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Online MBA Programs Meet Mid-Career Learners

Online MBA Programs

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Advances in teaching technologies have made online MBA programs more accessible to mid-career learners; precisely those who should be targeted.  These online MBA students are asked about expected career outcomes, why they had chosen the online format, and skills they expected to acquire. Knowing the expectations of mid-career learners of online MBA studies may motivate program designers to develop meaningful curriculum, and lead to improved educational methodology. As online MBA programs have increased in number, their critiques have increased too. Even before the expansion to web-based programs, a significant sector within post-secondary education verified almost 25% of all Master’s degrees by the late 1990s. Some findings suggest the proportion of all students who were enrolled exclusively online grew to 15.4 percent (up from 14.7 percent in 2016) or about one in six students. The number of students who mixed online and in-person courses grew slightly faster from 16.4 percent in 2016 to 17.6 percent in 2017.

Choosing an MBA Program

Institutional reputation is considered as the most important criterion in online MBA program selection. It demands workload and time to complete the next most frequently given reasons. Other reasons such as convenience or flexibility in time management to be of greatest importance in choosing online education in general. Flexibility is also found to be significantly associated with perceived learning and satisfaction. For online MBA students, learning applicable to the job is ranked among the top reasons for online program choice while learning opportunities from interactions with other students considered much less important. Because of convenience and flexibility, online MBA programs are potentially more attractive to mid-career learners, precisely those that are better suited, according to critics of the degree. These students presumably have better-defined management education needs and expectations only because of their work experience and intimate knowledge of practitioner challenges.

The value of MBA

In order to understand the motivation behind students’ enrollment to an MBA program, it is important to consider the perceived value of completing this degree. The MBA degree is proved to have a positive impact on employment, earnings, and both short and longterm job promotion prospects. Some studies have suggested specific age and experience effects on the value of the MBA in skill acquisition and in career progression. For example, in a study, more satisfying career switching opportunities held greater importance for younger (under 35 age) people, while those with 8 or more years of work experience placed greater importance on improving analytical ability. Learning about business in general and making new business contacts are more important for those with less than 8 years of work experience.

The gender approach

Significant age and gender interaction effects are found for strong skills acquisition, while significant age effects are found for sensitivity to differences and to diversity skills. While age and experience give results of differences in perceptions of the value of the MBA, gender approach has also emerged as a significant predictor. According to a study of Hong Kong executive business students, it was more important for men than women to become better at one’s job and obtain more promising career switching opportunities. To intrinsic benefits such as enhanced feelings of confidence and self-worth, women have not advanced to the same extent as men nor received the same level of financial rewards. Considering both equally valued the degree, men are often found more likely to be satisfied with their career advancement.  The most common reason for completing the MBA is improving job opportunities, particularly for younger men and older women. Younger women place greater importance on career change while older men are more motivated by the prospect of intellectual stimulation. Thus, the relationship of age and gender on the value of the MBA needs re-considered.

Skills aspirations

Skill acquisition expectations are interpreted to represent the skill acquisition needs of students with substantial work experience. While some functional skills such as accounting, finance, and marketing are more important for men, the importance of integrated skills for more experienced respondents is particularly evident for those who have taken on general management and people management responsibilities. As a fact, older students often derive greater benefit from MBA studies. Mid-career students perceive the development of combined skills as an important dimension of MBA education. This appears to support the argument that MBA education should place greater attention to integrative learning. By doing so, MBA programs may turn out more attractive to mid-career students. Overall, the MBA degree is seen as highly useful for career success and progression. For these mid-career learners, career advancement and progression is expressed in terms of both upward opportunities within the same organization and lateral opportunities in other fields or industries. The portability of the degree is thus acknowledged as a valuable career asset.

Conclusion: Aside from career implications, completing an MBA degree is a process of identity development. Technology has provided the education management field with opportunities to reach more students worldwide than ever before. The inspired program design combined with innovative technological solutions has the capacity to address many recent criticisms of the MBA degree, including, improving the educational experience and outcomes for students.

Read Full Post: 10 Best MBA Institutes of 2020



The Educational landscape is changing dynamically. The new generation of students thus faces the daunting task to choose an institution that would guide them towards a lucrative career.

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