Distance learning is an extremely popular option for earning college degrees, graduate degrees and professional certificates. Distance-learning MBA programs have gained increasing popularity since they offer numerous benefits that traditional MBA programs lack--including greater flexibility than traditional in-person instruction. As of September, 2009, Cambridge University, in the United Kingdom, offers only traditional pathways toward the MBA. If you wish to receive an MBA from Cambridge you need to be available to attend classes in person. However, there are other ways of getting an accredited MBA through distance learning.
Flexibility of Distance Learning
Most distance learning programs allow you to review materials at your own pace and on your own time, as long as you complete all the work by an assigned due date. The technology used for distance learning programs is quite advanced, so a lot of the interactivity of in-person instruction is maintained during online classes. You will likely be required to participate in class discussions via chats, message boards and other social media platforms, but the time requirements of your participation will be very flexible.
Programs Offered at Cambridge
Cambridge University offers a traditional 12-month, full-time MBA program as well as a more flexible Executive-MBA program. According to the school's website, "The Cambridge Executive MBA program lasts for 20 months, and takes place in Cambridge once a month on Fridays (beginning at noon) and Saturdays. In addition to weekend sessions, there is an orientation week in early September, a 10-day international business trip, and a week-long group project."
UK Schools with Distance MBA Programs
There are a number of schools in the United Kingdom that do offer MBA programs through distance learning. Many programs are conducted entirely through distance learning, but others follow an open-learning approach that consists of a mixture of distance learning and class attendance. The UK schools are:
Brunel University Durham University Henley Management College Heriot Watt University Keele University Kingston University Leicester University Management School Napier University Open University Oxford Brookes University Paisley University Reading University Stirling University Strathclyde University Surrey European Management School (SEMS) Warwick University
American Schools with Distance MBA Programs
Many schools in the United States also offer distance-learning MBA programs. One school is Auburn University, an established and accredited (by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) graduate school of business that began offering MBAs through distance learning in 1990. Other schools can be found by searching the US News and World Report Online Education pages.
Completing an online program may be just as challenging as completing a classroom-based program. Research the time commitment that the program you choose demands and assess your own ability to attend online lectures, complete assignments and study the required readings. Clarify the specific equipment that you will need to do the program, including computer hardware requirements, Internet connection speed and peripherals such as a web camera.
Based in New York City, Irina Paley has been writing education-related articles since 1999. Her articles have appeared in "AACE" and "Comparative Education." Paley received a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Columbia University in 2002, and a Master of Arts degree in instructional technology from Teacher's College in 2005. She is currently working toward a PhD in cognitive psychology.