7 reasons why you should consider an online MBA

The best leaders never stop learning, but you don’t have to take a break from work to gain new qualifications. Management Today spoke to Dr Faye Taylor, digital learning manager at Nottingham Business School and programme director of the Online MBA, about how managers can transform their careers flexibly with an online MBA.

Last Updated: 30 Jul 2021

1. Gaining an MBA can fast track your career progression

Ongoing training within your organisation is important, but gaining the depth of knowledge offered by an MBA allows you to become a specialist in a particular sector and fast track your career. According to Dr Faye Taylor, digital learning manager for Nottingham Business School and programme director for their online MBA (which is ranked within the top-50 online MBA courses in the world), the programme “suits those who are using it as a mechanism to take a sideways move to a managerial position in a different sector, or using it as a tool for promotion within their current sector.” Many employers also actively encourage their employees to pursue further education and will sometimes be willing to finance all or part of the tuition costs, so it’s always worth approaching your boss to explore your options.

2. There’s flexibility to fit study into your work routine

A lot of people have grown accustomed to working from home and organising their workload flexibly, which makes combining virtual studying with daily tasks easier than ever. An online MBA takes two and a half years to complete, and students are expected to study for 12-15 hours per week – so it's perfect for those who want to take advantage of any additional free time working from home has created. Nottingham Business School also offers an online MBA with Data Analytics specialisation and fast-track study options for those “who want to reap the benefits even sooner,” according to Dr Taylor. The fast track pathways are, by definition, more intensive and students are advised to set aside 25-30 hours per week, with the course taking 18 months rather than two and a half years.

3. An MBA helps managers develop critical thinking

Studying for an MBA offers leaders the opportunity to “broaden their horizons and perspective, to look outside the box and learn different leadership approaches,” says Dr Taylor. “Students will learn the art of critical thinking, research skills and will be able to examine leadership dilemmas from a variety of perspectives – not just their own.” Learning to harness data is another invaluable tool which business leaders can use to identify unique opportunities and see the bigger picture within their industry – a further critical skill which is offered by the online MBA with Data Analytics pathway. One recent graduate of the online course commented that it “helps reinvigorate your thinking, encouraging you to think and operate in alternative ways and directions.”

4. Connect and network with people around the world

Wine tasting with an Argentinian sommelier or tango dance demonstrations might not seem like integral parts of an MBA, but Nottingham Business School believes strongly in the benefits of “intercultural awareness and empathy.” In pre-Covid times, the experiential learning element of the on-campus MBA included an international consultancy experience with a partner institution, such as trips to Rome where students worked on a project with Lamborghini and another in Toulouse, hosted by Toulouse Business School. But whether online or in-person, the global business simulation module – where students work as a team of consultants with peers from up to 46 countries – is a central part of the MBA course.

5. You can apply your knowledge from day one

“One benefit of the MBA is the ability to apply your new knowledge in the workplace from the first module,” says Dr Taylor. Ultimately, the goal for Nottingham Business School is relevance and immediacy. “Nothing is done purely as an academic exercise,” Dr Taylor adds. For example, a recent graduate of the online programme was already running her own data science business but didn't have established Human Resources (HR) policies in place yet. Over the course of her studies, she was able to repurpose some of the work and research she carried out for her assignments, particularly in relation to HR, and apply these directly to her own workplace. “Everything is designed to be complementary to your business world and to have reciprocal benefit,” adds Dr Taylor.   

6. The course is tailored for managers

When it comes to categorising the ideal student, Dr Taylor is keen to stress the importance of managerial experience over academic qualification. The online MBA requires a 2:1 undergraduate degree as the academic minimum, and while the minimum managerial experience needed is three years, the average is thirteen. “I'm confident that we offer sufficient support to get people up to speed with academic skills,” Dr Taylor says. What matters most is the leadership experience that students can and do bring to the course – and by extension, to their peers on the programme.

7. It’s a huge personal achievement

Earning a qualification while working and balancing other commitments is a huge personal achievement, and the advantages go beyond any future financial gains. The prestigious accreditation of an MBA gives graduates credibility within their workplace and is a huge boost for self-confidence as they progress in their chosen sector. One graduate explained how the course requires determination and self-discipline but “the support system that exists at Nottingham Business School makes it a breeze.”

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