The worlds of work and study have been transformed by digital developments. Business education is no exception and this is enabling an increasing number of busy, tech savvy professionals to undertake online qualifications.
This is notably the case with online MBAs. The Graduate Management Admissions Council reported a 7% increase in demand last year from 2015, while two-thirds of institutions offering online MBA programmes expected to increase their class size last year as new online MBAs are steadily introduced worldwide.
“Having a global professional existence doesn’t allow you to commit to any reasonable time frames,” says Ed Perryman, Global Online MBA alumnus at Imperial College Business School. “I travelled a great deal with work and I knew that I would miss lectures if I undertook a weekend or part-time MBA programme. What I needed was to learn on the go, fitting it around my professional life – an online MBA was the perfect solution.”
Here Imperial College Business School provides five comprehensive reasons why students like Ed are turning to these accessible, flexible and respected online MBA qualifications:
An online MBA attracts students for whom the traditional on-campus experience wouldn’t work. Many have work or family commitments that cannot be sacrificed for up to two years. Or they travel for work, run businesses or hold senior leadership positions that make a regular schedule impossible to commit to.
Students on Imperial’s Global Online MBA are required to be on campus in South Kensington for just two weeks of the programme. The programme is primarily delivered online through Imperial’s bespoke e-learning platform, The Hub, which can be accessed anywhere, any time.
Talia Hussain, founder of Ramnation, was converted. “Putting my business on hold didn’t seem like an opportunity. I needed the flexibility to work and study at the same time without sacrificing on earnings.”
Andy Durban, Student Recruitment Manager at Imperial College Business School, adds: “Over the years, I’ve noticed a definite shift in the programmes candidates are looking for.
“Whilst there will always be a place for traditional face-to-face programmes, modern professionals are increasingly looking for something that allows them to work towards a prestigious, recognised qualification at a time and a place that suits them,” says Durban.
An online MBA is more than an academic exercise. It helps students develop their career strategy, build on leadership skills and develop self-awareness. All of which can be applied straight away.
Ed Perryman was promoted to Group Sales and Marketing Director at a leading provider of private education whilst studying the Global Online MBA at Imperial.
“In this role I work closely with the CEO and the Finance Director on our broader strategy,” says Ed. “The progression of my role meant that I now have more interaction with the board and private equity owners. Coming from an exclusively marketing background, I have learnt a broader level of financial and other business acumen on the Global Online MBA that gives me more credibility in the boardroom.”
Ceri Willmott, Careers Consultant at Imperial College Business School, describes their Personal Leadership Journey (PLJ) module as a “blended approach”, involving self-paced learning, reflective exercises, personal 1-2-1 support and interactive plenary sessions. “Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive in terms of the relevance and impact,” she says.
Dubai-based Asmar Atif says about the PLJ: “I’ve learnt more about myself than I have in my 12 years of work experience. It’s helped me to develop self-awareness of the skills I need to progress.”
Students on online MBAs bring a diverse range of experiences into the virtual classroom. Its flexibility over more traditional MBA formats make it more accessible to a wider range of professionals at different levels of experience, from career accelerators to senior leaders.
Crystal Grant, Head of Admissions at Imperial College Business School, says: “Our position as a business school at the heart of one of the world’s leading STEM universities attracts candidates from engineering, technology and healthcare, alongside traditional MBA backgrounds like finance and consulting – and increasingly more creative industries.”
The breadth and depth of experience found on an online MBA programme ensures powerful peer-to-peer learning, but also a strong sense of community, from which networking relationships can easily develop. Be sure to check how a business school manages this experience.
There are often plenty of opportunities to collaborate online and across time zones. “My class has a WhatsApp group and then sub-groups split into topic areas,” enthuses Asmar. “We interact daily: if one person has a question, then lots of others drop in to help. Every month, we take turns to give a virtual presentation on how we apply our learning to what we’re doing in our companies.”
Talia adds: “The idea that your colleagues are going to be down the corridor – especially as you move into senior levels – is an outdated concept. I love my peers and our WhatsApp group is by turns helpful, informative and hilarious.”
Business schools are becoming more sophisticated in the way they use technology. Imperial College Business School's award-winning Edtech Lab designed and built The Hub, Imperial's online learning platform.
David Lefevre, Director of the Edtech Lab, says: “The Hub replicates the essential components of an on-campus MBA programme in a format flexible enough to study around work, family and other commitments. Students can contact their professors and advisors on The Hub for feedback.”
They can also discuss and explore issues with their online classmates, and post and share comments on articles, case studies, and completed exercises – insights that might not be heard during an in-class experience.
“For me, having the ability to download the programme content, get on the plane, and fire through an hour’s worth of video was perfect,” says Ed.
Find a business school that uses its own virtual learning environment to deliver the online MBA, so you know the functionality you need is there. Can you easily log in and out across devices? Do you have the option to live stream lectures or access pre-recorded content?
As more top business schools offer online MBAs, there has been a shift in how the market and employers perceive them as an attractive and credible qualification.
Some providers, like Imperial, offer students the option to take elective modules on campus, alongside Full-Time, Weekend or Executive MBA students, eradicating the barrier between the on-campus and online programmes.
On graduation, all students receive the same Imperial MBA degree – regardless of how and where they studied.
“The admissions process for the Global Online MBA is as rigorous and thorough as our on-campus programmes, and we look for the same aptitudes, strengths and potential for academic and career success.”
If you want to learn more, get in touch with the recruitment team at Imperial College Business School: imperial.ac.uk/business-school/global-mba
You can read the full version of article on the Business School’s Intelligence Hub: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/business-school/intelligence/features/5-reasons-demand-online-mba-increasing/