Getting a full-time MBA can be a hard slog. You’ll sacrifice much time, money and effort, putting your career on hold for up to two years. For some prospective students, the demands are too much and this is one reason why applications to full-time MBAs in some regions are falling.
Fortunately, there are other ways to get a top MBA, but with a lesser monetary and time burden. Flexible MBAs — online plus part-time formats and other innovative options — have risen in popularity among time-starved managers. They allow you to earn while you learn, applying your newfound knowledge directly and immediately into the workplace. Some of the flexible MBA programs listed below take place entirely online, while others include in-class residency sessions. Many also allow students to adjust their courseload from semester to semester, in order to adjust the MBA according to their schedule. We’ve listed some of the best flexible MBA programs below.
On our sister site FIND MBA Online, you can also see the Top 10 Blended MBA programs, which combine in-class learning with online components.
The Warwick MBA by Distance Learning is ranked by the Financial Times as the world’s best Online MBA. This flexible MBA is delivered entirely online and the average completion time is about four years. The course was rated very highly for international mobility by the FT, with graduates enjoying diverse, global job opportunities, as they’re not tied down to the UK, where Warwick is based. The average salary three years after graduation is $182,994, a very good return on the (relatively affordable) tuition fees.View School Profile
Spain’s IE Business School is at the forefront of teaching innovation. Students on its Global MBA, which is a mostly online course with some face-to-face elements, can beam themselves to the Madrid campus using cutting-edge technology. IE launched its WOW Room, which is a tapestry of screens displaying distance students’ faces with the professor in the middle (they can all see and hear each other in real-time) in 2016. It has pledged to invest €50m on digital learning technology and is exploring the use of virtual reality.View School Profile
The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business has an online / flexible MBA that is ranked by a bevy of leading publications. Students spend an estimated 25 hours studying part-time, 100 percent online, alongside their jobs. The curriculum focuses on developing communication and decision-making skills through data analysis. It’s a fitting program for today’s landscape, in which business leaders are required to lead remote teams using technology, and often use data, not just their gut feeling, to make effective decisions.View School Profile
The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in California is renowned for technology and innovation, being based so close to Silicon Valley and leading digital companies such as Google or Facebook. The school’s full-time MBA has been in the upper echelons of the main MBA rankings for decades, but you do not need to decamp to campus every day for two years and forgo earnings to get the Haas degree. A part-time version of the course empowers you to study in the evenings and on weekends, over about three years.View School Profile
AGSM at UNSW Business School in Australia runs an innovative flexible MBA program, called the MBAx. It’s an online management degree that also allows you to specialize. You can fit study around your lifestyle and apply the learning immediately into the workplace. Four specializations are on offer: in change management, finance, social impact, and technology. This MBA can be completed in between two and six years, depending on your courseload. AGSM has been delivering high quality business education for more than 35 years.View School Profile
The Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst in the US runs a highly-regarded flexible MBA; it’s ranked third globally by the FT. It’s considered good value for money, priced at just $35,476, with students taking three years to finish the course. This MBA offers a high degree of flexibility: it can be completed either online or on-campus. Three years from graduation, they make $168,088, on average.View School Profile
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business came joint first in US News and World Report's Best Business Schools ranking, and has for a long time had a stellar reputation for high quality management education. The school offers both an evening and a weekend MBA program, based in Chicago, with the flexible curriculum enabling students to tailor the course to their career goals: there are more than 130 courses to choose from.View School Profile
The US’s Babson College Blended Learning MBA is somewhat unique in that it is a hybrid: a mixture of both online and in-person study. This preserves the networking opportunities that are vital to the MBA experience, but does not sacrifice the flexibility that some students are crying out for. The Babson course is ranked sixth in the world by the FT.View School Profile
Similarly, the Tepper School of Business’s flexible MBA is blended. The US school’s course offers the best of both worlds: the convenience of learning from anywhere in the world, but with the high value in-person interactions. In addition to the online study components, MBA students also meet up with faculty and classmates several weekends per year in various locations. This flexible MBA program is taught by the same faculty as the full-time course, so, it doesn’t skimp on quality.View School Profile
Centrum Catolica’s PUCP Graduate Business School, in Peru, runs a Virtual International Managerial MBA that the FT considers one of the world’s best. Taught in Spanish, some 90 percent of the teaching is done digitally. It scored well for international mobility, and value for money.View School Profile