Distance Learning

School & program selection
  • Posted by clavin on 02/02/14 5:26pm

    I am from India, currently pursuing my B.Tech in Computer Science. My CPI is 7.8/10
    12th score is 74%
    10th score is 76.8%
    My GMAT score is 670.
    I am in my last semester of my undergrad studies and i am planning to join a distance learning mba program (a reasonably reputable one).
    The reason being the following.
    I want to join family business but my studies till now have been in a different background. So i believe entering corporate sector would be better. At the same time I dont want to go for a MIM degree because if i had to study another year I would rather dedicate it to a more valuable degree like mba (i dont want to debate which ones more valuable but thats the common perception is in india). But most mba require work experience. So i have decided to get the required experience and work 2 years. But since getting into business may does not assure that i might continue studies later so i decided to go for distance mba right now and if need be and time permits i can go for a full time program later. Please also suggest me if that is the right course of thinking.
    So i am looking for some DLP MBA programs which do not require work experience and are reputable as well. I found many but the costs are too high. The only affordable one (although still costly) I have found till now is EBS online mba program. it would cost me around 5500-6500 GBP. Is it a good program worthy of that kind of expense?
    Also please suggest me some other programs i can apply to. I know some people here might be reluctant to suggest any particular program, but naming a program really helps.

    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 02/03/14 12:10pm

      Hi there,

      thank you for your question.

      "Please also suggest me if that is the right course of thinking."
      It is a very uncommon approach in my opinion - but at the end of the day there is no right or wrong. It all depends on what you want.

      The essential idea of an MBA is studying together with other professionals in an academic environment. It is less about text books (for them you don't need an MBA); it is rather about a special way of teaching (e.g. case studies) that you receive and that you profit from; it is about developing leadership knowledge (through leadership seminars and group feedback etc.); it is about internationality and, for instance, solving case studies in intercultural teams; and it is about learning from other people with work experience from various industries.

      A "part-time" program - with this, I mean a program that can be studied by people who continue their jobs (whetehr you call it distance, online or part-time or something similar) - can deliver this to some degree depending on its structure. Is it a pure distance program or does it follow a blended approach with a mixture of face-to-face and distance periods? To what degree is the program rather individualistic and to what degree are the students organized in groups and interact with each other even in the distance periods? What's the background of the classmates? etc. You will hardly find anything of that in a pure distance MBA.

      However, maybe that's not what you want. So, the key questions are: Why do you want to do an MBA now and how can an MBA help you achieve your career goals?

      Let's start with knowledge. You mentioned family business. Can you do that without the MBA or do you need an MBA for that? Would an MBA help you do your job better, for instance, because you build up management knowledge? This could be a reason that speaks in favor of a management program whether you choose an "MBA" or any other management program.

      You mentioned the reputation in India. What exactly do you need here? For instance, do you need the reputation of an MBA in your family business? Or do you think some years further and believe that having "MBA" in your cv would help you find a job at another firm? This logic makes sense to me - but wait... what of the other firm (e.g., one of your favorite employers) cares about the institution? From my personal and limited experience I know that many employers do not simply accept an "MBA" in a cv but always ask where this degree has been obtained. Then, however, it makes sense to check in advance if the employer acknowledges the EBS degree.

      These are two approaches how you can develop answers for your question "Is it a good program worthy of that kind of expense?". First, you define what a program needs to deliver to become worth it for you, and then you check if the programs on your list deliver this.

      Here are two more general indicators that I provide to people: If you want your program to fulfill internationally accepted minimum standards to fulfill, look out for AACSB-, EQUIS, or AMBA-accredited schools. If you want your program to have a certain reputation to the management education scene (including employers), look out for programs listed in rankings (and ideally the higher ranked ones) and listings such as:

      • Financial Times Online MBA Listing (no ranking)
      • QS Online MBA Rankings
      • Businessweek Bloomberg Distance MBA
      • US News Best Online MBA

      My intuition in your case is: If your primary goal is to build up management knowledge, then a part-time management education could indeed make sense. It is not the usual track but I like the idea that you build up that knowledge through a distance education while starting to work in your family business. Then, the program does not need to be expensive and should just provide serious knowledge. Then, after some years you check again what you need - e.g., if you need a degree from a very renowned institution (which will be costly), if you need more knowledge (e.g. in a specific area), or if you don't need it at all.

      If your goal, however, is to achieve a degree to impress employers, I would be careful with low-cost, distance "MBAs" and rather consider doing a more renowned full-time program later on.

      Best wishes

      By Thomas Graf
      Owner MBA Compass
      Author of the MBA&MIM eBook

    • Posted by clavin on 02/03/14 2:10pm

      Well I did some of my own research and well what i have found till now is that I wont be getting any distance mba degree in the kind of budget I am hoping. The reason I am being tight on budget is because its distance and I most probably will be attending a full time mba later.
      Your intuition is correct. That is the very line of thinking I was following. That is the reason i dont want shell out too much money. But at the same time I dont want to spend my time doing something that doesnt conforms to international standards. In all whatever distance training I do I want it to fulfil certain expectations which are as follows:

      1. A degree that is internationally recognised and acceptable.
      2. Should add some value in case i want to do a full time mba later.
      3. Should have some value as a standalone degree aswell.
      4. Should help me in some ways to help me grasp my business better (finance, accounting, logistics, import from overseas are very much related to my family business).
        The reason I dont like EBS is that it has no accreditation. I have looked up some other schools aswell
        Fayetteville State University 6000$
        West Texas A&M University 10000$
        University of Louisiana Monroe 10000$
        All the above are AACSB.
        But ofcourse i doubt they hold any rankings.

      Given my priorities I find either I shell out a lot more money or settle for one of the above programs and compromise.
      Also even if i were to extend my budget most good schools want experience before admitting to distance mba. If I wanted to wait then I would have gone for Full time mba, thus that is not an option.

      So, I think a better thing to do would be to take some standalone distance course not necessarily MBA, from a quality institute which can add to my knowledge, be useful in case i want to do MBA later and help in my business.
      The thing is I am not aware of such programs (for eg. M.economics from HKU, but the thing is it not available for distance learning.)
      Can you tell me what kind of courses are available out there? I am not sure if masters in management is provided as a distance program. And also some uni names would be good.

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 02/05/14 1:46pm

        Hi there again,

        looks like the classical dilemma of weighing different objectives against each other and then assessing if what is left is worth it.

        I understand your points/criteria very well. A degree that is recognized and acceptable per se is not a problem, however. The problem starts when you specify "recognized and acceptable" such that you ask "to whom?". People who want to impress a specific employer should make sure in advance that the employer recruits at that business school - then then chances are higher that also the distance degree provides some kind of reputation advantage as the particular employer may primarily recognize the school.

        "Should have some value for an MBA later" - I would ignore that completely since an MBA does not require MBA knowledge. To the contrary, I see the problem of redundancy of you do two MBAs.

        "Should help me in some ways to help me grasp my business better (finance, accounting, logistics, import from overseas are very much related to my family business)." - This should be easy to find as well. Any accredited programs - even the regional accredited programs (as opposed to AACSB, EQUIS, or AMBA) - should provide you with this and I am sure that EBS will provide you with that too.

        As for Masters in Management, I suggest that you check out some part-time programs through our MIM Compass search engine.

        As for other seminars, I do agree that there is a lot out there. I cannot help you find it, however. Maybe searching for some local seminars in your area - for instance, at a regional university - would make sense.

        Best wishes

        By Thomas Graf
        Owner MBA Compass
        Author of the MBA&MIM eBook