The value of an MBA depends entirely on the quality of the school that
grants the degree. Many advertisements for "professional" MBAs come
from small, unaccredited schools. The certificate is unlikely to
contain the word "professional," as that is a marketing term and not
an educational one, though there are probably a few exceptions.
In theory, there is nothing wrong with going to school part time.
There are many executives who attend classes in the evening or on
weekends because they cannot afford to quit their jobs to go back to
school for two years. At the same time, there is no extra benefit to
going to school full time if the degree isn't worth much.
A former boss told me of a friend who was making $37,000 a year and
thought his career would take off if he got an MBA. So he quit his
job. After two years of study at a small, little-known private
college, he received his MBA. Then he got a job paying $38,000 a year.
Bottom line: Whether you attend school full time or part time is of
far less importance than the name and reputation of the school you
The University of Chicago, one of the highest-ranking business schools
in the country (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/mba/brief/mbarank_brief.php),
offers part-time programs. Check them out at http://chicagogsb.edu/.
To graduate with a degree in the full-time program, you must take 20
courses, plus a mandatory leadership course on campus. To graduate
with a degree in the part-time program, you must take 20 courses, but
you don't have to take the leadership course. The courses offered are
very similar, and in many cases are taught by the same professors.
Some courses are unique to the full-time or part-time program, and it
is possible for students in one program to take courses from the other
program if they desire.
Other top-notch business schools offer part-time programs designed for
executives. Rest assured that a degree from Prestigious University
will mean the same regardless of whether you took the courses at 8
a.m. on Mondays or 6 p.m. on Fridays.
* There are a lot of small, private business colleges. If they are not
accredited, ignore them unless you're just taking the course to
improve your knowledge. You can learn a lot taking courses at a small,
unheralded college, and that's fine if you just want to gain
knowledge. But you probably won't be able to leverage your degree for
* If a college claims to be accredited, ask what organization
accredited the school, then call that organization to verify the
* If the school you wish to attend will award you a degree it calls a
PMBA rather than an MBA, just avoid it. You're probably looking at
some sort of technical or secretarial college looking to recruit a few
entry-level office workers who want a certificate they can frame and
hang on the wall of their cubicle.
* If you're going to get an MBA, it makes sense to go to one of the
top 50 schools if you can afford it. An MBA from a weak school
probably won't get you an "MBA job."
* Beware of schools that claim to be prestigious if you have not heard
of them. U.S. News and World Report (link above) and Business Week
(http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/04/) publish stories rating the
top schools every year. Read these articles before you fill out an
application from the Seth Q. Witherspoon Academy of Business
Advancement that comes in the mail.
* Remember that in most things, you get what you pay for. Some state
schools, like Indiana University and the University of Michigan, have
excellent programs. These programs cost a lot more than typical
undergratuate tuition at the schools. Stanford, Harvard, the
University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, Northwestern,
and other high-end schools cost a lot more. Beware of the value of an
MBA that costs you less than $10,000. There's usually a reason for the