Why Part-time MBA

January 12, 2010

Most of the students who opt for part-time MBA versus full-time program do it for two major reasons:

  • Opportunity cost
  • Time flexibility

MBA programs are notoriously known for relatively high cost of attendance compared to most other Master’s programs one might consider. In that regard they only concede to Medical Schools and Law Schools.

The reason for this higher costs is rather obvious. Even though per credit cost for MBA program is pretty much on par with other Master’s programs at the same University, most MBA programs require more credits for getting the degree.

On average Master’s degree requires somewhat around 30 credits, whereas MBA in most fully accredited programs require at least around 50 credits. Around 30 of those credits are so-called core courses and the rest are electives.

There are some programs that award the MBA degree after completion of just core curriculum. But there are also others that require much more than common 50 credits for graduation.

At any rate, if we look at common requirement of around 50 credits, the tuition cost alone climbs to just over $60,000 at the prevailing rate per credit in the vicinity of $1,200 that are common for Business Schools in Washington, DC area.

Add to this other costs, like textbook and supplies, plus expenses like commute and other incidentals and you are pushing it to the $70,000 or more for the full program.

If you decide to go part-time MBA instead of a full-time program, you at least keep earning your salary, which you would have to forgo otherwise. Not everyone can afford to forgo this income, because of possibly substantial financial obligations they have already accrued, e.g. mortgage on the house, responsibility for supporting family etc.

The second attraction to part-time MBA programs is that you may have some or substantial flexibility in selecting your pace of studying. Some part-time programs mimic the full-time counterparts in regard to offering cohort experience, at least for the duration of the core curriculum.

In cohort model everyone start together and stay together in a section through the core classes in sequence predetermined and designed by the faculty and administration of the MBA program.  After completion of the core MBA courses students disband the cohort and may continue working on their program at their own pace and selection of elective courses as long as they maintain their part-time status by earning at least 6 credits per semester.

Other programs, like the Professional MBA program at George Washington University, give you much more freedom in choosing your pace and tailoring sequence of courses even at the core curriculum stage.

Of course, you still have to comply with the part-time status requirement of minimum 6 credits per semester. You also have to keep sequence of courses with the same line of classes.

For example you have to take Financial Accounting I, then Financial Accounting II, then Managerial Accounting and whatever is the next course in the Accounting domain. But you have freedom to start your accounting classes in the second term or to take a break from the sequence for a term, and pick up the next sequel class later. You also can take some classes during the summer semester, if you want to expedite your MBA degree completion.

Again, there are still certain constraints in what you can do, but you have a lot of a wiggle in tailoring your program if that is demanded by your job, family or personal circumstances.

To be continued.