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Is an Online MBA Respected in 2021?

04 Aug
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Online MBAs are on the rise and are no longer considered niche degrees.1 According to data trends, more universities—including well-known brick and mortar institutions—are offering online MBAs.2 In the 2014-15 academic year, 22% of Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredited schools said they had an online MBA program. By the 2019-20 academic year, that number had risen to 39%.1 In 2020, 25% of all MBAs started in an online format.3

Interest among prospective students has also blossomed. Nearly 80% of online MBA, Master of Finance, and Master in Management programs have reported relative growth in applications in recent years.1

Hiring managers are showing a more positive disposition toward online MBAs. A recent 2018 study found 61% of HR managers “firmly believe that online learning is of equal or greater quality to more traditional methods,” and 92% of employers view online degrees from established brick-and-mortar colleges favorably, and typically treat them the same as campus degrees.”4

Despite this uptick in positive trends, many prospective students still want to know if an online MBA is respected enough to help them make career advancements in cutting-edge industries, personal entrepreneurial ventures, and leading company C-suites.

Read on to learn why certain online MBAs are respected in 2021 and how to ensure you earn a respected degree that will bring you the ROI you need for your future.

What to Look for in a Respected Online MBA

Not all online MBAs are created equal. Some online MBA programs offer more respected degrees based on a number of factors including rankings, accreditation status, industry connections, and alumni. Therefore, if you are looking to gain a reputable online MBA, make sure to check if your program that has the following reputation-building attributes:

AACSB Accreditation

Since 1916, AACSB has been accrediting only the best business schools around the globe. As of 2021, only 5% of schools, about 900 institutions total, offer business degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher hold AACSB accreditation.5 An impressive 94% of the institutions listed on the Financial Times’ Global MBA Rankings 2019 are accredited by AACSB.6 These institutions are responding to the growing reputation and increasing demand for online MBAs. The number of AACSB-accredited business schools offering some kind of online MBA track has grown from 19 in 2002 to 68 today.7

AACSB accredited programs, like the Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business Online MBA, are peer-reviewed every five years and must prove they have a number of noteworthy qualities including:

  • A current, relevant curriculum
  • Advanced, contemporary technology infused into curricula
  • Expert faculty who have a demonstrated excellence in teaching
  • Active connections to the business community
  • An ongoing standard of excellence6

High Program Rankings

In general, the higher your program’s rankings, the more respected your degree. Finding your program listed on at least one qualified rankings list is a great way to ensure you are earning a respected online MBA.

Leading online publications, U.S. News & World Report and Poets&Quants, publish annual program rankings based on a number of qualities that establish excellence and reputation. Subsequently, a program’s high ranking numbers and its appearance on a number of well-regarded online MBA rankings lists, establish that program’s merits and positive reputation.

U.S. News & World Report ranks online MBA programs that have “strong traditional academic foundations based on the excellence of entering students, graduation rates and instructor credentials,” and “excel at educating distance learners while providing robust career and financial support.”8 In 2021, SCU Leavey earned the #40 Best Online MBA Programs spot and the #12 Business Online MBA in Marketing spot, according to U.S. News & World Report.9

Poets&Quants creates rankings based on student satisfaction and overall quality of a program. Only 47 schools, or approximately the top 15% of all virtual MBA programs around the globe, made Poets&Quants’ fourth annual online MBA rankings list in 2021. Number 10 on that list: Santa Clara University’s Online MBA.10

Notable Alumni and Students

Another way to check if your online MBA is respected is to look at the program’s alumni and their accomplishments. When you are researching a program’s graduates, review the types of leadership roles they are in, what impact they having in their industries, and how they are shaping the future of those industries. The status and business impact of a program’s alumni show how reputable a degree is in the wider world of business.

Notable alumni of the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University include Peter Oppenheimer, senior vice president and CFO of Apple Computers; George Reyes, former senior vice president and CFO of Google; and Thomas A. Lacey, former vice president of Intel.

Current student feedback can also paint a picture of how students who are actively enrolled in the online program finding value and a positive reputation from the degree. Look for student testimonials, blogs, and interviews to gather essential information about a program’s reputation and significance.

Leading Industry Connections

Reputable online MBA programs have strong connections to the world of business and leading innovative industries. Seek out a program that has proven it has pathways to important industries and has active industry connections between its faculty, its alumni, and leading companies in the field. For example, Santa Clara University's Online MBA is known for its special ties to Silicon Valley and is ranked #21 for Silicon Valley hiring.11

Be an Advocate for Your MBA

Being a powerful advocate for your online MBA and how it makes you a stronger candidate in your industry will help you solidify your online degree’s reputation as you complete your MBA program and graduate.

Don’t hesitate to discuss the unique benefits of your online degree with current employers and hiring managers when you are looking for your next job. Share how your program’s virtual format allowed for important networking and leadership opportunities and trained you in the latest online technologies that share space in both the educational and professionals. Tell how you have been able to directly apply your online MBA coursework to your current roles and how you hope to use your online degree to shape to achieve your long-term career goals and make an impact.

Being your own online degree advocate can help ensure that what makes your online degree reputable, accredited, ranked, and valuable is known to those around you as you carve your path to becoming a successful professional.

Advance your Career With the Silicon Valley Online MBA

Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business is proud to offer an Online MBA program that puts the best of Silicon Valley at your fingertips and prepares you to thrive in innovative organizations everywhere. Learn more about our faculty of accomplished business leaders, and explore some of the exciting networking opportunities available to online students at SCU.