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MBA? What about online programs?
Old 02-29-2008, 05:17 PM   #1
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MBA? What about online programs?

My wife bailed on IT a few years ago after a particularly brutal rotation at one megacorp (production DBA with a 1 week in 9 rotation... there were days she was on the phone /computer from 3am-2am). Anyway, she's over on the business side now.

She's looking around and thinking about what her next move might be. One of the options at current megacorp is a move to finance. To do that, she'd like to dust up a bit on finance and was thinking it might be worth getting an MBA with a finance concentration in the process. She's asked around and was told that it would help her move up the ladder if she wanted to. Additionally, megacorp provides some tuition assistance.

Here's the question(s). We're not in a position for her to go off to someplace like, say, Stanford or Wharton. After you're out of tier 1 land, how important is where you go? If it's nationally accredited, are you maybe better off going with a local place so that you can build a local network?

The University of Minnesota (a local school for us) seems to do well at catering to working professionals and a decent arrangement for weekend classes.

Or, alternately, how decent / useful would it be to complete an MBA online? The University of Michigan seems to offer that option as does Penn State.
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Old 02-29-2008, 05:46 PM   #2
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I would think it would depend on what the degree says. i.e. The University of Michigan On line University, or The University of Michigan. IMO you get three things from a degree, education, a piece of paper to show someone, and contacts.
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:03 PM   #3
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Well, at least in the U of M case, it says U of M on it. Interesting that they call that out on their site as well.

I think the lack of face to face socializing would be the biggest drawback. Then again, look at all of the great contacts I've made here! ;-)
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:36 PM   #4
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School reputation is important. See if she can call people in the field she will be looking for a job what do they think about a degree from an on line school.
I worked in Finance and accounting and don't think too highly of them.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:25 PM   #5
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In terms of "perception":

I think if her intent is to remain with the company she currently works for - then it may not really matter. They know her, they know her work. That will count as much or more than what "type" of degree she has.

But if her intent is to move to another company at some point, then the traditional degree will likely carry more weight (as long as it is from a decent school). Many great schools are starting to offer the "online" degree and take great pains to ensure the program is sound - but they still are not perceived to be at the level of the traditional degree by most companies...for a lot of reasons which may or may not be valid. Therefore, an online degree might limit her future mobility.

In terms of "contacts" - I would have to say the traditional degree still offer more, especially if she is in an Executive MBA type program.
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:40 PM   #6
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I did an executive MBA at an accredited school. I researched online MBAs before making my decision. For me, one of the most important components of the learning was teamwork, networking and learning to lead. While online MBA programs do involve team projects, the quality and intensity of interaction is not the same as the face to face version, and that applies to quantitative subjects just as much as anything else. The only circumstance in which I would recommend an online program is if you can't do it any other way.

As for choosing a school based on reputation, it seems to matter more in finance than in other areas. For practical business applications, what you get out of your MBA and the use you make of what you learn has more to do with how you apply your skills than with having the name of a prestigious school on your diploma.
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback all!

So, we've looked at this a bit more. A night / weekend MBA at the U of Minnesota would cost, roughly, $55k. The online program through the U of Michigan is actually close to the same. At that point, giving up the face time of being in class does not seem worth it, especially if it will cost the same!

With an anticipated FIRE date about 10-15 years away and a good salary already, the MBA might help with networking and finding a job in a recession, but the ROI might not be there. It's tough knowing what you want to be when you grow up, especially in your 30's!

I'm actually in a similar boat. I've had an honest-to-goodness IT job of some sort or another since I was 15 (contract programmer for a bank then). I've had my first full-time job since I was 20. I've toyed with going back to school for a terminal degree (master of science in software engineering) but, with a $30k price tag, it's just not worth it. That degree won't help me move up the food chain. (I've actually already taken a 25% pay cut to get back down the chain!). So, while it'd be fun, it wouldn't necessarily help...

man, it's tough knowing what you want to be when you grow up, especially when you're 30!
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:22 PM   #8
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My wife bailed on IT a few years ago after a particularly brutal rotation at one megacorp (production DBA with a 1 week in 9 rotation... there were days she was on the phone /computer from 3am-2am). Anyway, she's over on the business side now.

She's looking around and thinking about what her next move might be. One of the options at current megacorp is a move to finance. To do that, she'd like to dust up a bit on finance and was thinking it might be worth getting an MBA with a finance concentration in the process. She's asked around and was told that it would help her move up the ladder if she wanted to. Additionally, megacorp provides some tuition assistance.

