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Is an online MBA the right choice?

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
3. The network gained is significant and can be very regional, plan accordingly. (I.e. if you want to work in the northeast corridor, an MBA from USD is less helpful than say, Penn State).
Specializations are also a thing, especially if it's not Harvard, Penn, or Stanford-level. Since @dodge picked my alma mater as an example, Smeal College of Business has a world-class supply chain program. So if you want to work for a logistics company in their core business, Dear Old State is a smart bet. There are other MBAs elsewhere that are better in their respective fields. If you're looking to go into tech, MIT, University of Washington, Carnegie-Mellon, or Georgia Tech are strong players. Finance? The list will change again.
 

BigRed389

Registered User
None
If I get the EDO option, or try to lateral transfer, I would definitely go for my M.S. at NPS or MIT. I'm not entirely sure what my career goals are. Still trying to finangle my way and figure out what I enjoy. I like the idea of systems engineering with experience in management. I like understanding both the technical and business aspects on projects and bringing them together.

The M.S. would take a higher priority. I was thinking of slowly working on an MBA on top of having an M.S. But seeing that a lot of people view an online program doesn't hold a lot of value, it might not be worth it.
If you go EDO, you WILL go get an M.S. Not optional. That career path bakes in a free Master's in Physics or Engineering.

There's nothing wrong with getting an online MBA if you are mainly interested in the professional development of better understanding how your industry management counterparts as a senior EDO think.
That said, I would say hold off on any MBA until much closer to a decision to leave or stay in the Navy. The MBA knowledge really isn't applicable until you're quite a bit more senior (you don't interact directly with industry management as a junior officer), and if you decide you want to leave the Navy, you're better off delaying the MBA until you're ready to leave, to maximize its networking benefits to get you your new job.

If, on the other hand, you wanted to stay in the Navy as an EDO, after completing your M.S. and finishing your first tour would be a good time to get an online MBA to get the professional development, if that's what you're going for.
Looking very long term, if you are concerned about post-full Navy career value of the MBA, then an Executive MBA is, IMO, best value. I worked with a Supply Corps O-6 who got his E-MBA through UVA.
 
I assume you're referencing Tuition Assistance. Have you seen what Masters Programs are available for $4500 a year? The only MBA I found is from Liberty University and I didn't want to be associated with an extremely right wing school that I've never seen crack the top 500 in business school lists. I've used TA to fund a Master's Certificate to earn a business certificate I thought would come in useful. I also recognize the value of the MBA is largely in the connections I made and I figured I'd barely make any doing it online, so I decided against it. If you are looking to fund an actual good program using Tution Assistance, it's a drop in the bucket. The only real school I applied to was going to cost me nearly $50,000 after that school's scholarship and two years of Tuition assistance.

Keep in mind if you don't do in residence education for a tour you're going to be busy. I spent most of my nights and weekends working on that certificate for nearly a year despite it being advertised as a "6 month" course. I was burnt out and pretty bitter by the end. I dreaded doing the schoolwork after a 10 hour workday. I hated telling my kid I couldn't go to the park because I had to stare at my computer all day. I had to get permission from both the school and the Navy to extend the program (fairly painless, turns out it was pretty common, but just added a level of shame and frustration I felt at the time).

Also, remember that with Tuition Assistance, you can only use it to fund a level of education you don't already have, so once you have a Master's Degree, you can't use it to fund another one.
I was considering doing an online program at a slow pace. Probably stretch it out over several years. There's some decent programs where two classes a year will not equate to too much over the Tuition Assistance (before tax). Thanks for letting me know about the limitation with it. I did not realize you could only use it to fund one master's program.

I'm glad you were able to get through your program and that the school helped with extension. I'm sorry that it took sacrificing time with your kid. That's the kind of thing I'm hoping to avoid. So if an online MBA worked out, I'd rather do it before having any kids. But it seems the general consensus is that it would not be worth it. Or at the very least, wait until I'm closer to leaving the Navy so that the material is more fresh and relevant.
 
If you go EDO, you WILL go get an M.S. Not optional. That career path bakes in a free Master's in Physics or Engineering.

There's nothing wrong with getting an online MBA if you are mainly interested in the professional development of better understanding how your industry management counterparts as a senior EDO think.
That said, I would say hold off on any MBA until much closer to a decision to leave or stay in the Navy. The MBA knowledge really isn't applicable until you're quite a bit more senior (you don't interact directly with industry management as a junior officer), and if you decide you want to leave the Navy, you're better off delaying the MBA until you're ready to leave, to maximize its networking benefits to get you your new job.

If, on the other hand, you wanted to stay in the Navy as an EDO, after completing your M.S. and finishing your first tour would be a good time to get an online MBA to get the professional development, if that's what you're going for.
Looking very long term, if you are concerned about post-full Navy career value of the MBA, then an Executive MBA is, IMO, best value. I worked with a Supply Corps O-6 who got his E-MBA through UVA.
It does make sense to hold off for a few years. I do fear not trying to do it when I'm younger and single and regretting it if it's something I wind up doing later on. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but women have to be more conscious with their age when it comes to having kids. Especially if they are in the service. I'd hope to achieve my academic goals so that they do not get in the way of family planning. But it seems that an online program does not seem to fair well; at least for getting an MBA. I will definitely have to weigh my options in the next coming years.
 

snake020

Well-Known Member
Contributor
It does make sense to hold off for a few years. I do fear not trying to do it when I'm younger and single and regretting it if it's something I wind up doing later on. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but women have to be more conscious with their age when it comes to having kids. Especially if they are in the service. I'd hope to achieve my academic goals so that they do not get in the way of family planning. But it seems that an online program does not seem to fair well; at least for getting an MBA. I will definitely have to weigh my options in the next coming years.
You will be fine. I left active duty after nine years in to pursue a full time MBA, and there were a couple vets that were older than me in my class. Out of the seven of us, three had wife and kids. You don't throw your hands up and quit once you get a family.

IMO, you shouldn't start thinking about extracurriculars until your first shore tour. Put your energy into your quals during your two DIVO tours, that will consume the bulk of your time anyway.
 

Bergers2short

Well-Known Member
None
Does an online degree have some different type of title or asterisks that indicates it's from an online program vice a traditional?
Since the diploma gives the city of the school, it should be easy for job recruiters to figure out that it was distance if your resume lists the location of whatever job you had while getting the degree. That or I imagine it would come up organically during an interview--ie. how did you handle an office job + grad work?
 

subreservist

Well-Known Member
Since the diploma gives the city of the school, it should be easy for job recruiters to figure out that it was distance if your resume lists the location of whatever job you had while getting the degree. That or I imagine it would come up organically during an interview--ie. how did you handle an office job + grad work?
I haven't had that question asked during an interview, not to say it couldn't be asked. The focus is rarely about the intricacies of "how" you got your degree, just a check in the block that you got it. At best, it could be conversation piece if the interviewer is an alumni of the same school and wants to talk shop. Of course, if you know nothing about campus, you won't have much to contribute. Interviews I've had focus on experience over education. Education helps get you the interview. Once you have it, then you have your opportunity to demonstrate your value.

I only asked the question since many throughout this thread was talking about it being a waste of money, mainly due to "quality" of education. Probably applies to the truly paper mill schools, but if you can get the backing of a good school name on your resume, it would seem to be a benefit to getting it online.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
Lots of good discussion about the value of degrees and the answers aren't always cut and dry. Factors that should be considered are:
1. Why do you want it
2. School quality needed
3. Nature of the degree and how it translates to being done via distance
4. Is there a difference between that school online or in person such as an asterisk on a diploma?

1. Be frank with your goals. Do you need/want the very best and most challenging program or do you just need to check a box? Will getting that degree make a difference in your resume or future earning potential and how?
2. Goes back to what you want to do with it. If you want to be a pediatrician do you need a degree from the best med school? Or conversely, if you want to conduct groud breaking research with the best minds in the world will a degree from StateU get you in to that world?
3. As others have mentioned, the benefits of a big name MBA come from netowkring. In person. But if you're doing a MS or PHD in computational fluid Dynamics maybe you could do it via a distance.
4. Does the diploma implocitly imply that it is different from a traditional diploma either by the name of the school or the degree title?
 

squorch2

he will die without safety brief
pilot
Here’s the view from the outside:

An MBA gets you a network and ability to get your foot in the door. The learning is largely secondary after you get out.

