According to a study published in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration employers are increasingly open to hiring graduates from online programmes. The authors of the survey interviewed 20 hiring managers from some of the leading companies in Wisconsin, including those in the health-care, financial, and insurance industries. Half of the employers surveyed said that the format the degree was earned in, whether online or in a traditional MBA classroom, would not be a significant factor in their decision to hire or promote a job candidate.
One employer commented on the timing of the survey and that his answer would have been different five years ago. The authors of the survey took this as an indicator that employers are actually warming up to online degrees.
However, the other half of the employers said they doubted the quality of the classroom experience in an online MBA programme, favouring the more traditional on-campus programmes.
They stated as one of the major disadvantages of an online programme the missing face-to-face student interaction in the classroom, on teams, and in group projects. Online MBA students could not develop socialisation skills as well as their peers in traditional programmes. Others doubted that online MBA students were as serious about their careers as those in full-time MBA programmes.
To open the doors of employers and recruiters it seems to help when students get their online degree from a well-known school, where the online curriculum is closely aligned to the school’s full-time MBA programme and where at least a short residency is required. To achieve the outcome that most MBA students desire, it might also be useful to check if the online MBA of their choice offers access to the career service of the business school, if a summer internship is part of the degree and if a foreign exchange trip can be included.
One country embracing online MBA programmes at the moment is India with many companies asking their executives to take up these courses whilst still staying in the work force. Currently there are only a few b-schools offering online MBA courses in India, so many executives are reaching out to foreign offers. Indian b-schools are planning to start more online courses in the future, though.