With the evolution of technology and the wider availability of video conferencing, email and webinars, many people now perceive education to be only a click away. However, others are still highly sceptical about the acquisition of hard skills that a person must forego by pursuing distance learning and whether employers value it as much as gaining a Masters degree in a traditional classroom. This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of an online Masters programme, with specific emphasis on business degrees.
The Advantages of an Online Masters Degree in Business
There has been an increase in online Masters degrees over the course of the last years, yet U.S. News Education states that current growth is sluggish. Approximately 5.3 million students enrolled in an online Masters course in autumn 2013, which was a 3.7% increase over the previous year. However, while the growth in online education may not be exceptional, there are still a larger number of students opting for an online Masters programme every year. Here are the reasons why.
Low Tuition Fees
Going to a top-class business school to study an accounting, finance, or business degree can be expensive. Many students are still fulfilling student debts years after completing their education. Hence, a traditional Masters is not for every pocket. The tuition fees for online Masters programmes are lower than those for traditional MBA and other business Masters programmes. Arkansas State University, for example, charges a tuition fee of $467 per credit hour for its online MBA, and Ball State University charges $773 per credit hour for its online MBA.
This applies to MBA degree programmes as well as to Masters. PrepAdviser’s ‘How to Pay Less for Your MBA’ gives the following examples:
...the tuition fee for the Online MBA of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University (USA) is 45,000 USD for three semesters compared to 118,300 USD for their two-year full-time MBA. The Kelley School of Business (USA) Online MBA charges 66,300 USD for the full programme (51 credit hours) which also includes two Kelly Connect Weeks on campus. Compare this to their Full-time MBA which will cost you 88,920 USD tuition for 2 years plus 142,000 USD for other expenses (travel, living and additional fees).
The IE (Spain) world top-ranked Online Global MBA (15 months, blended format with 20% face-to-face, 80% online study) requires 43,200 EUR for tuition, compared to the full-time one-year MBA which costs 61,900 EUR.
For those applicants that prefer a flexible schedule, pursuing an online Masters degree is the answer. You can continue working along with your Masters course and can finish assignments and attend classes when convenient. You do not have to put your current career behind your education, and can continue both at the same time.
No Extra Costs
Besides tuition fees, there are also no travelling costs or living expenses associated with an online Masters programme. You live exactly where you already are and do not have to go anywhere to finish your education, which makes it significantly cheaper. Moreover, you also do not have to buy additional clothes, cosmetics, and other things to wear to class every day, as you can attend lectures in your pyjamas if you wish!
While some may be sceptical about them, there are online Masters programmes that are highly reputable and give a good impression to potential employers. It is best to choose an exceptional online programme that will add a glisten to your CV and academic records. The best online business degree courses for 2015, according to U.S. News, are from Indiana University, University of Texas, and Arizona State University respectively. All three universities and many others offer online Masters degrees in business, finance, accounting and similar disciplines.
While not yet available for Masters degree programmes in business, a ranking of the best online MBA programmes is already published.
However, pursuing an online Masters may not be for everyone, and here is why.
The Disadvantages of an Online Masters Degree in Business
Technology is not for Everyone
One of the most important factors for you to consider when deciding whether you want to pursue an online Masters programme is whether you are sufficiently comfortable with using technology. Some people cannot easily use webinars, video conferencing and other information technology tools and do not like interacting that way. For those that are not tech-savvy, an online Masters may be a difficult education option.
Less Face-to-Face Interaction
Some people not only want to learn theory but also want to pick up on hard skills such as presenting, discussing, and public speaking among others when completing a business Masters. Additionally, face-to-face interaction and socialising with peers is also very important for them in a university experience. Pursuing an online Masters programme will significantly reduce these opportunities and for those that cannot do without them, an online Masters may not be the way to go.
The truth is that not all online Masters courses are widely accepted and, as reported by U.S. News Education, only 28% of professors and employers acknowledge an online Masters degree. While this may be discouraging, it is important to understand that while not all institutions and employers consider distance learning to be acceptable, many do. You just have to ensure you enrol in a top-notch programme, score well, and make sure you have the personality to show it.
What are the Top 5 Reasons to Do an Online MBA
Overall, an online Masters may be the answer for some people while it may not be the best choice for others. Therefore, consider the pros and cons and choose wisely.
Check out PrepAdviser's infographic: