After a few years on the job, professionals looking for that big leap in their careers start thinking about an MBA. At this point of time, a dilemma could well be occupying their thoughts – Full-time or Part-time.
A Part-time MBA would mean a steady flow of income and a career path without break. By joining the program, professionals would not need a big loan. In some cases, the employer may even pay for the education. The other point of view would be that a Full-time MBA would be an intense, comprehensive business education. It would involve constant interaction with a diverse, well-qualified and experienced set of peers. Further, Full-time graduates always grab the best job offers.
To help make the decision, here is a breakdown of the differences between a Full-Time and a Part Time MBA program.
A Full-time MBA programs has a more thorough and lengthy admission process. The reason for this is that more students apply, and to find the best representation of MBA candidates from around the world, an in-depth admission process is required. With Part-Time MBA program, interviews are not mandatory. Take NYU Stern - the second best Part-time MBA program. The admission process is identical to that of the Full-time program, but Part-time program do not require an interview. As a result, students for the Full-time MBA need to apply latest by March for the start in August (5 months), whereas the Part-time applicants need to apply by May for a September start (4 months).
Moreover, Part-time students can choose from 2 or 3 start dates in a year. On the other hand, Full-time programs usually have one common joining date. For example, at Kellogg, the Part-time program has a fall, winter, spring and summer start.
Look at the table below, featuring the top three Part-time MBA programs. One easily noticed difference between their Full-time MBA counterparts is the average GMAT score. Stern’s Part-time is average a full 50 points lower. What this tells us is that the Part-time program is a lot easier to get in. With an average GMAT score, a great essay and concise CV, students should have less trouble getting into a prestigious part-time MBA program compared to the full-time equivalent.
While both programs follow a near identical curriculum, flexibility’ is the buzzword for the Part-time program. Weekend classes, weekday classes, weeklong classes with a break, and a mix of all three are just some of the flexible choices offered. Most schools allow students to switch between the various options and some even allow a part of the course to be completed at another Business School, in case of relocation. Booth allows students to attend classes with the Full-time program when possible. The Anderson School offers a Flex Program, which requires only one weekend on campus every month, with the rest of the curriculum taught online. Most Part-time programs allow a time-period of 2-5 years to complete the program.
4) Career continuity & Switching
Part-time students have the advantage of both an uninterrupted career as well as steady income growth. This is particularly useful when professionals wish to continue working in the same field, vertical or function. By the time, a Full-time student passes out, he or she would have two years less experience than a part-time student would . This is a big disadvantage in rapidly changing sectors like technology. Conversely, a part-time program is not ideal for career switchers. The intensity and thoroughness of Full-time learning makes it the ideal option for those who wish to change tracks completely.
While Part-time and full-time programs both offer projects, most of the part-time MBA programs do not offer internships. UCLA Anderson is the rare exception. Internships allow students to make mistakes and gain valuable experience. In a 2-Year MBA program, students get the time (1 year) to improve and correct their mistakes.
When it comes to financing the MBA program, most B-schools expect students to pay for their own education. While loan assistance is offered, only two among the top five Part-time MBA programs offer grants or scholarships. Stern offers donor award scholarships after completing 30 credits and Haas has its own scholarships as well as support from outside sources. On the other hand, the top Full-time MBA program offers a host of scholarships. Incidentally, UCLA Anderson helps students find scholarships from outside sources.
7) Peer to Peer Learning
As full-time MBA students spend almost all their time together, their biggest source of learning are from peers. This is exactly why Full-time programs chant the mantra of diversity. The more diverse the class, the deeper the learning. This is the biggest advantage over the Part-time program and it is a decisive one. Part-time students also learn from their peers, but it happens over a limited time of a few hours every week.
8) Learning on the job
As part-time MBA students are also working, they get to apply classroom lessons immediately on the job. This helps them understand concepts better and allow them to master its practical aspects quickly. This is the biggest advantages of a Part-time program. While Full-time students have limited concepts to practice, there is a delay of perhaps a year between learning and application, and it may be too late to master it by then. Although experiential learning in MBA programs has negated this disadvantage, MBA programs at large have yet to adopt it.
9) Market changes
On an average, most part-time MBA programs are completed within 3 years; many of them might take up to 5 years. So while, a professional may have targeted a specific function or field to work in the future, that area may have become less appealing over time. What’s more, MBA curriculums undergo constant reviews and many courses may be added or removed. What this means is that a Full-time MBA curriculum could look a lot different from a Part-time by the time a part-timer completes the program in 3+ years. The Kellogg Part-time MBA program has thoughtfully provided the option to pick up to four courses that are newly introduced as part of the curriculum.
10) Campus recruitment & Employment
Campus recruitment is the highlight of a Full-time MBA program. A lot of time and resources are spent preparing students as well as attracting corporates into campuses. Most Part-time programs allow students to utilize these resources. However, some Business Schools like Stern do not allow Part-time students to participate in this process. Kellogg, Booth, Haas and Anderson allow part-time MBA students to participate in the Full-time MBA recruitment process.
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