A Guide to Understanding the Different MBA Formats

June 17, 2021
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Choose the right MBA program format for you by exploring the nuances that set each format apart.

A Guide to Understanding the Different MBA Formats

Earning an MBA is a smart career move, one that will produce benefits for the rest of your career. The degree comes in a variety of full-time and part-time formats. Therefore, choosing the format that’s right for you is a strategic career step, so it’s important to take your time assessing the features of each.

This guide will help you compare MBA programs to find the format best suited to your needs and career aspirations.

The Traditional Route: Full-time MBA

Full-time MBA programs, completed in 12 to 24 months with a summer internship, are the choice of early-career professionals eyeing leadership roles in companies and organizations. Students are typically in their 20s, and most don’t hold full-time jobs while earning the degree.

The curriculum of a full-time MBA offers immersion into functional specialties, such as business analytics and cyber security, readying graduates for jobs in high-demand industries. General management coursework—classes in finance, marketing, strategic management and other core areas—is the program’s foundation.

Of all MBA formats, the full-time MBA offers the most access to internships, recruiting opportunities, company presentations, clubs and activities that support career development.

In Baylor’s full-time MBA program, for example, students can take a variety of electives or dive into a concentration for proficiency in a specific area, such as entrepreneurship (ranked #10 in the country in US News & World Report’s 2022 rankings).

Baylor’s small classes—the average entering class has 50 students—mean everyone’s contribution matters. There are more opportunities to collaborate and participate in class discussions than larger classes would allow.

All MBA students at Baylor have access to the Career Center from day one, and with their help and coaching, early-career students have been able earn an average starting salary of $78,000 after earning their degree.

An MBA For Working Professionals: Executive or Online MBA

The Executive MBA (EMBA)

Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are favored by midcareer professionals pivoting from one industry or functional role to another. These students have been working for a while. It’s a good fit for managers and entrepreneurs with a higher level of work experience than traditional MBA students—around 14 years—and an average age of 37.

Because the EMBA program is part-time, participants are able to continue working while earning their degree. Successful students find a way to devote time to their studies along with the demands of work and personal life. Classes are typically held on weekends or in weeklong modules.

The curriculum offers solid grounding in general management proficiency, and most EMBA programs now also offer concentrations in specialty areas. The cohort model of EMBA programs encourages collaboration and interaction. Students work together regularly in study groups, forming strong connections and gaining fresh perspectives while building skills in group leadership. Class discussions tend to be dynamic, with students sharing immediate, real-world experiences.

More than half of EMBA students self-fund the cost of the program, though some fellowships, scholarships and employer sponsorships are typically available.

At Baylor, the Hankamer School of Business offers two exceptional EMBA programs in two of Texas’ key cultural and business hubs – Austin and Dallas. At Baylor’s Dallas campus, classes meet one weekend a month, on Friday afternoon and Saturday. EMBA students in Baylor’s Austin program meet Monday nights for 21 months; classes are capped at 36 students to create a tight-knit cohort.

Students can focus on cybersecurity, healthcare administration, international trade and supply chain management, strategic marketing, and executive presence and communication. Or they can choose to focus on a general MBA and add certificates in any of these areas. Classes are taught by a mix of tenured faculty from Baylor’s main campus and top executives from key industries. Three scholarships are offered through the EMBA programs, as Baylor is committed to helping students from all walks of life reach their educational and professional goals.

The Online MBA (OMBA)

SAs distance learning technology grows more common, online MBAs are proliferating. The key word here is convenience. This format is a flexible timesaver for working professionals who want to earn an MBA wherever they are, on their own time. All classes and coursework are remote, so distance isn’t a factor—you can essentially study anywhere.

Students in online programs are typically in their low 30s, but ages range widely, as do life experiences and professional backgrounds. The key traits they share are an ease using technology for distance learning along with self-discipline and time-management skills. Online programs don’t offer a cohort setup with the camaraderie of a traditional or executive MBA, but most offer tailored opportunities to network and collaborate with students and alumni.

These trends hold true for the Baylor OMBA. Students range from 24 to 60 years old, with an average age of 36 and 12 years of work experience. Instead of a cohort setup, students have the opportunity to learn alongside students who are just beginning the program, halfway through it or about to graduate. Instant access to more than 300 enrolled students and more than 400 alumni is a highlight of the program.

Overall, the online option may be a relative newcomer to the MBA world, but an online MBA from a registered and accredited business school is well-regarded by prospective employers. It offers the same curriculum as the full-time degree—without the same prescribed class schedule. And since most students hold jobs while in the program, they experience immediate, real-life case studies illustrating the principles they learn in class.

In Baylor’s case, our OMBA program is ranked #16 by Poets & Quants (2021)—the highest in Texas—and #45 by US News & World Report (2022). Students in the program learn from the same nationally acclaimed faculty as their on-campus counterparts. The program has concentrations in four areas—cyber security, executive communication, marketing and global trade and supply chain management—plus the general MBA for broad-based management preparation. Each option offers practical experiences that can be applied immediately to your career. Baylor’s OMBA Connect builds ties among students, faculty and alumni with virtual speed networking, expert panels and career presentations.

What's Next

Choosing the MBA format that makes the most sense for your current situation and future career goals is important. That is why, at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business we are committed to helping you select the MBA path that will bring the most return on your investment.

If you’re ready to take the next step in solidifying your career aspirations, consider reaching out to our enrollment coaching team. We can answer questions about MBA formats, curriculum, admissions, financial aid and more. Complete the form below, and our team will contact you directly.

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