The average MBA student has a lot on his plate, which is why most schools offer a wide range of program options such as part-time, evening, and weekend MBAs. Besides a flexible schedule, these programs often cost less in the long run. Because these non-traditional programs allow students to continue working full-time, students don’t have to worry about losing years of income. Just think, if the student earns $60,000 a year and he will have to take two or more years off to earn a traditional full-time MBA. That’s $120,000 lost! True, earning an MBA will likely boost his salary, but the loss can still take years to recoup.
While part-time, evening, and weekend MBA students could end up paying more in fees at some schools because the program might take longer to complete, these costs are considered minor compared to the amount of income and experience lost while completing a traditional full-time program. The financial benefits may sound promising to most students, but some still question the quality of non-traditional programs. Do they use the same instructors as full-time programs do? Are curriculums the same? Are the programs respected in the corporate world? The answer to all is yes. However, these programs may take a bit more discipline, organization, and focus if the student has a demanding schedule that requires them to juggle family, travel, work, school, and other obligations.
The most popular of the three programs is the standard part-time MBA program. According to Forbes, “a 2011 AACSB survey found that while 44 percent of MBA students were attending full-time, an impressive 56 percent were enrolled in part-time MBA programs. Moreover, while enrollments in domestic full-time MBA programs” slowed between 2002 and 2011, “2011 part-time MBA enrollments were up 18 percent over 2002 and part-time Executive MBA enrollments were up 60 percent.”
A typical part-time MBA program takes three to four years to complete, with most allowing students up to five years to complete. However, some schools offer special accelerated options that may take as few as 20 months to complete. Part-time MBA students typically take a combination of evening and weekend classes. Some schools, such as Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, offer a blended format, which combines face-to-face class sessions with online learning. Note that Pepperdine also says that is also has a fully online MBA.
Other top B-schools that offer part-time MBA programs include University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Rutgers Business School, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management (FEMBA Flex, hybrid), and Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Entry requirements for part-time MBA programs are typically the same as the requirements for traditional full-time programs.
Evening MBA programs are designed for seasoned, working professionals looking to advance their careers. Classes are typically held one to two nights a week and programs may take two to five years to complete. Some programs may require several “immersion weekends,” and classes typically meet anywhere from 5:45 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. While entry requirements vary by school, some may require work experience and a business background, while others may have the same entry requirements as a traditional MBA program.
Just a few top B-schools that offer evening MBA programs include University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Kelley School of Business at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and University of Wisconsin-Madison's Wisconsin School of Business. Note that a number of UWM campuses have online MBA options.
Weekend MBA programs are the most flexible of the three programs. These programs will not interfere with the typical Monday thru Friday work schedule as most classes meet on Saturday’s, either all day or for several hours in the morning or the afternoon. While completion times may average two to five years, some schools offer accelerated programs with classes that meet more often on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These programs may be completed in as few as 20 months. While entry requirements vary by school, many weekend MBA programs require work experience. For example, UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School requires five years’ experience minimum, with eight preferred.
In addition to UNC Kenan-Flagler, a few top B-schools that offer weekend MBA programs include Purdue University Krannert School of Management, UCLA Anderson, Michigan Ross, and Wisconsin School of Business.
It is important to note that regardless of program type, most MBA programs have a global experience component that will require taking time off from work. In many cases, participation is required or strongly recommended.
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Sprague, Julia. "7 Reasons to Choose a Part-time MBA Program." BerkeleyHaas. Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley, 01 July 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
"Top Part-Time MBA Programs." Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg, 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
Yeaple, Ronald. "Does It Pay to Earn a Part-Time MBA?" Forbes-Leadership. Forbes Magazine, 04 June 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.