The Wall Street Journal yesterday (September 21, 2005) released their MBA school rankings with Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth as number one overall MBA program nationally and Purdue University (one of my Alma Mater’s) ranking number one for regional programs. They can be found online here.
Interestingly, the WSJ determines its rankings from recruiter’s feedback which is different method then the rankings of Business Week, U.S. News & World Report or other media outlets. One of the articles "Take Full Advantage" in the WSJ special section emphasized the recruiter’s preference to recruit full time MBA students over part-time or online/distance learning students. They had a number of reasons for this preference from students not being focused in part-time programs to online programs are to easy to do. They even referred to part-time and online programs as MBA Lite programs which is completely unwarranted and in most cases untrue. StopBuyingCrap.com highlights the WSJ article well in this blog post.
I strongly disagree with these recruiters and wonder what rock they have been living behind. I think this perspective by recruiters is very close minded and not with the times of the Business 2.0 environment where nearly everything is or has already moved online. These recruiters that totally discounted part time and online programs need to realize a few things:
1.) Part-time and online MBA students do not have time to put their career on hold to go back to school full time and lose valuable work time and experience.
2.) Part-time and online MBA students have current real life on the job experience to bring to class or online discussions while full time students may very well be out of touch with the true business marketplace.
3.) Part-time and online MBA programs are not easier then full time programs. As long as the part time and online MBA program in question is fully accredited by AACSB they are just as difficult as full time programs and sometime probably harder on the students due in part to outside distractions.
4.) Part-time and online MBA students become excellent at managing their time since they have such very little because of other obligations like a full time job and a family.
I think part-time and online programs will increase in value with time and eventually corporate recruiters will realize how ridiculous their past perspectives were. For example, many top Universities already have part time programs but are also starting to offer online programs. Schools like Babson, Duke, Indiana, Syracuse, Massachusetts, Arizona State, Tulsa, and Penn State just to name a few are now offering online programs. While articles like "Do Online MBAs Make The Grade?" from BusinessWeek report on the popularity of online programs I do not feel it digs deep enough to highlight some of the better known schools offering MBA programs online and instead gives more emphasis on low light offerings that do not have full accreditation. This perspective makes it seem like there are not enough good online programs available which is not the case.
The WSJ, BusinessWeek and US News & World Reports should read this article on Forbes.com and better understand the part-time and online student and programs since it is only a matter of time until they are commonplace. Not to mention, these media outlets should ditch the negative attitude they associate with part-time and online MBA programs and start giving them the respect they deserve since many students are going through more rigor to get them then a full time MBA student would. They should also start ranking them just like the full time programs because students deserve it. They would love to hear how part-time and online MBA programs stack up against one another. I believe it is only a matter of time until the next Bill Gates, Jack Welch or Craig Newmark proves the part-time and online programs a success by holding a part-time or online MBA themselves.