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What to Expect With an Online MBA

MBA. Having those three letters after your name signifies a higher level of business expertise and the persistence to graduate with this credential.

However, not all who want an MBA  have the time to pause their careers and go back to school.

Enter the online MBA. MBAs have been offered online for several years now, spawning a range of options and types from a variety of universities. If you are interested in pursuing an online MBA, here’s what you can expect.

Different Types of MBA Online Programs

As mentioned, there is a great selection of online MBAs available. While some may be fully online, others may be hybrid, which means that they require some in-person sessions. You may also see the words “accelerated” and “executive.” An accelerated MBA typically allows students to complete the MBA in a shorter time period, while an executive MBA targets executives and managers, allowing completion either online or with on-campus classes at night or on weekends.
Within online programs, courses can require students to be online at certain times (synchronous) or not require specific times (asynchronous).

Florida Tech’s MBA program online is asynchronous, providing students the convenience of accessing course materials 24/7 and learning on their own schedule. This made all the difference for Brian Tocci, who, as VP of Operations at Larsen Motorsports, needed the flexibility due to traveling a lot for his job:

“The biggest thing I appreciated about the online degree was the flexibility. You knew what you had to do that week, but you could do it however you wanted, whenever you wanted throughout that whole week. You could do it at midnight if you had to or you could wake up early at six in the morning – you got to make your schedule.”

A Diverse Group of Classmates

Since the benefit of an online MBA program is not having to be local to enroll in a university’s program, your classmates will come from different places and diverse backgrounds. According to Dr. Christian Sonnenberg, Associate Dean of Online and Off-Campus Programs at the Bisk College of Business and Associate Professor, Florida Tech’s MBA student population come from a wide range of demographics:

“Some are working professionals while others are trying to get into the industry. Some are active service personnel and deployed around the world. Many have families, are caregivers, and we even have multiple generations taking courses online. We have all sorts here; it provides a rich source of experience to engage with.”

This benefits both the students and the faculty, according to Sonnenberg:

“One thing that makes our MBA program stand out is how students share their own experiences. Many of our students come from industry and they leverage that in the discussion boards and with other students and the faculty. Often, students will come up with new topics and trends that feedback into the class and makes it more rewarding.”

Networking Opportunities

Another benefit to the diverse group of classmates you’ll encounter with an online MBA is the networking opportunities. You’ll become connected with professionals across industries and around the country through the online classroom, which can lead to a broad network of contacts.

Different universities may also offer specific networking and career opportunities for MBA online students as well. According to Dr. Sonnenberg, Florida Tech online students “have access to the same opportunities as our campus students, including workshops and seminars on resume-building, training in ‘Handshake’ (our platform for career employment), and interactions with industry professionals teaching the classes.”

In addition, online students can attend Florida Tech’s study abroad program, which allows students to spend two weeks in Spain and gain international business knowledge. Dr. Sonnenberg says that the College’s Advisory Board, which is comprised of local business leaders, attend this program and provide a wonderful networking opportunity.

Online Collaboration

Your MBA courses may include group projects and presentations as a part of the coursework, which means you’ll have to collaborate virtually with your classmates. Florida Tech’s online learning system provides different options for interaction, which helps facilitate discussion between students and faculty members.

“Despite the fact it’s an online program, there is a lot of interaction between the students and the professors, and even though you’re not face-to-face with a lot of these people, you still get to know people and share mutual experiences,” says Amanda Knitweiss, graduate of Florida Tech’s MBA in Project Management program.

Flexible Completion Times

While most MBA programs are completed in two years, online MBAs typically have greater flexibility in the course plan. Florida Tech’s MBA can be completed in less than two years, but you can also go at your own pace and take longer if needed.

According to Lisa Garcia, who earned her bachelor’s and MBA in healthcare management from Florida Tech, “the format is easy to navigate, and there is support, online learning demands discipline and strict time management. During graduate level courses, advisors recommended taking only one class at a time, and I am glad they did!”

Rigorous Curriculum

One common misconception about online MBA programs is that earning one is easier than earning an on-campus MBA. Although it depends on the program, MBAs available online are typically just as rigorous as their on-campus counterparts. In fact, the curriculum is usually similar, with a core of business fundamental courses, including accounting, finance, marketing and organizational behavior. These courses ensure students have a broad business knowledge of these key functional areas.

Dr. Sonnenberg says that the Florida Tech MBA “was developed to be both comprehensive and flexible to meet the needs of today’s students.” To view the curriculum, click here.

Specialization Opportunities

Some MBA programs offer specializations so that students can gain advanced knowledge applicable to their industry. According to Dr. Sonnenberg, “An MBA with a specialization allows students to tailor their MBA towards a specific industry they may wish to enter. Each specialization is unique and has its own track of elective courses tailored to that field. For example, the MBA in Healthcare Management includes courses on policy, IT, legal issues, planning, and marketing within the healthcare space. Once they graduate, their diploma reflects this specialization allowing employers to easily identify and appreciate that student’s commitment to the field. “

This was the case for MBA Healthcare Management graduate Matthew Donlan.

“An MBA speaks for itself. The fact that Florida Tech allows for the MBA to tie into Healthcare Management opens many doors in the field that I work in.”

Explore Florida Tech’s MBA specializations here.

Requires Time & Dedication

Even though an online MBA provides convenience and flexibility, it requires hard work and dedication to be successful. Being an online student means you have to be self-motivated and disciplined to absorb the course materials and do the homework. While assignments can be done on your own time, they still have to get done. This surprised Audra Rutherford, who earned her bachelor’s and MBA from Florida Tech through the Fast Track program:

“What surprised me most about taking an online program was the flexibility it offered and finding my inner discipline. Students in this type of program must have the perseverance and determination necessary to master its many requirements. Through extensive self-accountability and the drive of professors to ensure their students are succeeding, the program was the exact environment that I needed to be successful.”

No GMAT Required

Depending on your program, no GMAT may be required, as is the case in Florida Tech’s MBA program. Dr. Sonnenberg says, “While the GMAT is considered a standard mechanism for evaluating student’s writing, reading, and verbal skills, it is not the only measurement of a student’s success. We understand that students come in with knowledge of the field, often with applicable experience in business. While a GMAT may be submitted, we also evaluate a student’s writing and initiative through their resume and submitted essays. We also provide essential business courses as a prerequisite to allow students with any deficiencies to catch up in the program.”

Accreditation

In addition to what kind of accreditation the university as a whole possesses – national vs. regional – the College of Business in which the MBA is housed typically possesses one of the following accreditations: AACSB, ACBSP and IACBE. The Bisk College of Business at Florida Tech is accredited by the IACBE to award associate’s, bachelor’s and MBA degrees. Learn more about the IACBE here.

Student Resources

While you may think that, as an online student, you don’t have access to the resources of an institution like you would no campus, but that isn’t necessarily true. From tutoring to career management to faculty involvement, online MBAs have varying amounts of resources for their students. As a prospective student, this is an important factor to consider in your decision.

Florida Tech provides support throughout the student journey by assigning each student a representative to help with everything from ordering textbooks to enrolling in classes. As Dr. Sonnenberg says, “We understand the needs of today’s working student and have faculty and representatives available to assist when life starts throwing you curveballs. Just be sure to communicate with us beforehand and we’ll do our best to accommodate your needs throughout your academic career.”

Paul Sotomayor, MBA Project Management, found the faculty support to be a key part of his academic experience: “The professors I encountered at Florida Tech will ensure your experience is positive and rewarding.”

Is an Online MBA Right For You?

Do you want to advance your education without putting your career on hold? Learn more about Florida Tech’s MBA programs, 100% online, here.

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