After a few years on the job, professionals looking for that big leap in their careers will start thinking about an MBA. At this point of time, you will have two choices - Full-time or Part-time MBA.
A Part-time MBA would mean a steady flow of income and a path without any break in your career. By joining the program, professionals would save at least $30,000 per year in tuition fee. In some cases, the employer may even pay for the education. But supporters of Full-time MBA will argue that the course is an intense experience; an experience that involves interaction with a diverse experienced group of peers, traveling to global locations and solving local problems, and interning on different job functions & industries – an intensity that is lacking in a part-time MBA. Furthermore, Full-time graduates always grab the best job offers.
To help you choose between Full-time and Part-time MBA, we have a breakdown of the differences on ten key factors.
A Full-time MBA program has a more thorough and lengthy admission process. The reason - more students apply, and to find the best representation of MBA candidates from around the world, the Admission team conducts an in-depth evaluation process. 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 key 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, week long 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. The flexibility in course structure will help professionals continue working in the same field, vertical or job 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. For rapidly changing sectors like technology, continuity with technology is crucial in understanding the challenges of implementing a project. Conversely, a part-time program is not ideal for career switchers. The intensity and thoroughness of Full-time learning make 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 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 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 is from peers. A Full-time MBA Admission team actively searches for class diversity with the goal of improving the quality of peer learning. In just one course, you will learn the challenges of doing Business in Silicon Valley, Shanghai, Mumbai and Abuja, from the locals – a perspective that no professors, who live in the host country can offer. Part-time programs receive fewer applications, and hence the luxury to diversify the class is limited. The peer learning in part-time MBA program happens at a functional level. With limited time (few hours), every week devoted to in-class experience, diversity in peer learning is not guaranteed. The learning process can be peripheral.
8) Learning on the job
As part-time MBA students are also working, they get to apply classroom lessons immediately on the job. By applying what they have learned, part-time MBA students will have a deeper understanding of the concepts learned in the class, and would also be aware of what works and what does not. On an average, a 2-year Full-time MBA student has to wait one year, for opportunities in internships and to apply their knowledge on global Business problems. A delay of one year between learning and application will diminish the recall of the Business Fundamentals. 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 curriculum undergo constant reviews. Many courses will 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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