Part-Time MBA vs. Full-Time MBA
The second most important career decision you're ever going to make is whether to attend a part-time or a full-time MBA program.
Of course, the most important decision is whether to attend B-school at all. Once you're cleared that hurdle, though, you'll need to determine not just which school fits your needs, but which format.
My Personal Opinion
I strongly prefer the full-time option, especially when comparing elite MBA schools, but it isn't right for everyone. Some people have job opportunities that they aren't willing to walk away from. They're already in positions that MBA covet and they believe (often mistakenly) that they can see a future with their firms. Others are married and aren't able to give up their income for two years. And a few are sponsored by their companies and pay nothing out of their pockets for tuition. All of these factors can make part-time programs the better option.
But business school is about job opportunities, and that's why full-time MBA programs are better for most applicants. Full-time programs come with comprehensive job-placement services and recruiters often recruit only among full-time students. If you're looking to use your MBA to change jobs or even industries, a full-time program will usually be the better option.
Can I Attend Part Time and Use the School's Job-Placement Facilities?
This is going to come as a giant surprise to many people, but the answer is often no. Many MBA programs, and in particular top programs, don't allow part-time students the same access to job-placement facilities that they offer to full-time students. This baffled me when I first entered the MBA world, but eventually it came to make sense and now I find myself advocating it. But why do schools do that?
Schools love to say that they deny part-time students access to the job-placement facilities because employers are paying the tuition for those students and the schools don't want to help those students leave their employers. Of course, that's complete nonsense. Only a small percentage of part-time MBA students get tuition reimbursement, and virtually all of them are subject to "lock-in" clauses that require them to replay their employers should they leave before a certain date. It's clearly not the schools' job to help companies retain their employees.
It's not in the schools' best interest to allow part-time students full access to job placement services. Doing so would dilute the value of the full-time degree and scare away top applicants. I was able to test this theory a few years ago when a very good second-tier school suddenly started allowing its part-time students to compete with full-timers for job interviews. A giant uproar ensued and the policy change was soon rescinded. The full-time people quite rightly realized that their chances of landing a terrific job had been cut in half. If that news had gotten out to the MBA applicant community, the number of applications (and the quality of the applicant pool) would have dropped significantly.
Allowing part-time students unfettered access to job placement services harms the interests of full-time students and encourages them to accept admit offers from other schools.
It's a Tradeoff
Even though the full-time program usually offers the greatest return on investment, it isn't always the most appropriate option. Whatever decision you make, be well informed before making it and don't be afraid to change your mind if circumstances change.Back to: MBA Executive Summary Homepage >
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