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Part-Time MBA or Online MBA: Which is Right for Me?

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

So you’re interested in getting an MBA but want to keep your job and maintain personal commitments while pursuing the degree. You’re now looking into part-time and online MBA options but are wondering how to choose between the two.

Here are three questions to ask yourself when making the decision and some common advantages of both options.


Considerations to make

1. How much flexibility, accessibility, and convenience do you need?

Both online and part-time MBAs let you set the pace for program completion.

Online MBAs let you structure the program to fit your work and life demands. Courses are often asynchronous, which means you can complete lessons on demand, anytime, and anywhere you have internet access. This eliminates commute time, the need to find parking, and adhering to set meeting times. Some programs, like the Carlson School’s Online MBA, will still give you access to in-person courses. So if you ever want to complete a course on campus, you can.

Part-time MBAs still offer flexibility, accessibility, and convenience, as most part-time programs offer online, in-person, and hybrid class options. While in-person courses have set meeting times, you can pick which classes you’d rather take in-person and online.

Check out Carlson School's course modalities to learn about common course format options.


2. What's your learning style?

Online MBA programs offer a more individualized and self-paced approach. You’ll also be able to review materials anytime you want and need. With our increasingly virtualizing world, you have the added benefit of incorporating technology into your leadership and communication skills.

Part-time MBA programs may provide more structure and accountability, especially in-person classes where you’ll be required to follow set class schedules. However, you will be able to get answers in real time and interact with faculty and peers.


3. How important is networking to you?

Part-time and online MBA programs often offer more diverse networks as their students tend to have more work experience and come from a greater variety of backgrounds and locations.

Part-time MBA programs offer more built-in networking opportunities due to in-person course options. On-campus career fairs and events may also be more readily available if you live in the area. However, this doesn’t mean online MBAs don’t provide any networking opportunities. Team projects are often still required, and many programs have in-person residency requirements. For example, the Carlson School requires two in-person residencies for our online MBA students. During these experiences, we build in networking opportunities and workshops so you can take full advantage of your time on campus. 

If one of your goals is to expand your network during the program, you may need to be more intentional about making connections with others if you choose an online MBA program.


Common Advantages

Achieve your next career goal

Whether you choose a part-time MBA program or an online MBA program, you’ll be developing the skills and knowledge needed to accelerate or pivot your career. You have the advantage of practicing and applying what you learn to the workplace immediately. Improving your strategic thinking, leadership, and communication abilities may propel you into a higher position at your current workplace. The opportunity to explore topics that interest you from marketing to finance can also help you pivot into a new function or even industry. And if you’re looking for a salary boost, median starting salaries are on the rise for MBA degree holders, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2022 Corporate Recruiters Survey.

Want to see some real stats in action? 85% of Carlson School’s working professional (part-time and online) MBA Class of 2022 reported a significant job change (industry or function) during or post-program. More than one-third received a promotion. They also saw a 61% average increase in salary from program start to four months post-graduation, and an average base salary of $128,249.

Check out our Part-time and Online MBA Class of 2022 employment report to explore where you could end up.


More affordable way to earn your degree

In part-time and online MBA programs, you can keep earning an income while studying. Because you'll be taking classes courses or if you already live close by and take in-person courses, you may not have relocation costs. You’ll also likely only need to pay for the credits you’re taking. This means you can pace your coursework to fit your budget from semester to semester.

Remember to look into your employee benefits. Some organizations may offer time off and/or financial sponsorship to help you develop professionally. Some programs, like the Carlson School’s, also have Corporate Partnerships to streamline the application process and offer discount tuition. Get tips on asking your employer for educational support or learn more about Carlson School's Corporate Partnership.

You can also ask your program of interest if they offer scholarships for their part-time and online MBA programs. To be considered for a Carlson School merit-based scholarship, all you need to do is complete the scholarship essay as part of your Part-Time or Online MBA application. Scholarships are awarded at the time of admission.

Learn more about Carlson School's Part-Time MBA scholarships and Online MBA scholarships.


Take control of your education and time

There’s a good reason part-time and online MBA programs are also called evening MBAs, weekend MBAs, or working professional MBAs. Designed for the working professional, it reflects the program’s flexibility in scheduling, course delivery, and curriculum. From various scheduling options like night and weekend classes, you’ll also be able to choose how you want to learn with formats like online synchronous, online asynchronous, and in-person for part-time programs.

The Carlson School offers various course modalities, including condensed formats for some two-credit courses that will allow you to complete the class over a few weeks or even days. Our Online MBA program also gives you access to in-person classes should you ever want them. In short, part-time and online MBA programs let you determine the how and when of your education.

You can even pursue specializations and your interests better. For example, the Carlson School’s part-time and online MBA programs require 52 credits to graduate. But you decide when to complete your core and elective courses. If there’s a class you really want to take, but can’t fit it into your schedule this year, you can simply take it next year.


Career development support

Whichever program you choose, you’ll be able to create connections through your school’s alumni network. With many services moving online, you’ll likely have access to your school’s career center to help you plan out and achieve your next career moves.

For example, the Carlson School offers unparalleled and uniquely comprehensive career support through our Carlson Business Career Center. You can receive individualized career guidance every step of the way—whether you need support navigating a job transition or want to plan out your career path. As a Part-Time MBA or Online MBA student, you can meet with your dedicated career coach for strategies and evaluations. And with an alumni network of 60,000+ in 102 countries around the world, you’ll have an extensive community to give you the pulse on the latest industry trends and job opportunities.


Need more guidance to make a decision?