Prospective online MBA students usually have many questions plaguing them before starting a program. What will the program be like? What will an online classroom be like? Will future employers respect my online degree? Will my job prospects widen? Will the program be worth what I put in?
OnlineMBAToday is sitting down with Erin Vincent, the Director of Admissions & Student Services of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University-Bloomington, to help answer some of those important questions. The Kelley School of Business is globally ranked for their excellence in business education. The Kelley School is ranked in the top 25 of the Best Business Schools in the country and also currently sits at #1 for the Best Online MBA Program.
OnlineMBAToday: What are some key differences between an online MBA and a residential MBA that prospective students should be aware of?
Erin: At Kelley, we really pride ourselves on the fact that our online MBA students learn from the same faculty as our full-time and part-time MBA students. The curriculum is as rigorous as our other MBA programs. There are differences though, because a student who enters the full-time program is looking to transform their life and explore another career. Whereas an online student typically wants to advance in their current career and be able to juggle their current work and family life while working on their degree.
OnlineMBAToday: What do you think are some advantages of an online MBA program verses a residential program?
Erin: At Kelley, our residential program fulfills a different need than our online program. Speaking on behalf of the online program, comparing the two and looking at advantages is not really accurate. For a student interested in career growth, who wants to apply his or her learnings in the workforce now, the online program is a good fit. Students in the workforce or military today are often traveling to business meetings, trade shows, working at other company sites, or visiting customers in other cities. With an online MBA, it allows them the flexibility to continue to attend classes while traveling or visiting another city. I also think an online program fits with the way modern business is conducted. In many companies, employees work globally with other teams and projects. They can’t always have a face-to-face discussion. The virtual communication skills taught with Kelley’s online MBA program, are aligned with the way business is conducted now and into the future.
OnlineMBAToday: What makes your program unique among online MBAs?
Erin: We are one of a handful of top 20 business schools that offer an online MBA. As a pioneer in this approach to learning over 16 years ago, we have evolved to meet the needs of the business community. We have designed our online MBA to be the most flexible, allowing students to complete it within two years or expand it to five years. We offer over 60 courses and 6 dual-degree options. We also offer experiential opportunities for those interested in international business and those who may need a greater understanding of the political working within Washington DC. Unlike other online programs, students can participate in our exclusive career development curriculum. This curriculum helps a student define his or her professional goals and builds a customized career action plan. Students also have many opportunities to network. From travel abroad programs to becoming involved with student organizations, there are so many ways a student can connect with peers. In addition to a customized experience, our students also leave the program with a much better understanding of themselves, their career goals, and a game plan for achieving them.
OnlineMBAToday: What do you look for in successful applicants to your program?
Erin: Academic Records, GMAT scores and work and leadership experience are the foundational elements that help us determine the talent needed to be a successful student. However, there is more to it than that. We are looking at applicants who are quick to recognize others over themselves. But this characteristic isn’t independent as we are also looking for their ability to grow in many aspects of their lives. We look at those who are open at this idea of growing outside of just knowledge, but clearly being a strong contributor in the world. Self-starters will be successful in the program if they hunger to achieve a long-term goal despite obstacles, setbacks, distractions and personal challenges. These types of students are the ones who will hit the ground running and never stop in their careers. They can identify critical moments that catapult them through their career.
OnlineMBAToday:What has been the experience of your graduates in the job market?
Erin: Each year we ask our graduates about their job situation before starting with us and following graduation. In our last graduating class, nearly everyone was already employed and less than 1% of them indicated they were seeking employment after graduation. The average salary increased 30% from the time the students started to when they graduated.
OnlineMBAToday: Anything else you’d like to say about your program?
Erin: I think students are pleasantly surprised at how interactive an online program can be. We often receive comments from students about how quickly professors are to respond and engage at many hours of the day. Students also have many opportunities to network with others and alumni as we provide two one-week on campus experiences during their two years and we also offer in-person experiences in some focus cities. The opportunity to study abroad further connects students. I think students are even surprised that they can be involved in student associations to help connect with others that share similar interests.
Equal but not the same. The Kelley Online MBA proudly offers an online program that equals their on-campus program in curriculum and faculty. The education that students receive is the same, but the Kelley school realizes that not everyone is looking for a full emersion program. They realized that some professionals have advancement goals within their current career and do not want to step away from their positions at work or at home. The Kelley School provided a degree with a flexible format without compromising their rigorous curriculum standards to meet the needs of those prospective students.
Virtual component. Not only with the high caliber curriculum be useful in students’ future leadership roles, but also the skills they develop by navigating through the virtual classroom will be valuable. Virtual communication has become a normative way to interact off the clock, through social media, as well as in the office. Employees work with teams across the country and around the world. Especially as professionals move up the ladder and become leaders of global teams and organizations, virtual communication skills will become more and more important.
Flexibility and Experience. The Kelley School has gone to great lengths at providing a program that is flexible and can fit into students’ busy schedules. But one important thing to note is that they still strive to provide an important educational experience. They make opportunities available to network, attend international business trips, become a member of a student association, and interact with students of influence. The Kelley MBA students embody leaders of global vision, selflessness, strong contribution, and perseverance, which will make an online learning environment rich and meaningful.