Top-tier (ivies, Stanford, Chicago, etc) are worth their weight in gold - mostly. You still have to network and execute, but your career trajectory (a la launch angle) is much higher.

Everything else that isn’t a detriment are more or less equal. You’ll still be working as a PM or consultant for a mid to large sized firm when you start. (Caveat: if you’re looking to settle down in a smaller city/town, the local MBA will help establish your network there.)

The bottom tier of “huh” schools that may actually hurt you consists of for-profit and anything else that could be construed as divisive (Liberty, Regency, etc)

As with all decisions about post-active-duty life, you should think about where you want to live first - that will drive a lot of decision making and filter out those paths that aren’t viable.
 

Sam I am

Average looking, not a farmer.
Short version: ONLINE = EYE ROLLING & SNIDE REMARKS FROM THOSE OF US WHO GOT REAL MBA's

Long Version: I'll sound off on this...I got my MBA from the University of Florida back in 08 (at that time it was ranked around #13 in the country...pretty sure it's slipped a lot as Patrick Foran, the Dean at that time, has moved on and he was very tuned into climbing the rankings in USN&WR) and did so while on shore duty at the HT's at Whiting. I could have done the NPS option at Whiting, but noone outside the Navy/Federal Gov't cares about NPS or NWC. Also, the NPS program on base was every Wednesday, so I lost 4 fly days a month and had 4 days I had to schedule watch around. I had the option to pursue several different program options at UF: in residence, online, professional, and executive. I went with the Professional Program which was designed specifically for working professionals with minimum 8 years of documented management experience who wanted in residence program. (This was great as it eliminated the eager beaver and freshly minted college grads with zero real world experience. I detest people who go straight from undergrad to post grad and act like they actually have a clue. They don't.) The program was rigorous. We sat in class all day Saturday and Sunday for one weekend a month. The peer interaction was outstanding. We had execs from Disney, Microsoft, Engineering firms, HR Pros, Finance guys, Small business owners, large business owners, rank & file employees, and military. There were 8 of us military types, all JO's and all Aviators. I paid for my MBA with my GI Bill which covered tuition, but books, lodging, and meals were on me. I think I spent about $16K out of pocket over the 28 month program. Worth every penny. NOTE: this was a shit-ton of work. A lot of Team Interaction...which can be infuriating when you get stuck with a shit bag in your group. UF actually dismissed several students out of our class due to poor performance whereas I feel online programs are revenue streams and simply a way to get higher enrollment numbers and $ (quality goes down).

My advice: don't do online, wait until you have some professional experience, pick a good school/program.
 

PhrogLoop

Adulting is hard
pilot
My perspective is a twist on the most recent posts here. I got my Michigan Ross MBA doing the once monthly/hybrid EMBA program in Los Angeles while I was on active duty (Post 9-11 GI Bill). My diploma says Michigan Ross MBA and that is exactly what’s reflected top center on my resume. I happily rode the coattails of the regular MBA’s #7 US News ranking all the way to my post-Navy job as a Senior Manager at the Forbes #1 Most Innovative Company 2018. I believe that using 20 months of my GI Bill was well worth the tiny out of pocket expense (while on AD I already drew San Diego BAH so I got loans for the required food/lodging expenses). I’m also projecting that I will be in a financial position to pay for my son’s college education that mitigates the opportunity cost of using the GIB benefit on myself. And yes, my Michigan + Ross network is even more valuable to me now than even the employment doors it opened. For that reason, I’m glad I enjoyed the benefits of the in person MBA experience (once monthly, socializing, team assignments, consulting trip to Israel) rather than an online only option.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
My perspective is a twist on the most recent posts here. I got my Michigan Ross MBA doing the once monthly/hybrid EMBA program in Los Angeles while I was on active duty (Post 9-11 GI Bill). My diploma says Michigan Ross MBA and that is exactly what’s reflected top center on my resume. I happily rode the coattails of the regular MBA’s #7 US News ranking all the way to my post-Navy job as a Senior Manager at the Forbes #1 Most Innovative Company 2018. I believe that using 20 months of my GI Bill was well worth the tiny out of pocket expense (while on AD I already drew San Diego BAH so I got loans for the required food/lodging expenses). I’m also projecting that I will be in a financial position to pay for my son’s college education that mitigates the opportunity cost of using the GIB benefit on myself. And yes, my Michigan + Ross network is even more valuable to me now than even the employment doors it opened. For that reason, I’m glad I enjoyed the benefits of the in person MBA experience (once monthly, socializing, team assignments, consulting trip to Israel) rather than an online only option.
This is a great post. A top tier MBA during the twilight of your military career is a great way to jump over to a high level position in the corporate world and to develop the connections to facilitate that jump. However, that benefit has a limited shelf life; getting a distance MBA as a mid career JO won't help you as much 10yrs later.
 

