An online MBA program is typically designed for students who need greater flexibility in scheduling, such as full-time employees or people who run their own businesses.

If you want to earn a master’s degree but lack the time to attend classes on campus, then an online program can help you achieve your goals. Many prestigious universities offer online-only programs as well as hybrid programs that combine elements of distance learning with a traditional class structure. How long it takes to complete one of these programs depends on the type of degree that you earn and the institution you attend.

Average MBA Duration

An online master’s degree in business can take as few as nine months or as long as four years to complete. Online programs are centered on working individuals, and they typically appeal to nontraditional students. Many require about 30 credit hours, so depending on the school that you choose and its course layout, you should expect to spend about two years completing an online program. Some schools offer streamlined programs. These programs often focus on core business classes only, and those who enroll in them usually already have significant experience working in a specific industry. If you choose a specialty area, then you may spend extra time earning those credentials.

Online vs. Traditional Programs

According to U.S. News and World Report, students should ask three questions when deciding on an online MBA program. The questions relate to a program’s flexibility, the resources available to online students, and how often students get to interact with peers and faculty. If you need time off for work or personal reasons, for instance, then you need to know how your program handles leaves of absence. Can you work entirely at your own pace, or will you have set-in-stone deadlines?

When choosing an MBA program, it’s also important to pick a university that treats its online business school with as much respect as it gives to its on-campus version. Some schools outsource courses and other aspects of their distance learning programs. You’ll want to choose a university that offers the same benefits to students whether they’re on campus or online. Likewise, you may benefit from interaction with peers and faculty members. Many online programs offer or require on-campus commitments throughout the year.

Prospects with an MBA

In the business world, online master’s degrees are becoming increasingly popular, but reputation and accreditation still play crucial roles in determining whether employers will accept an online degree. Accredited programs will often be more rigorous, but you can expect a standardized curriculum and more experienced faculty. Avoid non-accredited programs if you want to work in business. With so many competitive accredited options on the market, you’ll fare better with a program that’s recognized for its academic excellence.

Whether you’re currently working or you’ve recently earned a bachelor’s degree, you may benefit from exploring an MBA program that doesn’t require as great of a time commitment as a traditional campus-based degree. Many top-tier schools offer online master’s programs, and employers have begun accepting these diplomas as proof of a job candidate’s work ethic, dedication and business acumen. When researching an online MBA program, remember to consider not only how long it will take to earn the degree but how the program can benefit your long-term career.

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