The rise of flexible online MBA programs

Thinking about an MBA but worried it won’t fit into your busy schedule? The rise of online programs means you can get a quality education without sacrificing flexibility

July 4, 2024

The recent rise in hybrid and remote workspaces has affirmed that communicating online can be just as productive as in-person interactions. This shift in perception has helped fuel an influx of online options for prospective MBA students in which the quality of education is consistent across both delivery methods. But that doesn’t necessarily make the choice easy. To determine which will provide the most fulfilling experience, students should weigh the benefits of each against their life circumstances and learning preferences.

When flexibility is paramount  

One of the greatest benefits to online learning is the flexibility it offers. For a mature student with a full-time career and family, an in-class education may be too disruptive and, quite simply, untenable. Universities that offer online MBA programs recognize the limits many students face and therefore tailor them to this time-crunched set. 

The online-only MBA program at the University of Fredericton (UFred) is designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals, parents and individuals with heavy commitments. “One of the key aspects is the ability for students to access course materials, lectures and discussions from anywhere with an internet connection. This means they can study at home, at work during breaks or even while travelling,” says Dr. Michael Hobeck, dean of academics at the University of Fredericton. 

Structured or self-directed learning?

Knowing what learning style is most conducive to your academic success should inform your decision to pursue an in-person or online MBA program. While self-directed learning may spell doom for self-identified procrastinators, others thrive in an environment that allows them to set their learning pace. That could mean taking as long as allowed or fast-tracking to graduation. 

“The asynchronous, self-paced learning format within timelines allows online students to study around their work, family and other commitments,” says Dr. Mazi Shirvani, vice-president, academic at University Canada West in reference to its online MBA program. “For online students, all course materials are available at the start of the term, except for exams and quizzes.”

Comfort with digital communication tools

For many professionals, online communication tools are a regular part of their workday and the familiarity with them makes the transition to online learning a breeze. They can quickly adopt the tools used by online MBA programs, and comfortably connect with instructors and classmates. 

“Our advanced learning management system helps organize course materials, track progress and facilitate communication. Tools like discussion forums, chat rooms and video conferencing enable ongoing interaction among students and faculty, creating a vibrant online learning community,” says Hobeck. 

It’s thanks to the advancements in digital communications that MBA programs can offset the isolation that is sometimes associated with remote work. 

“UCW offers a variety of virtual events and workshops for both in-person and online students,” says Shirvani. Unlike their local in-class programs, the online versions often attract students from around the world, infusing a diverse flavour to the learning experience. 

“Students from different backgrounds and locations can share their perspectives,” says Hobeck. “This is achieved through discussion board posts, team projects and participating in live online class discussions.”

While there are myriad benefits to the immersive experience of an in-class program, it’s thanks to the online options now available that the desire to pursue an MBA is a welcome reality for many candidates that would, otherwise, be left out.