Is an Online MBA Worth It?

What Is An Online MBA and Who Is It Intended For?

Many top-tier master’s in business administration (MBA) programs are available online, allowing students to log in from across the globe and access the same course content built into on-campus offerings. Still, the choice to commit to either option may not be an easy or straightforward one for some people. From cost to class size to career aspirations, online business school applicants have a number of factors to consider and prioritize to measure the potential return on their investment. 

Below is a round-up of key points to help guide prospective students in their search. Explore each one in detail.

What Is an Online MBA and Who Is It Intended For?

An online MBA is an advanced degree that equips remote learners with fundamental business knowledge and a variety of skills across organizational leadership, crisis management, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, and other related areas. Versatility is at the core of this degree. 

Online MBA programs are designed to accommodate individuals who are unable to relocate, prefer not to commute to campus or struggle to access quality business education in their immediate community. Online MBA programs also target a wide range of professionals including those who desire the flexibility to study while working, those aiming for senior-level positions after graduation and those planning to switch job functions or industries entirely.

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4 Benefits of Pursuing an Online MBA

Finding an online MBA degree program that aligns with your personal, professional, and academic goals could make the educational pursuit worthwhile and help set you apart from competition in the job market. MBA programs allow you to build a strong and diverse professional network, grow expertise in a specialty of your choice, or even launch your own company. The advantages of pursuing an online MBA don’t stop there. Learn more about how an online MBA may benefit you.

1. Flexibility

While many online MBA programs are just as rigorous as their on-campus counterparts, the mode of delivery often allows for some flexibility in scheduling. In some programs, students can access and review course content when it is most convenient for them. Other programs may require students to log in and participate in real-time classes at specific times during the week. There are also programs that combine these two methods of instruction to promote relational and independent learning. This type of instruction is called asynchronous learning.

The online MBA program from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School uses this style of learning to accommodate a diverse student population, from neuro-divergent learners who thrive with extended access to content, to working moms who need to find pockets of time to complete their courses.

Classes may be set after business hours to accommodate students who work full time. For many people, the option to work while studying means they can avoid employment gaps, maintain a steady stream of income, and apply what they learn at their current workplaces. 

Though online programs provide some degree of flexibility, they still require time and effort. Faculty may suggest a minimum number of hours to spend completing assignments and studying outside the virtual classroom. Take note of these details and plan accordingly. Whether you are working full-time, have a family or other personal obligations, consistent planning and time management may help you navigate the program. 

Depending on the school, part-time degree programs may be available. If you are not in a rush to complete your program, a part-time online MBA may be a viable option. Most full-time students earn their degree in two years, but as a part-time student, you will  likely complete the program in about three years or longer if needed. 

2. May Attend From Anywhere

There is no need to fret if you have your sights set on a business school miles away from you. Online instruction makes it possible for you to earn an MBA, regardless of location. While some programs may have specific application requirements for international students, once admitted, all that is needed to attend class discussions and complete coursework is a stable internet connection and the appropriate technology. 

Students in online MBA programs can travel for work or leisure without disrupting their education, but they should pay attention to time differences.

3. Different Specializations to Choose From

Depending on the school, you may choose a specialization. By selecting a specialization, you develop deep expertise in an industry or business-related field that interests you the most. There are many areas of specialization in business. Regardless of the specialization or concentration, you will have to complete a number of elective courses before graduating.

The online MBA program from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School offers seven concentrations and a generalist track. They are: 

  • Business Analytics
  • Digital Innovation and Information Systems
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Global Business
  • Leadership and Managing Organizational Change
  • Marketing

4. Cost

Cost can be a make-or-break factor when selecting which business school’s MBA program is right for you. The cost to attend business school varies based on several factors including the prestige of the institution, the number of credits you will need to graduate, the amount of time you take to complete the program, whether the program is offered at a state school or private university, and more. Yearly tuition and living expenses may increase over time. If you choose to pursue an online MBA program, you don’t have to worry about paying room-and-board fees or daily commuting costs. As an online student, you will be responsible for the cost of books. Depending on the program, you may also have to travel to campus once or twice to attend an in-person seminar. 

Scholarships, grants, and loans can help you finance your business education. You can also find out if your employer offers tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement. 

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Common Concerns about Online MBA Programs

It is not unusual to have some reservations when deciding what school to attend or program to pursue. But these concerns should not deter you from taking the next step toward your career goals. Thorough research and guidance from professionals in the field may shed some light on your questions. Admissions teams are experts on their programs and can answer any questions, too. You can contact Pepperdine’s admissions team at 844-768-2808 or

Are Online MBAs Respected by Employers? 