Here's the question(s). We're not in a position for her to go off to someplace like, say, Stanford or Wharton. After you're out of tier 1 land, how important is where you go? If it's nationally accredited, are you maybe better off going with a local place so that you can build a local network?

The University of Minnesota (a local school for us) seems to do well at catering to working professionals and a decent arrangement for weekend classes.

Or, alternately, how decent / useful would it be to complete an MBA online? The University of Michigan seems to offer that option as does Penn State.
Go Blue! OK, that's the end of my school spirit for today. I didn't know that Michigan offered an online MBA. If I had known, I would have looked at it least. I didn't know that Cornell offered a one-year MBA either. Oh, well, hind sight is twenty twenty.

The problem with doing finance at a mega corp whose core business is not finance is that you'll be treated as a second class citizen. This comes straight from my business unit's finance person's mouth. She has an MBA from a good university as well. However, if your wife envisions working in mega corp's CFO's office, then it wouldn't hurt to get an MBA from Michigan because her counterparts in the banks will have MBAs from Harvard or Wharton.

As for the networking part of a traditional MBA, it depends. It would appear that your wife is already an accomplished professional. As long as others in her class are expected to be accomplished professionals as well, then she'll be just fine, but be ready for some serious egos because you'll get VPs of marketing and director this and that all trying to talk on top of each other. LOL.

You will need to figure in the travel time to class. An officemate studied his MBA at a local school in Philadelphia only 12 miles from work, and he had to leave work at 4:15 PM everyday because leaving another half hour later meant being stuck in rush hour traffic an extra 40 minutes.
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:32 PM   #9
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I have an MBA and I was able to complete using both formats. Make sure the school is accredited by the same organization as the major business schools and it shouldn't matter. The curriculum is the same. Pick the school which provides the best curriculum for your interests. Pursue the degree with the idea that it will provide you with an opportunity to learn from others and apply it at work.
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Old 03-01-2008, 06:29 AM   #10
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I got the Traditional MBA at the best local school available (there were several options) at night.

The wisdom I have always heard was go to a top 10 business school (e.g., Harvard, Wharton, etc).

However if you are staying local. IMO - go the traditional route. Use the best local school you have available and sit in the classes. Unless you are going to relocate, you will have plenty of alma mater in your area... (that can help).

I have had casual conversation with people about online degrees and many (current management) are still skeptical about them. Of course, most in management today got their degree the traditional way so they have a bias. Their concern is that the degree may have been of the "pay and print" variety.

One benefit that some did not list as a benefit of an MBA is knowledge. I count that as one of the greatest things I acquired from the program. That knowledge has helped me at work and in my personal life.
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Old 03-03-2008, 07:33 PM   #11
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I did my MBA the traditional way, partly because I didn't want the skepticism that chinaco alludes to, but more because I knew the kind of student I was. I needed external motivation and the direct interaction with the professors and my fellow students to enjoy the process.

I'd recommend an MBA program that is AACSB accredited. They are the organization that accredits all the top MBA programs (Harvard, Wheaton, Stanford, etc.)

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Old 03-04-2008, 11:18 PM   #12
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I'd recommend an MBA program that is AACSB accredited. They are the organization that accredits all the top MBA programs (Harvard, Wheaton, Stanford, etc.)

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And many of the schools that are AACSB accredited offer both campus-based and distance learning options. Neither option is exclusive -- that is, a student can do a combination of learning types. I found some classes more conducive to distance learning (didn't want to sit in class while the professor read from the textbook, could work at a faster pace, could schedule the on line class so term papers and exams didn't occur at the same time as the on-campus classes). Others, I felt it was important to be in class (free exchange of info with professor and class mates).

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Old 03-07-2008, 10:49 AM   #13
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We're not in a position for her to go off to someplace like, say, Stanford or Wharton.... [H]ow decent / useful would it be to complete an MBA online?
Here you go: Online Degrees and Diplomas - Buy a Degree Online University Masters Degree Program.
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Old 03-07-2008, 03:25 PM   #14
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I pretty much did what Chinaco did I got my MBA at night from the second best (Stanford being the best local school).

The good news is I got 3 different companies to reimburse me for tuition and books so my out of book expenses were minimal.
As I side benefit I had legitimate excuse for leaving work at reasonable hour.

I found taking one class a quarter to be doable while two was bit of a struggle.

