How to Handle Skepticism About Your Online MBA Degree

By Greg Scott Neuman
Posted 2010

An MBA can be a huge advantage in today’s competitive business world, which is why any prospective employer would be happy to see one on your resume. But what if you earned your MBA online? Here’s a detailed guide on how to make sure employers and business contacts know that your degree measures up.

Accreditation and Quality

If questions about your online degree come up, your first step should be to assure the concerned employer or business contact of your school’s credentials. Most online MBA programs – including online MBA programs without GMAT requirements – are conducted by universities that hold regional accreditation. Any institution so designated, whether online or campus-based, meets the standards set by the U.S. Department of Education. If you earned your MBA from a regionally accredited university, make sure anyone who knows you studied online also knows that your school holds such accreditation.

If you attended your MBA program at a non-accredited school, your best bet is not to mention it and hope that prospective employers do likewise. If worse comes to worst and the question is asked, answer honestly. Accreditation can be checked easily, and getting caught in a lie will almost certainly disqualify you from consideration for employment.

Also critical: Distance learning MBA programs attached to brick-and-mortar universities generally have the same educational standards and expectations as their campus-based counterparts. This means that online students learn the same material and receive the same degree as on-campus students. If your online MBA was granted by an institution – especially a prestigious institution – with a physical campus, tell concerned employers and business contacts that the degree you hold is identical to the one earned by students who attend traditional classes.

Discipline and Determination

Inform employers who question your online MBA about the hard work and discipline it took to earn it. Degree programs like an online MBA in Marketing (one of the more popular degrees pursued via distance learning) require a lot of reading, studying and video-based lessons, as well as participation in chat room discussions, Internet forums and group projects. Effective time management is essential to staying on top of such tasks, especially without the benefit of an instructor looking over your shoulder. The skills it took to keep up with your coursework are greatly valued in any employee or business associate!

Also let prospective employers know how all of this effort had to be balanced with family, work and other responsibilities. This shows you’re capable of solving problems and working through adversity – more traits that increase your value in the business world.

Communication and Technology

Earning an online MBA requires constant digital communication. Inform concerned employers and business contacts that your experience with chat rooms, email, instant messaging and web conferences means that you know how to make things happen in the global business environment. A few minutes online allow you to facilitate communication with business partners, clients and co-workers anywhere in the world.

You’re also obviously comfortable with technology if you earned your MBA online. Employers in the business world generally expect any new hire to know how to use a computer, but the skills required to master distance learning surpass the standard level of competence. With 18 to 24 months of online study under your belt, you now have significant expertise using the Internet to accomplish complex tasks. And if there are any other technical skills you picked up while working on your MBA – from creating a PowerPoint presentation to fixing minor computer glitches – be sure to mention those to skeptical employers and business contacts as well!

Presentation and … Presentation

Ultimately, presentation is the key to convincing prospective employers and business contacts that your online MBA degree is valid. Be understanding of reasonable skepticism – there are diploma mills out there, after all – but counter it with a firm, friendly and knowledgeable explanation of how you earned your degree. Inform, don’t argue. Tell them about your school’s credentials and the exceptional content of its business program; explain the discipline, hard work and sacrifice it took to graduate; and detail the communication and technical skills you picked up along the way. Soon everyone will know that your online MBA is both valid and valuable – just like you do!

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