MBA & Business Education Guide 2006: MBA: Part-time or full time?

Juggling studies with your career (and life) is a hectic challenge, while a campus place offers real focus but can take you out of the office loop. Which kind of course suits you?

For three days each month, Anna Meleshina swaps her office in St Petersburg for a classroom in Oxfordshire. The 29-year-old group communications director enrolled on Henley Management School's MBA course in 2004, and now juggles her full-time job at Heineken in Russia with part-time study in the UK.

Meleshina doesn't want to take time out of her career, but she does want to accelerate the pace of it. She is among a growing number of professionals who learn while they earn. In a poll of 1,117 MBA graduates from international business schools, the Association of MBAs' (AMBA) 2005 Career Survey revealed that only 37% of respondents gained their MBA through full-time study, while 63% opted for part-time or distance learning, an increase of 27% since 1995.

The main appeal of the part-time route is that students don't have to put their jobs on hold. Part-time MBA programmes are designed to meet the needs of busy managers and can be taken over two or three years, involving either weekend classes or modular blocks. Figures from AMBA show that about half of all part-time students are fully sponsored by their employers, while a further 17% have a proportion of their fees paid, helping part-time students avoid hefty bills run up by full-timers.

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