I did an MBA on what was then called the “executive program”, i.e. mainly distance learning (a lot of it was pre-internet days!). My experience is that these courses score as follows:
• Scholastic value 8/10 - the course work is often designed by leading authorities from other universities and is as good as the full-time program at most schools, but it does not quite meet the grade set by INSEAD, Wharton etc.
• Networking value 5/10, assuming you put in a lot of effort you can meet up with others on the course both socially and in optional study groups. However it simply does not compare to a full-time course where you are more or less living on top of each other. Also the quality of student on e-learning courses is lower, so while you might make great friends, you’re not going to come out with a black book of future FTSE directors.
• Practical learning 2/10, very poor really. Again there is no comparison with a full time course where much of the learning is case studies carried out under time pressure. Work experience is also a rarity on part-time/distance learning courses, because most people are holding down a job at the same time.
• Institution brand value 5/10, depends very much on the school! But generally MBBB will not see the e-learning course in the same light as the full time course.
I really enjoyed the course and it has been incredibly valuable in my day to day jobs and I also spent less than £5K in current money in fees, so it was very good value. However I would NEVER lead with it to try and get a job with a major consultancy. I always got interviews on my sales success with my academics (which are solid rather than stellar) sold as a “done the normal stuff” tick-box.
Now that I work freelance many client firms ARE impressed by those three little letters and often do not know enough about the comparative landscape to know if it is a “good” or “bad” MBA. I do find that if a client was buying a table, they’d admire the quality of the quality of the wood, while consultancies often admire the millimetre of veneer!
Years ago when I aspired to McKinsey, one of their headhunters advised me to got to INSEAD, use the fact that I’d already done an MBA to blast my way to top of the class (having already covered the course work) and then tell no one that I’d done the “other” MBA – take it completely off my CV. I decided to go another route in my career, so never tested the theory (or indeed my ability to simply “breeze” to the top of the INSEAD class, which might have been the flaw in the plan!)