“When I discuss business with my colleagues who have earned MBAs in the traditional manner, I can tell that I know as much as they do about management and business administration. In my experience, the benefits of getting my MBA online far outweigh the worst drawback that you could imagine.”
The Big Picture
Why did you choose to enroll at University of Phoenix to earn your online master of business administration degree?
I chose to attend the University of Phoenix to earn my MBA because of its wide exposure and the fact that most people perceive it to be a quality institution. Through its extensive advertising campaigns, I could tell that thousands of people in similar situations in life had earned their degrees successfully. Specifically, many of their television ads are aimed at people who are trying to further their education while balancing their work and family responsibilities.
What are the benefits of earning an MBA degree online?
The most important benefit to earning an MBA degree online is that it allows you the freedom to control your own time, unlike being on a traditional campus. Not only do I have my own business, my wife and I also have a young daughter, so I don’t have a lot of spare time. For that reason, I appreciate that online school lets me schedule my class time around my other responsibilities.
What are some drawbacks to earning an MBA degree online?
The only drawback to earning my MBA online is the fact that people still seem to have a negative opinion of online education, despite how common it has become. I have to admit that I was initially worried about the quality of online education too. But then I checked the syllabus that I use at the University of Phoenix against the one that a friend of mine followed at the brick-and-mortar campus where he was earning his MBA. We were taking the exact same classes. And when I discuss business with my colleagues who have earned MBAs in the traditional manner, I can tell that I know as much as they do about management and business administration. In my experience, the benefits of getting my MBA online far outweigh the worst drawback that you could imagine.
How can prospective students be sure that an online MBA program is legitimate?
If you are still skeptical about whether an online MBA program is legitimate, then I advise you to talk to students who have been through the program you are considering. You can compare the courses that you would potentially be taking to a program that you know is legitimate, like I did. That will either reassure you about the validity of an online curriculum or show you that it isn’t worth your money.
What do you learn in an online MBA program?
In my online MBA program at the University of Phoenix, I take a range of classes that teach me how to more effectively manage a business. Specifically, I have taken classes in the areas of finance, management, human resources and business communication. All of them have been valuable, but I especially appreciate my new understanding of the work that goes into human resources. I didn’t realize before how important it is for human resources representatives to foster relationships between management and their employees.
How is the curriculum in your online MBA program at University of Phoenix presented?
My entire curriculum at the University of Phoenix is presented online, meaning we do not participate in any sort of lectures. Our professors assign us reading material that we learn independently. After we read, we access our class discussion board, which operates the same way as any online discussion forum. We are required to participate in the class discussion at least 8 times each week by writing posts about the reading material.
What kinds of computer skills are necessary to succeed in an online MBA program?
You don’t need to be very proficient with a computer to succeed in this program. A good rule of thumb is to say that if you can use e-mail, you can get your degree online. You need to be able to download files, submit assignments and use a discussion forum. You should be able to conduct research on the Internet. The program doesn’t require a high degree of computer literacy.
What are the credentials of your faculty?
As far as I can tell, all of my professors are also professional businesspeople who teach 1 or 2 online classes as a source of extra income. I like that they are still part of the working world because it means that the material they are teaching us is relevant and modern. Some of them have more than 30 years of experience in their field. I appreciate having that kind of teacher because I can view them as a mentor who has been through the same challenges that I am facing as an independent businessman.
Can you describe your interaction with your professors?
I can interact with my professors on the phone or online. They give us their phone number in case something urgent comes up, but usually I choose to communicate with them through an individual question-and-answer forum. That way I can be sure that any questions I have about my academic performance will stay confidential.
How are you funding your MBA program?
I am funding my MBA program through financial aid. This degree will cost me about $24,000 by the time that I finish. I was surprised to find that online courses at the University of Phoenix are more expensive than on-campus courses, but I think that what we pay for is the convenience of an online degree. Because I need the flexibility that this program offers, I think the tuition is reasonable.
Do you feel like you are getting your money’s worth?
I do feel like I am getting my money’s worth from my program because the University of Phoenix provides a lot of supplementary resources to help me learn the information I need. For example, they have an extensive online library where I can search for scholarly articles and business journals to use as references for my papers and discussion posts. I think that a program that wasn’t serious about helping people to succeed would not put in the effort to make sure people have the educational resources that they need.
The Job Hunt
Do you think that employers value an online MBA degree as much as an MBA from a brick-and-mortar school?
I think that employers will value my degree because I am knowledgeable, so it shouldn’t matter what school issued the diploma. But I haven’t experienced anyone calling me to say they have a vacancy because I haven’t graduated yet. Even so, I have been working in the business field for 14 years, so I know how the job search goes. You have to be your own marketer and solicit yourself. If you can prove your expertise, then you will be seen as employable.
Does an online MBA program allow you to network?
Yes, I have been able to network quite a bit through my online MBA program. Sometimes we are required to complete group projects with students who live in different areas of the country, so the most direct way to communicate with them is on the phone. But there is another useful feature provided by the University of Phoenix, which is an internal instant-messaging system. I appreciate that communication option because it is informal enough that you can easily contact anyone without feeling shy about asking a question. In some cases, I have formed friendships with students that I met online that I think will last past our time in graduate school. And that can only help me in the business world because you never know which connections will be important in the future.
What advice can you offer students who are trying to decide if an online MBA program is right for them?
The best advice I have for you is to be aware that you will have to be determined to complete an online program. It is not like an on-campus program where you will have a teacher reminding you what to do all of the time. You will have to structure your own time and make sure that you get work done. But I find that it’s a benefit for me to have that goal. Instead of wasting time watching TV, I have been studying for a year and a half. Imagine just investing an hour each day into school for a year and a half and earning a degree in that time. That is not a bad deal.