Choosing between a Full-Time and Part-Time MBA

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in MBA Admission

full-time MBA. part-time MBAThere is much to take into account when making a decision about which course of education to pursue. I know what it's like. Your mind hums, buzzes and does somersaults with the possibilities, arguments and counter arguments. "But if I do this then...wait, but what if I do that then this ..." and on and on. The pesky unknowns are enough to drive you into an isolated cubicle where you will push paper and be relegated to the obsolete backwater of the business world.

Of course, you don't want that to happen, so let's take a step back and take a good look at the dilemma at hand: What's better, a part-time or full-time MBA program.

When making such a crucial decision, it's always helpful to break down all the factors in a clear and organized fashion in order to get a good handle on exactly what you're facing.

The full-time MBA is for those who:

  • Have decided to leave their job, forgo a regular income and possibly relocate to another city for their education
  • Are hoping to embark on a new and more promising career path
  • Want to immerse themselves completely in academic studies
  • Want to take full advantage of the social and extra-curricular activities to build relationships, professional networks and leadership skills
  • Are willing to invest tens of thousands of dollars into their education, without any guarantee of a swift return on their investment

A part-time MBA program is geared towards individuals who:

  • Wish to remain at their full time job and continue earning a salary while attending a local or online business school program
  • Look forward to their employer footing a sizeable chunk of their graduate education bill.
  • Are looking to advance in their current career path
  • Are prepared to meet the demands of a rigorous round-the-clock schedule
  • Are willing to sacrifice the social, professional and academic advantages that come with being enrolled in a full time program
  • Are willing to sacrifice internships and other professional placement opportunities, in lieu of maintaining a full-time position with their current employer
  • Want to be able to immediately apply what they are learning to their work

This is the general breakdown of the pros and cons. Now the only thing left for you to do is decide, which is far easier said than done.

Even though there are advantages to both, today's trends are clearly tipped towards part-time MBAs. Only about 20% of business school students are attending full-time programs. In a volatile economic climate more and more MBA students are opting for job security versus the tantalizing, yet often disappointing, gamble of staking their future on a two year master's degree.

Building a firm and trusting relationship with an employer by offering them tremendous value and loyalty is what will make you irreplaceable should their ever be any cutbacks.

Furthermore, upward mobility within your current organization is nothing to lift your nose at. Businesses are quick to reward committed employees who broaden and deepen their knowledge of management concepts, marketing strategies and who improve their overall business acumen with promotion after promotion. If opportunities for advancement seem plausible, then you might just want to grab the bull by the horns and see where the next five years take you.

However, if you find yourself in a dead end situation, either because your current employer isn't showing you an open door or because you simply don't enjoy your current line of work, then a full time MBA program might be for you.

Quite often, branching out can lead to exciting opportunities.

Leaving aside the difficulties of the current economy, one of its most promising aspects is the current level of global interaction and international development. Businesses need individuals to oversee and coordinate their affairs with foreign offices, offshore outsourcing firms and international corporate partners.

If you are looking seriously into full time programs, the safest and smartest investment would be to attend a business school in Europe or Asia, somewhere that will give you some highly- sought-after international experience. There you might also have a chance to develop a second language skill set which will lift you to a whole new stratum of job-worthiness.

Whichever specific program you choose to enter, always carefully consider your long-term strategy and what steps you'll be taking to set yourself apart from the thousands of capable people who will be graduating and re-entering the workforce along with you.

As always, don't take our word for it. Take an honest look at your position and disposition (what track is best suited to your personality) while seeking the advice of family of friends. Another very important resource for you in this decision-making process is the students currently attending the very programs you're considering. Speak to them to get some ideas about the nitty-gritty details of those programs and brainstorm about future plans.

A world of opportunity awaits those who are willing to push themselves to the next level. You're probably that kind of person since you have your sights set on an MBA. Let's face it; neither the full-time nor part-time program will be a cake walk. Play the odds and hedge your bets or take a bigger risk for a potentially bigger pay-off. Either way, you're stepping boldly into the unknown. Don't you feel alive?


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