The bad news is took 4.5 years to get the degree...I think it is possible to do it in 2.5-3 years at night with 2 courses/quarter + summer school.
You also miss out on much of the networking by not going full time.

After retiring I signed up for an online CFP course, after slogging my way through the first course, I threw in the towel. I found the lack of interaction with teachers and especially fellow students to be frustrating.

I think an online MBA would be even worse than online CFP because so much of MBA programs involve team projects, collaberating with strangers is not easy, doing it online would be even more difficult. I said that networking would be even worse.
If I'd get a do over on my MBA. I would do the first year part-time at night and then switch to full time for the last year or so.

On the other hand I think an online Computer Science degree would probably be fine, because CS is fair more of an individual effort.
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Old 03-07-2008, 05:15 PM   #15
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On the other hand I think an online Computer Science degree would probably be fine, because CS is fair more of an individual effort.
Hmm, now I wonder if I could get an online doctorate in Comp Sci. The software engineering degree I was looking at is a friday-saturday thing. Two years, meeting all day for classes on alternating fridays and saturdays. You start as a group, graduate as a group, and just about everything is a group project. Who says us IT people aren't sociable.
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Old 03-08-2008, 05:28 PM   #16
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In my humble opinion, it really depends on what's your ultimate goal in getting the MBA. If you just want to increase your managerial knowledge, then the online program should be better because you should be required to do more reading than if you would if you took an on-campus program. If your wife has everything---working experience, performance, etc----except a paper for her current or future company to justify her promotion, and is even guaranteed a better position providing she completes just any accredited MBA, then the online program should be good enough. But if her goal is to beat the other fierce competitors in her firm academically so that she can be promoted faster, then she should do a top-ranking MBA. She might consider Dartmouth, for example, instead. Otherwise, the usual tested ones are on-campus programs at Harvard, Yale and MIT.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:10 AM   #17
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I pretty much did what Chinaco did I got my MBA at night from the second best (Stanford being the best local school).

The good news is I got 3 different companies to reimburse me for tuition and books so my out of book expenses were minimal.
As I side benefit I had legitimate excuse for leaving work at reasonable hour.

I found taking one class a quarter to be doable while two was bit of a struggle.

The bad news is took 4.5 years to get the degree...I think it is possible to do it in 2.5-3 years at night with 2 courses/quarter + summer school.
You also miss out on much of the networking by not going full time.

After retiring I signed up for an online CFP course, after slogging my way through the first course, I threw in the towel. I found the lack of interaction with teachers and especially fellow students to be frustrating.

I think an online MBA would be even worse than online CFP because so much of MBA programs involve team projects, collaberating with strangers is not easy, doing it online would be even more difficult. I said that networking would be even worse.
If I'd get a do over on my MBA. I would do the first year part-time at night and then switch to full time for the last year or so.

On the other hand I think an online Computer Science degree would probably be fine, because CS is fair more of an individual effort.
'

You're right about that. The courses in an MBA save for the crazy fixed income courses aren't all that challenging, but you can't replicate the growth even for an experienced guy like myself of being in the mix. Imagine a day in which you go to school thinking you're just going to do some student council stuff but end up firing a fellow VP, talking to a student who's getting kicked out of the program, and then putting on the happy face 20 minutes later to talk to a prospective student. Oh, yeah, it's the kind of experience that's memorable and interesting only in retrospect, but you can't replicate that online.

As for the CFP, I'm sure that there are study groups. There are for the CFA, but I live too far away from the city to realistically go to those after work. I signed for an online video class. It has definitely help me stay on track. I'm using it as a second review of the course material. I don't know why it helps, but having a human face explain the material makes it more real.
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Old 04-16-2008, 09:55 AM   #18
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I'd like to seek you guys' opinion about taking an Australian degree. How do you perceive an Australian government-funded university accredited by EQUIS as compared to an American universited accredited by AACSB? Would you respect a professor who holds an Australian PhD as you would an another who does an American PhD?
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Old 04-16-2008, 10:03 AM   #19
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Would you respect a professor who holds an Australian PhD as you would an another who does an American PhD?
It depends. Personally, I would be more impressed by a Stanford Ph.D. than one from Wollongong. But a Ph.D. from ANU would be worth a lot more than one from Florida State.
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Old 04-17-2008, 09:45 AM   #20
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It depends. Personally, I would be more impressed by a Stanford Ph.D. than one from Wollongong. But a Ph.D. from ANU would be worth a lot more than one from Florida State.
But one from the University of Florida would be top-notch. Go Gators!
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