Online MBA vs Full Time MBA: Difference, Merits & Demerits

  • By Kirti Yadav
  • 6 March 2019
Online MBA vs Full Time MBA: Difference, Merits & Demerits

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Many times students face challenges with traditional campus-based MBA programs. Balancing classes, professional and personal life may not work together with the rigid on-campus schedule. This has resulted in the decline of admissions in the on-campus MBA program and has risen the popularity of the online MBA programs. In fact, according to the QS MBA Applications and Aspirations Survey 2018, over 15% of MBA applicants worldwide are thinking of pursuing an online MBA program as opposed to the regular full-time MBA program.

Online MBA v/s Full-time MBA program

Let’s start by understanding the main differences between an online MBA program and a full-time MBA program to get a clear picture of both of them.


Characteristic Online MBA

Full-Time MBA

1 Delivery of Program Students learn through online resources. There is no fixed schedule. Students get the utmost flexibility. A regular MBA follows classroom study with a tight and fixed schedule.
2 Curriculum An online MBA includes a crisp and concise curriculum. The 2-year full-time MBA program includes comprehensive theory and practicals.
3 Principles of Teaching There is a lot of flexibility in terms of exam schedule and online submission of assignments. There is a very tight and strict schedule for assignment submission, exam dates and class participation.
4 Duration An online MBA program could range from anywhere between 9 months to 3-4 years to complete the course. The duration of a full-time MBA program is 2 years.
5 Fees The fee for an online MBA program ranges from Rs. 20000 to Rs. 1 lakh, which is much lesser than a full-time MBA program. A full-time MBA program is quite expensive and can range anywhere between Rs. 14 to 30 lakh depending on the institute.
6 Intake Process There is no fixed time period to seek admission into an Online MBA program. In a regular MBA program, the number of seats is fixed. Hence, there is a lot of competition for securing admission.
7 Admission Process Admission into an online MBA program is much simpler and user-friendly. There is no written exam or interview involved. This is due to the fact that many working professionals opt for an online MBA. A regular MBA follows a complex and elaborate admission process for a secure admission. Entrance Exam, Group Discussion and Personal Interview are some of the rounds an aspirant has to go through to get selected in a full-time MBA program.
8 Exposure An online MBA program does not include any industrial or field visit. Moreover, there is no internship opportunity given to the students. Hence, learning is restricted in terms of exposure. A regular MBA program includes frequent Industrial visits, field visits as an important part of its curriculum. Also, it even stresses the importance of having an Internship experience since it provides adequate corporate exposure.
9 Placement An online MBA program does not involve any placement process. Students are required to put in the efforts for job search or change. In a regular MBA program, the placement process is conducted at the end of each academic year for final year students. Hence, students have the opportunity to get hired in the best of companies tied-up with the program.
10 Network Opportunities An online MBA does not provide any interaction between the students and faculty or even between the students themselves. A regular MBA program provides continuous interaction between the students and faculty. Hence, students get large-scale networking opportunities with students, guest faculty and other members that turns out quite advantageous for them.

The Merits of Online MBA

There are various reasons why online MBA programs are so readily accepted by students all over the nation. Let’s explore some of them below:

  • The flexibility of the program

An online MBA gives you an opportunity to keep on working and maintaining continuous cash flow. With a flexible program schedule, no relocation costs and very few commuting costs, an online MBA program hence, is preferred over regular MBA program. Moreover, the tools and skills picked up while studying online can directly help you in the long run of your career.

  • A standardized curriculum delivery across all MBA formats

In many top-rated B-schools, the curriculum and faculty involved in teaching the regular full-time MBA program are also involved with the online MBA program. This gives the students access to the same curriculum and the faculty which builds up the trust factor among them. Along with this, the students pursuing an online MBA program share the same alumni network, same career counsellors and take part in similar projects as students enrolled in regular MBA program.

  • Being isolated is a myth

An online MBA program, unlike a distance MBA program, gives you the option to interact with your peer groups at least once. Since developing people management and interpersonal skills are of utmost importance in a management curriculum, many reputed MBA colleges have a compulsory ‘meet-up’ element in the form of seminars, events, conferences and international projects. Hence, an online MBA program does not fully isolate the student.

  • Association with the Brand

An online MBA program has made it quite easy for students wanting to pursue a management course from an internationally renowned institution. Doing this, not only such students associate themselves with huge brand names in the Management universe but also attain a degree without any time boundation. Moreover, an online MBA program from a highly reputed international college is much more cost friendly than a regular MBA program from the same college.

The Limitations of Online MBA

There are various reasons why online MBAs aren’t considered to be on par with regular full-time MBA programs. Let’s understand why:

  • Credibility

There are many B-schools that offer an MBA program in the online mode, however, not all of them hold the same reputation in the employer's eyes. In fact, there is hardly any value of an online MBA program for the employers unless it is accredited by an institute/college well reputed in the job market. Thus, the brand value of the college/institute matters.

  • No Internship

An internship is a crucial part of an MBA curriculum since it provides the student with adequate corporate experience and exposure and makes them industry ready. However, an online MBA program neither highlights the importance of internships to the students nor stresses the importance of work experience required by a management student.

  • Lose out on Networking Opportunity

A very important part of an MBA program is networking. But in the case of an online MBA program, students are not exposed to the industrial leaders, business tycoons or the guest faculty which takes away their networking opportunities. This sets them back a few steps and reduces their network group along with the successful future possibilities.

Merits of full-time MBA

Traditional on-campus full-time MBA programs often appeal to students who want more structure and hands-on guidance.

A full-time MBA also offers more activities, facilities, and clubs. If you love the idea of socialising and getting together with your peers every week, you might want to opt for such an MBA program.

Limitations of full-time MBA

The biggest limitation of full-time MBA programs is the lack of flexibility. If you have prior obligations, it can be difficult to start a full-time MBA program, especially with the commute or accommodation expenses required.

Do companies hire online MBA graduates?

The high salaries enjoyed by online MBA grads and the growing demand for online business schools shows that there’s no shortage of employers who view online MBA favourably. In fact, online MBA growth is outpacing that of traditional MBA programs. As the workplace becomes increasingly digital, so is MBA.

Online MBA might even be an advantage when it comes to some employers who consider an online MBA to be an asset as it showcases a student’s independent approach to learning.

Conclusion: Which MBA is best for your career

The answer to this question is different for every individual. It depends on your circumstances and preferences. Someone might prefer the flexibility of an Online MBA whereas another person might prefer the structure of an orthodox full-time MBA.

At the end of the day, you need to decide for yourself and make the right decision based on the information provided in this article.

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