When it comes to residency requirements for some Online MBA programs, there are those that say having to meet on-campus for any reason pretty much defeats the purpose of an “online” program. Not so fast. What these individuals may not realize is that residencies are often quite brief and they typically amount to 90% less time spent on campus than if you were enrolled in a traditional MBA program.
According to U.S. News & World Report Education, “residency lengths vary among online programs, from none at all to one day a week, 10 days a year, two weekends a month or a longer immersion.” While this may present scheduling and budgeting challenges to some, these may be the only drawbacks to the residency component.
While 100% online programs do exist, “some online MBA options – and many of the top programs – have residency components that require students to meet up at certain locations throughout the year,” reports U.S. News. “For online MBA programs at any business school of national status, a required residency component (big or small) is predominant," says Phil Powell, faculty Chairman of Kelly Direct, Indiana University's online business school programs. "I think it has evolved as a common standard."
The reasons top schools (and others) have this requirement make sense, as each offers major benefits to the student. For starters, residencies offer the opportunity to meet faculty face-to-face and they make the program feel intimate. They allow students to gain practical experience outside of the classroom and they offer the opportunity to establish personal and professional connections. This is considered one of the most important parts of MBA programs.
In the U.S. News article “Consider an Online MBA Program With a Residency Component,” News Editor Devon Haynie told the story of Hansel Rodriguez, a student enrolled in the [email protected] program—University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s online MBA option.
The program “requires students to participate in a three-day immersion experience from Friday through Sunday at least twice during their studies. The weekends, which are offered both domestically and abroad, combine classes, socializing and meetings with business and thought leaders.”
Rodriguez had the opportunity to build and strengthen his network by taking part in three residencies (or immersions) in San Francisco, New York, and Mumbai, India
"It gives you the opportunity to see your classmates in a social setting, and you get to build those social relationships," says Rodriguez, who is now director of operations for the National Security Council at the White House. "I just went to a classmate of mine's wedding – it shows you the kind of relationships you get to build."
Experts say another benefit of these on ground residencies is their “ability to enhance the MBA educational experience.” While students can gain a lot of knowledge in an online classroom, “residency requirements can give them face-to-face access to businesses, industry leaders, and faculty who they may not encounter elsewhere.”
A testament to the value of residencies is many employers willingness to allow employees enrolled in MBA programs to attend these residencies without using vacation days or even helping partially pay or reimburse them for the costs of attending. But even if you have to attend a residency or two on your own dime, according to Haynie, experts say the networking perks alone “make missing work worth it.”
Interested in Online MBA programs with or without residency requirements? Find a School here.
Friedman, Jordan. "Explore Pros, Cons of Online Degree Program Residencies." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 30 Nov. 2017. Web. 02 July. 2018.
Fuster, Bradley. "What to Expect in an Online Degree Program Residency." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 02 July. 2018.
Haynie, Devon. "Consider an Online MBA Program With a Residency Component." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 26 June. 2015. Web. 02 July. 2018.