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Here’s the Profile of a Typical Online MBA Student

Online MBA students tend to be older, with more work experience, than traditional full-time MBA students, according to a new survey from U.S. News.


The data collected by U.S. News from over 100 ranked online MBA programs reveals that online MBA students have an average age of 33 – six years older than their on-campus counterparts.

Along the same lines, online MBA students entered their programs with eight years of experience on average, which is about twice as much as on-campus, full-time MBA students.

One of the selling points of online MBA programs are their flexibility. No surprise, then, that many students take advantage of the ability to learn from anywhere in order to keep working while they earn their MBAs.

In fact, U.S. News found that more than nine in ten students continued to work full-time as they began online MBA programs.

So what about the big question – how did getting online MBAs impact these people’s careers?

This is where things get a little hazy. While U.S. News tried to collect data on online MBA students’ salaries before and after receiving their degrees, only 11 of the schools surveyed opted to provide this data.

At the schools that did provide data, the numbers showed that online MBA students benefited from a real salary increase. Students earned an average of $96,974 three months out from graduation, compared with $79,352 at the time of enrollment.

But it’s impossible to know exactly what the significance of these figures is since only a fraction of the schools surveyed chose to submit data. At the very least, though, it does suggest that at least some online MBA programs can boost earning potential.

Besides flexibility, another possible upside of online MBA programs is their cost effectiveness. Which is a good thing, because it turns out most online MBA students are footing the bill themselves. But a modest portion of students – one in three – do receive some kind of financial support from their employers.

Altogether, the data shows that a typical online MBA student is someone with significant work experience who is taking advantage of the flexibility and cost efficiency of the online MBA to advance their career.

William Rieth, director of graduate enrollment at Temple University’s Fox School of Business (which, incidentally, topped U.S. News’s online MBA rankings this year) pointed to this flexibility as one of the main benefits of an online MBA.

As he put it to U.S. News: “The online platform allows students to still achieve everything that they want to in their work life, still hold down family and life obligations and tackle the MBA.”