Online MBA Degrees Rise in Prominence

Distance learning programs have long offered students the opportunity to earn an MBA degree at their own pace, on their own schedule and from the convenience of their own home. But an MBA from a top-tier business school entails intangible benefits not easily replicated by watching lecture videos, reading articles online and writing papers.

Studying in isolation has never been enough to conquer the business world, which is why MBA students and faculty tout the benefits of experiential learning, team-building exercises and networking opportunities. Only recently have innovative online programs like Kenan-Flagler’s MBA@UNC and Indiana University’s Kelley Direct found ways to offer the same benefits to distant digitally connected pupils.

Online Education Through Social Media
As a society, we have almost unanimously embraced the Internet as an inherently social and commercial space. Email, Facebook, Twitter and Skype have become ingrained not only in the way we socialize, but in the way we do business. MBA@UNC’s education platform is built on technology very similar to the social networks we have all become adept at using. The platform uses familiar asynchronous technology, like pre-recorded lectures, message boards and email, which allow students to complete coursework and collaborate while keeping their own schedules. But UNC also uses cutting edge synchronous communication, like video-conferencing software specifically designed to recreate the dynamics of a traditional classroom.

The Human Element
While the technology is impressive, business schools know that software alone cannot close the gap between traditional education on a physical campus and online programs. Kenan-Flagler has also taken measures to ensure that MBA@UNC students have a high level of engagement. Faculty hold office hours every week via webcam. Students can also plug into the alumni network, which includes graduates in over 100 countries. And quarterly global immersion weekends allow the cohort to come together in locations like Singapore, London and Chapel Hill for team-building exercises and networking events.

These innovations blend the flexibility of an online program with the human strengths of a traditional full-time MBA. In many ways, MBA@UNC delivers the education that has earned Kenan-Flagler its prestigious reputation to pupils all over the world. But MBA@UNC also has certain distinct advantages over the full-time program, not the least of which is the student’s ability to continue working full time. Earning an MBA is also an excellent way to become accustomed to the kind of teamwork and communication demanded by an increasingly global online marketplace.

The Future of Business
At the same time that online MBA programs are using emerging technology to bring graduate business education to pupils all over the world, businesses have begun using very similar technology to allow teams of workers throughout the world to collaborate online. The advances in technology that have allowed this leap forward in education are actually just a part of the sweeping change that has just begun to transform our world. A white paper recently released by Kenan-Flagler shows that virtual teams have grown rapidly in popularity over the past few years, and students who earn MBAs online will graduate with the kinds of well-developed digital communication skills which the future of business will require.

Today’s post was contributed by MBA@UNC, which is making big strides in the online education space among top-ranked MBA programs.

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