According to Babson Survey Research Group, more than 7.1 million students in the U.S. took at least one online course in fall 2012. Of those individuals, around 3 million took a mixture of online and traditional onsite classes. This number continues to grow as more and more students rank accessibility as a high priority in their educational experience.
While the Full-Time MBA continues to rule the market space in the MBA customer consciousness, more and more prospective students are exploring alternatives. Financial challenges and an inability to conveniently leave the workforce are just a few of the issues that students cite when seeking other options to the traditional MBA format.
On the flipside, the convenience of the fully online MBA option is not without its detractors. Customer service issues, shallow interactions with peers, diminished networking opportunities, and the relative skepticism of some hiring managers about the integrity of purely web-based programs are just a few of the concerns that students have expressed about the online MBA experience.
Concerns such as these have given rise to blended learning options. Such experiences are affordable and flexible due to an infusion of online focused components, while at the same time maintaining a significant portion of valuable classroom interaction. Blended learning environments can deepen the contextualization of knowledge and add dimensions to student perspectives through shared experiences with classmates.
Data from the Graduate Management Admission Council reports a growing interest in part-time blended MBA programs as students recognize how the benefits of a hybrid format fit their personal goals and individual needs from an MBA investment.
What Does a “Blended” or “Hybrid” MBA Look Like?
In the case of Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, a typical blended Weekend MBA format includes two-thirds on-campus instruction and one-third online coursework. The online portion consists of discussion boards, videos, case analyses, and a variety of strategically delivered digital learning activities. Students apply learned online content in a complimentary real-world setting with networking, collaborative, and soft-skill development through the cohort-based dynamic. Don Roush, associate director of Krannert’s Weekend MBA Program offers the following statement in regard to blended program benefits:
"A blended Weekend MBA Program allows students to miss less time at work without losing contact hours with their instructors. Second, it gives them the opportunity to do prep work online that will offer deeper discussion and understanding of course material in their classroom meetings. Lastly, the program will be accessible to more participants in the new format while continuing to offer a world-class MBA education that can be immediately applied in the workplace.”
The cohort-based approach associated with some blended programs allows students to make valuable connections and business relationships with other highly-motivated professionals as well. Another potential benefit of a blended MBA Program is that students may also have access to career and professional development resources, student organizations, networking events, and various other activities on campus.
The overall blended experience offers valuable dynamics that a purely online MBA does not, while also being a flexible alternative to a Full-Time offering.
Is a Blended MBA a Fit for You?
Individuals with 3-7 years of work experience who are interested in obtaining an advanced degree and gaining an analytical perspective of the business world are the perfect candidates for a hybrid MBA program. For more information about Krannert’s blended approach, please visit: http://krannert.purdue.edu/masters/mba/weekend-mba/home.asp.