AllSetAft

New Member
If you want a Masters on paper, then do your online MBA, but remember it's almost as useful as a Masters in National Security & Strategic Studies given by the Naval War College -- It's a piece of paper -- and no one really cares.
Well I hope that one matters, my Admiral has that😒😒
 

Notanaviator

Well-Known Member
Having done the online MBA from a top 40 business school and subsequently interviewed with a range of companies and recruiters, the feedback I got was:
1. None cared that it was online.
2. The "better" the business school the more it's worth your time. The piece of paper with Harvard on it yields better results than Liberty.
3. The network gained is significant and can be very regional, plan accordingly. (I.e. if you want to work in the northeast corridor, an MBA from USD is less helpful than say, Penn State).
4. More current is better than less current. I.e. If you get one now, you may be transitioning to civlife 10+ years from now.

My own opinion:
- If you are serious about either, I'd pursue that down the road where the knowledge and network are more current, and you can better focus your studies towards your desired end-state and career field.
- In residence > Online, in terms of experience and networking. I'd try to find the best good deal out there that gets you in residence.
- Unless you are certain you're staying in 20, I'd avoid the NPS MBA and go to a non-DOD business school.
Lots of good discussion about the value of degrees and the answers aren't always cut and dry. Factors that should be considered are:
1. Why do you want it
2. School quality needed
3. Nature of the degree and how it translates to being done via distance
4. Is there a difference between that school online or in person such as an asterisk on a diploma?

1. Be frank with your goals. Do you need/want the very best and most challenging program or do you just need to check a box? Will getting that degree make a difference in your resume or future earning potential and how?
2. Goes back to what you want to do with it. If you want to be a pediatrician do you need a degree from the best med school? Or conversely, if you want to conduct groud breaking research with the best minds in the world will a degree from StateU get you in to that world?
3. As others have mentioned, the benefits of a big name MBA come from netowkring. In person. But if you're doing a MS or PHD in computational fluid Dynamics maybe you could do it via a distance.
4. Does the diploma implocitly imply that it is different from a traditional diploma either by the name of the school or the degree title?
Coming at this solely from a background in the business world vice a military career transitioning into the business world, and having evaluated and navigated getting an MBA (went with an in person executive program from a local, upper second tier program), these comments probably track with my experience the most. If you're looking solely for resume points, go for the best institution you can, especially because the associated networking will be more valuable as well.

If you're looking to build knowledge and expertise outside of what the Navy is offering you, go with a program that matches and specializes in what you're trying to build. Folks have mentioned programs oriented toward supply chain management, I've known several who have done Energy-focused MBAs, etc. But absolutely don't do it just to check a box to which more and more employers give less weighting.

As a sidenote, as a previous manager in the Financial sector involved in the hiring process, I'd be wary of the Masters of Finance. A lot of schools treat this program as a high-margin, quick turnover program to bring in and spit out more tuition dollars. Employers in the private sector don't give a lot of credit for this unless the role is SPECIFICALLY for financial analysis - would not look at that Masters as 'MBA Lite.'
 
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