Beyond the Full-Time Two-Year MBA Program Format – The Part-Time MBA

August 18, 2015 | by Matt Symonds

When many people think of MBA program structures, the full-time two-year MBA program format is often the first to come to mind. With full-time programs, students typically leave their jobs to enroll as an MBA student, hoping to return to work two years later, in a new role with a higher salary and a well-defined career path. However, the full-time two-year MBA program format isn’t for everyone, especially those who do not want to take a break from the workforce, and it’s worth exploring additional MBA format options.

In this new two-part blog series about alternatives to the full-time MBA program, we will focus on the part-time and EMBA program structures, benefits, student profiles, and admissions standards. This article will focus on the part-time MBA with a follow-up article that focuses on the Executive MBA.

Part-time MBA Programs

Who is it for? For students with limited work experience (typically less than 8 years) who do not want to step out of the workforce, part-time programs can be a convenient option. It can also work well for students who do not plan to make a major career change. This program also appeals to individuals who require more flexibility with their school schedule since many programs allow students to determine their course load.

Program formats – Classes usually meet in the evenings after office hours and/or on weekends. Part-time MBA programs can take longer to complete, usually three to four years, since part-timers often spend less time in the classroom each week, but it allows for more flexibility with program schedules. Students can decide to scale back and take a lighter course load if needed while some programs offer shorter intensive learning opportunities to get in a lot of instruction in a short period of time.

Program benefits – One benefit of studying in a part-time program is students can immediately apply what they’re learning in the classroom to projects at work. Students often comment that this enables them to really absorb and internalize the learning very effectively. Part-time students also benefit from joining a network of employed professionals and it’s not uncommon to hear about part-time students who find a new job through one of their MBA classmates. Part-time students also have less of a financial burden to bear since they continue to work and earn an income while studying.

Career – Job search and other career-search assistance for part-time MBA students can be limited relative to services offered for full-time MBA programs. In many cases, on-campus recruitment is reserved for full-time students, which can be a concern for part-timers looking to make a career change. However, there are some exceptions to this, for example at Michigan Ross, where Ross Weekend MBA students have full access to the Ross Career Services staff as well as to on-campus recruiting. Many schools have made a point to address the career needs of working professionals and even have separate career centers specifically for working professionals (such as Career Center for Working Professionals at NYU Stern).

 Financing & Commitments – Students might also opt for a part-time option since it makes financial sense, as students continue to earn a salary while in school. Some companies offer tuition assistance programs to help their employees fund their MBA education, however, many sponsoring organizations require employees to make a commitment to remain at their company for a minimum period of time, otherwise they lose any financial assistance.

Admissions – While most part time programs ask some of the same application questions as full-time programs, there are usually some differences and it’s important to demonstrate why a part-time program is a good fit. Many part-time MBA applicants plan to stay in the same job function or industry so admissions will be less focused on their immediate post-MBA employability. However, admissions will still place a strong emphasis on their potential for future success and their letters of recommendation will carry a lot of weight. The average GMAT scores for many part-time MBA programs tend to be slightly lower than the average GMAT scores for the full-time program at the same school. Most part-time programs publish the student profiles for each class so applicants should familiarize themselves with these stats to help assess their candidacy.

Location and Other considerations – Typically students in part-time MBA programs live locally and take classes in the evenings or on the weekends at a location close to where they live. However, some part-time students who do not live close enough to take weekday evening classes can opt for weekend part-time programs. With both options, students should realize that juggling a full time job and school can be demanding and tiring. Many part-time students need to dedicate time on the weekends to their academics so they should expect to have very little free time while in school. Despite the demanding nature of a part time MBA, it is still a desirable option for many and can make a big difference in terms of paying for their studies, especially when companies provide tuition assistance.

Last but not least is for you to evaluate WHY you want an MBA and see which MBA option is best-suited to help you reach your goals. If you’d like to speak to us at Fortuna to discuss which MBA program is right for you, please contact us

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