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Why Are Online MBAs Respected by Employers?

Employers often can’t tell, and may not even care, whether you got your MBA online.

Two businessman consulting face to face

So, you’re contemplating an online MBA program? It might seem a bit too straightforward compared to traditional education, doesn’t it? Just log into your study portal whenever you have a spare moment, at home or during a break at work, and before you know it, you’ve got yourself a Master of Business Administration. Is it really that simple?

This convenience of studying from anywhere has people asking, “Are online MBA programs respected?” Is there a trade-off between the flexibility and affordability of distance learning and how employers perceive your degree?

Speaking from my experience as a business owner and former government recruiter, I can assure you: an MBA gives a significant career advantage. It’s a clear demonstration of your commitment to becoming the best manager possible. The skills developed – leadership, business analysis, critical thinking, and communication – are invaluable.

You gain respect whether you study online or make the effort to attend classes in person. However, there is one significant caveat: the business school you choose still matters. The adage, “You get what you pay for,” holds true for online MBA programs just as it does for other aspects of life.

Reasons Why an Online MBA Is Credible

What makes an online MBA worth it for many professionals is the ability to continue working full-time while studying part-time. But does this mode of study resonate equally with employers?

Our findings suggest that an online MBA receives a similar reception from employers as its traditional counterpart. Here are four compelling reasons why an MBA obtained online holds just as much credibility as an on-campus one.

1. Employers won’t notice your MBA was online

Upon receiving your actual MBA degree – be it paper or digital – it doesn’t flaunt “Online MBA” or “Online Degree” in glaring red letters. Your qualification simply reads “Master of Business Administration” or similar.

Typically, employers can’t tell if an MBA has been acquired through online or in-person study. For example, most Australian universities that offer online MBAs also provide on-campus programs. You can secure your MBA from them either way, and there’s no indication on your diploma concerning the mode of study.

According to the most recent education statistics, more MBA students in Australia study online than regularly attend a campus. There is general community acceptance that an online MBA is valid.

It’s also standard to state on your CV or resume merely that you have an MBA from a particular university and graduated in a certain year. There is no expectation to specify whether it was completed online.

Even during a job interview, you have the discretion to discuss your qualifications. You might choose to highlight your online studies as a selling point to, for instance, illustrate how you adeptly balanced study with work. However, an alternative route is also available: to simply omit the fact that you were a distance learner.

2. You earned your degree the hard way

Woman studying or working using laptop

Studying for an online MBA? That’s no walk in the park. You need discipline—loads of it.

Among the hardest parts of earning an MBA is just finding the motivation to study consistently. That aspect is even more difficult with online learning. You don’t get the buzz of an in-person class, the sight of your teachers, or the camaraderie of classmates. Your motivation has to come from within, which makes earning your degree all the more impressive.

Think about it. In a physical classroom, you’ve got external motivators. Maybe it’s competition with classmates or wanting to impress your tutor. Perhaps it’s just staying engaged in class discussions. Online, you miss all that.

Sure, online courses try to bridge the gap. You’ve got emails, chat forums, online group work and such. But ultimately, earning an MBA online is all about self-drive. It shows you’ve got what it takes to get things done independently. That’s a real accomplishment.

3. Business schools are mostly similar in employer minds

Presentation to a small group of business people

Whether you get a job or a promotion isn’t typically dictated by where you obtained your MBA. Yes, exceptions exist. An MBA from Wharton or the London Business School might catch a recruiter’s eye. But generally, the institution doesn’t make a huge difference. An MBA, be it from the University of New England or University of Western Australia, is still an MBA.

Recruiters are busy people. They rarely check MBA rankings tables. 90% of recruiters are unconcerned with university rankings. They have a wealth of information to consider, including work history and references. Seeing an MBA on your resume counts, regardless of where it’s from.

Also, don’t worry if your MBA is from a school mainly offering online degrees. It won’t necessarily work against you. Online MBAs are becoming more accepted as technology integrates distance learning with traditional methods.

However, be ready to discuss the benefits of your online learning experience in an interview. It might not come up, but it’s best to be prepared to connect your education to the role you’re vying for.

4. Respected universities run online MBA programs

Paying with debit card

If you want employers to value your MBA, ensure your program is credible. Generally, this means steering clear of the cheapest options. A high-quality MBA program can be reasonably priced but will never come at rock-bottom rates.

Online MBA programs can offer value for money due to cost-effective online delivery. It’s possible to save around 30 per cent on tuition fees by hosting larger classes and using skilled digital trainers instead of high-salaried academics.

However, if an online program is dirt-cheap, it likely means corners have been cut. For example, student support might be inconsistent, the material could be outdated, or old technology may be used. In the U.S., weak accreditation could be an issue.

Respected business schools don’t offer bargain-basement MBAs. So, be ready to invest a little more for a high-quality course. A “non-cheap” online MBA program enhances your chances of earning employer respect and promises a richer, more rewarding learning experience.

What Do Employers Think of An Online MBA?

Employers’ attitudes towards online MBA programs have evolved significantly over the years. Today, most employers view online MBAs from reputable schools as credible and valuable. They recognise that the rigour and quality of these online programs often match those of in person ones.

The positive shift in perception is backed by a Future Learn survey indicating that hiring managers appreciate the self-motivation and technical acumen demonstrated by online learners. 89% of employers also believe online study will be more common in the future.

The growing acceptance of online MBA graduates is a welcome development. Business administration, being the most popular graduate degree pursued online, benefits greatly from this shift in perception. Yet, some hesitancy does exist, especially regarding MBAs from for-profit institutions.

One challenge is that not all hiring managers are familiar with the concept of online education. For larger firms with established hiring processes, determining who should handle the hiring of an online MBA student who’s also working can sometimes be complex. Despite this, it’s not necessary for graduates to mention on their resumes that their degree was completed online – if employers are curious, they’ll ask.