There’s no getting past the idea that any degree program, and particularly an MBA program, is going to involve hard work. Whether online learning or face-to-face, full-time or study at your own pace, prospective students will always understand that a master of business administration degree has to be earned and will require a certain amount of delicate time management and self-discipline.

However, depending on various individual considerations including location, personal situation, current workload, job opportunities the MBA student hopes for, past qualifications, experience, MBA or executive MBA (EMBA), etc., certain types of courses may be easier. Easier in what way? They might make the application process more simple, involve slightly less coursework, allow for greater flexibility, offer more opportunity to study at your own pace, etc.

In these ways and many more, some MBA programs might be easier than others. It’s essential to look into such matters when considering any form of higher education or degree program. But because of the level of commitment required to complete an MBA program, it’s even more important.

Which MBAs are easier to get into?

Little data is available in Australia around whether an online MBA is easier to get into compared to a full-time or part-time on-campus MBA program. However, data from the US suggests entry into an online MBAs is easier for several reasons, and none are because the course is easier or inferior.

While all MBA admissions offices are likely to seek students capable of handling the demanding coursework, online MBAs can accept a greater number of students because they don’t have space requirements. Face-to-face and on-campus MBA programs are constrained by classroom size, number of staff and more. Online MBA programs, on the other hand, can be served to a much larger number of students thanks to the scalability options offered by technology.

Online MBAs can also welcome students from different parts of Australia, and around the world. And as they often attract a slightly older cohort of professionals and entrepreneurs with industry experience, online colleges are shaped to welcome into their MBA programs people who naturally require flexibility. This means demand on academics and lecturers will be well spread across days and weekends, rather than all students coming to a class at the same time.

Which MBAs have easier coursework?

MBA graduates report little difference between the levels of coursework between on-campus and online MBAs. This should be the case, of course, as many business schools offer both an online and a face-to-face MBA option, meaning course content is identical.

The area in which MBA students say online makes things easier is the flexibility of study. Without having to be on a particular campus at a specific time and for specific classes, those studying online MBAs can take their classes at a time and place of their choosing. This might be after they’ve put the kids to bed, on the train on the way to work, during their lunch break at work, in a hotel room during a business trip or, fairly typically, very early in the morning, before work.

Full-time work, business management and personal responsibilities don’t always mix well with on-campus study. Online, or distance learning tends to be the choice for those with busy lifestyles. But that’s not always the case.

Online courses require self-discipline, including a particular amount of time every week dedicated to getting the coursework done. Time management is a vital talent. Some people do better with the enforced structure and discipline of a campus MBA. Some also prefer the face-to-face learning experience and the ability to quickly question a tutor or academic in the corridor, following a lecture.

Of course, some also feel the networking opportunities offered by the face-to-face MBA option are greater, although that gap is fast narrowing as technology allows more people to get to know each other in an increasingly personalised, online environment. But the real-world social, group assignment and even travel options offered by traditional MBA programs certainly out-rate those offered by online learning.

And so there are pros and cons of each, but when it comes to which is easiest, in most cases it’s the online MBA students who will be claiming they have the edge.

So how hard is an online MBA?

Is an online MBA actually easy? Certainly not. No potential MBA candidate should ever go into the process thinking that it’s going to be simple.

Ignoring cost, the time commitment involved in an online MBA is significant and must be factored into the planning from the very beginning. Active time management, including a strict study schedule that is well communicated to family and friends, to ensure they get to know when you’re not available for other commitments, is essential. So is self-discipline.

The amount of time per week you’ll have to put aside depends on the pace at which you’re completing your MBA studies. It’s safe to assume the workload will require from 10 to 25 hours per week of study, for anything from 18 months to three years.

You’ve heard the saying about ‘failing to plan means planning to fail’! How exactly does an online MBA student plan for study success? It involves several considerations:

  • Make a study plan that outlines the exact hours every week that will be dedicated to your online MBA coursework.
  • Ensure your study plan times are prioritised and that family and friends know they cannot book you during these hours.
  • Include in your plan, at least once a month, several hours of contingency time for the work that takes longer or deserves more attention.
  • Don’t forget to plan celebrations. Figure out the milestones you’d like to celebrate during each unit, or perhaps after each unit, and how you’d like to celebrate. Treat yourself regularly to ensure you remain committed and engaged.
  • Speak with experts at the university you’ve chosen for your online MBA to seek advice around planning, study methods and helpful resources. They’ve seen it all before, and can likely offer numerous time saving and time-management tips that will help make the online MBA easier for you.

One of the great benefits of online MBAs is that workload is able to be customised to the lifestyle of the MBA student. But don’t make the mistake of considering an MBA is something that can easily fit around other commitments – it will need its own time and its own space. Get this right and it’ll be an enjoyable and ultimately successful experience.

Make your MBA easier – negotiate with your workplace

There are many reasons to get your employer on board with your online MBA study. First and foremost, it’s important that the people around you, particularly direct managers and human resources officers, are aware that you’ll have another major priority in your life for a period of time. This way they can help to manage your commitments, your hours, and perhaps even agree to a certain amount of study time each month.

After all, in earning an MBA you’ll be becoming more valuable to the business, so it makes sense that the business allows time for you to succeed in the qualification.

Next up is the fact that you might want to use office space for your study, early in the morning or after hours when staff have gone home. After hours in the office, with its lack of distraction, its professional environment and its fast web connection, is often an excellent option for taking online classes and completing assignments. An added bonus is that the commute home, outside of peak hour, becomes quicker, more comfortable and easier, perhaps allowing even more time for study.

And speaking of assignments, they’re so much more relevant and therefore easier if they’re connected to real-world problems within a real-world business. Involving the business in which you work in your study, and bringing your real-life work experience and all you’ve learned in recent years into the online MBA coursework, can offer benefits to you as an online MBA student, and to the business, too.

Finally, once various leaders in other departments, from human resources to marketing, IT, finance, sales, service and more – learn about your online MBA efforts, they’ll be more likely to come on board to offer assistance, advice and mentoring. Suddenly, your real-life networking opportunities, and even job opportunities, will be boosted by your online study.

So, is an online MBA difficult? An MBA is never easy. But with excellent planning as well as the innate flexibility offered by the online MBA format, the assistance and support of your employer and various leaders around the business, and valuable tips from the university’s experienced team, it will be engaging and enjoyable.

The commitment is significant, but so is the opportunity both in terms of experience and career. And amazingly, it can all be achieved from wherever you want, whenever you want.

Ready to take the next step in your career?

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

Course eligibility and recognition of prior learning

Course structure and what you will study

Next intakes and how to apply

Fees and time commitments