following areas:

  • Marketing and marketing management:A marketing course teaches students how to make data-driven decisions, develop marketing plans, conduct market research, set prices, and more.

  • Information systems:Students become familiar with business data communication, database management systems, and knowledge-based systems, as well as how to analyze and design information systems.

  • Cost management:Students learn to analyze cost data and profitability for cost management decision-making. Professionals with this critical knowledge can help enhance the financial viability of businesses in any industry.

  • Employee management and behavior:People form companies, so it’s important for MBA students to deepen their understanding of human behavior. An employee management and behavior course covers motivation, management, leadership, applied behavioral science, and more.

  • Financial accounting and management:Students develop their understanding of financial statements, accounting, investments, valuation, risk, opportunity cost, and financial ethics.

  • Business law:Business law courses cover topics such as business structures, contracts, liability, labor laws, ethics, and national and international trade laws that impact businesses.

  • Managerial statistics:Students learn to draw analyses and inferences from business data to aid in decision-making processes. A managerial statistics course typically covers probability, sampling, confidence intervals, and forecasting, for example.

Options for Specialization

Some industries that seek the expertise of MBA graduates prefer candidates who specialize in a particular area of study, such as data analytics, emerging technologies, or cybersecurity. Therefore, it’s wise for students to consider online MBA programs that offer the opportunity to choose a focus area that suits their interests, goals, and skills.

Learn More About How an Online MBA Can Advance Your Career

Is an online MBA worth it for you? If you’re ready to face your future with confidence, gain new knowledge, and advance your career in finance, business, management, entrepreneurship, or a startup, for example, an online MBA can be an excellent next step. Consider LSU’s online Master of Business Administration, where you can take courses remotely and complete your education in as little as 18 months. Learn more about joining our community of changemakers and leaders today.

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