Online MBA programs vs. distance MBA programs


Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs are offered at Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Institute of Charter Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI) Business Schools (IBS) and the Indian School of Business (ISB), among other notable institutes. But a degree from these schools may not be the only way to get into the world of management. Online and distance programs offer alternatives for your education. So what's the difference between distance MBA and online MBA programs?

Distance learning versus online education

Distance learning and online learning are both alternatives to the traditional in-person classroom model. Distance learning generally consists of self-study correspondence material. Online learning is conducted virtually, with students and the instructor interacting through dedicated portals that might include lesson materials, discussions boards and chat rooms.

Distance MBA

In the distance MBA, learning generally takes place via material sent by mail. Materials in distance MBA programs include books and school-specific curriculum. Additional materials or resources may be available depending on the program and your locale, such as occasional in-person classes. These self-study programs allow you to learn independently and at your convenience. Keep in mind that you may have to pay postal charges for the materials upon admission.

How do you take exams when you're completing a distance MBA? While the options vary by school, you may be able to take the exam by mail, online via the school's website or at a local test centre.

Please note that some programs equate the terms distance program and online program, though they are actually different. Certain programs may advertise distance or correspondence courses, but actually have an online learning component or platform. If the paper-based format is what you're looking for, check that your program does not include online components.

Online MBA

In an online MBA program, you can typically interact virtually with classmates and instructors. If you don't have much computer experience, this type of program has the added benefit of familiarizing you with technology. These computer and Internet skills could benefit you later in your management career. You can experience much of the traditional classroom model - asking your instructor questions, talking to classmates and possibly viewing videos or listening to lectures (depending on the program). An online MBA could have added flexibility: you could earn a degree from an international school that confers the same degree to you and students on campus. Some institutions may also have job placement services available, check to see if your prospective programs provide this.

Talk to program advisers to see if a distance or online MBA could work for you. While the details of a program differ from school to school, many will offer a level of convenience that a traditional MBA doesn't. Online MBAs have the advantage of avoiding the postal system. You generally don't need to worry about delayed lesson materials or books when studying online. Either MBA could provide information relevant to your future career and professional ambitions.

About Anjali Desai

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