MBA Comparison: Online vs. In Person

business woman and business man meeting in an office lobby

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree has long been the most popular master’s program. Thus, as a current full-time employee and/or undergraduate student, you may wonder whether or not you should pursue an MBA. And if the answer is yes, you need to determine the right path for your education—online or in person.

Should You Pursue Your MBA Online or in Person?

Many students have enjoyed a traditional college experience. However, that traditional college experience often excludes potential students who don’t have the time or ability to attend classes at a set time and in a set place. As working professionals go back to school, online MBA programs have grown in popularity due to the accessibility, affordability, and career-relevant learning outcomes. Until recently, many employers preferred a traditional MBA degree to an online MBA degree. However, that prejudice began to fade away as more qualified students and employees chose an online MBA degree due to various reasons. Online schools are routinely partnering with organizations who fully or partially sponsor their employees to earn their MBA degree online. For many students, an online MBA makes the most sense.

Advantages of an Online MBA Program

User-Friendly Admissions Process

Many full-time employees who left school a long time ago may have difficulty in preparing for the required exams to be admitted to a prestigious, traditional business school. There are many online schools that do not require these exams. Additionally, advisors can walk students through the process of applying over the phone or online.


An online MBA program can offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling when compared to a traditional MBA program. As online courses are usually asynchronous, students do not have to log in to the course site at a specific time. In addition to not having a specific time students must log on, students do not have to leave their full-time job to continue going to school, which may be one of the strongest reasons that an online MBA degree has been gaining in popularity.


Support can come in many forms. For online MBA programs, support is a web of peer support, professional guidance, and numerous online tools that help you succeed. Each online program is unique, so make sure the program you choose supports you in the ways that you need.

Adaptability to a Modern Environment 

Blackman (2016) of Business Insider points out that the advantage of an online MBA format that maximizes the use of technologies like that of the daily remote leader (interactions via emails, text messages, and web conferences), may better prepare future business leaders than a traditional in-class MBA format does.

While online MBA programs often lack a face-to-face component, they more than make up for it in terms of diversity and accessibility. Students who participate in online MBA programs are all over the globe and this level of diversity presents students with a wonderful opportunity to increase their own cultural competence. You may find yourself in an online discussion with current business professionals who can enhance your own understanding of the business world. In terms of accessibility, online MBA students are not limited to the hours that a class is in session. Rather, the asynchronous environment allows 24 hour interaction with peers and instructors.

The Decision

An online MBA degree is a strong choice for many working professionals who are looking to grow both themselves and their career opportunities. It has a great potential to gain more popularity, offers quality education, and provides recognition to current and future employers.



Written by Dr. Kunsoo Paul Choi, Assistant Professor in the Forbes School of Business & Technology™



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