The decision to enroll in an Executive MBA program is one rife with difficult questions, the answers to which may well determine the extent of your success as a future executive. Most people entering Executive MBA programs are young professionals aspiring to reach greater heights in their field; they want the education to temper their passion for leading a business in the right direction, but it’s not easy choosing the best program or teaching style. Business schools around the country design Executive MBA programs in any possible format: online education, classes that emphasize peer involvement, mentorships from industry professionals—the list goes on. I wish all MBA students could take the outstanding classes offered at various Executive MBA programs, but that’s hardly a realistic aspiration.
Let’s address some of the biggest decisions a student has to make when you look through potential Executive MBA programs.
Classes taught online or in person?
The difference between online and in person education is one of the biggest issues concerning graduate business degrees in general. There are strong arguments to be had on both sides, but I think the decision really hinges on whatever works for your unique lifestyle. If you’re simultaneously interning at another business or even running your own small enterprise on the side, you might see great appeal in taking an online Executive MBA program that offers a relatively freer schedule. You might be the lone wolf student who thrives on the challenge of completing coursework on your own, relying on your own philosophy of leadership to guide them through lessons and hypothetical management scenarios.
On the other hand, you might thrive in an environment where you’re among your peers, bouncing ideas and strategies off one another. The idea of working alongside a professor with real world experience leading a business and a team of trained professionals might appeal to you if you’ve never worked with someone like that before. If you’re looking for greater involvement and interaction from your faculty and classmates, taking your MBA classes in person is obvious the right choice for you.
Fulltime or balanced with work?
Once you’ve decided on the atmosphere of your Executive MBA program, it’s time to decide the extent to which you want to involve yourself in classwork. Some students prefer to get their degree out of the way as quickly as possible so they can enter the working world immediately. These ambitious students usually cram as many classes as they can per semester, trying to graduate in record time. You might prefer the lightning round MBA path, but there are more steadily paced options.
Though it’s tempting to choose the quickest path to your Executive MBA, not every student has the luxury of dropping everything in their life to go back to school. It takes a serious time commitment to complete an MBA, and you might not have the option of sacrificing your day job for it. If that’s the case, then I highly recommend completing your Executive MBA over a number of semesters, giving yourself only as much classwork as you can handle. There’s no use overloading yourself if you have obligations outside of class.
Where to find the best connections
And finally, you want to be careful about choosing the Executive MBA program that has the right connections for you to advance your business career. This isn’t as simple as choosing a business school with the most famous faculty; it’s a matter of researching business schools with professors and lecturers with experience and knowledge that’s relevant to your field of interests. If you have ambitions to found a startup tech company, you want to look at schools with faculty that have successfully founded small business venture in that field. Applying anywhere else would be to miss the most important aspect of graduate education in business: meeting the right people, absorbing their industry advice, and applying it to your own venture.
Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.