For some aspiring executives, the path to business school leads directly from college to a full-time M.B.A. But most graduate business students get several years of work experience after graduating from college before they apply to M.B.A. programs, which means they have to choose between keeping their jobs and becoming a part-time student, or quitting to study full time.
Although full-time students tend to graduate much more quickly than part-time students, full-time programs require financial commitments that many students aren't prepared for or choose not to make. Many part-time students say they would study full time if they could, but part-time study is more appropriate for their current situations. Below are three reasons to pursue a part-time M.B.A.
[Find out if a part-time M.B.A. is a cheaper option for you.]
1. Laboratories to apply theories: Erik Gonring initially toyed with the idea of pursing a full-time M.B.A. program, but he decided on the part-time M.B.A. at Purdue University—West Lafayette's Krannert School of Management. The main reason he chose to study part time, Gonring says, was because he didn't want to forfeit the on-the-job training he was receiving as a communications consultant.
"I knew that I needed to complement what I was learning in the work environment, but I also wasn't confident that I would learn more by stopping work and beginning school," says Gonring, who left his job after his first semester at Purdue for a position at McDonald's Corporation, where he is now public relations manager for McDonald's USA.
Every other Saturday for the past three years, Gonring has left his Chicago home at 6 a.m. to drive to West Lafayette, Ind., for his M.B.A. classes, which run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The trek is worth it for Gonring, because he would spend more money on what he describes as an unranked program in Chicago than he does at Purdue, which he notes is higher ranked. "Cost was a key consideration in my decision," he says.
2. Financial motivations: Other M.B.A. applicants have chosen the part-time route, as Gonring did, for financial reasons. After working in the banking industry for 13 years, Jaime Lira, the marketing manager at Cohen and Malad LLP, an Indianapolis law firm, decided to attend the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University—Bloomington on a part-time basis.
One reason Lira chose the program, from which she graduated in May 2010, was because her then-employer offered to reimburse $3,000 worth of tuition, she says.
"Many of my fellow students did receive some form of tuition reimbursement and had a role that allowed them flexibility with respect to vacation time requests and scheduling," she says. "Many of the people that I met who were in a full time program were younger people who had the support of their parents and not as many financial obligations as those of us in the part-time program."
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