Does the Online MBA Still Carry a Stigma?

October 31, 2011 · Leave a Comment 

General opinion of online MBA programs seems to undergo constant, conflicting waves of acceptance, uncertainty and outright dismissal. While there are many who hail the benefits of a more flexible, convenient and cheaper MBA program; others, such as Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, still claim, “[A]n online M.B.A. has virtually no measurable value with respect to [the] job search and career management… Its only value is to the schools and private companies that market them to an increasingly nervous universe of worried workers.”

Society of Human Resources Management Report

There recently been a drop in public opinion about the value of the MBA. A 2010 report by the Society of Human Resources Management stated that only 34 percent of almost 450 human resources professionals stated that they considered no difference between a degree received from a brick-and-mortar school and an online one. Also, surprisingly, in 2009, 90 percent of people polled thought the online MBA’s reputation was improving. However, in 2010, only 87 percent of the people polled thought that the reputation of the online schools had improved.

Regardless, despite the drop in opinion, that would mean only 13 percent of those polled actually thought the online MBAs’ reputation had not changed for the better at all. That would mean the report still stated, for most people, the online MBA is gaining traction.

Some are Happy with Their Programs, and Say Others Need to Catch Up

Most of the time the uncertainty or dismissal of online MBAs is because of a general lack of knowledge about the programs and the bad reputation of “Diploma Mills” and for-profit schools whose programs are plagued with inconsistent quality. However, many are perfectly happy with their online programs such as Donald Tapia, St. Leo University Alumni that donated 12 million dollars to his school. George Lorenzo, who wrote The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Your M.B.A. Online, states, “an online M.B.A. can be considered valuable, because these grads pick up solid electronic communication and presentation skills that are frequently used in a more globalized corporate world.”

So while the opinions on the current state of online schooling remain in question, the future seems to be a movement – if a slow one – forward into the general acceptance of the online MBA; and as digital schooling becomes more and more mainstream, the early adopters will be considered forward-thinking innovators. Shelly Gorman, director of career management at the University of North Carolina, explains that once recruiters realize that the applicant’s online MBA is of the same quality as one from a traditional program, then “They view the students as innovators—early adopters, if you will—who are both flexible and mobile.”

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