How to Tell Your Boss You’re Pursuing an Online MBA

How to tell your boss

You've decided to enroll in an online MBA program. Congratulations! You've taken an important step toward advancing your professional and personal development.

If you chose an online MBA so you could keep working while in school, you may be wondering whether your boss will feel as great about your news as you do. Of course, the only way to find out is to tell him or her – but should you?

In short, yes. You'll want your employer's support while in school. To secure that support, you should instead consider how you will tell your boss.

The first question your boss is likely to ask will be the obvious, "Does this mean you're leaving?" After all, a change in careers is one of the major reasons people go back to school in the first place, and MBA programs are no exception.

If you are looking to make a career move, you'll have to decide whether you want to reveal this information to your employer, and when. Some companies are more supportive and understanding than others when an employee announces they wish to move on – unhappy employees are unproductive ones, after all.

If you don't position your departure as imminent – you wouldn't leave until after completing your MBA, for example – your employer might be thankful for having so much notice to work with. That said, depending on the company, you may be putting your own job security at risk by giving too much notice. Based on what you know about your employer, ask yourself how you think they'd handle news of you wanting to leave.

If you'd like to stay on, be honest. Your boss may be motivated to find a better fit for you internally if you admit you're unhappy, especially since your MBA will prepare you to take on more responsibility. Your boss should be glad that you're interested in improving your capabilities in a way that could benefit the company long-term. Some employers like this idea so much, in fact, that they even help pay for graduate school. That possibility is always worth looking into.

Regardless of the long-term implications of earning your MBA, your boss might still wonder about the impact going back to school will have on your availability to do your current job.

One of the best things about enrolling in an online business degree program is that you can do it on your own schedule, without having to uproot your life and potentially move cities or switch to part-time work.

The flexibility of online education is also great news for your current employer. You can inform your boss that you won't need to request time off for classes or exams. As far as your employer is concerned, your availability doesn't have to change at all.

If you are upfront about these advantages when you first discuss going back to school with your employer, it can alleviate some potential concerns right off the bat. From there, spend a little time talking to your boss about why you made the decision to get an MBA, and what you think it could mean for you or for the company as a whole.

How would you feel if an employee came to you saying they wanted to improve his or her leadership capabilities, add critical business skills and knowledge, learn how to work more efficiently and effectively, and in general make a tangible commitment to professional development? You'd probably be pretty impressed. You'd probably view that employee in a more positive light, and so should your boss.

How or whether you tell your boss that you plan on going back to school to pursue an online MBA is completely within your control. As long as you are clear on what your goals are and know your employer well enough to anticipate how they'll react, sharing the news with your boss can be an easy, fulfilling, and mutually beneficial conversation.

Written by Ashford University staff

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