The field of business and management is an expansive one. The MBA, a common graduate management degree, may offer you an edge and signal to employers you are able to think critically and act strategically. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in business and financial operations is projected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030. Similarly, management occupations are projected to grow 9%. Meanwhile, the proportion of recruiters projecting to hire candidates with an MBA has grown steadily the past decade, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2021 corporate recruiters survey (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Where and how you earn your degree may not make a difference for some employers, but it is still important to consider this factor when choosing a program. A Financial Times article on the demand for online MBAs, published in 2020, describes the future of the degree as “digital.” Nearly 85% of the full-time online MBA programs that participated in GMAC’s Application Trends Survey 2020 (PDF, 3.5 MB) reported an increase in applications that year and 57% of all MBA programs offered an online start with transition to in-person learning due to COVID-19. 

As more universities take to online learning, employers can expect to see applicants with online degrees. Employers tend to keep in mind that an online MBA usually mirrors its on-campus counterpart and that students in both programs complete the same (or similar) coursework while honing their leadership skills. Speaking with alumni may give you an idea of what employers are looking for, what to expect in the online program, and how to leverage and talk about the competencies you developed as a student when applying for jobs. 

Pepperdine University’s admissions team can put you in touch with an alumnus or give you more information about its Career Engagement Network.

Will the Faculty Be As Good As In the On-Campus Program? 

Admissions teams are equipped to answer all your questions and help you decide whether online or on-campus is right for you, including setting up class visits and time for you to ask a professor questions.  Remember, many online MBA programs mirror the on-campus programs, so it is common for faculty to teach both online and on-campus students. 

The distinguished faculty at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School teach both virtual and in-person students. They are committed to fostering an environment where their students can ask questions, engage in live discussions, and complete interactive modules.

Will I Have Access to the Alumni Network? 

In short, yes. As a student and eventually as a graduate, you can connect with alumni through the school’s internal portals and social networks like LinkedIn. Faculty members may even facilitate introductions and make referrals. Be open to engage with alumni in different fields, introduce yourself in a compelling way and invite them to connect online in an offline way. 

Will the Online MBA Program Help Me Find a Job? 

Earning an online MBA may help you find a job, but of course, a number of factors come into play for job seekers and recruiters alike. For example, the number of years of experience you have may affect your chances of getting hired for a specific role.

The online MBA from Pepperdine University is a learner-focused degree, meaning you have the freedom to customize your degree and ensure it is aligned with your long-term career goals. As a student in the program, you can take advantage of the diverse alumni network, mentorship from faculty, experience and connections gained from working with reputable companies like Adobe and Coca-Cola as part of your coursework, and the one-on-one coaching available through the school’s career engagement network to advance your job search.

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Summing Up: Does an Online MBA Offer a Good Return on Investment? 

Finding a program that aligns with your post-MBA career plans is key to the search and application process. From there, you can assess other factors that contribute to the potential payoff of earning an online MBA. For example, in the short term, you may find the flexibility of an online program allows you to juggle personal, educational and work-related commitments. In the long term, you can develop in-demand skills that allow you to pursue high-paying senior positions in the business world or begin your entrepreneurial journey. Here are a few considerations for prospective students interested in earning an online MBA: 

  • How will an online MBA degree help set you apart from a saturated pool of talent?
  • What can you get in an online learning environment that you might not get in person? 
  • Are you comfortable connecting with peers and faculty online? 
  • What is the cost of the program, and how does it stack up against your projected career growth and earning potential? 
  • Does the school share information on ways to fund your degree?
  • Does the program offer a concentration you’re drawn to—one that prepares you to be a thought leader in an industry of your choice?
  • How can you benefit from the flexibility of online learning?
  • Does the school have a strong alumni network and provide useful career resources to support you in your job search?
  • What percentage of graduates are able to secure new gigs or salary increases?
  • What is the job outlook for business and management occupations?
  • What is the reputation of the school and program in your industry?

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Here are some frequently asked questions and answers for individuals considering an online MBA:

How long does it take to get an online MBA?

Generally, full-time programs last two years. Pepperdine University’s online MBA program can be completed in as few as 20 to 24 months—and you can hold onto your full-time position. You can also complete the program on a part-time basis in up to 48 months.

What classes are included in an online MBA?

Online MBA programs combine core and elective courses to help you gain in-depth business knowledge and relevant skills. Depending on the specialization, you may learn about launching a new venture, global brand management, predictive analytics, or real estate investing.

How hard is an online MBA?

An online MBA is often as intensive as the on-campus program. Both offer rich learning experiences but require a significant commitment of time and effort. 

How much does an online MBA cost?

Online MBA programs vary in cost. At Pepperdine University, tuition for the 2021–2022 online MBA program is around $99,840. There may be additional fees. The school provides information on financial aid and other funding options for interested parties.

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Last updated January 2022.

For more information, contact our admissions team at:
(844) 768-2808

If you’re looking to explore more, the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School offers in-person full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs as well. 

Explore our on-campus MBA.