5 Tips for Earning Your Online MBA

by CoVaBizMag

We asked local academic experts for tips on pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration through an online program.

Ask Yourself About Fit

The online MBA experience is more than just taking online courses. The best program for you will fit how you learn and support your career goals and lifestyle. Here are some questions that you might ask to determine if a program is right for you: Is the program available any time of day or night when you have time to learn? Are the program’s faculty readily available to you when you need them? Does the program have on-campus requirements and, if so, when and at what cost? Can you go at your own pace or does the program require that you stick with a cohort? What if you need to take a semester off? Will you have access to the same university resources as an on-campus student? The answers will help you find your best fit.

Shanna A. Wood

MBA Program Associate Director
Strome College of Business
Old Dominion University


Rigor, Relationships and ROI 

When researching online MBAs, consider the rigor, relationships and return on investment the different programs offer. Earning an online MBA is an investment in terms of your time and financial resources. Look for programs that have an engaged alumni network, offer the same academic quality as the residential program and have support structures accessible to help you achieve your goals. Examples of support structures may include career services, student success teams and alumni connections. 

Pamela Suzadail

Associate Dean and Executive Director
Center for Online Learning
Raymond A. Mason School of Business
William & Mary


Communication is the Key

An online course is significantly different from an on-ground one, so how you communicate with the professor is also different. Make sure to understand the different ways you are permitted to communicate with your instructor and take advantage of those opportunities. While most online learners think the only way to communicate is through email or discussion boards, the telephone can still one of the best ways to ask questions and get additional information or clarification. The instructor is a valuable resource for you. So, if your instructor says it’s acceptable to call, take advantage of it.

Paul L. Ewell

Dean of University College
MBA and Online Undergraduate Business Program Director
Virginia Wesleyan University


Making Connections Matters

Choose an online program that encourages student collaboration and networking. An important aspect of an MBA program is the ability to connect with other professionals, especially those classmates who offer a different perspective. Even in an online program, it is important for classmates to connect through activities such as team projects, virtual study groups or virtual networking sessions. Some programs even offer in-person events to encourage engagement among students, faculty and business leaders. Take advantage of these opportunities and stay engaged as an alumnus.

Jana McQuaid

Assistant Dean
Graduate Studies in Business
Virginia Commonwealth University


Talk About Time Management

Students often focus on program rigor, but an online environment requires students to manage their time well. They need to ensure they are capable of setting aside chunks of time for course readings, research and assignments. MBA programs are not kind to those waiting until the last minute to work on an assignment or course task. Projects are often complex and require extensive research to synthesize data and information from a wide array of resources. That takes time, and often an hour here or two hours there across the timeframe can assure the student is able to complete the tasks. Be sure to evaluate your own ability to manage your time.

A. Gregory Stone

MBA Program Director
School of Business & Leadership
Regent University

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