What is a Flexible MBA Program? What are the Benefits?
The 21st century has been excellent for MBA programs. Not only have they grown in popularity, but the available choices for students in the types and formats of MBA programs have increased. As a result, applications for (and enrollment in) two-year MBA programs have exploded during the past decade.
Traditionally, MBA programs require students to complete coursework through in-person lectures held on campus. These programs are often most suitable for recent undergraduates looking to increase their hiring capacity, expand their networks, gain the education needed for bigger dreams, or take advantage of “bridge programs” that offer MBAs with only one additional year of schooling. Often, these types of MBA candidates have the ability to attend full-time programs, on-campus, with fixed schedules.
However, the range of MBA candidates is broadening, and now includes many people who are older and already a part of the workforce. Older candidates may be looking for MBA programs that delve into more advanced topics, allow credit transfer through work experience, or are specifically geared toward growing one’s career into leadership and/or management. Because of age, employment, or other life responsibilities, going back to school full-time on a campus may be impossible for some prospective MBA students.
Flexible MBA programs—i.e., programs built around scheduling flexibility—are designed with these types of students in mind. There are various options available, including programs that are completely online, some that are entirely on campus, or hybrid programs that are a mixture of both.
This guide explores the benefits of flexible MBA programs, which offer minimal disruption to students’ existing schedules.
What are the Benefits of a Flexible MBA Program?
Complete Programs at Your Own Pace
Most flexible MBAs allow students to take a significantly decreased course load, perhaps only one or two three-credit classes per term. While this lengthens the total number of semesters or terms spent in the program, the smaller per-term load enables students to acquire knowledge and skills without major disruption to their personal and professional lives.
Flexible programs can also serve driven students who wish to accelerate learning and complete a program in months instead of years. Accelerated MBAs programs may include longer class periods, simultaneous online and on-campus courses, or summer sessions. In addition, waiving some foundational classes due to comparable professional or academic experience may accelerate the pathway to a completed MBA.
Complete Programs Wherever You Are
Flexible MBA programs benefit students who don’t want to relocate, can’t relocate, or don’t have access to high-quality or accredited institutions in their states. These programs may offer classes fully online or minimize the amount of on-campus time required to complete the program. Many online-only programs also allow for international students to take courses without travel or relocation to the US.
Network and Interact with Professors and Peers
In addition to taking classes when and where the student chooses, flexible MBA programs may still allow students to interact in real-time with an instructor or fellow students, thereby incorporating the important social/networking aspects of business education.
Examples of Flexible MBA Programs
The flexible MBA program through the Carey Business School provides an overview of business concepts plus various core economic sectors like finance, health care, and real estate. The 54-credit program is geared to part-time students, and can include in-person, online, or hybrid enrollment options. Students in online classes can access the school’s library, student services, academic advising, and IT services. The program also includes career development support to help graduates secure meaningful and fulfilling careers.
In the online program, courses include real-time activities plus tasks that can be completed at a student’s convenience. The distance-based option is available for concentrations in finance, healthcare management, and leading organization. Please note that students taking online “business communication” and “leadership in organization” classes must visit campus for three days per course. The “negotiation” class also requires students to visit campus for 1.5 days. The on-campus program offers classes for working professionals during non-business hours. Students can study in Baltimore or Washington, D.C. once a week on a weekday evening or on Saturday. Finally, students can blend their program, combining online and on-campus classes. The financial, healthcare management, and leading organization concentrations are available in this format.
|Location: Baltimore, MD||Tuition: $1,330/credit|
|Curriculum: 30 credits of foundational courses; 14 credits of electives||Length to Complete: 2.5 years, taking two classes during each eight-week term|
Students who take part in the flexible MBA program through the Lubar School of Business can choose from one of six concentrations: business analytics, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, healthcare management, or supply chain management. Students can also create their own customized concentration from a series of electives. Each concentration includes an overview of basic principles such as accounting or strategic management. The required 39-credit hours can be taken fully in person, or as a hybrid online program. UW Milwaukee also offers a 20-month accelerated MBA cohort program delivered through online and on-campus work, or a 17-month executive MBA program delivered on alternate weekends. The executive MBA program focuses on management and leadership, relationship building, and networking. The school also offers a career advising program that includes a career fair, on-campus interviews from potential employers, personal consultations, and alumni support.
|Location: Milwaukee, WI||Tuition: Wisconsin residents, $11,8561/year; Illinois residents, $17,054/year; Minnesota residents, $18,202/year; Midwest student exchange, $17,054/year; other states/international: $24,898/year|
|Curriculum: Up to five credits of intro classes; 24 credits of core courses; and 15 credits of electives||Length to Complete: About three years|
The UTC flexible MBA program blends on-campus and remote/online learning opportunities for full- or part-time students. Students can pursue a general business MBA or pursue an MBA with concentrations in healthcare administration, human resources, business analytics, or finance. On-campus courses are taught in the evenings once a week during fall and spring, and twice a week in summer. The University of Tennessee–Chattanooga also offers 100 percent online general MBAs, or 100 percent online MBAs with concentrations in business analytics or healthcare administration.
|Location: Chattanooga, TN||Tuition: $28,944 total (professional MBA, in-state and out-of-state)|
|Curriculum: 24 hours of core courses divided into eight three-credit classes; nine hours of electives in three courses; one three-credit capstone course in strategic management (students compete against each other on a computer business simulation)||Length to Complete: 18 months for full-time students; 24 months for part-time/online only|
The 54-credit flex program through the Raymond A. Mason School of Business focuses on teaching valuable lessons about business. Its format includes smaller classes along with a variety of discussions. On-campus programs take place one evening per week. The school also encourages students to utilize the services of its “Executive Partner” program, which invites local business leaders to share their perspective with students. The school’s MBA options also include a 19-month executive program that meets two weekends monthly and requires students to take two global trips, as well as an all-online MBA, where students will complete 49 credits over two years.
|Location: Newport News, VA||Tuition: $825/credit (9 credits or less, in-state); $1,255/credit (9 credits or less, out-of-state)|
|Curriculum: 37.5 hours of core courses; 16.5 hours of electives (elective hours include international travel experiences to various companies or commerce centers in countries like China, Greece, India, or Brazil)||Length to Complete: 2-3 years, taking two three-credit classes per semester; please note that students have a maximum of five years to complete the program|
Through the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, students learn about risk management, health information, marketing or business analysis, and general business management and leadership. The program includes night and weekend courses scheduled for the convenience of busy professionals. Students can also specialize their course of study by choosing among 17 different concentrations. Career services are also available, providing students with career advancement strategies, career coaching, and job shadowing.
|Location: Atlanta, GA||Tuition: $37,878 total (in-state); $81,594 (out-of-state)|
|Curriculum: 7.5-16.5 credits of cornerstone core courses (e.g., basic business material in global economics, financial statement analysis, and legal environments); 10.5-16.5 hours of functional core; three-credit capstone course focusing on global competitive strategy; 18 credits of electives||Length to Complete: 2.5-5 years|