Full-time or part-time: Which MBA is right for you?

If you're thinking about getting an MBA, there are some distinct differences between part-time and full-time MBA programs that you should know.

Whether you’re looking to change careers or get-ahead in your current one, an MBA could have a major impact on your career and your salary (not to mention lifetime earnings). But before you starting filling out applications, you’ll need to think about whether a part-time or full-time MBA program is right for you.

Finding the right path

"Both part-time and full-time MBA programs are an excellent way to pivot or advance your career," says Pam Delany, director of graduate admission and recruitment at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business. "Students who are career changers, and have the opportunity to step out of employment for two years, are a great fit for a full-time program. Full-time programs are an immersive experience designed to help students leverage their past work experience with an education and experiences such as internships, to transition into new career opportunities."

Many students don't have the option to leave their careers to return to school full time. That's one of the reasons part-time MBA programs have become so popular. They're an ideal solution for working professionals who want to grow within their current organization or who, due to family or other obligations, simply can't stop working for two years to pursue a degree. Typically, part-time programs are offered in the evening or on weekends. Online MBA programs are technically part-time, too, and many online degrees offer the added flexibility of woking on projects and assignments whenever it's most convenient for you — opening new doors of opportunity for students in a variety of industries no matter where they live.

Choosing the right school

Once you've made the decision on which format is best for you and your life, then you can begin comparing schools to see which one is the best fit. Some business schools have different curricular elements depending on the program. For instance, some part-time MBAs are more lockstep, with fewer electives or ways to customize the degree, while most full-time MBAs offer ways to align your degree with specific career paths, like marketing or finance. At the W. P. Carey School, the Full-time MBA features more than a half-dozen distinct concentrations, plus areas of emphasis, while the part-time Professional Flex MBA offers more than 40 electives that allow students to focus on one or two business disciplines or attain a broad range of knowledge.

Another factor is career services. Most business schools provide career coaching and access to recruiters as part of a full-time program, but some schools aren't equipped to provide those services to every student regardless of format. "Find out what resources are available to both full-time and part-time MBA students," Delany says. "For part-time students interested in a career change, find out if the same level of career services are available to part-time students that are provided for full-time students."

Take the next step

Start your MBA journey right here. Explore the highly ranked W. P. Carey Full-time MBA and Professional Flex MBA and discover how W. P. Carey can redefine your career.

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