The True Worth of an Online MBA: A Closer Look at ROI and Career Growth

Sep 29, 2023 | Online MBA

While professionals consider earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to develop the skills needed for career advancement, many don't have the time to commit to a full-time, in-person program. If you’re in this category, you might be wondering whether finding an online program is the right option—particularly if you’re working full-time. 

The good news is that the right online MBA can help you balance work and education while providing valuable professional development tools. Here's an overview of the benefits you can expect from this degree and the return on investment (ROI) of an online MBA program.

Experience the Northeastern Online MBA firsthand

Top Benefits of Earning an MBA

Obtaining an MBA can have multiple benefits—whether you enroll in an online or in-person.

If you're hoping to find a job in a new industry or advance in your current role, there are several reasons an MBA can be worth the investment, including:

  • Salary Potential: Master's-level graduates earn an average $13,000 more annually than bachelor's degree holders, earning an average annual wage of $137,407 in the U.S. 
  • Job Opportunities: The number of employers hiring MBA graduates has continued to increase over the years, from 71 percent in 2012 to 92 percent in 2022. 
  • Networking: MBA programs are an excellent way to make connections, particularly if the program provides ample networking events and opportunities.

While there are many benefits that are immediately evident when pursuing an MBA, it's a valuable qualification to obtain for the short and long term. 

“We don't want to be just educating students for their first job out of an MBA program,” says Susan Antonelli, senior director of the D’Amore-McKim Career Center at Northeastern University. “We don’t want students to take their degree for just their next job, rather for their next five jobs.”

Is an Online MBA Worth It?

There are several MBA options you can pursue, and each has unique benefits. For example, some people find in-person learning easier, whereas others prefer the flexibility of asynchronous online programs. 

Whether you're a working professional hoping to study while working, or you want a good education but don't want to limit your search to local institutions, finding a quality online MBA program is a great option.

Here are some reasons you might consider pursuing an online MBA. 

Earning a Degree While Working

The flexibility of online learning is one reason many people pursue it as an option. Many online programs, like Northeastern’s Online MBA, are designed with working professionals in mind so you can work while learning.

“We can help you think about ways to balance your education and family life and still have a social life and a busy work schedule,” says Antonelli. 

Preparing You for Virtual Work

The modern work world is becoming increasingly remote. Approximately 12.7 percent of employees work from home, and it's estimated that this figure will rise to 22 percent by 2025. 

Earning an online education can prepare you for remote work, whether you currently work from home or plan to pursue a remote job in the future.

“In many ways, it really does mimic the world of work as it is today,” explains Antonelli. “Maybe ten years ago, students would've said, ‘when am I ever going to have to collaborate on a project virtually with somebody?’ But now they're doing it all the time, so it's a good muscle to develop through your degree program.”

"We don’t want students to take their degree for just their next job, rather for their next five jobs.”

6 Reasons Why You Should Enroll in Northeastern’s Online MBA

In addition to the advantages of online education, earning a degree from Northeastern University offers several unique benefits that can increase your MBA’s ROI. 

1. Provides Experiential Learning Opportunities

One of the hallmarks of Northeastern's education is its experiential learning opportunities. These opportunities aren't limited to just in-person programs, however. Northeastern's Online MBA offers EXPO courses, which give students real-world experience as well as networking opportunities with potential employers.

“We partner with faculty to find employers with real-world problems that need real-world solutions so students are engaged in the classroom,” says Antonelli. “So that's something students can put on their resume—a project for their portfolio where they can say, ‘I've done this very real-world project.’ Taking it out of the theoretical and putting it into the practical.”

2. Offers Live Faculty Connect Sessions

Northeastern’s online MBA courses are asynchronous—allowing you to take them on your own time—which is a significant benefit for working professionals. 

One of the drawbacks of many asynchronous programs is the lack of individual attention from professors. In fact, many online courses don't offer direct interaction with or access to faculty. Unfortunately, this can often result in sacrificing flexibility for faculty expertise. 

Northeastern's Online MBA, however, provides optional live faculty connect sessions which allow you to take advantage of faculty expertise and advice.

3. Aligns with Versatile Career Goals

Earning an MBA can unlock numerous job opportunities, and can be beneficial across multiple industries. Northeastern's Online MBA is designed to help you advance your career—regardless of your industry—by allowing you to take 10 to 13 electives for a customized MBA curriculum that’s specific to your professional goals.

Northeastern also offers career coaching that’s personalized to each student's needs. “We're able to offer very tailored career coaching to help students expand their network,” Antonelli explains. 

4. Develops Relevant Skills

Northeastern's Online MBA program focuses on developing key skills that are beneficial for leaders across various industries. 

Some of the most prominent competencies include: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Data analysis
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Inclusivity
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Online collaboration

One skill set that’s worth noting in relation to Northeastern’s program is the growing field of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). 

“In the areas of DEI, I think our students are making big changes in building more inclusive work environments,” says Antonelli. “I think that's really important to have that slant toward leadership at work in the curriculum. As a result, our students excel when it comes to working in teams and collaborating with one another.”

By pursuing an MBA program that prioritizes experiential learning—like Northeastern's—you can gain these skills, as well as opportunities to apply them in real-world scenarios. 

5. Maintains University Credibility

Earning an online MBA from a reputable institution, like Northeastern University, offers additional professional benefits solely based on its name. Not only is Northeastern a highly respected school for employers, the online MBA program carries the same weight as the in-person degree—with no differences between the online and in-person diploma and credentials. This isn’t always the case for other online degree programs though.

Moreover, approximately 83 percent of business leaders value online and in-person degrees equally, as long as they're granted by credible universities. In the case of Northeastern, the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern isn’t just a R-1 research institution, it’s also accredited by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. 

6. Fosters Networking Opportunities

One commonly cited benefit of in-person MBA programs is the networking opportunities they provide with faculty and peers. While many online degree programs offer some channels of communication, it can be challenging to find online programs that offer the level of collaboration professionals are hoping for.

Northeastern understands the importance of students’ professional network, offering several lines of communication with peers and promoting connection sessions with faculty.

“Students have the benefit of accessing Northeastern services, including our network of alumni and employers," says Antonelli. “I think sometimes there are programs that will take an on-the-ground program and sort of reheat it and serve it online, but without a lot of the scaffolding around it. But that's not the Northeastern experience that students will have access to.” 

Northeastern ensures that online students have plenty of opportunities to connect with other like-minded individuals and experts in a variety of fields. “The job search starts the second you start your degree program. It doesn't start at the end,” explains Antonelli. “We have over 50 events every semester for the purpose of networking, and a lot of these are virtual.”

Take the Next Step in Your Online MBA Journey

When pursuing an online MBA, it's crucial to select a university that's dedicated to your success. Northeastern's online MBA program offers the necessary resources and support to equip you with the essential tools for your career journey. 

“You're not in this alone,” says Antonelli. “You are a Northeastern student, whether you are an online student or an on-the-ground student.” 

If you’re ready to take the next steps in your career, check out the program page. You can also experience the Northeastern Online MBA firsthand by exploring the online video resource library. 

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