The Part-time MBA: Two Benefits and Two Drawbacks
The part-time MBA is one of the most subscribed MBA options available. The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, for example, has a full-time enrollment of 502 students and a part-time enrollment of 799 students.
A part-time MBA program confers the same qualification as a full-time MBA program and offers the same course selections and opportunities. Furthermore, it is an option at top business schools, such as Haas, Ross, Booth, Kellogg, and Anderson. However, is it right for you?
Costs and Returns
Part-time MBA students do not have to forego a steady income. Furthermore, they only pay for the 1-3 courses they take per semester. Although the total tuition costs paid are similar to those paid by full-time MBA students, the part-time MBA is more financially manageable since it is spread out over more years. In addition, some employers can pick up some of the tuition costs of a part-time MBA, further reducing the education-related debt of part-time MBA graduates.
At the end of those five years, however, do part-time MBA graduates see a return on their investment? Yes. On average, it takes graduates of full-time two-year MBAs 4 years to pay off their loans, but part-time MBA graduates, who graduate with little to no debt, have more money in their pocket during these 4 years. Furthermore, graduates of part-time MBA programs do realize salary increases upon graduation and a solid salary growth post-graduation.
A part-time MBA program gives students the flexibility that full-time MBA programs cannot, especially if they own businesses or have young families. Since they can stretch the MBA over 2.5- 5 years, they can work at a pace that accommodates both personal and professional obligations.
Scholarships, Fellowships, and Financial Aid
Students in part-time MBA programs do not typically have access to the scholarships and fellowships offered by business schools. In fact, more than 90% of scholarships and fellowships are awarded to full-time MBA students. Since some employers partially or fully cover the cost of a part-time MBA, not being able to apply for need-based and merit-based scholarships and fellowships might not present a big challenge to part-time MBA students.
Traditional MBA Experience
Part-time MBA students miss out on the MBA experience. Juggling classes, jobs, commutes, and sometimes families does not leave a lot of time for extra-cuticular activities or immersion in curriculum offerings. Furthermore, summer internships aren’t an option for part-time MBA students, who already have full-time jobs. This presents challenges for students who are thinking of a career change, since they do not get any opportunities to explore different career paths.