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Choosing the right online MBA program

An online MBA degree can provide graduates with credibility among business peers, improve communication with colleagues, deepen technical expertise, and polish written communication skills.

The “Best Business Jobs” for 2017 that require an MBA include Accountant, Medical and Health Services Manager, Financial Manager, Business Operations Manager, and Compliance Officer, according to U.S. News and World Report.

In addition, the best-paying jobs for MBA graduates include Chief Financial Officer (CFO) ($168,000), Vice President of Information Technology ($165,000), Marketing Director ($133,000), CFO in Accounting ($125,000), and Sales Director in international business ($116,000), according to

UAB graduates have used their business degrees to land leadership positions at major companies that include Microsoft, Coca-Cola, AT&T, and Johnson & Johnson.

Industry trends from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate an increased demand for employees with graduate degrees in business. For example:

• IT Manager positions are expected to grow 26 percent by 2024 as firms expand to digital platforms and face risks to cyber security.
• Accountant careers are anticipated to grow 11 percent by 2024 because of the continued impact of globalization.
• Marketing Manager positions are expected to grow 9 percent by 2024.

Plus, more than 146,000 new jobs are expected due to an increase in top executive positions.

What To Look For

As in any major investment, prospective students should be sure to do their research before pursuing an online MBA degree at any college or university.

Here are five things to pay attention to when considering a program:

1. Technology —

Because many online MBA students aren’t able to attend classes in person, a reputable, dependable, and easy-to-use online learning environment is important to their success.

2. Curriculum —

When selecting an online degree, be sure to look over the program’s courses carefully. Are all of the courses the same for online and on-campus students? Do online students earn the same degree as on-campus students? Do online students have access to the same resources (career counselors, for example) that on-campus students do?

Online students have access to academic advising, libraries, technical support and tutorials, and many other student services. Additionally, Your School’s Career and Professional Development Services can provide resume, interviewing, and job-search tips, as well as networking and professional experience opportunities.

3. Faculty —

Faculty members who teach courses online should be well versed in the technology of the online learning system. In addition, they should be as available to online students as they are to students who attend class on campus.

At UAB, faculty members have access a variety of tools to help them create their online courses, which include course development, teaching support, and design services.

4. Accreditation —

When it comes to business schools, the oldest and most prestigious accreditor is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

According to the U.S. Department of Education, accreditation “is the recognition that an institution maintains standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice. The goal is to ensure that education provided by the institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.”

Some companies may not hire employees who have degrees from unaccredited colleges and universities. In addition, students who attend unaccredited schools may not be able to receive financial assistance or transfer credits.

5. Self-Motivation —

One last thing to take into consideration before starting an online MBA program is self-motivation. While online students don’t necessarily have to follow the regimented class schedule of their on-campus peers, they do need to have the motivation and discipline to complete all of the reading, research, and assignments on their own — and on time.

Before committing to an online program, prospective students should ask themselves: Can I be productive at home? Am I organized? Do I have good time-management skills? If students can answer yes to all, they should be well prepared to begin their online degree.

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